Michael Ashimashiga is the President, Eden Moringa and Allied Agricultural Products. His zeal for helping tackle unemployment brought about the Moringa project. He speaks on what this wonder tree can do to transform Nigeria’s economy. Excerpts:
Can you tell us how you started this moringa business?
The idea about this project was conceived in 2009. We are into cultivation and production of Moringa products, agricultural and allied produce and general contracts.
Why did you choose to go into moringa farming?
First, the major issues of risk and profit are the main factors that one must consider before going into any venture no matter how feasible and viable the vision and mission of such venture may be.
Secondly, the zeal, passion, determination and the patience to withstand all challenges that may come in the process of execution must be factored into that decision. What particularly pushed me into farming is I want to help in solving the endemic problem of unemployment, poverty and improving the health of Nigerians; some of the major challenges that have been facing this proverbial wealthy but poorest country of ours.
A country that boasts of the best brains in the world, with all its vast, arable land for food production, with its huge manpower but having a projected 69.1% of its people living far below poverty line, is unacceptable and all hands need to be on deck to change the situation.
What is your line of products?
We are currently producing the following products: EE-Moringa Tea, EE- Moringa Drink, EE-Moringa Oil, EE-Morisoya Milk (Evaporated & Powder), EE- Moringa Cooking Oil, EE-Moringa Feed Cake, EE- Moringa Noodles, EE-Moringa Poultry Feeds, etc.
Are your products registered with NAFDAC?
Few for now; others are still undergoing the registration process.
What are your market targets?
We have started now in Nigeria by going to all the local governments in every state through our mega distributors and sub-distributors.. We have plans to take our products to the entire African continent as well as the global markets.
The company is also rendering a lot of services to the general public. First, we introduced what we called Service Farming, in which our clients buy our improved Moringa seedlings at a subsidized price of N135 per seedling and, after four months of planting, we pay them 20 per cent of the total amount paid to the company.
Subsequently we keep paying them the same 20% at the end of every two months for the next 10 years without them even participating directly in the farming work, we do all the work.
Secondly, we partner with interested individuals or groups as they buy our improved seedlings at the same N135 per seedling. As mentioned above, we buy back the shed-dried moringa leaves at a good price of N2, 000 per 1kg, with all the technical support given to our partners free of charge. We do that so that people will feel the impact of coming back to agriculture, especially farming moringa and also to involve youth in their different localities in the simple business of farming.
Also, by involving our partners in these processes, they benefit a lot from it and we also benefit by securing enough raw materials on ground for our production. We still have a lot of new packages coming up to add to the above soon.
What is your company’s work force?
We had started with 32 staff at our farm as of 2012. Gradually, with much advocacy through publications, so many partners had keyed into our programmes and for now, we have direct and indirect staff numbering over 600, who are working on various farms across the country. Also, considering NAFDAC’s approval of our production, we are now targeting 200,000 employees to engage directly in the farming.
This number will manage the various farms for our raw materials in order to curtail the issues of adulteration of our products and shortage of raw materials as we truly stand on nature for humanity and also due to the high demand for our various products nationally.
Still in our factory, we have 17 staff and with this NAFDAC approval, we are now working on engaging about 5,000 staff through the present intervention by Bank of Industry for this world class factory. Still on marketing, the company now has finalized plans to engage over 100,000 staff in all the 36 states and the FCT.
Is there any challenge your company is facing?
There is no greatness without challenges. It’s only few people that know who we are. It was very difficult taking off. It was really hectic carrying out various researches on this project but what kept us going was our believe that all challenges in life are a stepping stone to greater things; so we were determined and we kept faith.
This is our strength; we are always consoled, because we believe that “A strong and a healthy spirit of a man, sustains him in his days of adversity and bodily pains. But a weak and a broken spirit, who can bear.” We must first believe in ourselves before anybody can believe in us.
The way forward for this our great Nigeria is to see people of like minds and passion toward viable projects come together and fight to bring the 69.1% people living below poverty line to acceptable standard.
Are there plans for expansion?
We have started by inviting people to participate in our farming programmes with the aim of earning from the harvest at the end of the fourth month, when we buy back the shed leaves. We currently partner with interested members of the public to go into the farming of moringa.
We are currently giving out our private placement memorandum to individuals who wish to invest with us. We would have started before commencing production, but to reduce the risk of exchanging words with our investors, we decideds to commence production before releasing our private placement.
There are many companies which I would not mention their names that sold out their private placement about five to 10 years ago but have nothing to show as dividend to their pioneer investors that took 100% risk to invest their money in the companies.
Now that we have started, we are bold to tell the whole world to come as investors for us to expand our private placement. It will just last for few months and once we get the targeted investors with the total money needed to add for our expansion, we will definitely close.
The next step of expansion is when we begin the initial public offer, but before then, we must approach the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to submit our credentials and to follow due process to obtain the Public Offer Certificate; there after we will proceed to be quoted as a Public Liability Company (PLC) and be also listed on the floor of Nigeria Stock Exchange to trade on the floor and not only on the floor of Nigeria stock, but be listed on the Foreign Stock Exchange. We are going global, we are growing big, God is our Strength
Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/sunday/index.php/business/17631-moringa#odAc5rVxPjdkmbDb.99