By Bashir Bello, KANO
In a bid to address challenges faced by tomatoes farmers, a global leading company in the production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilizers, OCP Africa, has deepened its partnership with Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, SFSA, to enhance Tomato production techniques and create a viable and sustainable business model and linkages around the value chain.
The partnership which is in its second year has helped to address constraints that hamper the improvement in yields of Tomato farmers in Nigeria’s agricultural sector and improve agricultural productivity and standardization of outputs.
OCP Africa’s Head of Business Development and Digital projects, Akintunde Akinwande, stated this at the 2021 onboarding and training to workshop organized for the Hub Managers and Extension Agents also known as Agripromoters in Kano.
Akinwande said the two organisations entered the partnership to leverage their capacities and experience to address challenges that hamper the improvement and consistency in the quality of farm yields.
He said two years down the line, the objectives set out were gradually being achieved thus presenting a proof of concept for future expansion to new areas.
According to him, “the project is focused on the establishment of Greenhouses and Input Hubs across Tomatoes farming locations for easy access to consistent and quality seedlings, access to modern agricultural technologies customized training, and guided practices to guarantee the uniform outcome of produce that will feed identified, commercial processors.
“So far, 20 Greenhouses have been established across major Tomato production areas in Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Abuja, with over 20,000 farmers accessing quality seedlings and inputs as well as good agricultural practice training on modern production techniques as well as linkages to offtake markets and processors.
“At the workshop, the newly recruited Agripromoters and Hub managers were trained on modern Vegetable nursery establishment and management, good agronomy practices of horticulture, retail business and basic inventory management, and on the usage of digital work tools for data capturing and management. 10 motorcycles and electronic tablets, as well as branded materials, were presented at the workshop to the Agripromoters to support their mobility and data capturing as they perform their Agricultural extension functions,” he said.
Akinwande added that in two years the partnership has empowered 20 hub managers to raise over 6 million seedlings at the Greenhouses, with the hub managers earning revenues of over N30 million from the sales of seedlings and other inputs as well as resulting in the creation of about 300 direct jobs.
In his remarks, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, SFSA-Nigeria’s Country Program Manager and Training Coordinator, Gabriel Isaiah, said the project focuses on raising healthy seedlings to produce vegetables through innovative skills among others as the availability of good seeds and seedlings, quality fertilizer, crop protection and good nursery management are essential.
Isaiah represented by the Seed 2B – Manager, Ephraim Manga implored the Hub Managers to pay keen attention because they are going to be ambassadors of the scheme wherever they go and this was why they were picked to be trained in order to go back to step down the training to others.
The Country Program Manager however noted that successes of the partnership in the last two years have motivated both organizations to explore opportunities to scale the reach to other parts of the country, especially South-West states.