By Raymond Benson (KMCO, Abia LIFE-ND)
Mustard seeds are found within the genus of cabbage. They are especially grown in North Africa, Asia Minor and popular in the Middle East. They are essentially tiny when removed from its seed coat but capable of vast growth, always used allusively to insignificant and inconsequential conditions.
The seed therefore aptly describes the humble beginning of a poultry business of a Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises, Niger Delta, LIFE-ND, incubator, Mr. Akachukwu Chisom Friday, the owner of AKAS FARM.
Akas Farm is located at Mgboko Umuanunu in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State.
Walking into Akas Farm, one cannot ignore a hut at a vintage point of owner’s premises: decrepit with age, with tattered fabrics hanging loosely as relics left to tell some story someday, which it has, nonetheless.
Pointing at the hut, Akachukwu said,
“I started my poultry business from that hut in 2008 with 50 birds. I was dedicated to succeed. As God may have it, I continued to save money. I didn’t receive any loan or anything from anybody or government. I started everything myself till this day”, pointing and showing a 3‐roll massive poultry house with an adjoining fish pond at the end.
Akachukwu whose youthful looks belie the stereotype of testimonial pictures of weather‐beaten women and men, revealed his love for agribusiness including birds and crops.
“I feel happy even if I don’t make profit, I love seeing them healthy. Even at that, I’ve not been disappointed”, he said.
He expressed his gratitude to LIFE-ND for building his capacity on areas of his blind side, especially in loan sourcing, business development and planning, management and its sustainability.
Speaking about the mentorship of the seven incubatees allotted to his farm, he said he was not as lucky as them, but they have been taught the trade noting that they are catching up fast too.
“They are my brothers. They’re lucky to meet a project like LIFE-ND. I was not lucky to be given a Working Capital. If I had that luck those years, my farm should’ve been bigger”.
He said his major challenge was how to fence the facility. He was optimistic on land acquisition explaining that they were at the final stage of securing land for the poultry cluster and promised to assist them to be like him “no matter what it takes”.
One of his incubatees, Ejike A. Apolos expressed much gratitude to LIFE-ND,
“LIFE-ND is a wonderful project. Everything is free not like some government projects I witnessed. I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge. With this Working Capital given to us last week, our lives must change, I promise”.
On May 24, 2021, Abia LIFE-ND began the process of handing over Working Capitals to 250 incubatees out of 4,250 to be selected in the state, who also are expected to undergo through the same apprenticeship of four major agricultural commodities: rice production and processing, cassava production and processing, palm processing and poultry production and processing including their marketing.
One would wonder how this tiny mustard seed, AKAS FARM has grown from nothing to this prominence, ready to mentor more incubatees for LIFE-ND project.