Agriculturist Wants Women to Empower Themselves through Agriculture

This post, was culled from publication by AgriBiz Info. It features a report by the promoter of CBi Innovations Ltd. on the necessity for women to get involved in Agriculture.

The Chief Executive Officer, Convention on Business Integrity, Mr Soji Apampa, on Thursday urged women to tap into the agricultural sector and empower themselves the same way the men were doing.

He made the call at the 3rd FirstGem conference with the theme, ‘ The Modern Women Manifesto’, organised by Fisrtbank Nigeria Limited in conjunction with Medplus among others.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the FirstGem product , which is solely for women, is a platform designed to help them build their personal lives as well as create wealth.

Apampa said: “Women can tap into Agriculture sector the same way as the men.

” However, we should bear in mind that women do not have the same level of empowerment at the moment and there are some things that need to be done for women in order to put them in a position not to be exploited.

“Women need to come together as a collective and find partners who can help to fund their access to inputs, the right qualities, the seeds as well as access to know how,” he said.

Apampa said there was potential in agriculture as the new oil, urging women to take advantage of it and profit themselves.

A Senior Lecturer from University of Navarra, Barcelona, Prof. Kandarp Mehta, urged women entrepreneurs  to use negotiation as a tool for winning in business and in their career.

“Negotiation is important for both women in corporate organisations and women entrepreneurs,” he said.

In her goodwill message, the First Lady of Kebbi State, Dr Zainab Bagudu, said women could build a stronger society when empowered.

“Women are the vulnerable sex in the society, particularly in low middle economy.

” Women form the bulk of the society and are the ones that are constantly in touch with the family.

“If you empower and strengthen the women, then you are able to build a stronger society and a lot of the indices of our lives such as health,” she said.

Earlier, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, said apart from the product being solely for women, it would meet their economic needs.

” I am delighted that FirstGem is already in its third year; this is a product that is designed to meet and develop the economic needs of women, which is our long term focus,” he said.

Source NNN

7 Ways to Revamp Nigeria’s Rural Agricultural Economies

This post, was originally published on the CBi website. It features 7 steps to creating inclusive, rural, integrated development in Nigeria.

Newspapers are replete with the alarming stories of Fulani herdsmen/farmers[1] or Fulani herdsmen/community[2] clashes. The clashes have often resulted in condemnable, criminal, barbaric acts that have largely gone unpunished by the authorities and have led to calls for a ban on open grazing of cattle in states like Ekiti and Benue;[3] calls for the establishment of ranches by 11 Northern States;[4] and resistance to a National Grazing Reserves Establishment Bill (2016)[5] from everywhere but the far North of Nigeria. As serious as the issue is, no one seems to have proffered a satisfactory response.

The Fulani homestead is run on proceeds from the milk economy. Sale of cattle does occur but only to meet extraordinary expenses rather than for day-to-day subsistence. However, the breeds of cattle they manage which are hardy and can survive the West African conditions (insects, disease and drought) are better for beef production than for milk production. Without genetic improvement, across Africa, local breeds yield an average of 5-6L of milk/day but in Nigeria they achieve between 0.1 and 3L a day. For a cow to produce one litre of milk, it needs to drink at least 3L of water a day and have access to good quality fodder. The fodder available to the herdsmen in Nigeria, access to which they appear ready to kill farmers and murder entire communities for, is typically high in Lignin content and has a low conversion ratio – the fodder consumed still produces inadequate yields of milk. The long treks the animals go through in search of water and fodder also induce nutritional stress and very little of what is eaten has the luxury of being converted to milk – it is mostly burned up as energy.

The Business Innovation Facility (BIF) a UK Aid programme embarked on action learning to see if any of these constraints could be overcome. It purchased Napier grass seedlings from East Africa for £1,000 where similar challenges had been addressed by pastoralists and planted this in Ladduga Grazing Reserve, Kachia Local Government, Kaduna State in partnership with one of the pastoralist cooperatives there. After 45 days, the grass had grown and was taller than a man. The cooperative did trials – they had four cows fed for two weeks on their usual fodder and another four fed only on the Napier as fodder. Those fed on their usual fodder continued producing less than 1L of milk a day whilst after 2 weeks those on the Napier fodder produced 3.5L/day. This was the first sign that not having the right fodder was a big constraint. The raw milk sells for about N100/L so producing 3.5L/day meant a tripling of income from one cow. There are 240 lactating days in the year so the increase in income from one cow is very significant.

Another thing the BIF programme observed was that the women then boiled the milk to pasteurise it and they typically boiled off 20% of the milk by volume. The programme taught them indirect pasteurisation techniques helping them to save the N20/L they were losing. The programme then went on to teach the women how to make cottage yoghurt (which could last at least 5 days without refrigeration). This was sold by the women for N600/L on the market days in the grazing reserve and now the programme is helping the cooperative to establish a mini milk processing facility within the reserve. The immediate impact of this production would be to increase the crude animal protein intake of members of that community. 40% of the body’s dry matter is protein however, intake of animal protein is at present 4.82g/caput/day in Nigeria as against the 35g recommended by FAO[6] leading to stunted development and other health problems. Secondly, a mini milk processing facility, processing 1,000L/day will directly touch 200-500 households everyday (who sell milk), create 10-20 milk aggregators, 7-10 milk collectors on motor bike, 6 Factory jobs, and 20 bicycle-based retailers. This will be enabled by Agency-Banking services run locally to mention a few of the economic benefits. The households and persons impacted will increase their incomes in the process. With the increase in incomes, it is not unthinkable to get beneficiaries to put down 10% of the extra incomes they are earning over and beyond what they had before the intervention towards the maintenance of the processing facility.

Because of the Napier grass introduction, Kaduna State government has taken up the strategy of homestead Napier propagation (and spread it to some 80 communities spending about £200,000 in 2016 to replicate the trial) as an alternative to open grazing and the Federal Government has also now adopted promotion of Homestead Napier propagation as policy. Commercial Napier grass producers are also springing up and seedlings have been purchased and planted by cooperatives from most of the 11 grazing reserves in Northern Nigeria. The Fulani youth are starting to think that there is a possibility of becoming more sedentary as the risks of nomadic life also include clashes with cattle rustlers who typically show no mercy to the herdsmen. Excited by the progress being made to increase milk yields and the planned mini processing facility, the Kaduna State government promised to invest to fix the rural road linking Ladduga to the main Kaduna-Kafanchan highway.

The major reflections from the action learning exercise were that growth in rural economies in Nigeria could be stimulated given: –

  1. The right levels of research to identify the real root causes of constraints and innovations in ways of intervening. Providing the right kind of fodder was more transformative than banning open grazing or forcing herdsmen into ranches
  2. Innovations that show their worth by pointing out what must be done for the poor to achieve sustainable income growth. The extra 2.5L/day was a straight increase in income as was the N20/L saved from losses and the N350/L extra profit from cottage yoghurt (sold at N600/L but costing N250/L to produce)
  3. Income growth that is inclusive of women and youth, and not just the men (the cottage yoghurt produced by women, and the milk collection system, bicycle-based retail system run by the youth)
  4. Scale and sustainability – the rural economy must eventually be integrated into the mainstream – the distribution of products will go into nearby towns and villages
  5. The power of example and demonstration of the potentials to attract investment. Based on the £1,000 experiment a State Government replicated it with £200,000 and is leading BIF to encourage investors to establish a mini processing plant.
  6. Investments in the rural infrastructure. Based on the planned investment in a mini-processing plant, the State Government has committed to fixing the rural roads to support the scaling up of the initiative.
  7. Sustained improvements in the standard of living of pastoralists involved. This can generate positive spin-offs like establishment of local clinics and provision of other services such as off-grid energy and so on.

So, how do we revamp Nigeria’s rural agricultural economies? It would appear to take a focus on 7is – innovation, incomes, inclusion, integration, investment, infrastructure and improvements if we find enough Nigerians willing to take an evidence based approach to investing in the rural economy rather than copying what they see others doing in agriculture. After all, such attitudes lost millions of Nigerians their investments on the Nigeria Stock Exchange between 2008 and 2009.

UK agric programme generates N11.4 billion

This post was adapted from an article that first appeared in The Nation Newspapers on June 21, 2019. It reports on the achievements of the BIF Project at that date, the precursor to CBi Innovations Ltd.

The Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), implementers of a United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) supported agriculture project, has generated 25 million pounds Sterling (about N11.4 billion).

In addition, it has enhanced the productivity of about 500,000 farmers across the country.

This was achieved through Business Innovation Facility (BIF), its market systems development project that focuses on introducing business innovations that enable small holder farmers overcome productivity constraints across a portfolio of markets.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday at a forum to showcase opportunities in the agriculture value chain, its Country Director, Soji Apampa said the target of the programme was to reach 160,000 farmers in five years. He said in the last four years, the programme has exceeded its target and boosted economic opportunities and community transformation.

According to him, BIF’s work in the cassava and maize industry has led to significant efficiency gains in cultivation, processing and value addition.

He said BIF has been working in partnership with innovative businesses and organisations in cassava for example, to improve their access to quality cassava from smallholder farmers. This has involved deploying a portfolio of intervention approaches that are interlinked, embed access to markets, and provide some level of financing and good practice to producers

This, he added, has led to an increase in economic opportunities, new jobs and a consistent income for rural households.

He continued that BIF is continuing to identify constraints, such as the limited value addition in the market. These include processing and shelf-life extension of products.

He explained that Nigerian farmers can now access extension and advisory services related to weed control, best planting practices and other aspects of cassava production.