Briefly tell us about yourself and your organization?
I’m Edward Okojie, a multifaceted professional with a background in farming, economics, fitness coaching, and financial market analysis. Holding a degree in Economics from the University of Abuja, I proudly serve as the Founder and CEO of Oak Forest Company Ltd, an agro development firm located in Abuja, Nigeria.
At Oak Forest Company, we run a diversified operation encompassing poultry, fish, and Black Soldier Fly farming in the Kuje region of Abuja. Beyond our farming ventures, we are passionate about promoting modern and eco-friendly agricultural practices. We extend our expertise by providing training to fellow farmers, aiming for practices that are both environmentally sustainable and economically viable.
Thriving at the intersection of agriculture, sustainability, and economic development, Oak Forest Company is committed to making a positive impact in the agro-industry.
What motivated you to start your social enterprise?
In the wake of the 2020 global upheaval caused by COVID-19, farmers in Nigeria faced unprecedented challenges. The lingering aftermath, marked by an inflation surge, significantly impacted their productivity and sustenance. Responding to this pressing need, in 2021, we initiated a social enterprise dedicated to empowering farmers.
Our focus has been on equipping farmers with sustainable strategies to counteract rising costs and bolster their profitability. Through our endeavors, we’ve introduced alternative feed sources to the farming community, presenting viable solutions to save on feed expenses and enhance overall productivity.
To date, our social enterprise has successfully trained over 45 farmers. Our training programs cover diverse techniques, including organic maggot production as fish feed—a cost-effective, high-protein alternative—and hydroponic fodder. These initiatives aim not only to address immediate challenges but also to cultivate a resilient and forward-thinking farming community. Together, we’re fostering sustainability and prosperity in the agricultural landscape in Nigeria.
So far, what has been the impact of your social enterprise?
Thanks to the invaluable feedback from our beneficiaries, we’ve successfully prevented numerous farmers from shutting down their operations, all due to the burden of soaring feed costs, the farmers now enjoy reduced cost of up to 25% on poultry feeding.
What are the major challenges you are currently facing in your social enterprise?
A significant hurdle we face is encouraging farmers to adopt the established methods of animal feed production introduced to them during our training programs. A prevalent skepticism among farmers still persists about some of the methods, posing a substantial hurdle to the widespread adoption of innovative farming approaches and technologies.
Mention one big change you will like to see in your line of work e.g. policy change, behavior change, institutional support, more collaboration etc.
I would appreciate government support for our initiative, enabling us to expand our training programs to reach more farmers. This support is crucial for our overarching goal to help farmers save costs and optimize the benefits from their activities.
Do you have a final message for a budding social entrepreneur who is interested in your field of work?
Our ultimate objective transcends the accumulation of only financial gains. We aim to contribute towards the flourishing of farmers and society through our activities. Therefore, for anyone interested in a starting or running a social enterprise in the agricultural sector, it is crucial to note that it a rewarding endeavor that demands immense dedication and sacrifices.