JoBecks Farms A conversation with our own Josie Babatunde Beckley, Co-Owner & Chief Farmer of JoBecks Farms (SL) Limited
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” (SDG2) recognizes the interlinkages among supporting sustainable agriculture, empowering small farmers, promoting gender equality, ending rural poverty, ensuring healthy lifestyles, tackling climate change, and other issues addressed within the set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Beyond adequate calory intake, proper nutrition has other dimensions that deserve attention, including micronutrient availability and healthy diets. Inadequate micronutrient intake of mothers and infants can have long-term developmental impacts. Unhealthy diets and lifestyles are closely linked to the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases in both developed and developing countries.
Adequate nutrition during the critical 1,000 days from beginning of pregnancy through a child’s second birthday merits a particular focus. The Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement has made great progress since its creation five years ago in incorporating strategies that link nutrition to agriculture, clean water, sanitation, education, employment, social protection, health care and support for resilience.
Extreme poverty and hunger are predominantly rural, with smallholder farmers and their families making up a very significant proportion of the poor and hungry. Thus, eradicating poverty and hunger are integrally linked to boosting food production, agricultural productivity and rural incomes.
Agriculture systems worldwide must become more productive and less wasteful. Sustainable agricultural practices and food systems, including both production and consumption, must be pursued from a holistic and integrated perspective. Source: Sustainable Development Goals
Born and grew up in Freetown Josie Babatunde Beckley (Josie B.) is Sierra Leonean Chief Farmer working to feed Sierra Leone. He is the Co-Owner & Chief Farmer with JoBecks Farms (SL) Limited. Josie Babatunde Beckley holds B. A Mathematics Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN USA, B.A. Economics, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ USA, Dip. Accounting Lethbridge College, Lethbridge, AB Canada, MBA, Global Mining Management & Strategic Management Schulich School of Business, Toronto, ON Canada. Josie Babatunde Beckley attained his primary, junior, and senior secondary schools education from Tower Hill Municipal School, Sierra Leone Grammar School, Gambia Senior Secondary School respectively.
Josie B. grew up in Wellington on a poultry farm that his mother used to run. His mother took over the farm from her father who was a Farmer and Fisherman. Josie Babatunde Beckley always enjoyed working on the farm and tending to the birds they had.
JoBecks Farms (SL) Limited is a growing poultry farming business that has four focus areas – raising broiler chickens to meet the demand for poultry meat, layers chickens to meet the market demand for poultry eggs, poultry feed production and supply, and related businesses. Their ultimate goal is to meet the demand for fresh, healthy, nutritious locally produced poultry products in Sierra Leone.
Before taking over Jobecks Farms, Josie Babatunde Beckley has previously worked in the US and Canada as an accountant in various industries going from software technology, logistics, oil and gas, and mining. his most recent position was as a Leadership and Management consultant with Aspen Management Partners in Health where he worked as a Management Partner attached to the CH/EPI Program of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone.
Josie Babatunde Beckley, Chief farmer took us through his journey during an exclusive interview on our conversation with leaders from works of life.
Sallu Kamuskay: You are the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) JoBecks Farms? What would you say enable you to set this initiative?
Josie B.: I am not necessarily the founder of JoBecks Farms. I took over from my mother, who took over from her father. She has been a great supporting pillar in getting things up and running and a great adviser to the business. The brand – JoBecks – is nonetheless a name my aunt used to call me as a child growing up. I find it unique as no one else ever called me that and she has all my life called me JoBecks. And because of that uniqueness, I chose the name JoBecks.
I don’t consider myself a CEO. I prefer the term, Chief Farmer. It’s more practical for the work we do. We are farmers. I am proud to be a farmer. I love poultry farming. My team members are farmers. What we do is poultry farming and we do what we do proudly.
I returned home in 2018 after several years abroad to explore an opportunity to work in Sierra Leone. My plan was to move back to Canada after two years. During that time, I was amazed by the influx of large quantities of imported poultry eggs and meat in the market. Finding locally produced eggs in supermarkets was hard. There are many small poultry farms in the country. Discussing with many people, I heard lots of complaints about the quality of the eggs and chickens in the market and how they struggle to find good quality local poultry products.
I saw this as an opportunity to invest in something that I know and always loved – poultry farming – local poultry production to meet the demand. Having practical experience and knowledge of poultry farming, it was more of trying to understand ways of tackling the challenges faced in the industry and exploring the opportunities available.
Sallu Kamuskay: Tell us about the services the JoBecks Farms offer and where are your operation areas?
Josie B.: We currently have 2 locations – Wellington and Songo.
At wellington, we do broilers for meat production whereas at Songo, we do layers for egg production. Because of the challenges of the availability of feed ingredients locally, we currently import poultry concentrates for operational and commercial purposes.
Sallu Kamuskay: Before setting up these farms, where have you worked before and what position did you hold?
Josie B.: Most of my work experiences have been in the US and Canada and worked as an accountant in various industries going from software technology, logistics, oil and gas, and mining. My most recent position was as a Leadership and Management consultant with Aspen Management Partners in Health where I worked as a Management Partner attached to the CH/EPI Program of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone.
Sallu Kamuskay: Reflecting on your childhood or early youthful age, what was/were the difficult things you did to survive, acquire education, or any of your dream?
Josie Babatunde Beckley: I can’t speak on difficulties things I had to do to survive. I am grateful my parents could do all the worrying to ensure that we as children didn’t have to worry about the difficult things. We were not priviledged, but we were satisfied.
Sallu Kamuskay: How would you count on the impact of your in fighting any of the Sustainable Development Goals?
Josie B.: Poultry is of increasing importance in Sierra Leone especially in the expanding urban areas such as Freetown. The increasing population growth and rapid urbanization have seen the demand for poultry products increase, being some of the least expensive sources of animal protein. Fresh poultry eggs and meat has been a challenge in Sierra Leone due to the lack of adequate local poultry production to meet the market demand. This has given rise to the high level of importation of eggs and poultry meat.
This high dependency on importation of our necessities pose a challenge to the country’s quest to feed itself and achieve food security which is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. This also means that our country will never be able to sustain itself in times of emergency and continue to depend on aid in times of need. This has been quite apparent during the current COVID-19 pandemic where the country saw the price of eggs rise by 35% because of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus worldwide. JoBecks Farms is seeking to build our production capacity to support the country’s quest to achieve SDG 2, support the development of related industries and businesses that will create jobs, increase tax revenues for the country and ultimately support all-around economic growth.
Sallu Kamuskay: How can you be reached? Your social media platforms and website?
Josie B.: Ans: Phone +232 31 678 999 | +232 75 439 999
Facebook: jobecksfarmssl | Twitter: jobecks3 | LinkedIn: JoBecks Farms (SL) Limited
Sallu Kamuskay: What do you do for fun?
Josie B.: That’s an interesting question because I try to do a lot. I love gardenin. One thing I also took from my mom. I spend time in my garden at home most weekends. I like to hang out with friends, what sports, play video games,… just the nomal things.
Sallu Kamuskay: What would be your message to Sierra Leoneans?
Josie B.: Sierra Leone currently face high food shortages as a result of our lack of agricultural productivity. Most importantly most people that venture into agricultural activities, do so mainly for export purposes rather than for local consumption. Well one thing is certain – we all need to eat. Therefore, we need to do more and invest in farming and farming related value added services to support local consumption and deviate from the dependency of importation to supply our basic food necessities. Export production is good, it brings much needed foreign exchange revenues but without sustainable production for local consumption, all the foreign currencies received are lost to importation. This has a big impact on the value of our currency, on the inflation rates and basically on our livelihood. With sustainable local agricultural production and consumption, no country will thrive. For poultry to be successful in Sierra Leone, we need more investment in crop farming especially in grains such as maize (corn), soybeans, sorghum, etc. We need more fishing for our sources of animal protein. We need more technical skills training on agricultural related programs, and development of associated industries. Let us all work together to support agricultural development in Sierra Leone. Remember, “No Farmer, No Food!”.
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