By: Udeme INYANG
A week ago, a casual post by Ime Uwah on one of his social media pages not only attracted attention and traffic to his wall, it also provided something to ponder about by those who were left in awe by what he wrote.
Taking various pictures inside his large farmland, he wrote: “…the proceeds of what you are seeing behind me can buy a brand new 2016 G-Wagon in exactly 6 months from today”.
The post generated a plethora of comments from those who couldn’t come to terms with the reality of what he said. A 2016 Mercedes G – Wagon goes for a princely $120,825. And while many were left amazed by this disclosure by Ime, he took time to inform and encourage those who cared to ask questions and wanted to know how this seemingly impossibility can be achieved.
Observing this fascinating post all day, it was heart gladdening how Ime took time to personally reply each person, one after the other, offering a word of advice and encouragement for those who pummeled him with questions concerning what he had put up.
“This is a nursery for curry, scent leaves, tomatoes, waterleaf, pumpkin leaves and cucumber etc “, he volunteered when quizzed on what he was cultivating.
Browsing through the comments and his personal replies, it was easy to see that this young man has come to emerge as a leader of his generation. At just 38, he has succeeded in commanding the respect of his peers who look up to him for inspiration.
“My brother, you can start little. I started cultivating in 2012, it was quite small and laughable”, he encouraged a certain Edidiong Hanson who acknowledged the fact that agriculture is the way forward but complained about the capital not being available for business.
Like he said, as CEO of the now wave making Eni Farms, a subsidiary of Eni Stores, Ime started small. What started as “small and laughable” is now rated as one of the biggest farms in the south-south zone of Nigeria. Reading through the various replies he gave to inquisitive minds on his page, it was clear to see that the driving force behind this young man of Uyo origin is passion.
A peep at his company webpage available online reveals a young man with amazing zeal to succeed.
A part of the company history reads: “A wholly indigenous company, Eni Stores is the fruit of several business efforts of the founder, Ime Uwah, in previous years. In 2003, from the boys quarters of his father’s house, he started the first fast food delivery and catering service for individuals and corporate organizations in Akwa Ibom State, XL Flavours.
“As an entreprenuer, he identified the existing need for food delivery at the time when Uyo metropolis had begun to expand in size and the population was rapidly growing.
“He served his customers continental and local dishes, packaged and delivered in record time. As sales grew, the service was further established when the enterprise began managing the canteens of several banks in the city. He thrived on delivering quality customer service with emphasis on food quality and hygiene.
“The success did not last long, with the rapid growth the city was seeing, a major national player in the food business then, Mr Biggs, opened an outlet in the city. XL Flavours started losing customers and went under in no time.
“Not giving up, he took the positives of the business bust up and realised to be a major player, one needed capital resources. He then went into several other ventures with a grand plan to raise funds and re-enter the scene.
“In 2006, he founded Outedge Limited, a company also under the Eni Group, and secured exclusive distribution rights in Nigeria from a Canadian based firm, Aira, for its retractable screen nets.
“With no time, the firm expanded its services to include building, construction, consultancy and supplies of motor vehicles. And in 2010, Eni Stores was registered as a business name and started operations retailing stationeries while building capacity for the bigger picture.
“In 2012, Eni Stores was registered as a limited liability company with 10,000,000 shares capital. Starting with the setting up of the food processing aspect of the business concept, a 6,000 laying bird capacity farm was commissioned 6 months after registration. Operations were expanded to include retail of groceries and household items later in 2013.
“With the introduction of a 5 acre vegetable plantation early 2015, Today, Eni Stores is the fastest growing food retail and leading livestock and mechanized farmers in Nigeria, with capacity to produce over 18 million table eggs and over 50,000kg of poultry meat per annum”.
Looking at any person who is a recognized leader in any field of endeavor, it’s easy to see passion. Passion makes things happen which would otherwise be considered impossible. Passion overcomes obstacles which long ago would have killed mere interest or resolve.
Those who are passionate about what they do have an advantage that is nearly impossible to overcome. In passion, there is energy, creativity, resilience and persistence.
For Ime, it has been a livelihood earned in- between passion and success. With Eni Farms, he has been able to get really passionate to fulfill his greatest possibilities and dreams.
Ime has been able to prove that with oil prices taking a plunge since last year and the huge decline having a painful effect on the economy of our dear state, our youths can salvage the economy by engaging themselves in agriculture.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Ime, our youths can make agriculture become the main-stay of our economy. It also offers the younger generation a chance to make a difference in our state instead of tagging behind politicians who can only offer them pittance in return for political followership.
Agriculture has existed longer than any other trade on earth. The first humans were hunters and gatherers, but today, agriculture has grown into a multi-faceted, million-naira industry that affects almost every aspect of life.
There are many challenges ahead for the sector but if young people are offered education in agriculture, a voice at policy level, and in the media, and are engaged with innovations, then the agriculture industry can attract youths.
The truth is that with more than 50 percent of the country’s population under the age of 35, and with an additional 100 million young people entering the labour market between now and 2035, according to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Akwa Ibom will need more and more of Ime Uwahs to grapple with this looming challenge.
Udeme INYANG is a public commentator, media strategist, image manager and publisher of NEWS LINK Newspapers. GSM:08064277363