Hitherto, Africa continues to punch below her weight on the issue of feeding herself.
However, the current hope overrides any doubts that in the next few years, Africa, like all her sister continents, will be thriving on agricultural products, feeding her populace from her own fertile soils.
Agricultural projects all over the continent are taking shape and more hands are getting into the affair.
Celine Lungu, a young Zambian lady, has been rising against all odds to ensure that tomatoes are in abundance in her neighborhood.
In a recent interview, Celine shared her journey with The Scholar Media Group Africa (SMEGA), telling of how she moved from 21 tomato-seedling trays to the tomato plantation she is currently running.
Professionally, Celine studied Reflexology and has also worked with the Tianshi Group, a Chinese healthcare products company.
She started her tomato agri-project on March 22, 2022, with her passion for agriculture being the driving force.
“I visited a friend and admired what she was doing. In my mind, I told myself that I can do this, too,” she remembers.
The start was not a straight line but her hope kept her moving and focused.
She took a small loan for the capital and with it, purchased a mid-sized greenhouse. She then bought 21 trays to grow the tomato seedlings she had bought using the same loan.
Cognizant of the fact that the tomato trays cannot be placed on the ground and she still didn’t have enough finances to acquire banks or table for the trays, she was wise enough to use construction blocks as a base for her trays.
Moving forward, “I sold my first 21 trays of tomato seedlings to a friend who was also trying to embrace agribusiness. I then ordered more seeds for a replant,” she tells The Scholar.
She used the proceedings to acquire more tomato seedlings and trays.
Repeating the same trend thrice, she got to 140 trays of tomato seedlings, which she transplanted to the current land on which she’s running her blossoming tomato farm.
She taught herself about farming tomatoes and running the whole project.
Though her major customers, as at now, have been two of her friends, the project has been gaining shape every single day and it is way better and more promising now.
“And where does she get the expert skills to run a tomato farm?” you may want to ask.
“We are two ladies doing this agribusiness project. Up to now, I do not know much about any experts in tomato farming,” she responds. She has become an expert in caring for the tomato seedlings and plants, all by herself.
For Celine, it has been a journey of self-teaching and practicing any farming skills she deems able to connect the dots.
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For the project, Celine did not have enough land at first. However, she made a deal with her first customer, who has since become her partner in the project.
“I have an agreement with the lady who bought my first trays of seedlings. She owns sufficient land for the project and the required irrigation system.
At first, I planted 19,000 tomato seedlings and then added them to 28,000. With her owning the land and I owning the tomato seedlings, the agreement is that we will share the harvest proceedings at 50% each,” she explains.
This business mindset and approach has been Celine’s miracle.
Currently, her successful tomato project sits on a one-hectare land, with a whopping 28,000 tomato plants.
She harvested her first full harvest in mid-August, this year.
Undoubtedly, Celine’s story is a wake-up call to all African farmers and aspiring farmers to do take advantage of what is in their disposal and move the agribusiness ball down the field.
To you, who is contemplating to start your agribusiness project, Celine is an example that with passion and the right approach, it is possible.
So, what is holding you back? Start with what you have and be on the move!
She says “It’s tools down for other things. Tomato farming cannot be learned on a remote control. You must get your fingers into it.”
She adds that if you want to take the same path, “Start with what you have. Nothing is impossible when you focus.”
Commenting about such successful agricultural projects, Johann Thorgeirsson, the founder of Agri Project Africa, an online space for sharing and promotion of Agricultural projects and ideas in Africa, urges farmers to embrace self-education on most of the agricultural engagements.
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In reference to Celine’s project, Thorgeirsson encourages more farmers to “Educate yourself about irrigation, pests, fertilizer, chemicals, sales, marketing, finance, personal finance, farm management and so forth.”
He further gives his two cents on agribusiness, urging farmers that the more they learn on how to do agriculture and manage the different agricultural input and output, the more expertise they will own, making them stand out in their affairs.
Celine says that her biggest dream and focus is to get land of her own, a greenhouse and an irrigation system. This would allow her to expand the project, witness higher yields, and be able to contribute to society by providing them with enough tomatoes.
To glean from Celine’s expertise or offer a helping hand, you can reach out to her through her email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story has been compiled in collaboration with Agri-Project Africa. Follow them on Facebook at Agri-Project Africa (https://www.facebook.com/Agri-Project-Africa-106785078314767) or follow Johann Thorgeirsson, the Founder at https://www.facebook.com/johann.thorgeirsson.5 .