• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

Empowering smallholder farmers will unlock 10 million jobs’

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Firm

Doreo Partners is an impact investment firm that invests in potentially profitable, high-growth, early stage businesses that would in turn improve the livelihoods of other smallholder farmers. We are 100 percent private sector driven, we ensure our business strategy solves the problems facing smallholder farmers.

Franchise

Our model of Babban Gona is an agricultural franchise. We work with grassroots farmers’ organisations that we call trust groups. We ensure that our trust groups are effectively organised and managed in the interest of the members, and there are steps we take to ensure that. We do not place limits on the number of members of the trust groups. What is most important is the leadership of the trust group. We go through a very rigourous process to identify potential franchisees, that is leaders of the trust groups from the community.

Operations

We are active in Kaduna State and plan to expand our services. We go out and identify high potential farming communities. Once we move in, we provide services that will make them more profitable and productive. Working with the leader of the trust group, we deliver services to the organisations to ensure they are profitable. We look for farmers with strong leadership skills as trust group leaders who can motivate the other farmers in their community.

Franchisee

Mohammed Ibrahim Mustapha was one of our farmers last season. We financed him with N88,000 and ensured he got the required tractor services and all the necessary inputs such as fertiliser, seeds, herbicides, harvesting services, and so on. He was able to get an output of 4.6 tons per hectare on the maize he planted that season. The national average for small farmers is one and half. The average output in that is 0.8 tons/per hectare. With an investment of N88,000, he was able to make a net profit of N300,000. For creating such value for the farmers, they pay for the services.

We want to ensure that many younger farmers in the community are part of the programme. We had a young farmer Ahmed in his thirties, he is one of the trust group leaders, he made $2,000 in a planting season.

Most of the farmers in Nigeria struggle because of lack of access to good training and use of poor inputs, which is what is easily available in the market. We have a strong partnership with IITA. The researchers have be exceptionally helpful.

Training

We identify the trust group leaders and then put them through a very holistic training programme to develop their skills, to think of their farms as business rather than subsistence agriculture. We find out what the farmers need and their agricultural potential, and then we put together a tailored credit product that meet their needs, we ensure they get high quality inputs. When people see those farms, they are surprised that they belong to smallholder African farmers, because they look like something in the UK or USA.

Marketing

We then help them market their produce. We do not buy from them but help them get buyers. We go and negotiate good contracts with large buyers for them. All we do is to make small farmers profitable by helping to get high yields and large buyers.

Reason

People ask me why I am doing this, because there are easier ways of making money. But at Doreo Partners, we believe that our country is on the path to greatness. Unless we are able to unlock millions of jobs now that path could be derailed. And we believe that the way to unlock millions of sustainable jobs is through reinvestment in profitable highly skilled businesses that can increase the profitability and livelihood of millions of small farmers. If a small farmer can earn profit of $1,000 to $1,500 per hectare, the market forces that would be created will lead to millions of jobs.

We are confident that by 2030, we would create 10 million jobs in this country. We have started seeing robust urban to rural migration because it is easier to access land for farming in the rural areas. But these farmers do not have the investment to work on that land. So, we are providing the investment and what we are turning them into is farm managers not hoes and cutlass farmers who spend two weeks to prepare a small portion of land. We finance them to get tractor services and high quality inputs.

Starting out

Doreo Parners started in 2010. The Babban Gona model took a while to incubate because, a lot of time was spent on thinking about how to mitigate the risks associated with the business as agriculture is no doubt a risky business. When one finances people in the rural areas to practise agriculture, there is need to ensure it is being done effectively. We have been getting 100 percent pay-back on the credit we give because the model is well thought out