- …As HarvestPlus Fetes 100 Farmers
To address challenges of wastage and losses in production and improve agricultural practices for cost efficiency, farmers must plan well and see their farms as business entities tied to an expansive value chain, which feeds agro-allied and other industries.
Agricultural development experts stated this during a field trip organised by the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute of Nigeria (ARMTI), in Ilorin, for 100 farmers in Ogun and Oyo States, to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan. HarvestPlus Nigeria facilitated the training on strategies for packaging and marketing products to the final consumers and produce processing, which included a tour of the cassava processing facility in the IITA campus.
In a statement by HarvestPlus Nigeria, consultant to ARMTI on value chain development, Prof. Emmanuel Lufadeju, was quoted to have said that the two-day training was to intimate farmers on opportunities in the value chain of agricultural commodities, including maize, cassava, yam, poultry, and fisheries and others.
Noting that farmers stand a better chance at excelling in agriculture with the policies being adopted by the state and federal governments, he said, “Everybody is geared towards farming now. The farmers have the opportunity to see various options in terms of production and processing. They have the opportunity to make some decisions by themselves and write proposals for funding. They already have farms. What we are advising them to do is to organise themselves into cooperatives, put up a proposal and look for funding from industries and agencies that need and promote agriculture, respectively. Our purpose here is to expose them. We expect that as they are going home, they would form themselves into groups, decide on what to do and then seek assistance.”
The Country Manager, HarvestPlus, Paul Ilona, said that farmers would start to make meaningful impact on Nigeria’s GDP when they work as groups in cooperatives, so that they not only have better access to funds but also cultivate more land, a development, he noted, would help in improving food security and reducing the country’s frightening food import bill.
“Much as poor, rural households farm to feed themselves, agriculture shouldn’t necessarily be about feeding just your family. Farmers should approach it as a business. They should be managers, allocating resources as efficiently as possible. When this happens they would be making more money and even employ more people,” he added.
One of the farmers, Miss. Opeyemi Ayomide from OrileIlugun in Ogun State, said not only has she learnt about produce marketing, shew has discovered the immense opportunities in growing maize and cassava, adding, “I have discovered that apart from fufu and garri, there are many other things that I can do with cassava, such as confectionaries, sweeteners, steriliser, baby food and other things that I never thought about before now. I have also learnt a lot about the vitamin A fortified varieties. I have learnt about their functions and why it is important for us to grow them.”
“In processing cassava into garri, for storage and marketing, I have learnt the different steps and procedures to take to guide against wastage and loss. I have learnt about the value chain, and that everything starts with what the consumer wants, how and when they want it; it is also important to consider how to plant, process and package the produce. We also need to know the consumers we are selling to before we decide to plant,” she added.