November 27, 2020

FOOD SCARCITY: OCP Africa, Syngenta Foundation proffer practical solutions to avert looming famine, starvation

COVID-19: We won’t allow farmers suffer in 2020 cropping season — FG

Mechanised farming

Participants at the training

*set up farmers’ hub in Kano, Jigawa
*train farmers on Greenhouse, others

By Moses Nosike

According to a joint analysis by the World Food Program, WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, in October 2020, 20 countries are likely to face potential spikes in high acute food insecurity in the next three to six months and require urgent attention.

The U.N. Agencies said that countries like Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Burkina Faso have some areas with critical hunger situations following years of conflicts, shocks, economic and environmental challenges, adding that any further deterioration in the coming months could lead to famine.

It is this dire need to save Nigeria from impending famine and starvation that OCP Africa, a leading company in the global production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizers and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), a not-for-profit organization that supports small-scale farmers in developing countries, partnered to leverage their resources to address challenges that hamper the improvement of farm  yields.

From the management source of Syngenta, the partnership seeks to establish Farmers’ Hubs (FH) across different locations for easy access by clusters of vegetable farmers; create conducive aggregation and market centre for pick-ups, networking, training and further create yield increase, bumper harvest for commercially viable business linkages in vegetable agricultural value chains.

“The collaboration also was to grow the capacity of the farmers through access to quality agricultural inputs, catalyze market development and delivery, while building capacity across the public and private sectors.

According to a joint statement by the organisations, “there will be a Greenhouse at each hub location to serve 1000 tomato farmers yearly as every location will supply inputs not only to tomato farmers but other value chains. “The goal is to set up 10 FH in year one in Kano and Jigawa states and 10 FH in year two in the same states and where possible, there will be an OSS next to the Greenhouse at the identified locations where the FH manager will be able to store fertilizers in bulk.

Already, some small-holder farmers from the two states have been trained on improved vegetable seedlings production in order to make them agripreneurs, so that they could contribute their quota to the economic development of the country.

At the 2-day intensive training held in Kano state, the farmers were taken on a comprehensive curriculum covering vegetable production, the standard operational procedure of FH, Greenhouse Nursery production, financial /entrepreneurship training, business plan, e-hub, and record-keeping skills, management, and on emerging innovation and technologies”.

Greenhouse tomato nursery

The SFSA-Nigeria’s Country Program Manager and Training Coordinator, Gabriel Isaiah, explained that the training was part of  direct response to curtail the impact of COVID-19 on food security.

He said, “though the pandemic curve has reportedly been flattened in Nigeria, the challenges hampering the attainment of food security is still felt in the form of rising food prices, thereby triggering acute hunger among others”.

Also speaking, OCP Africa’s Business Development Officer, Odunayo Orowumi added that the maiden training allowed the farmers to have a better knowledge of the importance of vegetable production for food security, and also in understanding the key constraints to vegetable production and mitigation measures.

Earlier, the OCP Africa’s Business Development Manager, Akintunde Akinwande, had disclosed that the goal of the partnership was to raise and develop agripreneurs that would guarantee food security in Nigeria through the merging of OCP’s One-Stop-Shop (OSS) model and SFSA’s Farmers Hub (FG) model.

“Our OSS is an all-inclusive last mile distribution solution that aims to address the challenges of farm inputs availability and accessibility by bringing together all basic farm inputs, training on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and extension services needed to ensure that small-holder farmers in rural communities have increased yield and revenue”.

Akinwande said, “the partners decided to start a joint project where the two models of FH and OSS are combined to best serve small-holder farmers after recording successes in their respective roll-outs”.

Explaining further,  the  SFSA’s Program Manager, Agricultural Services, African Youth Initiatives, Marnie Pannatier said  that the project focuses on raising healthy seedling for the production of vegetables through innovative skills, as the availability of good seeds and seedlings, quality fertilizer, crop protection, and good nursery management were very essential.

She added that the FH model was designed to provide small-holder farmers with access to quality inputs, mechanization services, knowledge, and markets. “By combining small-holders produce in one place, a FH can help the farmers tap into new markets”.

Responding, one  of the Farmers’ Hub managers, Yusuf Halim, expressed gratitude to OCP Africa/ SFSA for the empowerment, as various interventions from the organisations would help farmers improve on their farm yields.