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Startup - Visionaries - February 8, 2019

Meet Nigerian Farmer who grows crops on air without soil

Fascinating scientific and technological breakthroughs that have changed the way we do things the world over, often come from the humblest circumstances. For Samson Ogbole, a Nigerian farmer and biochemist, his discoveries did not begin by a yearning for the extraordinary but to provide a lasting end to the hunger plaguing his home country. As a researcher and lover of knowledge, Samson’s ‘smart farms’ invention is building a new foundation for the future for agriculture using aeroponics – a process of growing crops without using soil.

In this exclusive interview with Business Elites Africa, Samson gives insight into his journey that led to his findings. Enjoy the read:

Q: Please tell us about yourself

I am Samson Ogbole – a farmer, biochemist and co-founder PS Nutraceuticals Int. Ltd. Agriculture for me is more than just food production. Rather it is the foundation for sustainable development, job creation, healthier living as well as national development. I believe agriculture must adopt the business mindset, technology, automation, precision, data and be climate smart. To this end, I have devoted my time and resources to building modern farms exploring the latest technologies for agriculture, sharing and training others to adopt “the modern agriculture.” I believe food production should not be seasonal because hunger is not.

Q: How did you discover your vision or what led you into this line of business/ career?

I got into agriculture during my NYSC at IITA under the YIIFSWA project under the guidance of Dr Nobert Maroya. I have always loved research and health, and with IITA I got exposed to a different angle where I realised that saving the food systems and health doesn’t start from the clinics or hospitals but rather from food production. So, I got interested in food production.

Q: Describe your company- name, services/ products, other information you would like to provide.

PS Nutraceuticals Int Ltd is a company with a mandate to ensure people either right to live longer. We push for the use of technology in a climate-smart approach for food production.

Q: How did you get started – business plan, capital sourcing, prior experience, mentorships, etc.?

When I got introduced to soilless farming under YIIFSWA project, I started running tests with my salary at my own backyard. So, I had to test with multiple crops, find ways to do it easier and efficiently using local materials and started posting my works online. I was working alone with contract workers to execute farm set-ups before I met an investor online (PJ Okocha) who took interest in my work, so we partnered to establish PS Nutrac.

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Q: What are your most effective work habits?

Reading, researching and finding ways of providing farming solutions. Any knowledge that doesn’t help the community is nothing. I do not procrastinate, if it needs to be done then I do it. Tomorrow has its own demands, so I respond to today’s demands today. If there is a problem, a solution exists – all I need to do is think. And if my solution is complex, I think more until a solution is arrived at.

Q: How is your product/services different from your competitors?

We don’t have much competition in Nigeria for now. Soilless farming and other technologies we are bringing into agriculture are either the first or amongst the first set in the nation thus our competitors most times are those we empowered because we know we can’t do it alone.

Q: Share your number one sales technique with us

Our products and services are designed for humans, so our ultimate guide is – would we as a ‘FARMily’ want this? Would we love to be treated this way? Does this product meet a need? We look at every aspect of meeting the need not just the financial cost.

Q: If someone gave you $100,000 and said, “Invest this in your business by the end of the week – or lose it” what would you do?

I will invest in farms. I want to build farming kits which people can hang on walls, which will ensure everyone can grow food and will go a long way to tilt us towards food security and also help ensure we have access to healthier food.

Q: Who do you most admire and Why?

I would say I admire not just one but many people. This is so because admiration should not be based on specific qualities. My first though, is Ofure – her calm and willingness to start again, she will be 9 years this year, Ms. Temidayo and my mum (Dr. Juliet), the calm even in the storm, the unwavering belief in God when everything says they shouldn’t, they just believe more, a reckless love of God for God, Engr. Samuel, Bar. Udoka, Mr. Bash, Bar. Charles, Mr. Ugo, Dr. Kenikon, Ms. Maimuna Ellaketche, Mr. Raymond, Dr. Mrs Fashugba-Waheed ‘Bola – friends who could be giants of the industry outside the shores of the country but would rather join the race for nation building and eat crumbs on the path of rebuilding the Nigeria they desire, Dr. N. Maroya, Dr. Josiah, Dr. Spencer N., Dr. Omage, Dr, Mrs. Erifeta, Dr. Njoya – the attention to details and willingness to teach with a love for knowledge, Pastor Tolu Moody, Revd and Dr. Olabode, Prophet and Prophetess Ayorinde – no words to describe – but yes words are powerful and the true meaning of life is seen because they make you see potentials even before you understand what it is. In the agricultural sector, I have Mr Yomi Williams, Madam Ope of Ope Farms, Amb, Sola Bunmi, Baba Kinzo of Kinzo farms, Mr Akin of corporate farmers, Mrs. Chioma of saladville, Mrs. Uzo of kitchen butterfly, Mrs. Kris Ero, Mr P.J. Okocha co-founder PS Nutrac., etc.

Samson Ogbole holds a first degree and Masters in Biochemistry.

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