Benin: Starting an agricultural business as a young woman (Agribusiness TV)

| August 29, 2016

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Daniele Nda has a degree in banking and finance, a background that helped her spot a good business opportunity—vegetable farming. This background also helped her grow the business, and manage her finances smartly.

The 33-year-old started farming 10 years ago. Mrs. Nda explains, “After university, I decided to become an entrepreneur on the farm. With my brothers, we started rearing rabbits.”

Daniele Nda1

Photo: Daniele Nda. Credit: AgriBusiness TV

Mrs. Nda then incorporated vegetable gardening, using the rabbit droppings as fertilizer. This made good business sense for two reasons: it reduced the cost of fertilizer, and Mrs. Nda knew vegetables would sell well in the market.

She had noticed that many vegetables in her part of Benin were imported from Burkina Faso, Togo, or Nigeria. This meant there was a market for vegetables, and that she could supply them at a lower price by growing locally.

Mrs. Nda now manages the farm herself, after her brothers left to pursue other endeavours. Starting with an abandoned family farm, she has diversified her crops, bought livestock, and invested in transportation to bring her vegetables to market. She explains, “I have reorganized it, and I continue to reorganize it to try to make it a business.”

She believes her training in finance helped her approach agriculture as a business. She explains, “It enables me to know what I am doing, how much I am earning, the costs that I should reduce, [and] which crops I should grow more.”

By noting which crops earn the most, and which inputs are the most expensive, Mrs. Nda can focus on vegetables that earn more, while minimizing expenses. All this ensures more profit, which she can use to support her family or invest in her farm.

Mrs. Nda has faced several challenges. Financing was an issue when she started the business, and when she wanted to invest in new equipment and tools. Fortunately, she was able to borrow from friends.

Moral support was also an issue. Mrs. Nda says her parents were initially critical of their daughter’s decision to start market gardening. But she has been encouraged by the support of her husband, Brice Adossou. He says, “I said to myself, if my wife wants to embark on this journey, why not support her? So when she said she wants to go to the farm, I said ‘Okay, I am with you in this adventure’.”

Her parents are now happy their daughter is content and successful.

Mrs. Nda understands that running an agricultural business is tough. She says, “You don’t go into agriculture because you did not find something better to do. You should already have the determination, faith, and real willingness to grow in this activity.”

Mrs. Nda is passionate about her business. She says: “When I see my vegetables grow, I am very happy. Therefore, we can say that it is market gardening that has chosen me and not me who chose it.”

She also has some words of advice for her brothers, who are no longer farming. She says they should not assume that they will make money just because they have a degree and training. She says risks and entrepreneurship should be embraced. She adds, “They have to believe in themselves, in what they do, and they [should] persevere.”

To watch the video on which this article is based, Benin: A woman in a man’s universe of crop production, go to: http://en.agribusinesstv.info/Benin-A-woman-in-man-s-universe-of-crop-production_v77.html