By Nnamdi Ojiego

A non-governmental organization, Syngenta Foundation Nigeria (SFN), has organized a mid-year classic training for Hub Managers with a view to solving the multiple interconnected challenges facing smallholders’ farmers in Nigeria.

The mid-season training was held recently at the conference hall of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Kano, ahead of this year World Safety Day.

Recall that on the 7th of June 2022, the United Nations mark the fourth global World Food Safety Day to draw attention and mobilize action to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks and improve human health. This year’s World Food Safety Day highlights the theme “Safer food, better health.”

Declaring the training open, the Country Program Manager of SFN, Isaiah Gabriel, explained that the vision of the foundation hinges on “solving the multiple interconnected challenges faced by African’s smallholding farmers to enhance increased in productivity and food security and safety.

Isaiah mentioned lack of access to “information, financial services, insurance, quality inputs, mechanization, markets and infrastructure among others as factors confronting small holders’ farmers”.

He further demonstrated how the farmers hub model was designed to provide varying agricultural services and products, serving as an integrated solution to these myriads of challenges.

He said: “Currently some of these solutions are being provided through the farmers hub including the sales of quality inputs, linking farmers to market for their produce, and providing mechanization services together with partners such as Hello tractor and Agri drive.

“Although the hub has not been able to completely solve all these problems like serving as farmers advisory and knowledge transfer, it is also to achieve that. The Foundation carries out its work while considering cross-cutting themes such as digitization, youth engagement, gender inclusion and climate change.”

While reviewing Farmers Hub performance, Syngenta Foundation Nigeria M&E, Blessing Michael disclosed the total revenue made from the hub from January to May 2022, saying; “The essence of this projection is to bring the hub managers to speed as to their performance so far into the year and to further challenge them for the effort needed for the later part of the year.

She added: ” From the performance reviewed, the farmers hub situated at different local government and communities around Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Abuja, and Nasarawa have made revenue amounting to ₦120, 841,191 ($292,593.683) from in the period under review, engaging in different agricultural businesses.”

Adding to the analysis, the convener of the event, Timothy Azakere who is also SFN-Nigeria Agriservices Manager, said the hub offers various category of services.

“Giving that the hub can provide different category of service and products, the analysis revealed that 42% of the revenue was from the sales of vegetable fruits, 25% to grain sales, 18% to fertilizer sales, 8% to sales of crop protection products, 5% to seedling sales, 2% to sales of seeds, and an insignificant percentage was made on both mechanization and sales of nursery items.

“The different percentages accrued to the different products can be explained by the agricultural business engageable in the season. Therefore, with the commencement of the next planting season we expect the farmers hub to offer tractor services which will generate significant revenue to the hub,” He said.

Also speaking, the Network Manager and Director of Royal Blue Contractor, Mohammed Ahmad Liman, who stated their role in the Farmers’ hub model which ranges from the provision of inputs, aggregation, training, and market linkage.

Liman, who had worked with the model as a network manager for about two years, covering three states with 17 hubs out of the 22 hubs in Nigeria, further x-rayed some of the challenges confronting him while pleading for workable solutions.

The challenges, according to him, include “diversion of funds got from their agri-business, sense of entitlement, late payment, purchasing with cash from sources and only leveraging on the network manager for credit purchase, and refusal to honor agreement”.

Meanwhile during the training, Izanu Africa Farmers Warranty was introduced to the Hub Managers. Izanu Africa is an AgriTech company that leverages simple technological solution to democratize access to inclusive and climate resilient warranties for farmers.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Izanu, Comfort Onyaga said: “Izanu is an inclusive and climate resilient warranties, co-created with farmers for farmers. It is inclusive because it includes both small and big farmers and it is presently co-creating through the ideas and opinions of farmers”.

She said the company works to solve the challenge of climate change, lack of transparency, lack of trust, delayed payout, lack if context specific products that is usually experienced by farmers.

In addition, she said that the company has several product plans such as replanting warranty, multi-peril index warranty and hybrid multi-peril index warranty among other.

She thereby called on the Hub Managers to take advantage of the opportunity to key into any of the services offered by the company.

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