A workshop that effectively kicks off NIRSAL’s FAM-SMART initiative was held at the organisation’s head office in Abuja. NIRSAL conceptualized FAM-SMART (Farm Aggregation Model for Smallholder Agriculture based on Technology) to group smallholder farmers and make it easy for them to access finance, farm inputs, technical assistance and markets.
FAM-SMART will employ technology as an enabler, with the geographical aggregation, financing and monitoring of farms critical to unlocking the potentials of smallholder farming across Nigeria.
The workshop was held in partnership with ACDI/VOCA (Agricultural Cooperative Development International/Volunteers and Cooperative Assistance), a US-based organisation whose forward thinking in the sphere of African Agriculture led them to set up Alliance Agriculture, an initiative that is similar in concept to NIRSAL’s FAM-SMART. It was set up to mine Africa’s vastly untapped potentials to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and increase regional and global food supply.
Speaking at the workshop which had various businesses from the agricultural value chain in attendance, the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, stated that “We must urgently begin to work with smallholder farmers to enhance their capacity so that they become commercially viable business entities whose businesses are economically sustainable”. He further enthused that “NIRSAL will be the catalyst and enabler that will activate the process and help to make it a reality. As partners with ACDI/VOCA and other members, we can make Agric the most important sector of the economy beyond oil and gas” he concluded.
Smallholder agriculture in Nigeria has undoubtedly been yearning for an initiative like FAM-SMART, given the country’s fertile soil and the readily available national, pan-African and global markets. Nigeria’s strategic geographical location gives it the ability to become a global bread basket because of the ease with which it can supply to Europe, GCC countries as well as Southern Africa.
Mr Olaf Kula, the Senior Agribusiness Advisor and Country Rep of ACDI/VOCA, emphasised the importance of making agriculture appealing to youth as one of the fundamental reasons for creating Alliance for Agriculture. He said, “If you can’t make money from a farm there’s little incentive for youth to venture into agriculture. We’re not going to be able to feed the globe if young people are fleeing from the rural centres to the cities”.