OCP Group, a leader in phosphate production and plant nutrition, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have established a collaboration to assist rural dwellers displaced by conflict to regain their agricultural livelihoods.
The two-year pilot project which commenced in 2019 is being implemented in Muchalla, a community in Mubi North Local Government Area of Adamawa state.
The project titled, ‘Improving Livelihoods and Agricultural Development for Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria’, is focused on three thematic areas – market and value chain analysis, strengthening the capacity of agro-dealers, and improving farming – with the report detailing a breakdown of the achievements in each segment.
To boost their revenue profiles, according to the organizations, the 500 farmers were given training through Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in seed germination testing, land preparation, ridging seed dressing and agroecosystem analysis. Each beneficiary was also given other items including improved maize seeds, rice seeds and farming implements.
The beneficiaries were also grouped into Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to help increase their savings and have access to affordable loans. In addition to credit access, the VSLAs equipped the participants with skills in financial management and record-keeping.
Another 119 agro-dealers were trained in business strategy, living/operating costs, making/spending money and product marketing after which they were supported with working tools.
OCP School Lab, the larger initiative implemented by OCP Africa, provides free soil testing to farmers in remote areas across Africa and makes recommendations for fertilizer application that meets their specific soil and crop needs Esther Adams, a 36-yearold mother of four from the Muchalla community who participated in the FFS and VSLAs, said “I learnt many practices in the project. My farm neighbours were asking for the magic I used for my maize farm and I told them that I learnt the practices from FFS. In the previous year, I harvested eight bags of rice.
This year I harvested 23 bags.” Caleb Usoh, Country Manager of OCP Africa lauded the achievements of the pilot phase as a significant success and stated that lessons learnt from the pilot would help to 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.
Sukuss Koroma, IRC’s Technical Coordinator in Nigeria said OCP is willing to fund a truly innovative and integrated approach to rural livelihoods in Nigeria and that for the first time through OCP School Labs, farmers in rural and conflict- affected communities can test their soil fertility, identify the right type of action, and maximize financial benefits from each harvest.