Oderinde: Growth of Agro-allied Sector Will Boost the N’Delta Economy

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Team Leader, Market Development in the Niger Delta, Tunde Oderinde, in this interview with Eromosele Abiodun, relates how his organisation is stimulating improved performance in select agriculture value chains to better the lot of individuals and grow the Niger Delta economy

Our readers would like to know more about MADE?

Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE) is a programme that seeks to increase the incomes of poor men and women in the Niger Delta. We adopt a market development approach to support growth in the region’s non-oil economy by stimulating sustainable, pro-poor growth in selected agricultural and agricultural input markets, and improving the position of economically active poor and women in these markets by making them more inclusive.

How far have you gone in achieving your objectives in the Niger Delta?

The overall objectives of MADE is to increase the incomes of at least 150,000 poor men and women in the Niger Delta. As at 2016, MADE has attracted approximately 1.4 million Pound Sterling private sector and partners contributions to the various intervention pilots in the Niger Delta. MADE intervention implementation continues with focus on consolidating and scaling up series of initiatives with market actors in the five value chains across all nine Delta state. These interventions areas of focus are: Improving fish farmers knowledge and access to new markets; sustainable cassava production with bio-products as inputs in the Niger Delta region; improving access to and the use of improved small-scale processing equipment (SSPE) by small and medium scale millers and mill users; improving productivity and access to new markets for small household poultry producers; Improving quality, distribution and sales of finished leather goods.

Your organisation recently launched some grant opportunities for people in the Niger Delta, what was it all about?

Yes, we launched the grant called Technology Adoption Grant (TAG). It is a N80,000,000.00 (Eighty Million Naira) private sector matching grant fund aimed at stimulating improved performance in select agriculture value chains – palm oil, fisheries, to increased incomes for the actors – individuals, enterprises and economic growth in the Niger Delta. The grant funds will be awarded to eligible individuals and enterprises through a competitive grant process. Successful bids can receive up to a maximum N1.1 million depending on the funding window. The competition is open solely to individual businesses and enterprises domiciled and operating in the Niger Delta. The TAG fund is financed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by MADE.

The TAG fund seeks to encourage adoption of new technology in select value chains – palm oil and fisheries, and inclusive business model that will stimulate the participation of the poor in the value chain by demonstrating commercial incentives, production efficiency and benefits to the actors on the supply and demand sides. The fund intends to support businesses engaged in the select value chains at the production and processing levels targeting new market actors and related service providers (such as oil palm commercial millers, harvesters, farmers group) to acquire newly or upgrade to use of improved technologies to improve efficiency and commercial viability of their businesses. This will trigger the demonstration effect required for wider adoption by other actors in the value chain that meet the eligibility criteria and fund objectives and successful scale.

How do you expect farmers to apply?

The TAG fund has three windows, each with a different focus. Eligible applicants can apply for funding through any of the windows. The first window is for improving access to affordable improved fish smoking Kiln. Access to new kilns will increase health benefits for fish smokers, increase safety from fire hazards, smoking efficiency, smoking capacity, and reduce fuel costs. These will reduce wastage of unprocessed fish and increase incomes for the smokers. Improved fish smoking capacity will increase fish smokers’ incomes and profitability by reducing on-shore post-harvest losses.

Savings will be made from reduction in expenditure on maintenance / reconstruction of housing units and of the old traditional smoking. The second window is for improving access to improved Palm Oil processing technologies. As a response to low oil output and earnings experienced by smallholder millers through the use of engine powered digester and a manual press, MADE is encouraging equipment manufacturers to fabricate and sell small sized components of improved palm oil processing technologies.

One of such is the NIFOR designed Small Scale Processing Equipment (SSPE) which has been proven to increase oil extraction rates by 30 per cent, reduce time spent on processing and labour usage. MADE seeks lead commercial millers, who are interested in acquiring the small set of SSPE for their use and organising demonstrations on its benefits and use targeted at other millers, mill-users and farmers.

This is expected to increase awareness on benefits of SSPE and in turn, increased demand for the technologies by millers and mill users, thus leading to increased oil yields while the third window is improving access to improved harvesting technologies. Harvesting of oil palm Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) by small and medium scale oil palm plantation farmers in the Niger Delta region is largely a manual operation which is highly inefficient. In addition, climbers are becoming scarce due to changing demographics and rural-urban migration.

MADE is engaging with the marketers to promote the benefits and use of improved harvesting technologies such as the Mechanical Adjustable Harvester and Malaysian knife proven to increase the quantity of harvestable Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) by 50 per cent compared to manual method and reduce time spent on harvesting. MADE seeks lead commercial harvesters and farmers groups who are interested in acquiring the Mechanical Adjustable Harvester and Malaysian knife for their use and organising demonstrations on its benefits and use targeted at other farmers. This is expected to increase awareness on benefits of the improved harvesting technologies and in turn, increased demand for the technologies by farmers, thus leading to increased FFB output. The grants are limited and it runs from November to December 2016.

There is a technology component of your work. You provide improved technology to make the products better and equally more profitable. How do you help these local fishermen and those who produce palm oil in the villages to improve technology processing and production?
We look across the value chain to see how we can bring efficiency, improved product quality and at the same time participation at affordable price. We realised that for a lot of the processors who would want to get value for money, using the obsolete mills is not giving them the value they would really like to have. For instance, the people in palm oil complained about not been able to breakeven except they have to sell the kernels and all other things after extracting the oil and I think that helped us to look deep. In collaboration with NIFOR, we realised that they have already developed a new mill, which is small scale processing equipment.

Through that we’ve built capacities of fabricators within the Delta who now know how to fabricate that. Do people know about the technology, not so sure and that’s why we try to promote the use of that technology through the grant. And I will tell you the logic. If we have the technology spread across the Delta and we are able to get our processors to use that technology, and we see the benefits, it means a lot of the millers will want to upgrade the technology. We know that financing is a problem and for some of them, the offering cost is always a challenge, not that they don’t want the finance. We’re also looking at the financing component where they can leverage on our support and our relationship with some of the financial institutions for them to be able to take that forward.

The same thing in the fishery industry as well, we have seen that at a point when almost every farmer is producing for the market, there is likely glut and what is means is the fishes are ripe to be sold but because of the gluts the price offering is not worthwhile and the fishes cannot be kept because it’s like the person is wasting money trying to feed them after six months.

We are saying why not process and add value to the fish, stock it up, give it longer life for another six months to one year where people who relish dry fish will come for it or you could take it to high value market. What we see around is the drop but we are now coming up with the Kiln which will enable them do the value and also able to bet the right moisture contain. The Kiln is a product after several researches by the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research and through that also we have built capacities of fabricators for them to be able to fabricate these for any interested investor.

What next after the grant?

MADE continues to work across the nine states of the Niger Delta and is on course to meet its key impact target, which is, an increase in the incomes of at least 150,000 poor men and women. We will continue to consolidate our work in the five value chains whilst achieving improved integration of cross-cutting support, especially in terms of gender mainstreaming.