The BIF programme in Nigeria focusses on in innovation, across a portfolio of engagements. We work within five markets, where there is significant potential for economic growth within a country that has an enormous profile across the continent, driven by its huge and rising population, its economy – the largest on the continent – and the paradoxes of its complex socio-cultural constitution and deep-rooted and pervasive poverty.
Poverty figures vary by source and context, but it is clear that a vast majority of Nigeria’s population can be accurately classified as poor. As the country’s poor are concentrated in rural areas where the bulk are involved in agriculture and 50% of those involved with food production in rural Nigeria are believed to be women, BIF Nigeria has chosen to concentrate on agricultural value chains.
Following a period of market selection and rigorous analysis, BIF Nigeria selected five agricultural markets, namely: maize, cassava, aquaculture, dairy and agricultural information services, the last being a cross-cutting service that constantly emerges as a constraint in the evaluation of all Nigerian agricultural value chains. A summary of the key market constraints in each of these agricultural markets, as well as our current approach, is as follows:
There are an estimated 3,600,000 farmers cultivating maize for both sustenance and for income. Growing demand for maize, due to its many industrial uses, far outstrips current levels of supply. This is creating opportunities for maize farmers to increase their production and income, and for businesses to develop and grow their operations.
BIF is helping businesses to enhance smallholders’ productivity with a mixture of seed, inputs and know-how. Currently, smallholder farmers have been producing well below what they are capable of. However, our pilots with a number of businesses have demonstrated that with good seed, right inputs and know-how, smallholder maize farmers can improve their yields from as low as 0.7t/Ha to as high as 4t/Ha. To date, businesses have worked with over 15,000 individual farmers to increase productivity.
BIF is also developing an architecture for businesses to continuously and progressively reach farmers at scale. Coordination, logistics and financing are vital, and farmer associations that master these skills will effectively be able to play an aggregation function. An adaptable Community LIFE Agent model is being tested, with the potential to provide an efficient solution to tens of thousands of farmers and off takers searching for significant amounts of high quality maize.
As Nigeria moves towards attainment of self-sufficiency in fish production, aquaculture is increasingly being embraced, especially in light of the decline in captive fishing and its inability to meet the country’s fish demand. As demand continues to increase, ensuring production is as efficient as possible will be vital for those in the sector to make the most of this growth.
In the production of fish, the cost of feed is a dominant constraint faced by smallholder farmers. Constituting up to 85% of production costs, BIF is targeting innovative solutions to bring down this cost. By testing hydroponically grown feed, alongside polyculture techniques, BIF is aiming to decrease the cost of feed by 40%-60%.
Following best practice is another area where efficiencies can be found, reducing mortality and increasing fish size. By supporting small-scale entrepreneurs to set-up training ponds, BIF has helped to bring inputs and know-how to rural fish farmers. This has dramatically reduced losses incurred due to poor application of feed, poor fish breeding practices, major issues in relation to the quality of fingerlings / juveniles and finally bad water management. Through this training, fish farmers have been able to reduce their production costs by 10% whilst entrepreneurs have established a micro business.
BIF is continuing to identify constraints, such as the limited value addition in the market. Value-addition initiatives, involving processing and shelf-life extension of catfish products, remain under consideration, with our technical support currently examining potential market entry angles that exclude paths already covered by other programmes.
In combination, BIF expects these actions to lead to dramatically increased productivity and profitability for producers and processors.
BIF has been working in partnership with innovative businesses and organisations in cassava 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 providesome level of financing and good practice to producers. As a result, over 6,000 Nigerian smallholder farmers have increased their incomes, through their supply of this cassava.
With the area of land devoted to cassava growing rapidly, from 3.1 to 6.2 million hectares between 2009 and 2016, the value of the market now stands at 8.8 billion USD. This growth, however, is still being constrained, and average yields per hectare are falling despite the increasing land overall production. BIF has established these constraints around crop productivity, land mechanization, access to quality inputs, transportation and marketing. BIF’s role as a market catalyst and facilitator, led to the targeting of growth through innovative business models.
To overcome the lack of coordination between market players, BIF is engaging with large-scale processors and farmer co-ordination points, predominantly associations. By partnering, outgrower arrangements are made possible, which provide SHFs access to improved seed, inputs and embedded technical know-how. This leads to significant improvements in yield and productivity (up to 80%), and market access for the producers. For processors, there is increased quantity and quality of cassava available for processing. Growth in the adoption of the model has resulted in over 6,000 SHFs now producing for aggregators with the same income and productivity outcomes.
To take advantage of opportunities for value addition, BIF is enhancing the incomes of cassava micro-processors. A waste-to-wealth initiative, which uses cassava peels to create grits, is helping predominantly poor rural women generate income through processing. For these micro-processors, the benefits are clear. Equipment is readily available and affordable, and a very small amount of training is needed before cassava grits can be produced. BIF has used extensive testing to establish the quality of these grits, which is attracting interest from industrial users. Cassava grits from peel are proving a valuable input in the husbandry feed sector in particular, and feed millers wishing to decrease their reliance on maize are piloting cassava grit inclusion.
Our next strategic goal as the programme reaches peak maturity is, in addition to scaling up the penetration of our model contract farming and cassava grits schemes, to work nationwide with farmer associations and co-operatives towards their capacity improvement to manage the aggregation function for both inputs and outputs; business and contracting ethics, negotiation, governance, business development and record keeping skills.
Within the dairy market, BIF has been successful in tripling milk yields, reducing processing losses by 20%, and is now bringing processing to rural communities. With Nigeria the largest producer of milk in West Africa, introducing innovations to the market has the potential to provide both growth and poverty alleviation at a national scale.
Dairy is vital a vital sector for poor households. There are an estimated 12 million Fulani pastoralists involved in cattle rearing and milk production, who account for over 90% of domestic milk production. The livelihoods of pastoral households revolve around the milk economy, with dairy production providing an affordable source of food and nutrition and a vital source of regular income. However, the market faces substantial challenges before achieving its potential. Affordable, quality fodder available throughout the year is one of these challenges. In Nigeria, that has led to conflict between farmers and herdsmen, with drastic consequences now reaching the national level.
To address this lack of high quality, affordable fodder, BIF introduced a simple innovation, using napier grass as a fodder for increased milk yield. BIF invested £10,000 on 2.1 hectares of land in two different models which demonstrated potential increases in milk yield of 76% per cow per day (from 1 to 3 litres). As a result, 500 pastoralists have adopted the use of napier grass, which has led to significant increases in incomes. In tandem, private investment has increased, with the amount of land devoted by commercial actors to the propagation of napier growing from the initial 2.1 hectares to over 90 hectares, with continued investment coming into the market.
With milk yields increasing with the use of quality fodder, BIF has turned to milk handling and hygiene. Through training on preparation of cottage yoghurt, pastoralist women can reduce waste by up to 20%, improve hygiene of processed yoghurt leading to improved prices, and extend shelf life of their product for up to 5 days (from 1 day). This model, piloted in communities, has shown the potential to be used by large processors to develop a network of high quality milk suppliers.
The growth in the dairy market has now begun to increase the level of private investment, specifically around value addition within the sector. The collection of increased quantity and quality of milk has made it viable for milk processing centres to be established. A 500 litre capacity centre can be established using locally sourced materials, leading to the potential for both economic and social gains, leading to sustainable growth in the most rural areas.
At the ratio of 1 extension worker to 10,000 farmers, and the poor productivity typically recorded by smallholder farmers, the need to make information and advisory services work better for the poor is clear to the market. With the government traditionally acting as the primary provider of extension services and information to farmers, the private sector has not see the potential to provide such services commercially. However, BIF is working to enable firms to provide these services, through both radio programming and mobile phones.
By producing radio programmes that attract and maintain farmer listenership, whilst simultaneously tracking the impact of these programmes on farmer perceptions, radio stations are able to increase sponsorship for their programmes. Through pilots, we have proven this concept. Multiple producers and radio stations are collaborating to provide high quality information to SHFs whilst receiving sponsorship from companies targeting these farmers. A number of events to showcase the learnings have resulted in more radio stations and independent producers taking interest, and in 2018 BIF is establishing the viability of the model at the national scale. To further support these innovative radio stations, BIF is turning its attention to strengthening audience research firms who specialise in provide reach and impact statistics to the market.
With the proliferation of mobile telephony in Nigeria, a BIF partner ising test the broadcast of agricultural information via SMS messages, alongside a bundle of inputs provided by an input company. Farmers saw increases in yields, but companies were presented with a new constraint; the information provider had to pre-know or efficiently access the phone numbers of farmers, the cost of which is prohibitively high. As a result, BIF is working with partners to identify ways to collect data through existing processes and infrastructure within these areas. Through effective relationships, the cost of collecting the right data to enable the dissemination of high quality information can be greatly reduced, making commercial returns from information dissemination much more attractive.
BIF is implemented by our partner organisation The Convention on Business Integrity in Nigeria.