Zowasel: Changing Nigeria’s agric narrative through Farmers Crop Centre initiative
Despite the enormous potential in Nigeria’s agric, smallholder farmers in Africa’s most populous country are yet to significantly increase their yield per hectare, as the nation still records the lowest among its peers.
Smallholder farmers have limited access to improved seeds and seedlings, machinery, and training. As a result, farm yields and farmers’ income has remained perpetually low, thus making the sector unattractive to the younger population.
To change this narrative and ensure that food production grows at the same pace as the country’s increasing population, Zowasel, one of Africa’s fastest-growing ag-tech companies, launched the Farmers’ Crop Test Center (CTC) to support farmers in boosting their food production.
The CTC is a sustainable one-stop-shop remote infrastructure connecting farming communities to the Zowasel platform via a direct point of sales approach.
The infrastructure helps provide smallholder farmers with guidelines on quality crop cultivation practices, machinery services to increase productivity, access to financial inclusion services, and ultimately, access to premium markets.
Also, it creates and offers employment opportunities to the host community through its Trustees Program to manage the center and make commissions from supporting smallholder farmers.
Zowasel works closely with ecosystem partners across the value chain – from local to international organizations such as Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), Solidaridad Network West Africa (SWA), and Mitsubishi Corporation to establish crop center facilities in remote communities.
Together with its field partners, the agricultural technology company has successfully built about 45 crop centers across remote communities in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Jigawa, and most recently Nasarawa.
Recently, Zowasel launched its flagship crop center in Nasarawa. It is launched on a three-hectare, along a major road in Kawo village, Doma LGA, after six weeks of constructing, setting up, and equipping the facility with farming machinery.
Kawo village was chosen because it is a host community surrounded by over 40 neighboring settlements, and farming is a primary occupation of the people in the community. Crops cultivated by the smallholder farmers include maize, sorghum, sesame seeds, soybean, and cassava.
Before the development of the CTC facility in Doma, meetings were held with the village chiefs, elders, youths, and representatives from Doma LGA in charge of sustainable development, to discuss Zowasel’s mission in the community and select the most strategic location for the new crop center to ensure proximity to farmers.
Abdul Karim Bangura, head of agronomy & sustainable sourcing for Zowasel, who has been on the frontline of developing and monitoring the progress of the work, said: “The opening of this center in the community seeks to bring Zowasel’s services closer to smallholder farmers by boosting productivity.”
“The crop center is one of the channels we will use to provide farmers with all the support they can get,” he added.
In Nigeria, many smallholder farmers face difficulty getting affordable mechanization for farm activities, quality farm inputs, and adequate training on best agricultural practices, all of which, in one way or the other, lower their productivity, cause wastage and reduce their income.
This low productivity is a major challenge for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, which is driven mainly by the lack of access to quality inputs such as quality seeds, fertilizers, and agrochemicals.
In addition to the lack of knowledge on how to maximize the small production areas in which they are located, this factor poses a major threat to the sustainability of agriculture in these remote communities.
Through the CTC, we are creating access to quality inputs and adequate farm knowledge, which will not only increase productivity and have a huge impact on the sustainability of smallholder agricultural practices.
For this reason, through its team of field experts and agronomists, Zowasel deploys technical support, quality farm inputs, mechanization support, and direct market access to smallholder farmers across farming communities in Nigeria to help them gain access to resources, innovations, and technologies.
Zowasel also joins hands with development partners to ensure that the relevant field knowledge is passed across.
Farmers are trained on new agric technologies and good agricultural practices to increase their yield per hectare and ensure quality.
The new CTC in Kawo village, Nasarawa will expand its services to other parts of Nasarawa state by providing the farmers with direct market access, which will enable them to earn more for their produce, financial inclusion, improved farming inputs which will be available at subsidized prices to boost productivity, and free agronomy services to improve cultivation.
The crop center has been equipped with tractors, planters, and harvesters to support farmers in the area of mechanization to ease productivity as opposed to local traditional manual work. Some of the machinery is handheld to aid farmers’ usability and affordability.
Over a thousand smallholder farmers with a population ratio of men to women being 60:40 set are to benefit from it.
Zowasel is committed to continuously supporting communities and people with the important work of our smallholder farmers and providing solutions for the challenges they are facing. Our field experts are ready to turn passion into sustainable productivity with effective solutions tailored to meet the needs of farmers.
“Knowing how to apply the right fertilizers at the right time always gives smallholder farmers economic and environmental wins,” Priscilla Udoh, Zowasel’s head of sustainability & inclusion, said.
“Sustainable farming provides a fair and reasonably secure living for farmers’ families, recycles crop waste to enrich the soil, and minimizes harm to the environment and farmers,” she added.
Commenting on the project, Sako, a smallholder farmer at Kawo village, said he is confident that the crop center and its services would enhance crop production. The improved seeds would help boost output and the machines would improve timely farm operations.
Zowasel’s quality control and data science enable farmers to produce more sustainably high-quality crops across key value chains. The CTC allows off-takers to source sustainable crops based on exact quality specifications and farm management practices.
As part of its vision of building a sustainable supply chain across people, communities, and the planet, Zowasel aims to develop even more remote infrastructure to connect key farming communities across Nigeria to its online marketplace platform through a direct point of sales approach.