The Great Farm in Northern Nigeria

October 26, 2015

Jordan Dey, Grainpro

Grainpro 1

Courtesy: GrainPro

Hauwa Ibrahim is a 40-year old mother of three who grows corn to feed her family in northern Nigeria. She has a small plot of land (3/4 of an acre) that produced 10 bags of corn last year.  Ms. Ibrahim sold 6 bags (in the local market) and kept 4 bags for eating at home.  Each bag weighs about 200 pounds.

This year, however, she’s expecting a much better crop. She’s now part of  an initiative that Doreo Partners developed to provide small farmers with improved seed (non-GMO), better fertilizer and hermetic storage in GrainPro Cocoons.  The corn is then sold by Doreo Partners to sophisticated buyers 15 hours away, who pay a premium for quality.

The program (called Babban Gona or “Great Farm” in the local language) is now in its fourth year and has expanded to include 3,000 small farmers who will produce approximately 60,000 bags of corn this year. Babban Gona is an outstanding example of “linking” small farmers to “markets”.  Participating farmers get paid at harvest, then again when the corn is sold.  Some of the corn is held for 3, 6 or 9 months after the November harvest, when prices are much higher in Nigeria.

The farmers I interviewed last week told me they are experiencing both an increase in yield, as well as income. The key to Doreo’s success is working directly with the farmers and finding the right customers in Lagos (Nigeria’s biggest city) and beyond.  Doreo does the marketing and has found buyers seeking quality, such as Nestle. If small farmers can produce quality – and grain buyers are willing to pay for that quality – a virtuous cycle develops that will help lower poverty and increase food security for the smallest and poorest farmers, like Ms. Ibrahim.