Susty Person of the Week: Ismail Bakar
Ismail is the Co-Founder & CEO of Caerphilly Farms Ltd. Through this venture, Ismail hopes to contribute his quota (however small) in reducing unemployment especially amongst youth, hunger and malnutrition as well as ensuring food security in Nigeria.
Under the aegis of the Abuja Global Shapers Community, Ismail commits his time to implementing community service projects to help improve the state of the community.
Ismail comes off to us as a very simple and focused young man, read his very cool interview below:
Please introduce yourself – The way you want the world to know you.
My name is Ismail Bukar. I’m a farmer.
I’m the Co-founder & CEO of Caerphilly Farms Ltd…a farm located on the Abuja- Nasarawa Border specialising in poultry production. I’ve been referred to as a next generation farmer. I however hope to do it so well to become a next generation global farmer beyond the Nigerian and African agro-sphere.
I am also a global shaper with the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers Community.
How did you get into farming and how long have you been in the business?
Interestingly, I never had an interest in agriculture as a kid but on finishing my first degree in 2011 and assessing the labour market, I knew I didn’t want to join the queue with millions of other Nigerians seeking for the very few available jobs. I started exploring entrepreneurship options and I stumbled on agriculture, poultry farming specifically. I was excited about the opportunity, did my research and consultations and when I was full of information, I started out my trial production same year. I guess you can say I’ve been in the business ever since. Over the 5 year period since I started, I’ve taken breaks to go for my mandatory NYSC and a Masters program and upon returning from my Masters in 2015, I commenced the expansion project that saw the farm move onto a firmer ground aimed at commercial production.
Not many people (especially of your age group) consider this line of business? Why is this so, and what keeps you inspired?
Unfortunately, unlike the generation of our parents when agriculture was so popular and generated a lot of revenue for the nation, our generation grew up when crude oil had taken over as the big income earner for the government and all successive governments had gradually contributed to decreasing the importance of agriculture in our society. So we grew up not really seeing a lot of people practising agriculture except for our old folks back in the village. This helped to paint a picture of ‘agriculture is a profession for the poor’ in our heads and we all avoided it like a plague. Growing up and judging things for ourselves though has changed the perception of some of us. That said, till date, there are very few young farmers and I think that has a lot to do with a broad disinterest that young people have in agriculture and some of this stems from some still having the preconceived idea that farming is a poor and highly physical profession.
I get my biggest inspiration from loving what I do. I love farming so much it doesn’t feel like work…the idea of waking up on the farm makes farming activities almost like part of a daily life routine. Obviously, the lucrativeness of the agricultural sector especially in Nigeria where it has been neglected for so long, the opportunities are vast, which is another thing that keeps me going. LOL.
Caerphilly Farms: Why this choice of name for a business?
Caerphilly: I commenced full-scale commercial production after I returned back home from my masters and while I was there, I began to prepare my expansion plan so I will hit the ground running. I had gotten most of what I needed in place except for a few things – farm name inclusive. One day while on one of my adventures, I went to this small welsh town with beautiful green country-side and the sight of it made me fall in love with agriculture even more. I fell in love with it, and every time I needed to work on my farm plans, I go back to that lovely town, find a lovely spot on the open field and work. I eventually finalised my plans there and effectively birthed the farm there. As a tribute to such an inspiring place that gave me just what I needed to do my groundwork, I decided to name the farm after the town.
What are your thoughts on The Green Alternative plan by the Federal Government?
The Green Alternative plan is a brilliant initiative that holds a number of strategies that could improve the agricultural sector of our country. However, Nigeria has never been short of brilliant ideas. The problem has always been the implementation of those ideas. As such, this is one of the areas that will test the commitment of this administration to diversify the economy. If implemented right, the Green Alternative will greatly improve our agricultural productivity as a nation.
What would you want the government to do better to support farming in Nigeria?
Access to land, access to a stable market and access to finance are the biggest challenges of most farmers. This poses a greater obstacle for a young person venturing into farming. I’d love to see the government review the country’s land tenure laws to make it easier for a young person to at least lease a farmland if not buy; initiate policies that will give both farmers a steady access to market and consumers who purchase such goods access to a consistent supply of agricultural produce; and lastly, make finance easily accessible to farmers. The current agricultural financing schemes available, although numerous, have quite steep requirement that many farmers cannot meet.
What are your favourite SDG’s (Well aside, obviously, Goal 2: Zero Hunger) and why?
With Goal 2 being an obvious favourite, next in line will be Goal 1. To me, these two SDGoals are interlinked. There are so many poor people in a rich world that although there is enough food today in the world to feed twice the global population, a whole 800 million plus people go hungry because they can’t afford to feed themselves while a large amount of food produced end up in a landfill simultaneously. This also brings in Goal 12 because with a sustainable production and consumption pattern, such amount of food won’t end up wasted.
How do you think the SDGs can work here in Nigeria?
It will take a lot of commitment on the part of citizens, civil society groups and government to all work hand in hand to ensure its success. To start with, I think a big sensitisation and awareness programme needs to be embarked upon because I don’t think a lot of Nigerians know the SDGs and the role they are expected to play in ensuring we achieve them.
In your opinion, what do you think would be a solution to the reoccurring farmers and herdsmen conflict here in Nigeria?
Sadly, we have been faced with this menace for far too long. The best way to tackle this is to deal with the root cause of the problem. I think the initiative to provide grazing reserves will go a long way in solving the problem. When herdsmen don’t have to walk their herds for food and water, there will be no encounter with farms that will lead to such clashes.
What is it about you that not a lot of people know?
Although I’m from the North East, I speak Yoruba slightly better than Hausa. I grew up in the West and had my primary and secondary education there. I’ve had funny cases of people talk about me in Yoruba language and I just smile and listen in without hinting that I understand what they are saying 🙂 .
What is the one thing you want to tell Nigerian Youths looking to make a difference?
I’d say to them, Shine bright and inspire others. I believe it’s down to us youths to shape how we want our future to look. So for those privileged enough to have the opportunity to make a difference, by all means, do. You could be the spark that will ignite others into making multiple impacts across sectors that will transform the future.
How can people reach you or learn about your work?