SkyFox Limited to invest $4.5m into the Agribusiness Sector in three years
SkyFox Limited has attracted $2m as grant into the agribusiness sector in West Africa through the Securing Water For Food (SWFF) programme. The grant is being administered by USAID on behalf of SWFF partners including the Governments of United States of America, Sweden, South Africa, and the Netherlands. The company is also mobilizing $2.5m from investors and other donors within a three-year period.
The Integrated Aquaculture and Crop Production project, which is fast scaling to other parts of West Africa, with sites already in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, has introduced a unique innovation of using the same water used in its fish production to irrigate farmlands so that the nutrient-rich water is not wasted just after one use.
What is more amazing is that SkyFox is making investments in agribusiness much accessible and easier for smallholder farmers and thus making farming more attractive to the youth. “All that the prospective fish or crop farmer needs is a small amount to buy shares in the business. SkyFox doubles that share for you, provides you access to the engineered fish pond and fingerlings or irrigated farmland. The headache of building a fish pond or buying a piece of land or installing an irrigation infrastructure is completely removed. At harvest time, you are paid according to your number of shares,” says Patrick Apoya, CEO of SkyFox.
Mr. Apoya says the SkyFox innovation is in response to the vast market opportunity for fish, growing unemployment in the sub-region, high cost of agribusiness infrastructure especially for aquaculture and commercial crop production, and lack of expertise to run fish farms. He says other motivations for innovating the project include limited geographical locations with suitable water for commercial fish farming, cumbersome procedures for acquiring needed permits to construct fish farms and install irrigation systems in the countries, among others.
In some cases, the company provides the land and all the necessary fish and crop farming infrastructure and leases to prospective investors. The company can as well buy-back the produce from the farmers (where desirable by the farmers) and find markets elsewhere for the them, thereby removing the headache of finding reliable markets and good prices. However, beneficiaries are encouraged to find their own markets to sell their output while the company buy-back is a last resort.
Crop and fish farmers in and around Ekye Amanfrom in the Eastern Region, Brekusu in the Grater Accra Region and Dambai in the Volta Region now have access to modern farming infrastructure to produce more while professionals manage the farming and marketing processes.
To scale up investments and promotional activities to attract the youth into agribusiness, SkyFox is preparing to go into the Ghana Stock Exchange to float the company shares. “It is time to make agriculture more dynamic and inject more professionalism into the sector to attract the youth and create more jobs. In the long run, poverty and the increasing crime rate will reduce if the youth accepts to move towards agribusiness,” says Patrick Apoya.
Story by Emmanuel Addai