Wednesday, June 13, 2018 1:31 pm
By Daniels Ekugo
Nestlé Nigeria PLC, in collaboration with International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) / 2Scale, is helping farmers improve their livelihoods by empowering smallholder farmers on sustainable farming practices under the initiative, Nestlé Nigeria & IFDC/2Scale Project Sorghum & Millet. The partnership aims to improve grain quality and productivity.
Addressing food quality at the farm level Nestlé, together with its implementing partners, has made significant impact in the past two years, training over 7905 sorghum and 1069 millet farmers on good agricultural pre-harvest and post-harvest practices. 22% of these farmers are women. The farmers testify to a significant increase in income. This change is due to an increase in productivity, improved crop quality and the availability of a ready market, which eliminates the negative influence of middlemen.
In the first year of the project in 2015, the yield doubled to 1.3 tons/hct, and reached 1.8 tons/hct in 2017. The target is to reach 2.20 tons/hct in 2018 farming season, progressing towards the maximum yield capacity of 2.35 tons/hct of the crop varieties.
Empowering farmers to manage their businesses
Another contributor to the increase in income is the improved negotiating skills of farmers, an outcome of the business training and coaching they have received. The coaching sessions have led to farmers becoming much more confident about their position and the quality of their products. For women producers, this has had an especially strong impact. One example of this can be found in Mrs. Hanna Musa, one of the two women in the negotiations team. Prior to the coaching, she had been too shy to speak up, but the opportunity to participate in the negotiations on Nestlé’s terms of delivery and payment, helped her grow into her leadership role.
Speaking on the drivers of the outcome of Nestlé Nigeria & IFDC/2Scale Project Sorghum & Millet, Mr. Maxwell Olitsa, Project Manager, IFDC said, “We achieved the results in the field by empowering farmers to adopt best practices and new technology. Showing in addition to telling also made a lot of difference. 27 demo plots were established; six of them managed by women, where best farming practices are demonstrated. The demo plots are always accessible to the farming clusters to provide continuous technical support and coaching in the field.”
To ensure crop integrity from farm to factory gate, the project also trains aggregators, pesticide spray providers and input suppliers. This 360-degree approach has significantly reduced post-harvest losses.
While helping to improve the livelihoods of farmers within the project, Nestlé projects that the continued intervention with its partners will result in sustainable supplies of high quality grains required for its production sites.
Emphasizing on the impact of the project on the livelihoods of farmers and on the company, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, CEO/Managing Director, Nestlé Nigeria said, “Today, we source about 80% of our agricultural raw material in the country. As we work towards increasing this percentage, we remain committed to working alongside our partners to further improve the quality and quantity of grains and legumes”.
“The results we have achieved so far with Nestlé Nigeria & IFDC/2Scale Project Sorghum & Millet is an example of what is possible when we look at the agriculture value chain holistically from the farm to storage, to transportation, and right down to the factory gate and take definite measures to close the gaps,” he concluded.
Creating Shared Value
This partnership is consistent with Nestlé’s business approach of Creating Shared Value for the company and for society. On one side, the project ensures that the local supply of grains and legumes meet the company’s high food safety and quality standards, while it helps increase the revenue of farmers who have higher yields by applying good agricultural practices.
One of the ways the company works towards achieving its purpose which is, “enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future”, is by helping to reduce crop contamination and post-harvest losses resulting from poor farming practices including sun drying, poor storage and logistics. This is important because crop contaminants, like mycotoxins, threaten the health and lives of humans and animals