By Danusa Ocholi, Abuja
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Solidaridad West Africa has within one year digitally profiled more than 18,500 smallholder oil palm farmers and millers in four states of the Federation.
The states are Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi .This, according to a statement by Solidaridad Senior Climate Specialist Africa, Dr Samson Samuel Ogallah, made available to DAILY ASSET, was among the NGO’s efforts to support the Federal Government’s agricultural transformation policy and the respective state governments’ initiatives to encourage more farmers to embrace the oil palm intervention programme.
These achievements, he said were made possible through The Kingdom of the Netherlands funded “National Initiative for Sustainable Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NISCOPS)” programme in Nigeria.
The digital profiling of smallholder farmers and farm mapping is a continuous process in the lifespan of NISCOPS which started in 2019 through 2023 in the initial phase during which more smallholder farmers would be registered in the database of the programme. After the digital profiling and farm mapping, series of trainings have been lined up to build the capacities of the smallholder farmer on sustainable climate-smart oil palm production.
NISCOPS supports the governments of Nigeria and Ghana to work with farmers towards more sustainable, climate-smart palm oil production, build capacity of smallholder farmers, organizations and local institutions to improve performance, facilitate development of mechanisms for sustainable landscapes and halting deforestation. The programme is also contributing to the objective of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In its human capital development effort in Nigeria, 32 youth have been trained as enumerators in the use of digital tools for farmers’ and oil palm farm profiling in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi States.
Ogallah, added that “ the role of private sector involvement in NISCOPS programme is key to the success of the programme in Nigeria just like all the participating states under the programme.”
He called on private sector to join hands with Solidaridad in its effort to boost palm production and agriculture as a whole.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic leading to the collapse of the oil price on which Nigeria depends as the major income earner for the country, he added it was high time Nigeria started to invest in “the other oil” which is palm oil as a way of increasing the contribution of the agriculture sector to the national GDP, reducing unemployment and poverty and creating jobs for the masses in the country.
Speaking in a similar vein, Kene Onukwube, Solidaridad West Africa, Oil Palm Programme Manager, Nigeria, said “NISCOPS’ overall intervention pushes Nigeria’s march towards making the SDGs and the Paris Agreements a reality.
Profiling of oil palm farmers and their farms elevates Nigeria digital agriculture profile in two significant ways: it enhances the structural aggregation of oil palm farmers into organized farmer groups as well as strategically positioning them for increased economic investments through proposed institutional interventions by government (e.g. through NIRSAL and other key policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria) and private sector growth initiatives targeted at palm oil SMEs.
In Nigeria, NISCOPS is being implemented by Solidaridad West Africa (SWA) in partnership with The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH). While SWA implements in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu and Kogi States, IDH is implementing in Ondo and Edo states. Solidaridad is a Dutch-based international development organization operating in 5 continents through 8 Regional Expertise Centres. With its Network secretariat in The Netherlands. Solidaridad has over 50 years of global experience working in the development of profitable supply chains, creating sustainable businesses and livelihoods by promoting Good Practices, Climate-Smart Agriculture, Robust Infrastructure, Enabling Policy environment and Sustainable Landscape Management.
Solidaridad West Africa operates in five countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. Since 2013, SWA (Nigeria) has trained more than 27,000 farmers on Good Agriculture Practices (GAP). About 78% of the producers trained have adopted GAP and there has been about 40% increase in productivity. In Nigeria, Solidaridad works also across various commodities in different parts of the country.
In addition, SWA in Nigeria services include supporting smallholder producers for increased productivity and improved facilities, market opportunities for farmers , facilitating and negotiating position of producers and workers in supply chain, credit and input access for small and medium scale enterprise farmers and stimulating public-private partnership.