To ensure that farmers in underserved markets have seamless access to fertilizers and other quality inputs, OCP Africa is establishing 55 one-stop-shop Farm & Fortune Hubs across the country.
OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Limited (OCP Africa), a leader in the production of phosphate-based fertilizers, has also empowered agro entrepreneurs on how to use its hubs to boost farmers’ productivity, improve food security and nutrition.
Caleb Usoh, Country Manager OCP Africa Fertilisers Nigeria, while speaking during the training of agro promoters on the operations of its Farm& Fortune hub model, said it was a milestone in the company’s effort to contribute to productivity and food security across the country.
He said the Farm& Fortune hub was set up in accordance to cater for the needs of the population by providing effective service-delivery, in accordance with its policy of proximity.
Usoh explained that Farm& Fortune hubs were designed to offer knowledge to increase crop yield and productivity that would lead to improved food security and increased income for smallholder farm families.
He added that the operators of hubs will support the national extension service, through provision of timely and effective support to farmers and rural communities so that they can adopt and promote good agronomic practices.
He explained that the hubs will be equipped with agritech solutions to enable farmers optimise yields, boost farm productivity and increase their profitability.
By harnessing agri-tech, Usoh reiterated that OCP Fertilisers was confident of solving the pressing issues around food security, being mindful of the challenges local farmers’ face, such as using the hubs to help them aggregate and preserve their produce.
Usoh hoped the partnership will really help provide new opportunities for small farms and beginning farmers.
Chiagozie Nwizu Executive Director, Africa Franchise Institute, in a bid to improve farmers’ timely access to quality agro inputs and information, described OCP’s Farm & Fortune as an appropriate system that was going to have a positive impact on the agricultural sector.
Accredited agents, according to him, will provide smallholder farmers with timely and relevant quality farm inputs at affordable prices.
He added that farmers benefit from regular access to high-quality services and goods which are specifically marketed for smallholders, while the agro entrepreneurs will be exposed to business training to grow customers’ base.
The model he emphasised is sustainable and scalable, and, in the long-term, would help the promoters achieve financial independence.
He urged operators in agriculture to avail themselves of the hub including technical and financial assistance to undertake more agricultural activities, while encouraging them to consider new farming techniques and new varieties of crops. About 27 agro entrepreneurs participated in the training.
It would be recalled that last month, USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) awarded a $1.4 million co-investment grant to OCP Africa, to install modern blending equipment within its fertilizer blending plant facility under construction in Kaduna State.
The top-in-class blending equipment will help bridge the gap where there is a paucity of specialised fertilisers to grow crops on a large scale and support food security in the country.
The planned facility and equipment will produce various fertilizer blends customised to the needs of rice, maize, soybean, cassava, tomato, and other staple crops grown in Nigeria.
The specialty blends of fertilizers have the capacity to increase farmers’ yields by 50 to 85 percent per hectare depending on the crop.
With the capacity to produce 120 metric tonnes per hour of these blends and store up to 10,000 metric tonnes, OCP Africa expects at least 75,000 of targeted smallholder farmers within the catchment area of the plant to benefit from the blending plant’s operations and associated agronomy support services.