By AGRA Content Hub

Increasing food security and income levels for 30 million smallholder African farm households calls for doing business differently.  Africa’s agricultural transformation requires a deliberate focus on a market-driven business agenda beyond agricultural production, that encompasses the entire food system.

The Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA), an initiative of AGRA, USAID, Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supports and drives an inclusive agricultural transformation as a tool for poverty reduction. It is an important collaboration between development partners, governments, farmers and the private sector that support countries in delivering at scale on the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed to by African heads of state and governments and signals an enduring commitment to Africa’s transformation.

The partners commit to delivering impact against a shared results framework that aligns each country’s operation to the overall vision and national agriculture plans. It is also an innovative partnership for an integrated delivery within agro-economic zones and across value chains with enhanced in-country coordination to leverage wider investments and deliberate engagements with private sector that build sustainable systems capable of transitioning agriculture from subsistence to viable and prosperous businesses.

In line with PIATA initiative in Nigeria, the Kaduna Maize-Rice-Soybean Consortium, has been supporting farmers in the adoption of contemporary agricultural technologies, inputs support and improving access to markets. Last September, 2018, a Mega Field Day organized by the Consortium in Salauwa Village, Ikara Local Government Area (LGA) in Kaduna State showcased the use of improved soybean variety VSS 4875 promoted by Value Seeds Nigeria Limited. Farmers observed the recommended planting pattern suited to 0.25 hectares, the average size in farmer practice.  They also learned the recommended planting space of 10 cm between stands.  Attended by over 200 farmers, the event was co-hosted and supported by the PIATA implementing partners including SG2000, Value Seeds Ltd., Premier Seeds, National Agro-Input Dealers Association (NAIDA), OLAM Nigeria Limited.  Also in attendance were officials of the Kaduna Agricultural Development Agency (KADA), community leaders, extension agents and Community-Based Facilitators.

Impressed by the good performance of crops in the demonstration field, the farmers relived their experiences from an earlier Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training, and discussed what they had learned about plant density, number of pods per stand, field hygiene and the absence of disease infestation. They also shared their experiences of replicating the trainings in their fields and the promise of a bumper harvest.  The event will be complemented by 80 Mini Field Days scheduled across Kaduna State to demonstrate the performance of maize, rice and soybean.

The OLAM Nigeria Ltd. representative at the event expressed his company’s readiness to purchase all the grains produced by the farmers at a competitive price.  Although the company navigates the supply-demand dynamics for food staples as producers and also through long-standing relationships with local farmers, OLAM’s requirements still exceed the aggregated output of soybean by all the farmers in Kaduna.

This points to the production and food crop marketing challenges that AGRA and the PIATA partners are addressing by leveraging the the full complement of tools, systems, knowledge, and partner resources to the common goal of sustaining an inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa. It includes

strengthening the policy environment, increasing youth and women’s empowerment and participation in the processes as well as securing public-private partnerships to support farmer capacity to increase staple crop productivity with an expanded access to national and regional markets.  It also seeks to prepare smallholder farming households and agricultural systems to adapt to the shocks and stresses brought on by climate change.

The PIATA initiative in collaboration with the Kaduna Maize-Rice-Soybean Consortium adds a valuable improvement to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, who include women and youth, to commercialize food staple production that impacts selected crop value chains.  Taking a holistic approach to strengthening the extension advisory services provided to farmers, the Consortium actively promotes technology dissemination and adoption.  Through a more holistic approach, it has introduced a market-driven, value chain approach to extension that works back from proven sources of market demand towards production that focuses on improving productivity in both crop production and post-harvest handling and storage.