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Women in Agriculture: "How I use greenhouse farming to grow exotic vegetables"

Nike Mbulu is the Chief Executive Officer of Accent Integrated Farms in Lagos. She owns five hectares of land where she grows vegetables and rears animals. Before establishing the farm in 2015, she worked in a financing company in the United States. 

"I worked in corporate Nigeria and the U.S. for a while and I wanted to start a business and at that time there were a lot of calls by the Nigerian government on the need to diversify the economy. Agriculture was in the mind of a lot of people and I felt that I could do it because I wanted to start a sustainable business that I could retire into and looking at the fact that it was a very viable sector in Nigeria considering Nigeria’s peculiarity, we have a large young population plus viable land and there was an increasing demand for reliable and quality food suppliers.

I cultivate vegetables such as e cucumber, parabolas, pit tail, and I do greenhouse farming. When you do greenhouse in Nigeria, it is not a temperature-controlled environment; it’s like a net house. It gives it some relief from the elements like rain and sun. So it’s controlled to some extent. The temperature is controlled though we don’t have a cooking system there. I do plantain and fishery. Categorically speaking, I do crop farming which is the greenhouse and open field; I do animal production which is fish farming. My greenhouse farming is not in a glasshouse, it sits more like a net house. We have ultra-violet (UV) regulated netting. The netting is specially built to control the UV of sunlight, it minimizes it.

There are many challenges facing the agricultural sector because of our economy, not just in Agriculture. In fact, doing business in Nigeria is very tough. One of the problems we have with inputs is ensuring that these are quality grade not fake, you have the money to buy it but you don’t find it. There are so many challenges facing inputs, not just the seeds and chemicals, even the manpower is a problem.

There’s a lot of collaboration too. Many seeds come in and we know the well-accepted brand. Have you tried it? What is the yield? What is the resistance to disease? Words of mouth carry a lot of means to verify where the means are lacking which we see in a place like Nigeria, so you can’t do it alone. You have to keep your ears close to the ground and then keep a very good relationship with all these accredited dealers that have shops in Epe and if I need something I let them know. So that’s how it works to get around these challenges. I rent machines from individuals. "

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