The Business Year

Kolade Dada

NIGERIA - Industry

Kolade Dada

Managing Director, SeedCo

Bio

Kolade Dada is the Managing Director of Seedco Nigeria. He has over 12 years’ experience in the agri input and FMCG businesses in Nigeria. Prior to his appoint as Managing Director, he has worked in several senior leadership position in Saro Africa International from business manager to leading marketing strategies and driving sales force efficiency across different industries. He is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School.

Seedco is focused on leading the hybridization agenda to improve farmers' yields and livelihoods through fit-for-purpose production, marketing, and distribution infrastructure for seeds.

What are Seed Co’s operations in Nigeria?

SeedCo has been present in Nigeria for eight years with a mission to improve the livelihood of small holder farmers. We started with maize and have gradually been expanding to other key crops such as rice and soybeans. Currently, our head office is located in Kaduna, but we are increasing our footprint to other parts of the nation. In terms of potential, Nigeria ranks highest, but unlocking the potential is a different ballgame, as farmers have been largely focused on open pollinated varieties with weak potential to transform their yields, and hybrid seeds adoption is low, though it is on the rise and has the ability to unlock productivity. We are on the right path toward unlocking this potential, and Nigeria should be able to outperform most of the countries where we have a presence. Nigeria has many key crops and a vast arable land as well. We will continue to work with farmers to increase adoption, so they can raise their productivity and better their livelihoods.

How did your business model affect the African agriculture industry in Nigeria?

We started from Zimbabwe, and today we are the market leader there. Aggregate hybrid adoption is still low, but any company that is willing to do the hard work will gradually be able to unlock the opportunities within this space. Adoption is difficult for the consumer, and the use of hybrid seed cannot be foisted upon them. However, you can influence the consumer, which is what we are trying to do. We perform many demonstrations to showcase our excellent genetics to the farmers. It is a slow but sure process because the farmers have to see it before they believe it. It is a process that we started four years ago, and farmer testimonies across countries confirm we are on the right path. Once farmers adopt a hybrid seed, they do not switch or revert back, because there is a huge difference in yield. However, farming being their livelihoods, many are not ready to take risk without seeing compelling evidence to do so. We take the farmers on this journey so that in the end they can make the decisions themselves.

Agriculture and telecommunications were the best-performing sectors in the Nigerian economy during the recession. How were you affected by the pandemic?

We were able to quickly adjust because we offer essential services, and food security would be threatened if our industry was not classified as such. We were flexible, implementing considerable remote working and leveraging social media tools to amplify our farmer engagement, such as our demonstrations. It was unfortunate that lockdown started at the peak of the planting season, but we were able to adapt well in time to turn the season around. We worked well with our trade partners and were able to offer them at least one month’s inventory therefore guaranteeing availability for the farmers. We also collaborated with the government through the reserve bank to be able to work with farmers group from provision of seed to agronomy service. Indeed, 2020 was a good year for our business.

How can the full potential of agriculture in Nigeria be harnessed?

There is great potential, but first we need to have the right infrastructure in place. There needs to be greater access for farmers to markets, quality information, and finance. We need to find innovative ways of solving the issues of access. Processes need to be more efficient. In the value chain today, farmers do not earn much even though they bear considerable risk, while the middlemen are the ones taking in the most money. It is important to improve farmers’ access to the market such that their labors ultimately prove profitable for them. We need private-sector investment in agriculture more than ever before while leveraging on technology to drive efficiency and scale.

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