“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt
While that quote from North American Grief Counselor, Alan Wolfert, is debatable, it turns out that we all agree that having a hearty meal with good friends is one of the bright spots in life.
A grim reality though, stares us all in the face. Every day, too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal– most of them smallholder farmers who depend on agriculture to make a living and feed their families.
More than 80 per cent of Nigeria’s farmers are smallholders who produce over 90% of our domestic output on the nation’s 74 million hectares of arable land.
Yet, according to a report by the World Bank, about 72% of these farmers make up the poorest 40% of Nigeria’s population, living below the country’s poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per year and producing relatively small volumes of agricultural produce on relatively small plots of land.
They face obstacles such as rising cost of farm inputs, poor access to credit due to low bankability metrics, inadequate or sorely lacking technical advisory, climate change and inadequate storage facilities. But perhaps foremost among these is a lack of access to premium buyers due to low economies of scale.
These tailbacks prevent them from integrating into rapidly evolving national and international markets, thus contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty and unemployment.
Thankfully, through our GrowIT Project, Meadow Foods, alongside consortium partners eKutir and SCOPE insight works with smallholder farmers and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) providing an end-to-end digital platform complemented by a human touch that would provide real-time advice to farmers and help them to manage their farm portfolios while connecting ecosystem actors to one another.
At GrowIt Africa, we provide data-driven advisory and technical support to farmers, so they can implement climate-smart agricultural practices, improve soil fertility, and in turn enjoy high crop yields that are marketable.
We are building more prosperous smallholder farmers and MSMEs by linking them to more profitable markets, improved processing and digital technologies as well as financial services.
We recently signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) at a deal room event organized by Mercy Corps in Yola, with partners that are committed to off taking produce from the smallholder farmer collectives that we work with as well as providing financial services to these farmers. These include Premier feeds, GAIL, SACAM and e-Transact.
Following the sign-off event held in Yola, Adamawa State, our co-founder, Adaku Omidosu, said the partnerships would provide linkages to smallholders so that they could have access to premium markets and earn decent profits.
According to Omidosu, “One of the challenges smallholder farmers face is the numerous middle men who further shrink their already lean profits”.
“What you just witnessed today is ground breaking. Our off-takers are committed to mopping up off all the harvests of the farmer groups in our network”, she added.
Investing in these smallholder farmers -many of whom are women and youth – and in the support markets and services, beyond production and selling segments, is now more important than ever in order to feed Nigeria’s teeming population.
As the saying goes, “Collaboration is the new competition” as corporate collaborations have the potential to drive sustainability, and create better products and services.
The team at GrowIT Africa is committed to forging strategic collaborative partnerships that we would transform food systems through linkages!
Nora Agbakhamen is a Communications Strategist and Consultant for Meadow Foods (GrowIT Project)