In Ogun, Farmers Are Exploring Partnership With IITA For Improved Agribusiness

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TAAT team taking the farmers group on a tour of IITA facilities

Farmers’ group of the Abeokuta Chamber of Commerce Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (ABEOCCIMA) is currently exploring possible partnerships with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in accessing agricultural technologies for improved agribusiness.

To this end, the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Cassava compact team of IITA has hosted the farmers from Ogun State at the Institute’s headquarters in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The group came on a tour of IITA’s facilities and the mobile cassava processing plant.

“Feed Africa” is a new strategy of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to transform agriculture and scale up agribusiness opportunity throughout 18 key agricultural commodity value chains.

The strategy involves increased crop and animal productivity, value addition, investment in infrastructure, creating an enabling agribusiness environment, catalysing capital flows, and ensuring inclusivity, sustainability, and nutritional security in a coordinated manner.

TAAT supports Feed Africa by providing the needed, proven agricultural and food processing technologies and implementation strategies for inclusion within the Bank’s loans to Regional Member Countries (RMCs).

TAAT’s approaches revitalise and transform agriculture while restoring degraded l and and maintaining or strengthening the ecosystems that underpin agriculture, while modernising and more fully commercialising agriculture.

Investments in TAAT will be greatly compounded by much larger loans/ grants awarded to RMCs through Feed Africa, the Bank-financed Country programmes, and the World Bank as well as AGRA programmes.

It has been estimated that overall TAAT will lead to 120 million tons of additional raw food production per year and will contribute to lifting about 40 million people out of poverty.

TAAT is essentially a knowledge- and innovation-based response to the recognized need for scaling up proven technologies across Africa.

It is a Regional Technology Delivery Infrastructure (RTDI) made up of CGIAR Centers, National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), represented by their continental umbrella, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and subregional organisations (SROs), with an emphasis on agroecological zones and their priority commodities.

The principal implementation units of TAAT are Commodity Technology Delivery Compacts (CTDC), a platform of all actors in the seed, primary production, and primary processing components of agricultural commodity value chains.

The CTDC is a compact between the lead CGIAR centres with mandate for the commodity value chains, NARS with farmer organizations, aggregators, processors, seed companies, fertilizer companies, equipment manufacturers, ministries of agriculture of RMCs, regulatory bodies of agro-inputs, public and private extension entities on crop outreach campaign to reach tens of millions of farmers on the continent in the next 5 to 8 years.

Clearinghouse is the decision making body of the RDTI when it comes to selecting which technologies to disseminate and scale up. The objective of the Clearinghouse is to decide which proven agricultural technologies proposed by each Crop/Livestock compact group can be rolled out and taken to scale.

Following an inception meeting at the African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan, January 9-10, all implementing institutions were again invited to an inaugural and work planning workshop at IITA HQ, Ibadan on January 22-25.

Nine value chains (rice, cassava, wheat, sorghum/millet, maize, high iron beans, orange-fleshed sweet potato, small livestock and aquaculture) and six enabler/cross-cutting (policy, capacity building, ENABLE-TAAT, water management, and fall armyworm) compacts were presented based on an expanded concept note template.

Dr Mpoko Bokanga was selected as the Head of the TAAT Clearinghouse and assumed duty at the IITA Station in Cotonou, Benin Republic, on February 1.

The recruitment of two critical technical positions (Partnership Engagement Expert and Technology Transfer and Outreach Expert) of the TAAT Clearinghouse has been concluded with the selection of Dr Mary Igbinnosa as the Partnership Engagement Expert and Dr Zefack Tonnang as the Agricultural Technology Transfer and Outreach Expert.

The Protocol of Agreement between IITA and the African Development Fund on the implementation of TAAT was signed on February 2, 2018. This is the effective start-up date for the TAAT Programme.

The mobile cassava processing plant was fabricated by IITA in collaboration with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) to improve agribusinesses by assisting processors in the rural areas to conveniently gain access to improved processing methods and equipment at a reduced cost.

FIIRO is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. FIIRO was the idea of an economic mission sent to Nigeria in 1953 by the World Bank. The mission’s observation was that industrial research activities in Nigeria were diffused and uncoordinated with no definite direction. Consequently, a decision was reached to establish the Institute in 1956.

It has broad mandate of accelerating industrialisation in Nigeria and it has over the years developed technologies that have promoted the ideals of entrepreneurship development.

It has locally sourced alternative raw materials for industries, thereby conserving foreign exchange; through adequate food processing techniques it has improved the nutritional content of food intake and locally fabricated machines, equipment and many more.

The issue of postharvest losses experienced by rural farmers is a serious challenge. One of the problems is transporting cassava roots from the farm to the factory “as 80% of the cassava root is purely water”, said Peter Oladele Kolawole,  Postharvest Specialist at IITA.

Kolawole, a Nigerian, has assumed the position of SARD-SC Postharvest Specialist at IITA Ibadan. He obtained his Higher National Diploma in Agriculture Engineering at the Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti in 1987 and Post graduate Diploma in Agricultural Engineering from Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) in 2001.

He also obtained a Masters degree in Managerial Psychology from the University of Ibadan in 2000. He received his M.Eng in Agricultural Engineering (Power, Processing and machinery) from FUTA in 2006. He also obtained his PhD in Crop processing and Storage from the Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria in 2012.

Kolawole was a Superintendent (Heavy Equipment and Fabrication unit) at IITA Ibadan (1994-2015) Before joining IITA he worked at Sugar Cane Processing Factory at Savannah Sugar Company in Numan near Yola (1988-1994). He is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineer, Fellow of Nigerian Association of Technological Engineers and council for the regulation of Engineers of Nigeria (COREN).

The mobile processing plant will however, enable farmers to process their cassava roots right inside the field. This will save the cost of transporting the roots to the factory, allow farmers to make use of all the by-products, and increase production of the end-products, which will result in increased profit for farmers and processors.

Business for the Ogun State farmers’ group has been challenging because of the high cost of transporting cassava from the farm to factories, as attested to by the President, Sir Jare Oyesola, during an interview with the IITA Communication team.

Oyesola mentioned how business has been discouraging, so much so that the organization began to think of it as a failure. “As a business management organisation, we came up with ways to improve the efficiency of the business, while searching for solutions, and the IITA mobile processing plant was recommended”, he said.

Impressed by the Institute’s facilities, the farmers’ group is looking at partnering with IITA in getting the mobile processing equipment for the six Local Government Areas of Ogun State, starting with getting one cassava processor and starch producer from IITA to boost the group’s cooperative business.

The Matron, Chief Mrs Alaba Lawson and Mauruff Popoola, Youth Entrepreneurship Coordinator of the group, also talked about plans to get Ogun State youth trained on machine fabrication and agribusiness in IITA, for financial independence and improved livelihood. “Any youth that is interested in agriculture can find expertise and capacity building in IITA”, Popoola said.

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