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OCP, IRC raise farmers, agro dealers capacity in Adamawa community

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
23 February 2020   |   4:15 am
Five hundred smallholder farmers and 119 agro dealers in Mubi North Local Government Area of Adamawa State have benefitted from an intervention programme...

Five hundred smallholder farmers and 119 agro dealers in Mubi North Local Government Area of Adamawa State have benefitted from an intervention programme, designed to strengthen their capacity and improve farming practices in rice and maize production.

The largesse, courtesy of OCP Group, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), is a two-year pilot project, titled: “Improving Livelihoods and Agricultural Development for Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria.” It was launched last year, to focus on three key areas: market and value chain analysis; strengthening the capacity of agro dealers and improving farming practices in rice and maize production.

According to the first year report, 500 farmers in the community, made up of 450 women and 50 men, benefitted from the programme, which targets women and youth. Through the initiative, OCP contributed to 44 per cent decrease in the number of NPK fertilizer bags purchased by beneficiaries, significantly reducing the burden on farmers.

The report shows that in the course of the year, a total of 2,500 kilograms of rice seeds (Faro-44), 2,500 kilograms of maize seeds, 1,000 hoes and other farming equipment, such as gloves, shovels; water containers and rakes were distributed to the beneficiaries.

“In addition, project participants benefitted from up-skilling programmes in seed germination testing, land preparation, ridging, seed dressing and agro ecosystem analysis. Soil testing, which helps to diagnose and optimise soil health, is also a key component of the intervention. Implemented by OCP Africa, OCP School Labs provide free soil testing to farmers in remote areas across Africa, and make recommendations for fertilizer application that take into account specific soil and crop needs.

“Under the rice value chain scheme, two improved parboiling machines were supplied to pilot test modern methods against the traditional method typically used by the beneficiaries. The report demonstrated that the new machinery has enabled the beneficiaries, majority of whom are women, to determine when the boiling process is complete with the aid of a thermometer.

It was revealed that the 119-agro dealers that participated in the first half of the scheme were trained in business strategy, living/operating costs, making/spending money, and product marketing. They were also given calculators, recordkeeping books and other tools to facilitate their businesses.

Country Manager of OCP Africa in Nigeria, Mr. Caleb Usoh, lauded the achievements of the pilot phase as a significant success, saying that lessons learnt from the pilot will help improve subsequent initiatives to support smallholder farmers.

He also called on more corporate organisations to assist in supporting the survivors of violent attacks and conflict.

The IRC’s ERD Technical Coordinator in Nigeria, Sukuss Koroma said: “OCP is willing to fund a truly innovative and integrated approach to rural livelihoods in Nigeria…For the first time through OCP School Labs, farmers in rural and conflict-affected communities are able to test their own soil fertility, identify the right type of action, and maximise financial benefits from each harvest.”

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