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| By Maureen Chigbo | Dec. 2, 2012 @ 12:11 GMT
SHE does not look like the quintessential farmer, who resides in the rural areas. But farming is her occupation and she proudly introduces herself as a farmer. That alone singles out Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru in a society where many young men and women are crazy about white collar jobs and political appointments where the rewards are much and the rigours of earning a living less.
Umoru is the founder and chief implementation officer, Honeysuckles PTL Ventures, a company engaged principally in farming, food production, processing and distribution. She started the company soon after she passed out of the Lagos State University, LASU, where she studied Zoology. She had no doubts about her ambition but she had to overcome initial doubts from her relatives who later gave her all the support she needed to succeed in her farming venture.
She is an agribusiness entrepreneur who is extremely passionate about Food, Farming and the community. Her vision to pursue youth involvement in the agricultural sector in particular is borne out of a realisation that a sustainable economic growth and development rest on a solid and viable small and medium enterprises development. She is convinced that increased education of both youth and women, especially within local communities, can contribute immensely to help Nigeria attain national food security. Her company recently launched its first flagship retail outlet under the Farmshoppe in Ikeja, Lagos. The companies’ products include chicken (broilers), smoked chicken, eggs, snails, catfish (smoked and live) and vegetables.
Umoru’s road to success was not easy. She had to overcome a lot of challenges including stereotypes and myths about women owning land which she needed to expand her agribusiness. She narrated her experience recently at a National Gender Policy Dialogue inNigeriaorganised by the World Bank and Department for International Development, DFID inLagos.
According to her, she had to hide her identity before she could purchase the land because the men who control the land in Ogun State, where she has her farm, would not sell to her if they knew that a woman was making the purchase. There were other challenges like inability to get bank loans and poor infrastructure including good roads that would enable her to evacuate her farm produce. But she was lucky that Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, deputy governor of Lagos State, who like all the audience in crowded hall, listened sympathetically, promised to intervene to ensure that the Ogun State government builds the road that leads to her farm and render any other assistance that can help her do her business successfully.
Umoru’s company recently acquired via an outright purchase agreement a 20-hectare defunct farm in Ogun State. The acquisition is an enormous leap from its existing 4-acre leasehold farm and will increase her production and employment opportunities for the youths.
An Alumnus of the Pan African University under the Enterprise Development Center, CEM, and Alum of the United States Department of State International Visitors Leadership Programme, Umoru is a young Nigerian ambassador and a youth advocate who serves as a youth consultant to the African Union Commission. She is also a Goldman Sachs 10,000 women Scholar.
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