Mr. Taiwo Onanuga.
Mr. Taiwo Onunuga, a graduate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), is the Operations Manager of Premier Agribusiness Academy. He speaks about how Premier Agribusiness Academy has been able to add value to the agricultural sector and other businesses by organising different training programmes on creative thinking and problem-solving skills, management of resources, human capital and agricultural production. He discloses how his organisation is bridging the gap between thriving in the agricultural sector and having the necessary skills and technical know-how, saying that as the sector is growing, the need to sustain the growth is mandatory without leaving out the achievements and testimonials from participants that have attended such, challenges facing the company as well as advice for youths, who want to grow and succeed in life. Excerpts:
Can we meet you
My name is Taiwo Oluwaseyi Onanuga. I am from Ogun State and a graduate of Soil Science and Land Management from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (then UNAAB). I am married with a child and I am the Operations Manager for Premier Agribusiness Academy.
How did you come about Premier Agribusiness Academy
While at AY Point Multipurpose Consulting, I worked there as a Training Consultant. After which, I was introduced to Premier Agribusiness Academy by a friend. I was told about the dream and vision of the academy and I saw that it was still in line with what I do at AY Point Multipurpose Consulting. It was a new company then, but I decided to join the company. Then, I started as an Administrative Assistant and now I am the Operations Manager. As the Operations Manager, I organise training programmes and I am in charge of everything that has to do with training. The company is actually a consulting firm for developing human capital development by making people and employers feel better. I also make sure that everything goes on well and accordingly by doing my best. I also maximise training activities by making more resources for the company.
Tell us more about the academy
Premier Agribusiness Academy started in the year 2018, but our trainings officially kicked off properly in 2019. We started series of training programmes; the first one was on creative thinking and problem-solving skills for decision making, held in Lagos and from there, we have moved to different ones on supply chain management and logistics management. We have even handled a particular training by serving as consultants for the government of The Netherlands on poultry value chain and poultry industry in Nigeria, where we did the coordination of poultry industry in Nigeria. How big the market is, problems facing the industry, and how can we can improve fortunes of the industry? That is what we did for The Netherlanders. We also have many other trainings that we handle like the one for the United States Exporting Council (USEC), which we are currently handling, where we are mandated to train people in agronomy on soya bean production, poultry production management, aquaculture management and feeding management. These are the four tracks that are still on board in the training and we do these trainings at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Abuja, Akwa Ibom and Lagos. We have trained over 500 participants from 2020 to September 2022, where they are grouped into 25 participants per class. Premier Agribusiness Academy is not limited to training people in the agricultural sector. We train people in other fields of management. Our mandate, though is in agribusiness, but we are allowed to train in other fields.
Participants at a training programme.
Kindly give us some testimonials and success stories
From the trainings we have had, like the one on creative thinking and problem-solving skills for decision making, it was mainly for managing directors and chief executive officers of companies. We realised that after the training programmes, most of them had a different understanding on how to run their organisations such that one of our participants had to send one of his staff to enroll for the training. The basic purpose for that training was to change our understanding and mode of thinking when it comes to management of resources such as human capital and financial resources. Most of the people that attended, were managing directors and chief executive officers of companies, who had a different way of thinking on how to maximise their profits, their staff productivity and how to improve their commitment levels at work. We also have testimonials of people, who attended our trainings from USEC on soybeans production, and through this, people learnt how to improve their capacity, maximise their production of soybean and also know about new techniques to improve production. People have learnt the proper way of doing things. We have people that have come for our training programme on poultry management. One of them talked about the fact that after coming for our training, she was able to understand the proper way to raise birds. Most people do not know the right orientation, siting of their farms and proper orientation on feeding. Through these trainings, people have been able to understand that even feeding affects the production of birds. There are so many things that have been learnt in a bid to upgrade their production after the training. They have moved from one particular level of sales to another and this is a huge success for us.
What are the challenges you faced on the job
I’ll start from the academy. Getting participants is one because people think they know it all. Although what we do know is that since we have a large number of people that have attended the training, it is their testimonies that make people want to come for this training. So, the first thing is getting people to come down for the training, after they come, we can make them to get other people to come. That’s one of our challenges and another one too is location because getting a good place to use for the number of people that we train per time; we have had a little challenge on that. More people want to come, but we have a limited number we can take per class. So, we have that challenge of having to screen and reduce the number of people that will be in class because we normally do 25 per class. For me on the job, I’ll say I have to work around the clock, because I have to do the marketing, get the client, follow up on people even after the training to know if the training had the impact they wanted. One challenging thing again for me is calling people for regular follow up, because I have to know many by their names and develop personal relationships with everyone of them. Many a times, it is like you have to really attend to them to meet all their needs. That is one of the challenges I have faced.
Participants at a training programme.
Tell us what you foresee is the coming years about your sector
What I foresee about my sector; specifically the agricultural sector, because it encompasses a lot of things is that people are getting to understand the right way of doing things and I see that people are understanding the best practices. Because it is not only about production; you also need marketing. We have had people that farm produce, but do not have the market to sell and because of the fact that they had came for the training, they have understood how to add value to what they produce. So, it makes it easy for them to get market at different levels. For now, I see the agricultural sector really improving and we have more youths coming into agriculture because they now see it as an attractive way of making money; legit way of making massive income. I see the sector growing over the years with more professionals coming into the sector and making it better.
You are young, smart and intelligent. What do you have to say to youths of your age
I’ll say follow your dreams. Agriculture is very attractive and interesting, but you need to learn how to do it properly. Also, you need to be patient, you need to understand it before you can enjoy it, because I had to learn so many things and be patient. I had to learn form people that know so much than I do. So, one thing I will tell my colleagues or young people coming to the agricultural sector is that you need to understand first before earning and you need to do things the right way. It takes time to grow in the agricultural sector and when you know it well, people will come to you naturally by wanting to do business with you and use their money to invest in you. You also need to be focused, train and retrain yourself on things that you need to be vast about in the industry and be relevant. Lastly, you need to build yourself and if you can do all these, you will definitely grow.
Your parting word
I want to tell people that whatever your dreams are, you can achieve them. People are saying that Nigeria is not so good everywhere, but then, even if you need to go out, there you must have something tangible to sell and I feel the best thing to do is to build yourself before you can even be relevant anywhere. So, my parting word will be; build yourself and be relevant anywhere you are, if you want to make impact.