At a time when most Nigerian youths are still sceptical about taking to agriculture because they consider it as a strenuous means of livelihood, I present to you enterprising Ethor Odomero, a YAGEPreneur in Crop Production. Being a beneficiary of the Youth Agricultural and Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) in the 2015 Cycle, Ethor had opportunity to choose either Fishery or Poultry like her counterparts, but opted for Crop Production. Her enthusiasm and commitment to her enterprise is unequalled. She loves crop farming and has taken it a step further by processing raw cassava produce into various end products. Ethor hails from Isoko South Local Government Area and is a graduate of Religious Studies from the Delta State University, Abraka. She is the CEO of Model Food Enterprises.
According to Ethor, her participation in the Job Creation Scheme transformed her life. ‘’I was trained and empowered through YAGEP. I was given a reasonable amount of money to lease a land and I planted cassava. Today, to the glory of God. I have started processing my cassava to improved cassava flour, fufu flour, packaged starch, garri-vita, beans flour, plantain flour, packaged garri, packaged-starch, tapioca and fufu flour.” In addition to cassava products, Ethor cultivates vegetable such as cucumber, water melon, pepper, tomato and pumpkin leaf seasonally during their peak period. “I receive calls from every part of the country to supply my products and I am not able to meet the demand for my products. The market is there for cassava products everywhere,” she remarked. She is not able to meet up with demands for her products because she processes her products manually which is slow coupled with the fact that she has no grinding machine.
Apart from the three months training received from her trainer, Ethor has acquired more skills in a bid to improve her skills and knowledge on food processing. She is gradually building a brand for her enterprise. She has great ideas and hopes that with more funding she would procure modern equipment to ease garri processing and packaging of her finished products to meet international standards and to make it acceptable for export to other parts of the world. In her words, “I have sponsored myself in three different training programmes on food processing and packaging since establishment of my enterprise. I do this because I need to update my knowledge so as to meet up with international best practises on food processing.”
Driven by the passion to succeed and to give back to her community, Oleh, Ethor is poised to begin a tuition-free training programme for secondary school students tagged, “Students’ Entrepreneurship Training.” She said the platform will afford secondary school students the opportunity to acquire relevant trainings in vocational skills and in agriculture with emphasis on fishery and snailery”. She owns a fish farm and a snailery too. This move is in consonance with her dream to diversify into integrated agriculture. “It is my dream to own a large farm where I could invest in aspects of agriculture such as aquaculture, poultry, crop plantations, snailery and so on,” she added.
On her plans to own an oil palm plantation, she reaffirmed that her hopes are high and that she is working on it. She once was nominated by the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer for a two week training in oil palm nursery, planting and maintenance at IMC LTD, Nsukwa in Aniocha North local Government Area.
In a bid to grow her enterprise, she advocates for support from government, development partners and private sectors investors to help take her enterprise to the next level. She is of the opinion that if the government through public private partnership can invest on granulating machine and garri processing plant, it will not only boost food production in the state, but will make cassava farming attractive to the youths.
Ethor like so many of her co-YAGEPreneurs believe the State Government has taken the right step in the right direction through the job creation initiative. While appreciating the Delta State Government for the initiative, she enjoined the youths thus, ‘’I believe this is the way out of unemployment for our people. I also want to encourage the youths that since it worked for me it will work for them. I really want to thank Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for this Job Creation Initiative. After seven years of joblessness after I graduated from the University, I’m now employed and have even employed two persons to work for me.’’