One hot dusty afternoon (it was the dry season) I proceeded to look for this village.
This was the days before google maps. Heck, it was looong before mobile phones.
Yes there were land lines then, but they were the preserve of rich city dwellers.
So I asked for directions along the way and knew I was getting close to this pineapple paradise.
I got to a junction, and stopped to ask a young girl (she must have been about 12 or 13) for directions.
She took one look at me and my car and promptly disappeared into the bush.
I thought nothing more of this incidence putting it down to the fact that she was probably scared of my car. I did have a big red Mercedes at the time.
Eventually I arrived at Odogunyan.
Everything I had been told about the pineapples from this place was true.
I had come prepared with hard cash and felt confident that I could drive a good bargain.
I bought about 10,000 suckers and told them when my truck would come to make the pickup.
The farmers were evidently as pleased with their deal as I was with what I had spent.
One of the farmers offered to lead me back to the next major town. He wanted to bank his cash (that I had given in exchange for his pineapples) in town.
As we approached the junction where I had attempted to ask the young girl for directions, I saw that a tree trunk had been hauled into the middle of the road.
As I slowed down, an angry mob materialised from nowhere.
Apparently, there had been a spate of kidnappings in the area.
The young girl had reported that she had narrowly escaped from the clutches of a kidnapper who had tried to tempt her into his big red car!
Had I been alone, I would not be alive to write this tale today.
The farmer who was with me and obviously spoke the local lingo quickly refuted the charge. He showed them the money I had paid for his pineapple suckers.
He told them I had promised to buy more seedlings and no harm was to befall me or else….
Fortunately, it didn't end there.
I had just started my Phd program at Universiti Sains Malaysia (one of the top ten universities in South East Asia).
Joseph came to visit and I took him to Ampang point, a popular meeting point for the international community in Malaysia. He recounted his near-death experience.
I knew there had to be a better way, a safer way of getting seedling for cash crops.
I attended extra lessons on bio-technology and offered to be a research-assistant on bio-tech projects in my department.
I quickly realised that bio-technology is the catalyst needed to ignite the agricultural revolution in Nigeria because... everything in life starts with a seed.
Getting it right at the very beginning (with the seeds and seedlings), helps increase the likelihood of success across the entire agricultural value chain.
Understanding the science is one thing, domesticating the science within the context of Nigeria’s infrastructural challenges is another thing.
If you want to own the technology, you have to build the technology, from scratch.
We’ve had to build everything from scratch. Naturally we have made a few mistakes along the way, and become experts as a result.
That’s why we can confidently say, we are Nigeria’s leading COMMERCIAL AGRO bio-tech company.
Our “humble beginnings” story would not be complete if we did not mention Mrs Rosemary Umana, the Director FCT Agency for Science and Technology (FAST).
You could say that FAST is the logical home for Biocrops Nigeria. We are not just a Science and Tech company, we are also employers and trainers of scientists and technologists.
The difference is that Mrs Umana and the FAST staff have not just embraced our presence, but she has and continues to enthusiastically support our growth.
Don’t tell her, but we fondly refer to her as “mama bio-tech”
This story is not just about Bio-crops Nigeria.
It’s also your story and what your role in the new Nigerian Agricultural Revolution
We look forward to hearing your story at email@example.com.