Friday, 4 October 2013


Local agricultural processing is vital as Africa’s food imports continue to rise – but not all commodities are well suited to domestic value addition

A rising middle class and expanding population are pushing Africa’s food import bill to worrying highs. While rising capital imports suggest growing productive capacity, booming consumption imports – especially for products that can be produced domestically – are a red flag, according to Jean-Louis Ekra, president of the African Export-Import Bank in Cairo. They suggest economies are failing to keep pace and running up unnecessary trade imbalances.

Africa lost its status as a net exporter of agricultural products in the early 1980s when prices for raw commodities fell and local production stagnated. Since then, agricultural imports have grown faster than agricultural exports and by 2007 reached a record high of $47bn, yielding a deficit of $22bn. The value of agricultural exports from Thailand is now greater than for the whole of the African continent below the Sahara.

Nature is partly to blame. Weather-related damage has hit rice crops in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Niger and Madagascar. Foot and mouth disease has hurt Egypt’s bovine exports, and cassava – one of Africa’s major offerings to world agricultural trade – is being felled by a fast-spreading virus. Policy volatility is also at fault. Nigeria – Africa’s largest rice importer – announced heightened import taxes last year, which prompted a sudden rise in purchases. And across Africa, weak infrastructure hinders markets.

But rising food imports are also a consequence of wealth and one of its tell-tale effects: a taste for protein. Poultry import growth last year was around 12 percent, driven by higher incomes in the likes Angola, Benin, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “Africa is growing at a base of 5 to 6 percent a year, which translates into a growing middle class with an increase of consumption,” says Mr Ekra. “In west Africa, for instance, you see an increasing taste for luxury Thai rice.”

This is not only the case in the more affluent economies. In Sierra Leone, which languishes towards the bottom of the United Nations’ Human Development Index, rice imports have run to about 15 percent of consumption in the last few years, and have reached as much as 45 percent in the recent past. “That means an import bill of several hundred million dollars, a truly frightening percentage of the $3.8bn GDP,” says Paddy Docherty, chief executive of Phoenix Africa, a company investing in post-conflict countries.

Companies testify to the challenges of agricultural import-dependence in their continental operations. “We have 13 factories in Africa that use products like soft oils, tomatoes or starch-based compounds on a daily basis, but much of this is imported, wasting foreign exchange and increasing our carbon footprint,” says Marc Engel, chief procurement officer at Unilever.

But to an optimist, import-dependence spells opportunity. Firstly, structural imbalances are a symptom of fast growth. China’s annual agricultural consumption needs have now overtaken production too. For companies and investors, the import profile signals strong domestic demand which could be tapped through investment in domestic agribusiness and food retail.

Attention is turning to greater domestic processing of agricultural resources, to ensure raw products can reach finished form within African markets. Raising productivity is key to this. “In order to have a sustainable, solid rural sector you cannot have poverty. You must have prosperity,” says Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research for Mars. “And how will that come without productivity? So productivity is the key piece.”

Mr Docherty agrees that productivity increases are needed to drive local value addition. “The vast majority of imports are of bagged rice, i.e. already milled and packaged,” says Mr Docherty. “There is great potential to do this milling in situ in places like Sierra Leone, if there is the primary production in country to feed the mills. I know from experience that the tiny areas in production in Sierra Leone, and the low yields currently being achieved because of the lack of inputs such as fertiliser and lime, means that there is milling capacity which is unused.”

One Beijing-funded demonstration farm in the Bo region has a decent rice mill which is shut because it lacks the raw product to justify keeping it in operation, says Mr Docherty: “Processing capacity alone is no good without sufficient volumes of local production. I do not imagine the economics would work if raw rice was imported for local processing. Processing capacity must grow alongside local production, and the two together are essential for achieving food security and more efficient markets in Africa.”

It is also important to ensure local processing is technically advanced, otherwise it can consume large amounts of labour without a value payback. Cassava processing, for instance, is often low productivity – and traditional processing methods can lead to contamination of cassava crops.

Practitioners must distinguish between commodities which make sense to process locally, and those that do not. Technoserve, the NGO, has conducted analysis across several African markets and their findings challenge the view that local processing is always best. Measuring the domestic resource cost of a range of Mozambican commodities threw up a number of interesting insights. Local processing of cashew nuts was seen to be highly advantageous, while local varieties of rice (Chokwe and Zambezia varieties) were not found to be financially profitable without credit access and technical assistance. Potatoes command low prices but production costs are modest, suggesting a good market, while paprika was found to be “somewhat profitable” for farmers, although pesticide and fertiliser interventions would be needed.

Simon Winter, senior vice president for development at Technoserve, says market dynamics signal where and how to go about value addition. “Once you have identified the market and where processing needs to be, then you optimise your logistics,” he says. It does not make sense, for instance, to develop cashew roasting and packaging facilities too close to the production source if the consumer market is far away, due to the damage that will be caused during transportation. “If cashew kernels are in vacuum packed 2kg bags, they are less likely to get broken and crushed than in a small foil packet,” Mr Winter notes. Chocolate, on the other hand, would make more sense to process locally (currently, Europe and North America dominate this segment). While high temperatures are a struggle in west Africa, there is less risk of product damage during transportation of chocolate. “You have to understand this commodity by commodity,” says Mr Winter.

There are many constraints to value addition, even where economic arguments are strong. First is a lack of resources, including refrigeration and cold storage, vehicles and skilled personnel. Then there are deficient or confusing standards, especially between countries. And there are serious health dangers to some locally-grown produce, such as aflatoxin that can be found in large quantities in maize and nuts.

Local processing means being able to identify and have the means to flush out such health dangers, for instance through aseptic processing. Important assistance here can come from government agencies. The Kenya Agriculture Research Institute, for instance, provides disease and pest management support, as does Cocobod, the cocoa sector agency in Ghana.

When exploring the market dynamics of local processing, it is also important for companies and practitioners to distinguish between producer- versus buyer-driven chains. Buyer-driven chains can be evident in agriculture, when freshness standards and protected varieties are important, when there is high product differentiation, when packaging and logistics are complicated, or when R&D and other knowledge elements in production or processing are critical. So it may well be large retailers and brand companies – from Massmart to Unilever – who could provide the impetus to local processing in Africa, saving themselves money and reducing supply chain complexity.

Contributor to "THIS IS AFRICA" Development Section
Read original article from the link below

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Images From National Animal Science Conference 2013

The Animal Science Association of Nigeria held their annual conference at the Women Development Centre, Garki Business District Abuja where a host of topics were discussed by the experts and speakers that graced the three day long event.
The event was well attended by Animal scientists from all over the federation. This are some of the images from the event.

Youth Agro Entrepreneurs (Y.A.E) At Nigerian Economic Summit

This years (2013) edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit was held in Abuja with Agriculture as a business being the central theme . The Youth Agro Entrepreneurs media team took the opportunity to speak to some of the major stakeholders and organizations in attendance.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How To Fund Your Small Farm Business Start-Up

The sceptics have been quick to point out to me that growing food is a relatively cheap thing to do. Farming is part of the Africans DNA, it is our culture, and it is in our history - Just throw some seeds in the soil, add water and watch the plants sprout. It is that simple.
But growing food commercially to feed hundreds or thousands of people isn’t cheap. Farming is expensive. Tractors cost millions of naira, barns don’t build themselves, personnel require high salaries to keep them motivated and you can’t grow marketing materials. Like any business, starting a farm from scratch takes resources. Agro-entrepreneurship is neither cheap nor easy but it is extremely fulfilling and profitable.
For young people venturing into agro-entrepreneurship, finding money to pay for those resources can be difficult, even impossible. Traditionally, farmers have had far fewer lending options available to them compared to other areas of the economy. Obtaining a loan from the bank or other financial institutions has historically required documented farming experience and lots of collateral (typically large expanse of lands). Agricultural loans from commercial banks or farm credit agencies were aimed towards giant agricultural corporations, and haven’t taken young farmer seriously in the past. This are part of the problems limiting youths floating more agro-enterprises start-up.
In the vacuum created by these barriers, the government and various non-profits and business people have stepped in to try and ensure a future for young farmers with creative new funding models to help solve these problems

Here are a few ideas for raising funds for establishing a small farm business.

1. Bring In Your Rich Friend, Family

In an industrial agricultural system set up to feed billions of people and grow profit for shareholders, small-scale farmers don’t stand a chance raising the much needed capital to set up an efficient enterprise. The equipments and processes need to be put in place requires money. Hard cash, which most small scale farmers don’t have a lot off ( nor do the youths being encouraged to take up farming as an option to unemployment) is needed. Involving your rich friends or family is the traditional way of starting a fundraiser for a business idea. Agriculture is no different. It is true that most rich people would rather not engage in farming due to the general stigma towards farming as a poor person’s survival technique but most rich folks would invest in farming business if you have a concrete business plan clearly stating the return in investment. Forget the fear of your idea being stolen by a wealthier, greedier friend. Agriculture is not such a novel idea and some would rather die than do the work. It is okay, that’s why you are an entrepreneur. As the saying goes; man must chop! Therefore food business is always good business.

2. Reach Out To Rural Leaders

A decade ago, in Abuja a choice plot of land could be obtained from a traditional ruler in your area if he deems you worthy. Be it through honest service to the community, underhand payments, marrying his daughter, putting his sons through school or just about any act to get yourself in his or her good books. These powers to allocate land at will have been taken away by AGIS for a more modern system of land allocation fitting for a 21st century city that Abuja aims to be. That is all prim and proper, but these traditional leaders of rural communities still control and own vast expanse of lands which most of them are left unpopulated and uncultivated. While Abuja is going ultra-modern, majority of the country is still ruled by rural leaders with the power to allocate lands. It is worthy to always remember as an educated young person in the city searching for opportunities that big population is big business and majority of Nigerians live in rural communities. Reaching out to these leaders can be a genuine opportunity to own a piece of land to start your farm business, plus they also control large amounts of human resources. Empowering a traditional ruler in rural areas through setting up agro-enterprises under their watch can boost their popularity amongst their subjects and help create opportunities for the community and what is more you get to make start your business with the two key resources needed for agriculture – land and labour.

3. Connect With Other Would-Be Farmers and Set-up a Co-operative

Self - preservation is the first law of nature. Networking and meeting up with like -minded individuals who are looking to start a farm biz is vital. Joining a co-operative is an innovative way of sourcing for funds and there are various interesting groups out there helping to build their own vision and enterprises. These co-operatives operate varying financial models which could help you start plus applying for a loan as a group also increases your chances of convincing the banks and loan institutions

4. Apply For Fund/Grants/Loans Specifically Aimed At Farmers

A major downside to taking loans from financial institutions are the high interest rates incurred from taking these monies they offer. This is slowly being overcome as the government and various agencies and organizations are beginning to realize the potential of agricultural business and its importance to prosperity. There are specific loans aimed at funding young people. The Bank of Agriculture has been active, National Export Import (NEXIM) Bank, and various Microfinance Banks have loans specifically tailored to the peculiar business of agriculture. Take the bold step and speak to one of these organizations you had be genuinely surprised. Those involved in National Youth Service Corp (NYSC ) can speak to their CDS officials and find out about non interest loans available to them. For a global approach, there are crowd funding websites like AgFunder that can help your kick-starter campaign.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Jovana Farms; A Mushroom Farming Start-Up Company

My personal experience as an agric entrepreneur has proved that farming mushroom, antelope, quail, rabbit, grass cutter, snail, laboratory rat and guinea pig is second nature.In the case of mushroom cultivation, its production gives smallholder farmers a big chance to increase their income, improve their health and offers an alternative means of livelihood to urban and rural farmers.

The process of growing mushroom is one of the easiest ways to earn a living and not much physical strength is required in its production.The potentials in mushroom farming makes it an investor delight as a viable money making option. Investment in mushroom production will in the long run contribute to food security, wealth, and health and employment creation.Getting started on a mushroom farm is a potentially lucrative way of getting into the farming business. This kind of farming is highly remunerative enterprise with quick return.

There are many types of mushrooms and they can be categorized into Four Saprotrophic, Mycorrhizal, Parasitic, and Entophytic. Edible mushrooms are considered as healthy food because their mineral content is higher than that of meat or fish and most vegetables.

Nigeria job seekers can succeed in overcoming the challenges of poverty and unemployment through micro, small and medium scale rat breeding. But first we must empower our people with the right resources and skills then they’ll be able to create a brighter future for themselves and for the country.Good market. Many opportunities abound in the growth of mushrooms as many hospitality industries in the country still import the product to add to their meals. Majority of big hotels in Nigeria have mushrooms in their daily menu, but this mushrooms came from abroad, this means local production will have a ready market. There is opportunity to even export mushroom, once you can produce good quality that can be exported to Europe and America.

More farmers are of late going into the farming of mushrooms, a neglected and forgotten healthy food, which is not only improving the financial status of the producers but the health of the consumers’ as well.The rate at which Nigerians have shown interest in the eating of mushrooms is given a massive boost to production of the delicacy.ViabilityThe technology for the cultivation of mushroom species could be easily adopted by individuals, co-operative societies, families, and famers, schools in the rural and urban centers without difficulties. The cultivation of the mushroom can be done all year round as sources of the mushrooms are from agricultural wastes which are always available in abundance in Nigeria.The high rate of returns and low cost of investment as well as farming them are some of the reasons many farmers are fast resorting to mushroom cultivation these days.Prince Arinze Onebunne, is the CEO Jovana Farms and can be reached on

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


A study published today in the Journal of Nutrition provides conclusive evidence that orange sweet potato (OSP) provided significant amounts of vitamin A to malnourished Ugandan children and women and that a modest improvement in vitamin A levels in the body was measurable in some cases.Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a major public health concern in poorer countries and accounts for more than 600,000 deaths a year among children under five years of age. In Africa, VADprevalence is estimated at 42% among children under five.Uganda is among the African countries reported to be at high risk, with 28% of children and 23% of women estimated to be vitamin A deficient. VAD can impair immunity and cause eye damage that can lead to blindness and even Annually, up to 500,000 preschool children go blind from VAD, and about two-thirds will die within months of going blind.

Biofortification is the process of breeding new varieties of foods crops that contain higher amounts of nutrients to improve nutrition and public health. Agricultural approaches, such as biofortification, are now being looked upon to fill the nutritional gap for vitamin A and other nutrients.Traditionally, white or yellow sweet potato varieties are grown and eaten in Africa, but these provide little, or no, vitamin A. OSP was conventionally bred, not just to provide more vitamin A but also to be high yielding and drought tolerant.From 2007–2009, HarvestPlus and its partners disseminated new OSPvarieties to more than 10,000 farming households in Uganda for whom sweet potato is a key staple food.

The project provided OSP vines for farmers to grow, as well as extension services and nutritional information so that farmers could incorporate OSP into their cropping systems. Since sweet potato is available for about 10 months a year, it can be a rich and steady source of vitamin A.The project resulted in 61% of households adopting the vitamin A-rich OSP to grow on their farms. They were also willing to substitute more than one-third of their traditional white and yellow sweet potato consumption with OSP. This level of substitution was enough to push large numbers of children and women over the threshold, ensuring that their daily requirements for vitamin A were met.Vitamin A intake increased by two-thirds for older children and nearly doubled for younger children and women by project end. For children 6–35 months, who are especially vulnerable, OSP contributed more than 50% of their total vitamin A intake.The high prevalence of inadequate vitamin A intake among a subset of children 12–35 months who were no longer breastfeeding fell from nearly 50% to only 12% as a result of the project. This is a very positive finding as young children who have recently stopped breastfeeding are at higher risk of VAD. This is because breast milk has been their primary source of vitamin A and their vitamin A needs continue to be high.Researchers were also able to measure a small positive impact of eating OSPon the amount of vitamin A in the blood among children 5–7 years that had lower levels of vitamin A at the start of the project. At project end, researchers also found that women who got more vitamin A from OSP had a lower likelihood of having marginal VAD. (VAD was unexpectedly low among the women sampled in this study, thus making it harder to detect changes.)“Overall, these results add to the growing evidence base that OSP provides large amounts of vitamin A in the diet,” says Dr. Christine Hotz, former HarvestPlus Nutrition Head who led the nutrition study. “We were also able to show a modest increase in vitamin A blood levels among children, despite this being challenging to measure given the changing nutritional landscape over two years under real-world conditions.”This project was undertaken concurrently in Mozambique where results showed even higher levels of adoption—and consumption—of OSP by vulnerable households.“We now have evidence from two very different countries and contexts that show that farming households are willing to adopt OSP, incorporate it in their diets, and get the vitamin A that they need,” says senior IFPRI economist, Dr. Daniel Gilligan.HarvestPlus is now scaling-up OSP to reach another 225,000 households by 2016.

The International Potato Center (CIP) plans to scale-up OSP to reach more than 600,000 households in 10 countries by 2015, including 120,000 households in Mozambique.About the ProjectFrom 2007-2009, HarvestPlus and its partners disseminated orange sweet potato—to see if VAD could be reduced—to more than 24,000 households in Mozambique and Uganda. HarvestPlus leads a global effort to breed and disseminate micronutrient-rich staple food crops to reduce hidden hunger in malnourished populations. It is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). It is coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Journal Article Introduction of β-Carotene–Rich Orange Sweet Potato in Rural Uganda Results in Increased Vitamin A Intakes among Children and Women and Improved Vitamin A Status among Children. Journal of Nutrition.Partners in Uganda Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and Regional Potato and Sweetpotato Improvement Network in Eastern and Central Africa (PRAPACE), Farming for Food and Development Eastern Uganda (FADEP-EU), International Food Policy Research Institute, International Potato Center (CIP), Makerere University, National Agricultural Research Organization, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO).

Thanks go to the district and provincial officials in Uganda (Bukedea, Kamuli, Mukono) and to the many people of Uganda who participated in the project and the research study.DonorsThe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided a direct grant that made this research possible. Additional HarvestPlus core funding was also used to support this work, which included support from (in alphabetical order): Denmark (DANIDA), Sweden (SIDA), the Syngenta Foundation, the United Kingdom (DFID), the United States (USAID), and the World Bank.

Media ContactYassir Islam, Head of Communications (Washington, D.C.) y.islam@cgiar.orgTel: + 1 (202) 862-560

Monday, 19 August 2013

Pumping up potatoes for poor communities - iron biofortification

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world - affecting 50% of pregnant women and 40% of preschool children in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization. Since potatoes are naturally good sources of iron, the International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym CIP) is working to add further nutritional value through breeding, or biofortification, of potato.

It is a very promising alternative for improving health in poor communities, where access to meat is limited and people cannot afford commercially fortified foods and vitamin supplements.The bioavailability of iron in potato is also important, and can be greater than that from cereals and legumes. Potatoes have high levels of ascorbic acid, which promotes iron absorption. They also have low levels of phytic acid, which inhibits of iron absorption. CIP efforts are focused on identifying and breeding varieties that are rich in both iron concentration and bioavailability.Health consequences of iron deficiency include impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children, and reduced work productivity in adults.

In the Peruvian highlands, up to 60% of preschool children suffer the stunting effects of malnutrition, with iron deficiency as the main contributing factor.The potato is recognized as a key food staple, but its potential for combating malnutrition is not well known or exploited. “For example, in Huancavelica in the Peruvian highlands, women and children consume an average of 800g and 200g of potato per day, respectively,” explains Gabriela Burgos, who leads the Quality and Nutrition Laboratory at CIP. “So improving iron concentrations and bioavailability in potato can have real impact in these areas.”Five years ago, with funding from the HarvestPlus program, CIP started to screen the potato germplasm in its genebank for micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin C, and phenolic). Initial screening of 579 native Andean potato varieties and 315 improved varieties showed a wide variation for iron and zinc concentration and a large genetic diversity that could be exploited in breeding programs.CIP agronomist Walter Amorós explains: “We selected a group of potatoes for their high levels of iron, and we have done a whole series of crosses with them and studied the progeny,” he says. “From a baseline iron content of 19mg / k, we’ve achieved levels as high as 40mg / k after two selection cycles.”The future challenge is to combine these cultivars with CIP’s advanced breeding lines that have disease and pest resistance, high yield, and high acceptance from farmers.

OutStanding in Their Fields (A poem for Farmers)

Out standing in their field, the old joke goes.
Farmers are their own breed to be sure.
Growing boys, and girls, strong and true.
Raising food, caring for the land – in their blood.
Outstanding in their fields, doing what they love.
Farmers are true to one thing, and one thing only.
Growing it better, one eye to the sky and one to ground.
Raising hopes, raising dreamers – in their hearts.
Out standing in their fields, eyes to those they love.
Farm wives washed in blood, sweat and tears.
Growing it at home, in the field and in their souls.
Raising it generation after generation – in their DNA.
Outstanding and insane, outstanding and obscure.
Farmers are a special breed, and so it should be.
Growing it started in God’s own first garden after all!
Raising hands deep in soil, blooded on the land. Forever.

By Shanyn Silinski & BrandonManitoba

Sunday, 18 August 2013

CBN Sets Upper Limits of Interest Rates at 9% For Microfinance Banks

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has disclosed that the N220 billion micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) fund will be accessed by Microfinance Banks (MFBs) at a maximum interest rate of nine percent.The fund was officially launched in Abuja Thursday.

The MFBs are in turn expected make the funds available for on-lending to young entrepreneurs, particularly businesses managed by women at reasonable rates.Sanusi, who inaugurated the facility at the 7th Annual MSMEs Finance Conference and D-8 workshop on microfinance for SMEs themed: "Strategies for Sustainable MSMEs Financing", said the fund would further boost access to finance by MSMEs by providing wholesale financing windows for participating financial institutions (PFIs) as well as improve their capacity to meet credit needs of MSMEs.

The central bank governor further said the initiative was expected to offer funds at reduced cost to PFIs and particularly improve access of women entrepreneurs to finance, reiterating that 60 per cent of the fund would be allocated to women.According to him, the intervention would also improve access of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to finance.Sanusi however, cautioned that MFBs' access to the fund would not be automatic as they would still need to apply for the fund and meet certain regulatory requirements including competence as well as a record of good behaviour.It was learnt that prospective beneficiaries of the fund would also need to present a three-year financial report.The CBN governor said it would be premature to estimate the actual economic impact of the fund because governments at all levels also needed to improve the state of infrastructure in their states in order to complement access to finance.Sanusi said as at 2012, the country had about 17.6 million MSMEs employing about 32.4 million people, who contribute about 46.54 percent of nominal GDP.However, citing a survey by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2010, he said 80 per cent of the MSMEs were excluded from the financial markets.According to him, commercial bank loans to small scale enterprises declined from 7.5 percent in 2003 to only about 0.14 percent in 2012. He said: "A number of reasons have been proffered for this financing gap. The banks readily attribute their risk aversion stance for not lending to MSMEs to demand-side constraints, which include the lack of managerial capacity, inadequate collateral, and poor record keeping, amongst others."However, there also exist supply-side issues such as high transaction costs and lack of understanding by the banks of the nature and operations of MSMEs Other constraints plaguing the MSME sub-sector in Nigeria include infrastructure deficit (especially, power and transport), policy inconsistencies, bureaucracy, multiple taxation and levies, weak intellectual property protection and contract enforcement, and insecurity."

Meanwhile, the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi as well as the Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso-all commended the CBN intervention fund in the MSME sector.Oshiomole at a joint media briefing shortly after the event, said the new MSME scheme showed that the CBN Governor was still in touch with the masses especially the youths and women in the country.He said the CBN must go beyond the launch and employ aggressive supervision to ensure that MFBs adhered to stipulated interest regime to customers if the scheme must succeed.Fayemi on his part said the fact that a huge chunk of the fund would be provide to women was a commendable move adding that women were key to economic development and poverty reduction in the country.The President, National Association of Microfinance Banks (NAMB), Mr. Jethro Akun, welcomed the initiative stressing that it would provide liquidity and force down lending rates.More on ThisCBN Launches N220 Billion SMEs Fund At Nine Percent Interest Rate The Central Bank of Nigeria yesterday launched a N220 billion fund to be distributed to Micro, Small and Medium Scale

Visiting A Farmer Training Centre -THE SONGHAI EXPERIENCE

 On the 23rd March earlier this year I was informed I would be joining the rest of the Youth Agro Entrepreneurs research on a farm visit. Below are excerpts of my report detailing my experience at Songhai farm in Porto Novo, Benin Republic.

The main objective of Songhai is to train young agricultural entrepreneurs who, once established, become pillars of community - capable of commanding respect and attracting the surrounding populations to the new kind of agriculture practiced on Songhai farm. This training does not stop with the acquisition and mastery of techniques of agricultural production. Songhai continuously follows up with its trained students from the pre-establishment stage through to the establishment of their farms and beyond. All the various departmental activities of Songhai converge directly or indirectly to these established farmers. At the second level of training, there is a team of workers charged solely with the follow-up/accompaniment of the farmers. This is the reason the farmers are situated at the center of Songhai's organizational chart - all the different sectors contribute to the development of the farmers.

Challenges Of Songhai

The Songhai Centre faces a few salient challenges operating under the present model as gathered from the visit.   Training program needs to incorporate Information Technology (IT) skills into the current syllabus to prepare the trainees for dealing with the present reality of entrepreneurship programs globally. The intriguing aspect to this issue is that, there is an Internet café present on the premises but only used for commercial purposes to cater to demands of visitors/tourists. Interviews with Personnel and Trainees indicate a wish to see this aspect of training introduced on the program.

The impact of the activities been carried out at the Centre, on the personnel and the immediate community can easily be noticed. Strategically located a few hundred metres away from Porto Novo's central market, it serves a useful source of obtaining foodstuffs and farm produce for retail purposes without incurring steep transportstion fees. Motivation was generally high amongst staff and all adhered to strict time managed regimes. The circular approcah to production adopted by the Integrated Farming model also extends to personnel. Staff rotation between various departments and sections of the farm created a high level of team spirit and commraderie. Individual staff all seemed to have sufficient information to be able to perform the duties of various department thus creating a very robust staff  pool. The challenges faced by the present operating model of the Centre need to be addressed in expansion or replicating of a similar enterprise. Information technology is ubiquitous to every sector of global economy. Developing agro entreprenuers that would go on to be successful and impact on their immediate societies, need to be IT savvy to a certain rudimentary level. Motivation amongst students and job security can be increased by deploying a model that allows the trainees to earn in the process of learning. Trainees with astute entrepreneural skills gain thus stand a chance of saving a kickstarter for their proposal, no matter how small it might be. The integrated farming model operated at Songhai Centre Porto Novo is a feasible approach to boosting the productivity of small to medium scale farming and developing a sustainable agricutural enterprises for the youths. Its a model that is gaining popularity fast and is evident in the profileration of its branches across neighbouring Nigeria and other West african countries. The future of integrated farming looks bright and I would recommend a visit to the nearest site to anyone interested in venturing into agro-entrepreneurship.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

PHASE II Of Growth Enhancement Support Scheme

The second phase of the growth enhancement support scheme was officially launched on the 5th of August 2013 in the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). Registered farmers within the FC T are now able to redeem fertilizers to help optimise the growth and production of cassava and soya-beans plant within the territory.
Farmers across the six area councils of Abuja have being receiving alerts via short message service (SMS) to inform them of the centres for claiming their supply of fertilizers. Soya-beans and cassava are two strategically placed crops of economic value with their high demand in manufacture of protein supplements in animal feed and pharmaceutical production respectively.

Farmers have been encouraged to grow these crops to maximise the profitability of their operations. Superperphospate (SPP) fertilizers are available for soyabeans while NPK 12:15:13 are for Cassavas. These carefully formulated fertilizers are suitable for boosting productivity of small scale farmers aiming to add their products to the production value chains. As with the earlier phase of GES, fertilizer redemption is controlled via mobile phone monitoring system supplied by Cellulant and only available to farmers with farm lands smaller than 3 hectares. Subsidies are 50%.

Youth Agro Entrepreneurs that have taken the step to registering their businesses to this scheme should hurry and get their products. The rains are pouring down in favourable quantities and the inputs are readily available, this should be a year of large harvests. Registrations are still on -going and would continue till the end of the year to become a registered farmer in Nigeria. Let’s get productive.

Business and Technology Amongst Young Agro-Entrepreneurs

Bit by bit, the agro-entrepreneurship visions being loaded into the minds and media channels of young people in Nigeria is beginning to seep its way into the information and technology market as it has managed in the past to penetrate other sectors of the economy.

Youths in Nigeria have being putting in major efforts to create a youth driven agricultural sector, and not suprisingly we are using our most potent asset as an anchor unto the field - social media, information and technology. The explosion of youth interest in agriculture in Nigeris has many roots and one major catalyst - unemployment. This catalyzing factor has led to a gradual gravitation of the mind set of young people towards creating our own jobs. In this brave new approach, the under-developed agricultural sector provides us with a relatively young and fertile pitching grounds (pardon the pun). Agricultural business is in need of major investment and infusion of fresh ideas fit for a 21st century economy. Informed and technologically savvy youths have lapped on to the opportunity to service this sector with information and internet support.

The link between timely and effective information sourcing to the performance of a business organization have been established. The agriculture sector firmly perched on the transformation bandwagon sweeping the country has relied on the support and technological skills of the Nigerian youth in setting up innovative ventures based around agro-consultancy using websites, blogspots amd social media. This young start-up companies provide services ranging from providing farmers with operational information on farm related issues, staff recruitment, training and even agronomic information.

In my work with YAE, I have come across quite a few very interesting agro-entrepreneurs whose activities rely heavily on the information and internet support to farmers and the farm business.

G6Farms. Is one of such companies. (

with their promise of prcesion solution for your growing needs, the comoany aims to to be recognized as the most highly respected agricultural Company in the world, leading and excelling in the programs and services delivered to meet the needs for the growing local and global food and agricultural systems. Their services include Aquaponics training;a revolutionary technological concept that was created as a way to mimic mutually beneficial natural system. In these system, plants within hydroponic components utilize nutrient rich fish waste as fertilizer,in doing so the plants grow serviced by wastewater allowing for its re-use in the fish-rearing component. They also do commodity marketing and general farm consultancy. .

Agropreneur Naija is the social media outlet for AGROPRENEUR NIGERIA an Agribusiness enterprise in Nigeria, West Africa.Our goal is to change the mind set of youth towards agriculture by promoting it as a business while at the same time providing support for start ups, existing young farmers and agro-entrepreneurs and sharing information and resources that create opportunities for growth, inspires and provides mentorship.

This budding field of enterprise has been aptly termed as Agricultural Communications, with academic courses in recognition of this niche market being offered by some institutions. Its an interesting point to note that most entrepreneurs and businesses involved in this area are currently operating in almost complete oblivion of each others works. There is a low level of self awareness amongst the social media population ofnigeria in comparison to entertainment, fashion and political activism bloggers.This low level of self awareness is indicative of the relative newness of these ventures. The main purpose of this article is to address this situation. Greater awareness of  agro-entrepreneurs amongst the online community of Nigeria will improve the practice, and  success of farming and agricultural business amongst youths.
Do you know any bloggers, startup companies, blogs and organizations involved with agro-entrepreneurships? Please do contact us or drop us a message on


Microfinance plays a key role in developing entrepreneurial activities in rural areas of emerging economies. This was why the team of the Youth Agro Entrepreneurs attended the round table briefings on the ethics and values for rural transformation through microfinance banks and industrial development cooperatives organised by the office of the special adviser on ethics and values to the Presidency.
The event was hosted at the International Conference Centre Abuja on the 13th of August 2013 at the Benue Hall venue. In attendance was an exhaustive list of dignitaries which included Dr Reuben M. Jaja, Chief Dr. A. Olu Aduloju, Hon. Chief Jethro M. Akun, Mr Haggai Gutap, Gabriel Owope, Maj. General Charles E. Airhiavbere and all the major microfinance banks in the country. The host was the outspoken and multilayered Dr Sarah Jibril.

Ethics and values are a slippery topic to discuss in any area of governance or administrative operation in Nigeria. While a general consensus is easily reached about the negative impact of operating financial institutions outside of the ethical frameworks, it becomes very opaque when specifics are discussed. The questions and answer sections of this round table briefing illustrated this once again. Issues about the percentages and interests rates to be charged by microfinance banks was met with answers that raised more questions than proffering clear insights into obtaining loans from microfinance banks to engage in rural based enterprises. Precious little time given to actual microfinance bankers to speak about how ethics and values would help build trust that is needed in providing these services to rural dwellers nor were we able to gain an insight into how one goes about setting up microfinance banks and their source of funds. The policy makers that spoke were all keen on regulating the activities of microfinance institutions and passionately in favour of a shift towards entrepreneurship. They just lacked the rigorous detail and clear data that a banking professional would have supplied to quell the worries of business owners interested in micro-financing. As a social innovation incubator interested in training entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, this was a drawback to the briefing and we had to resort to actively interviewing participants during the tea break to get what we needed to know. At the day’s end we were left wondering what the events management team and the technical aides to the policy makers had actually done to prepare their employees for this event.

Good policy makers enact and promote policies that help shape their societies. This requires a clearly functional system that compromises of a well informed and detailed backroom staff to provide the technical expertise in the areas the policies would affect. In a nutshell – policy makers are only as good as the staff/aides that work for them. For effective 21st century policy making, we need to raise the bar to a model of distributed systems where complexity is handled by sharing the workload to the margins rather than imposed from the centre – the brave new world of differentiation and dissolution is upon us.
What the event lacked in quality information was made up for by the networking opportunities provided by the meeting. We were able to meet with policies makers with clout and vision to help actualize our vision. Information not available through grand speeches was suddenly accessible and demystified in short personal exchanges. All and all, it was a productive days briefing for enthusiasts of rural development.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


The activities of the hub has being exciting and filled with enthusiasm.Pyakasa is a settlement along the Airport Road in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) about 3 kilometers from the overhead bridge at the Federal Housing Estate, Lugbe. The indigenes are predominantly farmers.
We began our activities with a visit to the village head Sarkin Fada Chief Shadrack Bari on the 19th July 2013. We addressed the village head on our activities. With no response from the elders we decided to focus on the youths which were our primary target audience. Our first meeting with the youths took place on the 24th of July 2013 at the Government Junior Secondary School, Pyakasa. Twelve youths from the community were in attendance. I informed the youths on the activities of YAE with the help of Mr. Emmanuel Edet an English teacher with the school. We owe a lot to the effort of Mr Edet.

To mark the launch of the YAE hub in Pyakasa, a semi- formal workshop was held on 2nd August, 2013 with the Communication Officer of YAE, Kabir Onimisi presenting an exciting presentation on the activities of YAE. The meeting was attended by sixteen (16) volunteers and Emmanuel Edet as the host. The youth asked diverse questions on Agro-business and enquired about other areas of entrepreneurship.

At the end of this inspiring workshop, representatives of the Hub were selected by the group and social innovation ideas to along the ideals of YAE were discussed by the young students. Two ideas were initiated awaiting further meetings and developments to be sure which to follow up on.

(1) The students suggested starting a co-operative farm together were they can work and practice the entrepreneurial skills they would hope to acquire under the YAE project
(2) The idea of marketing Moringa Oleifera plants that grew in abundance around Pyakasa village was also discussed.


1.The young person is always ready for change. The young people are ready for adventure and want to be financially independent of their parents

2.The old folks are carefuland more sceptical with trying anything new.

3.From the questions asked by our volunteers we have much work to do to bring about the revolution our social enterprise seeks to achieve in terms of providing them with exposure to business and entrepreneurial skill sets.

The Pyakasa Hub would be meeting twice a month

By Anngu Orngu
Co-ordinator YAE Volunteers Hub(Pyakasa)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bad Market ( A short film on Agriculture )

Raja Obazele a seasoned and experienced film-maker from Abuja submitted this short film. this is an idea for a film he was working onwith Redstar Media an Abuja based outfit. The film highlights a very common problem experienced by farmers in Nigeria."

So we all know the story; farmer works haerd all season long to plant grains. The rains has being favourable, the soil is fertile and the harvest is looking like a profitable prospect. Every farmer should be happy - trhe hardwork has been done,its time to reap the financial benefit. But this is only half the story. The farmer needs to find a buyer.

The average small holder Nigerian farmer would typicvally rely on the servicce of a buyer who is usually a middle man to purchase their produce and resell to the community markets near the farm. This is usually where the problem lies. A high chunk of the profitsd accrued from selling agricultural produce is usually for the middleman to the loss of the farmer. This is a best case scenario. On the flipside, a large amount of crops and farm produce are sold at underwhelming prices or left to waste if the middlemen/marketers are not available to purchase from the farmer. Our farmers with limited business skills are left in the red.

There has being a call for government programmes and policies to provide a buffer program. Creating seeds and crops purchase and strorage centres that purchase excess seeds and off seaspon produce would make a world of difference. This would allow farmers and agriculturist to produce at optimum capacity without fear of wasting or under-pricing their efforts by the time the harvest season arrives.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Hope Abah, a versatile and prolific young journalist with Daily Trust who frequently covers Agricultural reports, caught up with Dr. Simon Penda of the University of Agriculture, Markurdi an expert in agric business and financial management to discuss policies, problems and the state of Agricultural sector in Nigeria.


What solution would you suggest to the agricultural transformation effort of Nigeria, given its potential as an agrarian economy?

Agriculture contributes up to 40 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 80 percent of the Nigerian population is engaged in agriculture. The funny thing however is that we have remained an importing nation, which means that the production is not enough even to feed the entire population. As economic planners, we are thinking that with the resources at our advantage, Nigeria should not only be able to feed its people but it should be able to earn income from agriculture not even oil - its main economic stay. The problems are wide; farmers have not been supported properly, the seeds today are not the type that would bring optimal yield and so per hectare yield in Nigeria is still very low. I had an experience when I visited a crop research institute in Vietnam. I discovered from the researchers that a per hectare yield of rice in that country is eight tons and they produce three times in a year which totals 24 tons per hectare in a year. But, in Nigeria the rice yield per hectare in a year is just two tons maximally and we produce once in a year because we depend on rain-fed agriculture. This means that we must improve on our irrigation system because depending on rainfall agriculture will not move us any forward considering that of the country’s arable land which amounts to 80 million hectares only 8 percent is currently irrigated.

How do you evaluate the federal government’s efforts in tackling the situation?

As far as I am concerned, I would say categorically that most agricultural policies introduced by past and present governments are not working very well. Despite the huge resources, wide land for agriculture and even though we have a large population of potential youths as workforce, we still remain the highest importing nation in the world. What do you think will make these policies effective?We must as a matter of fact face the challenges that this country is ours. Corruption is the bane of what has placed Nigeria in its current position.

The University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM) occupies at least 8,000 hectares of land with very large portion of it not utilized. What can be done to put it into use as a research institute?

Most of the agricultural institutes in the country have large land for research and practice. But as you are already aware, agriculture is capital intensive. So, if the universities are not supported to go into direct farming, it would be difficult to utilize the space. It is regrettable that universities in the country, including universities of agriculture are poorly funded such that the land is available but other inputs to develop it are lacking. I can speak for the University of Agriculture, Makurdi that we are blessed with a large land up to 8,000 hectares and if government can support the university, it has the capacity to feed the state.How much employment do you think would be generated if UAM cultivates 2,000 hectares for each of the three senatorial zones of the state?Agriculture is a sector that can employ a whole lot of idle hands. So, if the university for instance cultivates 2000 hectares for every zone of the three districts in the state under irrigation which would produce three times in the year, the result will be overwhelming. From the people who would harvest, those who will take produce to the stores and those who do other jobs in the farms, I can assure you that there would be massive employment such that I can not quantify. This is because a 2,000 hectare farm cannot create less than 2,000 jobs.

How do you think our local farmers can be supported to increase production?

I will like to say that supporting local farmers does not end with fertilizer. The beginning is actually done with research. Agricultural institutes in the country should be financially supported to conduct researches. Some of them have even conducted researches that have brought about good varieties but to get them to the farmers has become a problem. To multiply these seeds has also become a problem. So government has to support the researches and ensure that the seeds get to the farmers so that they get good varieties for planting.Fertilizer is another issue which is militating against farmers’ capacity to generate bumper harvest as oftentimes government would talk about input for farmers when actually they did not get it at all. A lot of inputs have to be considered such that we must shift from primitive to mechanized agriculture. If we take a country like Indonesia for example, they use 240 tractors for 1000 hectares while Nigeria uses 10 tractors for 1000 hectares. So agriculture in Nigeria needs a lot of government support. Before oil, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.

Do you think the lost glory of this sector can be restored?

There was a time when agriculture boomed in this country but we never sustained the production due to the advent of oil which caused everyone to surrender even as farmers too relaxed. The thinking of the country totally shifted to making money from something else other than agriculture. I think that consciousness that we will feed ourselves has to be developed first in order to see any changes; the consciousness when Nigerians would have to choose between local and foreign rice, which is the stage of repair that would enable us as a country to feed ourselves and the whole world.

What harm do you think the delay by government to accent to the bio-safety act portends to the country’s quest to rely on agriculture?

I don’t think that it is a delay so to speak. I want to believe that there is something government wants to see in the bill fashioned properly before the presidency accents to it. It is not just to accent to the bill in a hurry but it must be given to farmers in a way that it becomes sustainable. Despite the belief by some that Genetically Modified foods which the bill is expected to give passage are poisonous, Nigerians are consuming the products already. However, I don’t think that is why the presidency is yet to sign the act. Policy makers do have their reasons which I do not know.

Published on Thursday, 25 July 2013 by Hope Abah, Makurdi Daily Trust Agriculture section.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Government Set To Train Nigerian Graduates In Agro-Entrepreneurship

The vision of training a new generation of business savvy farmers got a boost with the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture that 750,000 young graduates would be trained by the the federal government.This was announced at a workshop organized by The Rockerfeller Foundation in Abuja tagged “Realising the Potential of African Agriculture: Catalytic Innovations "

In a study we conducted earlier this year, it was established that youths in Nigeria are eager to secure employment in this sector, but they need to be assured that agriculture can be a better means of earning money and provided with appropriate training. The current curriculum for agriculture in our educational system has a high emphasis on theoritical knowledge and practise without entrepreneurial focus. Agricultural training has to be revamped not only to make food available to millions of poor and hungry people, but also to create opportunities for youth to produce cash crops for local and international markets. In this light, Mr Adesina Akinwumi the Minister of Agriculture's announcement is a major victory for advocates of building agricultural training centres across the country. The Ministry of Agriculture aims to provide this training to the throngs of unemployed young graduates across the country looking to engage in agriculture. The training would provide participants with access to land, technical skills, business management skills and the finance for this programme. At present majority of Nigerian youths are neither interested in farming nor in agricultural professions. The inability to increase the desire of youth to take up agriculture is created by the continued rural-urban migration that has been taking place over the last few decades. Employment opportunities for youth continue to decline, but expansion of the agricultural sector will bring major improvements.

The President of The Foundation Judith Rodin, in her remarks observed that focus of the foundation was agriculture. She said that the foundation was out to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. She added that the foundation had also initiated programmes that had benefited not only regional economies but smallholder farmers. Ms. Rodin noted that the ideas and recommendations from the meeting would have an impact on finance and agricultural issues in Nigeria and across the continent. There is tremendous deficiency in youth employment engagement initiatives, as well as a crippled agricultural industry. Addressing the deficiencies will be a huge feat. However, with innovative, creative, and meaningful decisions by leaders, advocates, and policy-makers, the nation can begin to provide the necessary training, tools, incentives, and information to motivate the youth to participate in a viable and productive industry. Sponsoring young graduates across the country would be a massive first step.

Friday, 12 July 2013



We are looking for motivated and committed individuals/organizations to
collaborate with Youth Agro Entrepreneurs (YAE) in organizing outreach
programmes and events.

YAE is a social enterprise incubator that aims to train a new generation of farmers by building sustainable agricultural training centres on farm sites across the region. YAE is a training centre that teaches agricultural practices and business skills required to become a successful agro-entrepreneur. We are convinced that this will contribute to reducing levels of youth unemployment in Nigeria. Interested parties should please contact us for specific details.

The project is funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and Ajima Farms Nigeria Ltd and was awarded the Social Innovation Award in 2012.

Interested candidates should send an email to


A little social innovation can help reduce the cost of feeding for aquaculture practitioners. There is huge profit to be made in fish farming due to its high demand but the steep cost of feed is a major worry for entrepreneurs venturing into this business. I experienced this first hand managing a fish pond as a part-time job during my NYSC year. Like most young people fishing for a little extra cash would do, I had to get innovative.

The farm specialized in catfish production but also had poultry on site. The pond I managed had a stock of approximately 2,100 pieces. The benchmark set for table sized catfish here was 1.5 kg. Therefore once the fish got to the benchmarked weight, they were ready to be sold off to prospective clients. I was responsible for designing the feeding regimen, feeding process, taking records of weights, keeping track of medications and vaccinations, monitoring water levels/quality and procurement of feed and other needed materials. I had a two man staff – one IT student from Federal University of Technology, Minna and a teenager from Katsina who lived in the village next to the farm and had made quite a reputation for himself as a reliable fish harvesting expert. He earned his living by been contracted on a daily basis by the different farms around our site. After watching him work for us on a contract capacity, We had to hire him.

I noticed early that a huge chunk of my weekly budget was spent on purchase of feeds. Catfish are notorious for their appetite and though they can constantly consume any feed chucked into their pond, I was working on the strict model that aimed for a 100% feed conversion ratio (FCR) ± 5% i.e. for a table sized fish of 1.5 kg, it would have consumed 1.5kg of feed. Therefore when we operated under optimum conditions, it would require 3,150 kg of feed to take our juveniles to table size catfish. The brand of feed used on the farm was “Coopen” which was available in 15kg bags and each bag costs # 7,0 00 Naira. Doing the quick sums would show that I needed to budget 1.47 million Naira for feeds if all conditions were met for optimum production and possibly higher if any errors came up in my feeding regimen. The large sum spurred me into action to reduce our cost of feeds and increase my take home pay.

The first step I took bringing to fore all of my analytical chemistry education was to pick up a bag of fish feed at the Kado fish Market (Abuja) and have a look at the contents sticker on the bag. I had to know exactly what was inside what I was paying for. I stumbled upon two facts that were so obvious I felt a shade thicker

• Most of the feed brands available were imported from Scandinavian countries and the very few feeds manufactured by Nigerian companies where so crude in design and packaging that most commercial farms were reluctant to purchase them

• The raw materials for compounding these feeds were readily available at the markets and on my farm site

Fish meal is a major component of the floating feeds and this was basically carcass of fish, small harvested fish, fish bones etc dried and granulated and incorporated into the feed with other additives, wheat offal, soya beans cake, fish oil and essential vitamins. Looking around the Kado fish market, like most other fish markets in Abuja there was no provision for cleaning and disposing off the waste generated at the market. The market was completely covered in fish entrails, fish scales, wastes and the likes. Right in front of me was the problem and the solution.

A clean and hygienic market would attract a wider range of customers and generate more profit for the traders (social responsibility) while collecting all the waste generated at the market would serve as useful raw material for compounding my own fish meal on the farm (entrepreneurial opportunism), later on I would learn from one of my staff that the catfish had a preference for feeding them the raw carcass and waste off the fish market due to it been easier to digest than compounded feeds but that’s a discussion for another day. I returned to the farm in Kuje and drew up an action plan. Investing 20% of my weekly feed budget, I purchased plastic bins and bags branded with our farm logo and joined my staff to woo the local fish sellers at Kuje market to collect all of their carcass, wastes, etc into the bins which we provided for free to them and even added an incentive of paying # 500 naira for anyone that filled up their wheelie bins. We collected them every evening at 5 o clock and transported them immediately to the farm. By the end of the first week, we had collected 160 Kg of fish waste from Kuje market. After drying and granulation this shrunk to about half the weight. This combined with the maggots produced from poultry droppings on site; I had managed to cut down my feed budget by an enviable 45 % and generated extra revenue selling the waste we couldn’t use to neighboring farms. Making a difference had never been so profitable.

Onimisi K. A.
Is Communication Officer for YAE and a Social Innovation enthusiast
follow on twitter @onimsiwordsmith

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Explaining The Basics Of The GES scheme

On the 13th of May 2013, the Agriculture and Rural Development department of FCTA -Abuja initiated this years Grow Enhancement Support scheme popularly known as GES. I have been monitoring the process by visiting the centres with with the rest of the team, as part of our research. This has led to a stream of messages from interested NGOs, young farmers, software developers and technerds interested in the scheme for varying reasons. I have therefore hurriedly put together an overview of the process. I hope you find this useful.

A schematic explanation of the processes for the current subsidized agro inputs sales under the GES scheme operated by the Federal Government.

The Growth Enhancement Support Scheme is the governments scheme aimed at
•Improving agriculture productivity and food security
•Reducing cost of Agro-Inputs delivery to farmers by ensuring transparency and efficiency The program is funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria, IFDC and USAID.


E-wallets : A voucher in a text format recieved on a mobile phone by registered farmer that entitles the bearer of the text access to buying discounted inputs ( fertilizers, seeds and chemicals) for a limited period of time. The farmer therefore buys inputs directly from independent agro dealers who verify they are registered farmers with the government and have recieved a voucher on their "e-wallet". Note that the mobile device used becomes the wallet which should contain the voucher (sms) that allows you to buy at 50% discount.

Agro-Dealers : They are registered dealers with the government after fulfilling a set of requirements. Approximately 2-3 dealers in each Area Council

Eligible Farmers : These are farmers who have registered under the on going farmer registration exercise. The mobile phine numbers of this farmers are obtained and stored in the database and used as the raw data for developing the e-wallet. Their farms should be smaller than 3 hectares Passport photographs 18 and above. At each Agro dealers shop, the government has an agent stationed by the sales point, with helpline staff from the communication provider (Cellulant) along with monitoring teams from interested and involved NGOs.

  • Farmers that recieve a voucher in their e-wallet arrive at the centre 
  • The codes that make up the voucher is presented to agro dealer 
  • Helpline staff teach farmers how to redeem their inputs by texting their voucher number to a specific code e.g. text voucher number to 437 (MTN) 438 (Etisalat) etc. 
  • Farmer sends his voucher through text message and agrodealer gets alerted via text message 
  • The message authorizes agrodealer to sell inputs 
  • Agrodealer sends back text message to confirm sales and update database of how many farmers attended to. 
  • Verification call back or text back is carried out by Cellulant to the dealer and the phon of the government agent stationed st the centre 
  • Farmer pays money to dealer and claims his inputs

Explaining Colour Codes of Arrows Green arrows denote permission to carry out command Yellow arrows are seeking permission/purchase Amber colours are for confirming verification Blue is for close seal for transactions. 

Do you think you have a brilliant and innovative idea or software thst can improve this process ? Get in touch with us.

Courtesy of Kabir Onimisi Ademoh
Youth Agro Entrepreneur Communication Officer
Twitter @onimsiwordsmith

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Photos of TeamYAE visiting to two sites: Porto Novo, Benin Republic (SONGHAI FARMS) and Paraguay (FUNDACION PARAGUAYA)

Earlier this year, the team of the Youth Agro Entrpreneurs project as part of the on-going research into building a farmer training centre visited two sites  Porto Novo, Benin Republic ( SONGHAI FARMS ) and Paraguay (FUNDACION PARAGUAYA) . Both sites were Self sustained integrated farming and agricultural training centres heavily involved with developing the youth agro entrepreneur vision in their locations.

The YAE team  did extensive research on the operational models of both institutions with the aim of drawing out the frame work of our own model. The trip was a deligthfuly informative experiece providing the team with first hand experiece of running a farm training centre.
The following  images are a sentiment filled recollection of a trip that was great in three folds - educating, inspiring and empowering.