By Adeyemi Sulaimon
Ogunyomi Ismail Toba, popularly known as O’yomi among his colleagues, is a young and enterprising Nigerian with a passion for business. He pursues, with vigour, any legal business opportunity that can benefit not only him but also his immediate environment.
Aside the fact that he runs primary and secondary schools in his local Ayobo area of Lagos state, the University of Nsukka graduate of Business Education (Accounting Option), has developed a passion for farming.
O’yomi, as he is fondly called, attended St Paul’s Anglican Primary School, Aaseese, Obafemi Owode, in Ogun State. He had NCE Business Education at the Federal College of Education Technical, Akoka. He bagged his Masters in Educational Administration and Planning from the University of Lagos.
He does not only engage in practical farming, what marvels his admirers most is his skills in selling his produce through another outlet he calls ‘Farm Direct.’
The easy-going father of three grows Yam, Plantain and Sugarcane in a farm settlement somewhere in Ifo Local government of Ogun state.
He told Community Standard in an interview that the idea of Farm Direct, also located in Ayobo, came as a result of the need to create a market for produce from the farm.
‘It is an outfit where produce from our farm would be sold. However, we source from neighbouring farms and local markets to meet up with demand,’ he says.
In today’s Nigeria, many youths still prefer searching for non-existing white-collar jobs. But, O’yomi says his philosophy right from childhood is never to work for anybody. He believes in working for himself to cater for his needs and that of his family.
‘So, what informed my going into full scale farming was the desire to generate more income to feed my family through a lawful means,’ he explains.
Discussing about his farming activities and coping with running the schools, O’yomi explains that there are lots of challenges involved. For instance, he says, the farm requires lots of time which is relatively not available.
‘Most times I go to the farm to ensure things don’t go wrong. You need to clear the farm of weeds regularly if you want good yield at the end. Again, the problems of herdsmen encroachment and theft of farm produce are also there. So, one needs to devote a lot of time for the business,’ he says.
Another challenge he identified is the bad road network to most land areas that can be cultivated. This, he says, leads to high cost of running the farm, especially during the harvest period.
In the face of these challenges, O’yomi says there are prospects in the business.
‘There will always be prospect in what one is passionate about. Even if it’s not yielding profit at the beginning, the passion will propel you to make all things possible to achieve your goal,’ he says.
On regrets, he has none.
When asked about what it takes to stay long in the farming business, he says ‘passion, passion and passion! It will make all other factors to work.’
He, however, sounds a note of warning to youths who want to go into farming.
‘Farming, I will say, is one of the most risky investments. So, necessary prevention must be made against theft, weed, pest, perishability and so on. Any interested person without practical experience should consult practising farmers before venturing into it. Academic certificate is just an added value, it is not enough as prerequisite to practice,’ he declares.
On the Farm Direct outlet, the Ogun state-born educational administrator turn farmer advised that people should seek proper guidelines from experts before starting such a business.
According to him, stock taking and proper record-keeping are key factors that, if not fully entrenched, can ruin the business. Stock taking, he says, consumes a lot of time.
At times, perishable produce, if not sold on time, usually leads to losses. Therefore, one must be on his toes always to ensure the success of the business.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, will definitely be happy seeing a youth like O’yomi taking the bull by the horns, plunging into agriculture, which is a key focus of his administration.
And for O’yomi, he has yet to start anything. By the time he starts, not only his immediate local environment will benefit but Nigeria as a whole.