Boosting agricultural productivity to prevent food insecurity

source: The Nation

It’s a clear danger. A severe food crisis stares Nigeria in the face, requiring urgent policy responses by the authorities, including various players across the nation’s agriculture sector, to avert the looming danger.

With Nigeria’s rapidly growing population, amid rising cases of herders/farmers clashes that have disrupted food production across the country, as well as climate change, the on-going campaign for a more resilient ecosystem to securitise food supply has never been this compelling.

For those pushing the campaign, the model of agriculture, which largely centres on labour-intensive, primary production and consumption, must urgently give way to full scale mechanisation in order to achieve food security.

To them, the time has come for small-scale agriculture, which accounts for 70 per cent of agricultural production, to give way to large-scale, commercial agriculture that will not only guarantee increased revenue to farmers, but also create jobs and ultimately, achieve food security.

Incidentally, Nigeria enjoys a wealth of different climates and soils, which is reflected in the diversity of its agricultural production. And admittedly, the agriculture sector has continued to play a major role in the economy, generating income, employment and foreign exchange, for instance. However, the sector represents only three per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with experts noting that mechanisation a sure way to go to enhance its productivity.

Interestingly, the authorities in the agriculture sector seem to be aware of this thinking and appear to have, accordingly, risen to the challenge. The Federal Government’s decision to extend the National Programme on Food Security (NPFS) for another five years after it elapsed last year, for instance, attests to its realisation of the need to boost food production and halt the impending food crisis.

The NPFS, The Nation learnt, runs at the national level, by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and at state level, by the state Ministry of Agriculture.  It is an expanded phase of the erstwhile Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) implemented from 2002 to 2006 in the states.

The NPFS was selected as a priority project as a result of the preparation of the National Medium-Term Investment Programme (NMTIP) in support of the New Partnership for Africa Development’s (NEPAD’s) Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) designed to improve rural infrastructure and accessibility to market, improve household income and food security among others.

NPFS began with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at the apex management committee, with Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) authorities acting as the supervisory body at the state level and implementation agencies for the programmes. The programme was to run for five years (2008 to 2013). Another phase ended in 2020, but it has now been extended by another five years.

NPFS’s Head of Agric Processing and Enhancement Mr. Hassan Bawa explained that the government’s decision to further expand the NPFS was in recognition of the role of agriculture in the national economy, as well as the need to improve smallholder productivity. He also said it was in recognition of the importance of sustainable agriculture for food security.

According to him, NPFS comprised a broad variety of interventions that focus on areas most relevant for improving food security at both national and household levels. These include improving farmers’ access to input such as fertiliser and seeds for rain-fed and irrigated agriculture; making it possible for farmers to have more than one cropping cycle, with the attendant doubling of net returns.

Bawa added that there had been instruments in facilitating groups of farmers to recognise and take up opportunities for improving their farming systems and livelihoods.

According to him, Lagos State Programme for Food Security (LPFS) is the state branch of NPFS to improve national and household food security, reduce rural poverty sustainably and increase agricultural output and the income of rural households and beneficiary communities.

The NPFS Head acknowledged the commitment of the Lagos State Government towards the sustenance of the initiative, attributing it to purposeful leadership on the part of successive administrations in the state.


He said Lagos State, being one of the selected states for the pilot phase, recorded an impressive performance which qualified it for the expanded phase and later on the third phase.

Bawa noted that the state had qualified for another five years with support from the national headquarters. According to him, NPFS was being repacked to respond to the aspirations of the government to place agriculture as the engine of social and economic growth, adding that it was building consensus among partners on solutions to meet the challenges within the sector.

He reiterated that the NPFS agenda was an integral part of national efforts to promote the agriculture sector’s growth and economic transformation. He emphasised that considering the challenges faced by the agricultural sector, it was high time stakeholders re-engineered the sector by fully tapping the potential of agribusiness.

Agribusiness, Bawa said, could pave the way for a modern and resilient agriculture by fostering competition, innovation, research and development.  He pointed out that agribusiness would provide opportunities for inclusive economic growth and sustainable livelihoods as well as ensure food security.

According to him, rural development projects financed by NPFS have contributed to increase productivity, income and food security, adding that the programme has been innovative in bringing solutions around agro-processing. Such interventions, while boosting agricultural productivity, have also led to higher incomes and improved food security for beneficiaries of all projects.

For the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Bisola Olusanya, ensuring the supply of quality and safe food at affordable prices requires a mix of food policy, smart technology and entrepreneurship.

According to her, the government has been supporting the agriculture business with a variety of policies in an attempt to stabilise the output, and also seeking ways to make sure that the agribusiness is growing healthily and sustainably. She noted that because of helpful policies, the agriculture sector’s performance has been raising steady in recent years.

Olusanya further stated that Lagos State has risen to the challenge of ensuring food security by increasing farming output, ensuring the provision of key farm product, promoting the supply-side structural reforms and accelerating the utilisation of machinery and advanced technologies within the agriculture sector.

In addition, she added that there were a network of public institutions and various programmes and schemes to safeguard agricultural producers and boost production. For instance, the State Programme for Food Security (SPFS) has been supporting projects aimed at raising incomes and improving livelihoods, food security and living conditions of the people.

The Commissioner, who said capacity development and training for farmers have helped them set up and develop their own businesses, also reiterated that Lagos State was determined to promote mechanisation to achieve a modern, competitive, comprehensive and sustainable agriculture.

To address the lack of agricultural system technology application in farm practices, Olusanya said the Lagos State Government was promoting incentives for investment, research and adoption in agricultural system technology.

She reiterated that the government was working to address various aspects of the food supply chain, including manpower, technological applications, financial resources, investment and infrastructure.

According to Olusanya, the goal was to grow the agric sector to a greater level to strengthen food supply and self-sufficiency through increased domestic production, modern technology expansion, and reduce dependence on food imports.

She added that the SPFS has also provided support services such as extension, credit, nutrition education to farmers and consumers in the state, thereby improving their standards of living and livelihood.

She noted that innovations were needed all the way from the farm to fork.

So far, she said, farmers across all the three senatorial districts in Lagos had benefited from the state government’s initiative under SPFS with the donation of millions of naira to support farmers, as well as distribution of various farming implements to the beneficiaries.

The commissioner maintained: “We must always bear in mind that farming at any scale is a business and businesses need clear linkages along the value chain from production to processing, to marketing and ultimately to consumption.”

According to Olusanya, “Investing in these farmers, many of whom are women and in the markets around them is more important than ever. In order to feed a population expected to grow globally to nine billion people by 2050, the world will needs to be more efficient in how it meets this demand.”

The General Manager, Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority, Dr. Pereira-Sheteolu Olalekan, noted that it was important to ensure that food security became one of the cornerstones of the State’s response, adding that there was the need to continue to leverage innovation.

He said, for instance, that Lagos has been driving aquaculture training and empowering rice/fish, poultry on project sites, in addition to spreading the use of improved farm storage facilities to all interested farmers.  This, according to him, was to increase the availability of domestically produced fish through increased aquaculture output.

Olalekan informed that the Authority was saddled with generating and distributing improved farming technology, new innovations and practices to farmers in the State.

According to him, the idea of procuring and distributing various farm inputs such as knapsack sprayers, organic manure, cutlasses, hoes, safety gadgets, digital movable scales, compost plus and water pumps, among others, to farmer groups, would assist them in expanding their farms and food production in the State.

He said a total of 6,650 farmers had benefited from the programme, adding that the 2021 edition would impact 2,310 farmers.

How our agro-shop model will boost nutrition, agribusiness, by Odedina

Source: The Guardian

Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, on Friday, opened its agro-shop the secretariat in Oke-Mosan.

The agro-shop is a one-stop shop that, as the government put it, would serve as an avenue for workers in the secretariat and others to buy fresh, quality and value added agricultural products at affordable prices from farmers and partners.

The agro-shop, donated by Harvest-field Industries Ltd, would also serve as an agribusiness information and linkage centre for individuals interested in agricultural value chain opportunities in the state.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Adeola Odedina, reiterated the focus of the present administration to improving the health and nutritional well-being of the gun populace by ensuring the availability of healthy foods as part of the state Agricultural agenda.

Dignitaries at the event included Ogun State Head of Service, Alhaja Selimot Ottun; Permanent Secretary, Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture; Acting General Manager, Ogun State Agro Services Corporation; Programme Manager, Ogun State Cassava Revolution Programme; Programme Manager, Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP); Directors in the Ministry of Agriculture; Representatives of Women Leaders, Representatives of Market Women; Representatives of Dapo Abiodun Apex Alliance Sisters; partners such as Harvest-Field Industries Ltd, CATO Foods, Harvest-Plus Nigeria and other stakeholders.

The commissioner said it was a private sector franchise model to be initiated in several locations in the state, and would create a unique agro commerce opportunities.

“The structure was donated to us free of charge by one company in Ogun State; Harvestfield Ltd. They produce agrochemicals. When I shared the idea with the managing director, he responded positively,” he said.

Firm Pledges to Lift One Million Farmers Out of Poverty by 2025

Source: This Day

Babban Gona, a financially sustainable and social enterprise, has said it will empower smallholder farmers and lift not less than one million of them out of poverty by 2025.

The enterprise in a statement, said it recorded a bumper harvest of maize with yields more than double the national average.

“The continent of Africa harvests 29 million hectares, and as the largest producer, Nigeria produced 1.77 tons per hectare in 2020. However, the Babban Gona team has achieved an average of 3.84 metric tons/hectare, a massive development compared to the achievable value across Nigeria,” the statement further said.

The Managing Director, Babban Gona, Mr. Kola Masha, while commenting on the feat said, “Babban Gona is committed to lifting one million smallholder farmers out of poverty by 2025. Our cumulative smallholder members have grown to over 110,000.

“Babban Gona has helped these smallholder farmers to increase their yield and net income by two times the national average. Leveraging on Babban Gona’s proprietary crop assessment technology which analyzes optimal plant populations, assesses germination rates on-field and plant nutrient deficiency levels, and we are able to improve efficiency and productivity for each farmer. Today, we have grown to become one of the largest maize producers on the African continent cultivating over 80,000 acres of maize.”

Masha promised that the team would address the root cause of youth unemployment and violence by stimulating the economy’s growth as well as disrupting the rise in illegal migration.

Giving testimonies of his increased yields in maize production in the northern part of the country, Mr. Abubakar Haruna, a smallholder farmer from Kampa village in Kubau Local Government Area of Kaduna State, said before he joined Babban Gona, he barely got 10 bags of maize from his one-hectare farmland. He said after joining Babban Gona in the first year, he got 50 bags of maize from his one hectare farmland.

In the second year, he decided to cultivate two hectares of land, and during harvest, he got 102 bags of maize from his farm, a development, he said, changed his for the better since then.

“Some co-farmers living in my village who had already joined Babban Gona advised me to join Babban Gona, and I partnered with them. I got over a hundred bags of maize alone from two hectares of land and made huge profits. I currently farm a land size of 3.5 hectares compared to the one-hectare farmland I started within 2016, another smallholder farmer, Saidu Sani, said.

Babban Gona, which means ‘Great Farm’ in Hausa language, is an award-winning, high-impact, financially sustainable, and highly scalable social enterprise, partly owned by the farmers it serves. By developing and deploying advanced technology coupled with operational excellence, Babban Gona transforms agriculture into a job creation engine with its goal to create one million jobs for African youth by 2025, through maize farming.

N4bn CBN Loan Will Boost Agriculture In Jigawa – Gov Badaru

Source: Leadership

Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Muhammad Badaru Abubakar has said that the over N4 billion Agric loan disbursed to Jigawa State farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will boost agriculture in the state.

Gov Badaru stated this while speaking at the flag off for the distribution of 2021 agric loans to dry season rice farmers in the state.

He commended the effort of the CBN governor Mr Godwin Emefele for effectively handling all federal government financial intervention to agriculture, which so far made difference.

“Everyone in Nigeria can bear witness to the significant improvement recorded in the country’s agricultural sector which saved the country from falling into food crisis even with the incidence of corona virus pandemic.”

Governor Badaru also commended Jigawa farmers for their compliance to the loan repayment modalities. He also charged the new beneficiaries to utilise the the grant properly and also ensure timely repayment.

In his speech coordinator of Anchor Barrows programme CBN, Dutse branch, Alhaji Abdu Amadu said, over N4 billion was so far distributed to the Jigawa State peasant farmers.

He explained that, the success of the program can be seen by the high increase of agricultural outputs in the state and also the way farmers repaying the loan.

FG moves to galvanise mechanized farming, others with $1.2bn loan

Source: Vanguard

THE Federal Government, Wednesday, disclosed moves to galvanize mechanized farming and other aspects of agriculture with $1.2 billion loan under the Green Initiative project in order to boost food security, availability, affordability and job creation across various value chains.

This was made known by the Special Senior Adviser to the President on agriculture, Andrew Kwasari, at a press conference held in Abuja.

According to Kwasiri in his explanation the Green Imperative is an agricultural bilateral project that has been agreed upon to be delivered in Nigeria, between Nigeria and the government of Brazil.

He said: “This project has been in the making for some time now; we have reached the point where we are completely ready for its takeoff. The green imperative will address two twin issues with agricultural modernization in Nigeria; provide mechanization, and provide agro property and these two works hand in hand through what we call service centers and these service centers will be created in each local government across the country to compliment and support the primary production through mechanization and value addition through agro properties.

“These have carefully been designed over the years and we are happy to have update today because we have been waiting for the national assembly to give a go ahead to activate this loan.

“The most important thing is that it is private sector driven so all the study centers will be on and operated by private entrepreneurs and they would have the responsibility of servicing the loan.

“So if we are to summarize the green imperative, it is a project that will engage foreign direct investment of €995 million or $1. 2 billion that has been structured financially to allow the government of Nigeria use her bilateral provision and arrive at a financing that will develop three per cent per annum interest rate and also have a long gestation period of about 15 years to repay, and then subsequently structured so that this loan having secured, Nigerian insured it in the insurance market. “So we have financing coming from Dutsche Bank, Development Bank of Brazil and then it is reinsured by the Islamic Development Bank, the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Export Credit.

“This removes the risk of this loan; we have reinsured this loan in our international insurance market. Subsequently then, the loan would be structured with a monetary policy from Central Bank which has been developed jointly; Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Agriculture to allows the unlending of this loan to entrepreneurs and these entrepreneurs will be given a loan at domestic level so what comes to our local entrepreneur is Naira denominated loan with a monthly policy the draft of which has  been finalized by the Central Bank and participating financial institution that we allow our entrepreneurs take up this loan and utilize it and pay back effectively.”

He also added that “Nigeria is leveraging its bilateral understanding to secure a very cheap loan for entrepreneurs that are private sector people and the private sector will run the business of the private sector.”

FG Targets 5m Jobs in Agricultural Sector

Source: THIS DAY

The federal government has said it is targeting five million jobs in the agricultural sector.

The initiative is to engage youths, women and the vulnerable in order to integrate them into the nation’s economy.

The Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri stated this at the weekend, when he led a delegation of executives of the ministry on a courtesy visit to the Bauchi State Governor at Bauchi.

According to the Minister, so far, 1,138,000 farmers have benefited through the initiative on job creation in agriculture, in all the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, under the first phase in the 2020 farming season.

He said owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers across the country received massive support from the government in terms of funding, agro-chemicals and small scale equipment in all the states extension services outreach to farmers.

“In partnership with the state governments, the federal government is employing one million youths to serve as village agents. In Bauchi state, over 15,000 youths were employed to serve as enumerators. The plight of poultry farmers and the high cost of poultry feeds was a source of concern to the government. Thus, the federal government has directed the release of 5,000 metric tonnes of maize to the poultry industry from the strategic food reserve.

“I am aware that Bauchi State has potentials in the cultivation of rice and the state should expect more of federal government intervention to assist farmers.
“As a follow up support, the aggregation centers were established to support the rice farmers.

“In all, a total of 234 aggregation centers have so far been established nationwide and five aggregation centers are in operation in Bauchi State” he said

Responding, the State Governor commended the federal government initiative in boosting agriculture and rural development, saying the minister’s ministry is so critical in the diversification of the economy as well as enhancing growth and development in the country.

“Mr. President has done so much to show that the way to go is to develop agriculture and rural development because majority of our people are engaged in agriculture and those who voted him into power are living in the rural areas.

“Your ministry is so critical in developing the GDP in a manner that we can exit over dependence on government contracts and patronage and therefore your
youth empowerment support to Agriculture, extension services that you are giving is so critical to us in the state” he said.

Ellah Lakes engages Ekiti youths in agriculture

Source: Nairametrics

The Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth held an outreach programme in the state Capital, Ado-Ekiti.

Ellah Lakes Plc were sponsors of the event, as part of their engagement programme with stakeholders in Ekiti State, and were represented by Chuka Mordi, Chief Executive Officer and Jamie Rixton, Chief Agronomist.

The very successful outreach event was also attended by H.E. Kayode Fayemi, the Executive Governor of Ekiti State. The Governor emphasised his commitment to encouraging the private sector to participate in Agriculture in Ekiti State.

Mordi in his remarks thanked the Governor of Ekiti State for his sterling efforts in encouraging private sector participants in the state.

“With the intense focus on the commencement of the Special Processing Zones for Agriculture, as soon as possible, and the state’s commitment to completing the cargo Airport for export, I’m convinced that we can optimise the Agri value chain, for our crops, in Ekiti State,” Mordi said.

Jamie Rixton stated that “Engaging the youth in Agriculture, is one of our strongest strategies, as we come into Ekiti. More and more young people want to be in the Agricultural sector & are interested in learning the commercial and technical aspects. However, our investment isn’t just about Agriculture, it’s about uplifting communities by creating an Ecosysten of small businesses selling goods and services and encouraging economic growth.”

Rice farmers call on govt to reduce the cost of hiring tractors

Source: Nairametrics

The Chairman of Delta State Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Mr. Sylvanus Ejezie, has tasked the Delta State Government to reduce the cost of hiring tractors in the state.

Mr, Ejezie revealed this while speaking during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He explained that this decision will help to enhance rice cultivation, and ensure food security in the state.

According to him, the expenses farmers incur during land preparation are set to be compounded significantly by the cost of hiring a tractor, to speed up land preparation during this planting season.

He added that the state government needs to take drastic actions to ensure that the cost of hiring a tractor is reduced to the lowest level that will support optimal rice cultivation during the farming season, as the reduction in this cost would serve as an incentive for farmers to cultivate more farmlands.

Ejezie stressed that this move is necessary as farmers in the state hire tractors for land preparation at N20,000 per day, in addition to other expenses

What they are saying

The chairman of RIFAN, Delta State chapter said:

“We expect that each of the 1,000 farmers in the state will produce four tonnes of rice per hectare. No fewer than 1,000 farmers have been profiled to benefit from the agricultural loan under the CBN anchor borrowers programme. All the materials were promptly supplied last year.

“Following our devastating experience last year when a flood washed away almost everything we planted, we took advantage of the dry season farming and are already harvesting. I want to commend Gov. Okowa for his support to farmers. He provided me with the first borehole in my farm when he (Okowa) was Commissioner for Agriculture in the state.

“To increase our effort in dry season farming, I dug extra two boreholes in order to provide irrigation cover for the eight-hectare of rice that I cultivated this dry season. In order not to suffer the same fate we suffered last year, we have advised our members to commence land preparation for this year’s farming season early enough.’’

What you should know

  • Delta State chapter revealed last year that it would be targeting 28,000 MT of rice from this year’s dry season farming, the chairman of the association disclosed that no fewer than 7,000 farmers registered to take part in the dry season farming in the state.
  • This ambitious move is expected to cushion the shortfall in rice production in the country, as farmers incurred huge losses during the wet season farming last year, due to the heavy flood which washed off a sizeable amount of their cultivation.

Nigerian businessman grows agricultural trading business after securing first client through LinkedIn


Timi Oke secured the first client for his fledgling Nigerian export trading business through LinkedIn. At the time, in 2012, the Nigerian-born Oke was working a nine-to-five job at a bank in the UK and decided to follow the advice of an import-export trader he had become acquainted with.

“I had always been interested in agriculture and trading from a young age. Even while I was working at the bank, I would research different agricultural products that could be viable for trade,” he says.

The trader told Oke to attend as many trade fairs as he could and recommended a few industry groups on LinkedIn to join.

“For about six to twelve months, I was constantly on these groups, asking questions, eliciting responses and then contacting those individuals directly. Eventually an importer from Mexico asked me if I could supply five containers of dried hibiscus flowers.”

Oke took a career break, not officially quitting just yet, and asked his brother and a good friend to join him in the newly registered company called AgroEknor.

It was a scramble to deliver that first order. The partners crowdfunded and used their own money to raise enough working capital to purchase the hibiscus flowers from middlemen who procured it from small-scale farmers in Nigeria’s northern states.

Oke emphasises the importance of integrity in business. He was upfront with this first client, admitting that the company had not done a deal before.

“What I could assure him of, though, was that he would not face any issues getting his product out of the ports. We had connections at the Nigerian Ports Authority. At the beginning of every business, you always need one person to believe in you. Either your investor or your client,” Oke notes.

The shipment was dispatched. Oke still remembers the day the first payment for 60 tonnes of dried hibiscus was transferred into the company’s account. “It was a celebration. I gave notice at the bank and settled permanently in Nigeria to do this full-time,” he says.

The importance of research

One mistake many entrepreneurs make when trying to start a trading business, says Oke, is not having adequate industry knowledge.

While working at the bank, he read up and learnt everything he could about hibiscus and the industry, not just in Nigeria.

“Hibiscus is not the product I originally wanted to go into. I liked the drink, but did not know that it is a cash crop which is in demand worldwide and that people paid good money for,” he says.

He learnt about the international hibiscus market, the main importing countries and the biggest producers.

Timi Oke

“Organic hibiscus is grown in Africa – mainly in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Sudan. When we started, there were a lot of trade restrictions in Sudan. They were in the middle of a civil war. Essentially there was a global supply gap,” he says.

Oke also knew that the big hibiscus growers in northern Nigeria were unable to get their products out of the country as local traders did not want to deal with the tension and unrest in the area. It was a gap AgroEknor could capitalise on.

“We essentially said: Let’s be brave about this. Let’s go into the north, get it packaged and get it out,” he says.

His investment in getting to know the industry has delivered results.

“Sometimes I feel like a walking hibiscus encyclopaedia, but knowing the product helps. When you can speak about your product and industry with a lot of knowledge, clients are more inclined to trust you with supply contracts.”

Defining target markets

Oke says it was beneficial that the company’s first client was from Mexico.

“I have discussions with newcomers all the time who just want to get products into the EU or US. In the beginning, you cannot target the most sophisticated countries.”

Oke explains that a mistake in a shipment’s documentation or an issue with fumigation, could, in some ports such as the US, lead to the destruction of the entire cargo. A start-up cannot accommodate such losses.

“There are other countries where you can refumigate or reprocess the cargo elsewhere in the harbour, for example, Mexico or China. If you don’t know this and simply aim for the US market first, you are doing yourself a disservice.”

The company was fortunate, says Oke, to grow quite quickly. From 60 tonnes in year one to 120 in year two and 540 tonnes in year three. The growth came from clients in Latvia, Germany and Belgium which he secured at the Anuga Trade Fair in Germany in 2013.

The team came back from the fair and raised another round of finance from family and friends to be able to deliver on the orders. Oke started the process to get certifications in place to be able to export to the EU.

At the fair, Oke also met a Mexican trade broker who helped facilitate more Mexican deals. He used their track record of delivery to their first client to secure 30% payment upfront from eight new Mexican clients.

AgroEknor was steadily building its client base and in 2016, in its fourth year of operations, it penetrated the US market. The company received one order from a US company who wanted the hibiscus packaged for retail under the AgroEknor brand. Oke and his business partner soon started fielding calls and emails from other potential clients in the country who found their contact details on the packaging.

“We got proper demand in the US in 2017, and in 2018 I moved there for about seven months, essentially selling our product from door to door. We were able to establish our reputation and secured longer-term contracts,” he says.

AgroEknor exports hibiscus products throughout the world.

AgroEknor exports hibiscus products throughout the world.

Adding value and the right sourcing strategy

On its website, AgroEknor lists hibiscus as well as cashew nuts, sesame seeds and ginger as its trade products. The main focus, however, says Oke, is growing the formats of its hibiscus exports.

After the success of the first Anuga Trade Fair, the company paid a visit to a few of its overseas clients. “We found out that while we exported the cleaned and packaged raw flowers, there also was a market for both hibiscus powder and concentrate,” he says.

AgroEknor joined forces with a chemist from Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology and began processing the flowers at a facility in Kano.

“Right now, we have clients in the EU who purchase the powder, while the demand for concentrate is huge in the US,” says Oke.

He believes that it is imperative to be involved at both ends of the production cycle. Even before the company had an outgrower scheme with smallholder farmers cultivating hibiscus for direct supply, it had boots on the ground near the farms through an agronomist consultant who checked the quality of the crop.

“Importers currently are focused on the traceability of a product. This means that, as an exporter, you have to be involved in the entire value chain and we are talking to three state governments to see how we can replicate our outgrower programme there,” says Oke.

The planned scheme across the three states will push the number of outgrowers up from 2,000 to over 15,000

“We currently have a supply deficit. The demand is high, especially with the renewed focus on healthy living due to Covid-19. We’ve had a lot of health and wellness multinationals approaching us as hibiscus has been proven to be an antioxidant.”

Relationship capital

While Oke had promised his first Mexican client that port and logistics challenges will not be a problem, he admits that the company has had to deal with some of these obstacles along the way.

“Certain infrastructure has to be in place for you to have a seamless supply chain and Nigeria does not have it. We have port congestion and if a client wants his product on a specific day, you may struggle to get clearance.”

In 2018, AgroEknor secured substantial funding from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (Nexim). “At a high level, Nexim has always been able to connect us with the right authorities to be able to negate some of these challenges,” Oke says.

“In any business, your network can help you to solve problems and you have to make it a point of duty to actively grow that network, especially with regulatory stakeholders,” he says. “It will be help you to go further than the next guy who does not invest in relationships.”

Int’l Certification Of Nigerian Sesame Seed Excites FG

Sesame Seed

Source: Leadership

The chief executive officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo has expressed delight over the attainment of Global Organic Certification status for Nigerian sesame seed by WACOT Nigeria from ECOCERT International.

He disclosed this in his Abuja office when he hosted the National Sesame Seeds Association of Nigeria (NSSAN) led by the president, Mr Sheriff Balogun and his deputy, Mr Sadiq Kassim.

According to Awolowo, this marked a landmark achievement for Nigeria as WACOT Nigeria Ltd attained the Global Organic Certification Status of the Nigerian Sesame Seed by ECOCERT INTERNATIONAL, the first of its kind in the history of the country. He said this places Nigeria on the world map of organic product producers and marketers.

The association acknowledged NEPC’s role in promoting and supporting the NSSAN through stringent emphasis on quality product standards and various collaborations in capacity building of rural farmers in good agricultural practices along the value chain.

he said: “”It was indeed an honor to be presented with the certificate by the President of NSSAN.

We spoke about the establishment of commercial Hulling Facilities for  the seeds to support the growth of the sector. NEPC looks forward to supporting NSSAN.”

In the same vein, the NEPC boss, hosted the CEO of Shea Tribe, Ms Kanyinsola Demola-Seriki, an an indigenous company, proudly made in Nigeria that creates 100% organic and handmade skincare/grooming products.

Materials for products are sourced locally in Saki, Oyo State. Her mission is to promote healthy living, introduce African beauty and health formulas to the world. She decided that in order to do this she needs the support of NEPC to grow her business exponentially.

Awolowo added that NEPC is a strong supporter of women and youth in export development and in her, NEPC has found both. “NEPC looks forward to accompanying her on her journey to the international market place.”