Ikechukwu Umeaku has been in the business of dealing agricultural equipment for more than 18 years. Recently, through a PIND demonstration, Umeaku was introduced to STIHL’s motorized harvester. This new equipment transformed how Umeaku sees Niger Delta agriculture and the palm oil value chain.
In Nigeria, palm oil farmers face many risks, one of which is climbing high trees to harvest palm fruit. Umeaku owns TEXMACO, an agricultural equipment dealership. Umeaku learned about STIHL’s motorized harvester through a PIND demonstration. Although the demonstrations were not seamless, “I took it upon myself to go and test it in my village. It worked!” he said. He wanted to improve distribution of the harvesters. According to Umeaku, all palm oil farmers should have one. Driven by such motivation, Umeaku approached PIND about working through TEXMACO.
SPREADING THE BENEFITS
Umeaku’s engagement with PIND connected him to a network of palm oil farmers. He has decided to sell the harvester at cost to minimize the constraints palm farmers face in financing and adopting the technology. Now a fervent promoter of the motorized harvester and the results it produces, Umeaku travels to palm fields to show his customers how to use the harvester, especially those who remain skeptical of the technology. “Since we started selling we have not had any problems with customers or any complaints,” Umeaku shared. TEXMACO has now brought in machines to the value of NGN 18 million.
AN EYE FOR SCALING UP
Umeaku has had his eyes on expansion and sustainability. Farmers trust him and look to him for additional demonstrations on other products such as chemical sprayers and brush cutters. Umeaku just sold his 26th harvester, but next year’s plans are much grander. “I believe in a year we will be selling 100 or more!” he projects. The opportunities in the Niger Delta are limitless.
“We cannot depend on just crude oil forever. Agriculture is good for the economy and for everyone …” – UMEAKU