Agriculture in Nigeria
The Agricultural Sector in Nigeria is undoubtedly the highest employer of labor, employing about 70percent of the Nigerian labor force. The Nigerian Agricultural sector has also suffered low output which has led to the massive importation of food items to feed the ever-increasing populace.
The underproductivity of this sector is experienced both in crop and livestock farming. These problems stem from planting to harvesting and consumption/commercialization. However, fish farming looks a bit more promising as recently there has been marked an increase in fish farmers and awareness.
With the state of infrastructural decay present in all sectors of Nigeria, there has been the mass migration of able-bodied youths from rural areas where farming is largely practiced, in urban areas. This has led to competition for scarce resources in urban areas while the rural areas languish in neglect. The old and feeble can only take up subsistence farming to take care of their immediate needs. Even in conditions where there is enough farm produce for sale, farmers still have to undertake the cost of transporting these goods via very bad roads to the urban areas for sale. Transportation is albeit slow and time consuming and some of the goods perish before reaching the point of sale.
Marketing involves all the activities involved in the conveyance of agricultural produce to their ultimate users. This can be a challenging process when adequate techniques are not used. Farmers rely on traditional marketing procedures which may not lead to profitable outcomes for them.
The presence of many middlemen in the agricultural business may cause a negative influence on agri-marketing. In cases where the goods pass through middlemen such as the wholesalers, retailers, the prices paid by the ultimate consumer may also have to pass through these intermediaries before getting to the farmer.
As a result, the farmer may not make much profit as all these intermediaries must take their cuts. Some of these middlemen also take advantage of farmers who do not understand how the farm market works.
The presence of middlemen in the loan process may also hinder agri-business. A farmer may not have the prerequisite to obtain loans from financial institutions. A direct link between farmers and their sponsors should be provided to reduce/eliminate such occurrences.
Agriservices activities in Nigeria
As well known that, in developing countries, many smallholders have no access to appropriate farming knowledge, technologies or commercial markets. Partially as a result of their limited production volumes, smallholders often suffer from weak links to both input and output markets.
It is with a desire to meet these needs that SFSA Nigeria was able to construct farmers’ hubs in certain locations within the country (two in Kano State and one in Jigawa). These hubs form part of the commercially viable business models created to help provide farmers with access to a range of agricultural services. Each Hub is currently servicing over 300 farmers with vegetable seedlings inputs, and information on good agronomic practices, market prices, etc.
Three (3) smallholders farmers were trained as hub entrepreneurs and their duties include and not limited to: managing the hub in their respective locations (which is made up of a greenhouse- made from easy to access local materials that can be replicated by the local farmers), providing access to quality seedlings for the local farmers, sales of inputs to farmers and they also serve as super booking agents of Hello Tractor (HT), an online app that enables farmers to request for affordable tractor services, while providing enhanced security to tractor owners through remote asset tracking and virtual monitoring.
The resultant effect was that:
- The F-hub manages experienced an increase in revenue by approximately 85% through the profit gotten from the sales of vegetable seedlings, sales of other inputs and bookings for mechanization.
- Local farmers had access to good quality seeds for their farms which led to an increase in production with a corresponding increase in their income.
- Local farmers rent tractors for their farming activities at a very subsidized rate (an implementation of the SFSA mechanization model for SHFs in partnership with HT), they also purchase other farming inputs like fertilizers and CP at the hub.
- As part of Train The Trainers (TOT) concept, the hub managers trained youth farmers in the’ Seed 4 change project’ founded by the Dutch Government on tomato nursery establishment.