OCP Africa Seeks More Agric Revenue to Boost Economic Growth

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Bennett  Oghifo

OCP Africa is seeking improved fruit and vegetable production to stimulate rural development and play a big role in economic growth.

OCP Africa is a subsidiary of OCP Group, a leading global provider of phosphate and its derivatives with almost 100 years of experience. OCP AFRICA was created in 2016 to contribute to the sustainable development of African agriculture.

According to the company, “We develop fertilizer solutions customized to local conditions and crop needs, and we work with partners in many different African governments, non-profits and private enterprises to connect farmers to the agricultural services, knowledge and resources they need in order to prosper.”

Head, Business Development and Digital Projects, OCP Africa, Akin Akinwande believes there was a need to improve partnerships and collaboration in the agricultural sector to maximise productivity and bolster growth. 

OCP Africa is, thus, partnering with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) to groom growers and agro entrepreneurs to deploy greenhouse technologies to boost food security and economic growth.

To get Nigeria on the map for horticultural products, he reiterated that much must be done to improve   the quality of the cultivation as   demand for fresh produce increases.

In line with this, a Horticulture Training of Trainers (ToT) Masterclass held in Abuja for the Greenhouse managers, Field agents and Lead Farmers. It was organised by OCP Africa and SFSA.

Speaking during the training, Akinwande maintained that consistency and quality of supply were becoming more important as such quality from Greenhouses must be impressive while farmers must constantly be developing. 

He posited  that modern greenhouse vegetable production can provide an innovative solution to meet the fast growing demand for high quality, safe and sustainable produced vegetables, which are year round available.

He said OCP Africa was working to transfer skills and knowhow of   controlled environment agriculture   that can provide optimum efficiency and higher nutrient density and increase domestic crop production.

He explained that its partnership with SFSA was a collaboration to advance shared goals of sustainable and secure food production.

He explained that there were numerous areas where sector development and smallholder support were needed, as the challenges faced by farmers present themselves in various activities along the value chains. 

To this end, he posited that OCP Africa was committed to innovative business models, technologies and practices to tackle these challenges and increase income opportunities for small-scale agriculture.

On the training, he explained that it was aimed at building the capacities of Greenhouse hub managers and community farmers’ networks to grow lucrative vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, spinach, and pumpkins, thereby enabling Nigerians access to nutritious food necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.

He added that the training programme empowers farmers with the skills to feel really confident about investing in greenhouse growing techniques.

According to him, the company has acquired greenhouses for its hubs located in thirteen (13) states, saying it has gone a long way in providing a diverse food basket to address nutritional requirements.

So far, Akinwande said 35 standard 8metres by 24 metres Greenhouses have been established across major tomato production areas in Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Oyo, Akwa Ibom and 7 other states, with over 20,000 farmers accessing quality seedlings and inputs as well as good agricultural practice training on modern production techniques and linkages to offtake markets and processors.

Through its Farm and Fortune Hubs (FFH), Akinwande said the company was reaching out to  a broad spectrum of public and private partners to increase the income of smallholders. 

To address poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, he stressed the importance of working towards socio-economic  outcomes at both community and national level, pledging the readiness of OCP,  to enhance and develop sustainable food systems across the country.

During the training the participants learnt all the necessary skills needed to become successful  horticulture entrepreneurs.

One of the participants and Director, Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) Commercial farm, Dr Edna Akpan, described the training    as timely with the potential to enhance the competitiveness of farmers and agro entrepreneurs.

As from contributing to poverty reduction  , Mrs Akpan posited that training  will bring sustained benefits to the  beneficiaries over the long-term, by assisting the  farmers to increase their productivity and incomes.

The horticulture training, she added would   help to create much-needed jobs by improving access knowledge and markets, strengthening technical and managerial capacity in farming and agribusiness.