USDA, Lutheran World Relief partner in new US$22m project aimed at improving Nigeria’s cocoa value chain

NIGERIA – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress programme has entered into a cooperative agreement with Lutheran World Relief to strengthen the cocoa value chain in Nigeria.

The project, which is worth approximately US$22 million will be implemented over the next five years with the aim to increase cocoa productivity by leveraging climate-smart agricultural measures.

In addition, the project will support improved access to inputs, technical resources, capacity, post-harvest processing, and export markets.

Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Mission Nigeria, Gerald Smith, explained that the initiative will employ an approach that enables farmers to not only produce more cocoa and preserve the land’s fertility and biodiversity, but also realise an important triple bottom line of people, profit, and the planet.

The project is timely as the West African country seeks to boost its cocoa production to 500,000MT per annum by 2024 from the current average of 300,000MT.

Over the years, Food for Progress projects have trained farmers in animal and plant health, improved farming methods, developed road and utility systems, established producer cooperatives, provided microcredit, and developed agricultural value chains.

Lutheran World Relief will carry out project activities in Abia, Cross River, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Osun states – benefitting approximately 68,000 farmers.

In particular, the project will target farmers in low productivity but highly promising areas, as well as farmers in high-density, high-productivity communities.

“Food for Progress programme is the cornerstone of United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service international capacity-building efforts with the principal objectives of improving agricultural productivity and expanding trade of agricultural products,” Smith said.

The Foreign Agricultural Service is the overseas arm of the United States Department of Agriculture, offering a variety of services to American and Nigerian agribusiness companies, and government and non-government entities involved in agricultural trade and development.

Through a variety of programmes, the service helps developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing capacity-building opportunities.

Staffed with dedicated agri-business specialists, the Foreign Agricultural Service works closely with Nigerian partners to assist Nigeria to improve agricultural productivity, food distribution, food security and trade.

ThriveAgric unveils initiative to boost productivity

Still in Nigeria, locally based ThriveAgric, a fast-growing technology-driven agricultural company, has unveiled the ThriveAgric Marketplace, with the end goal of promoting commercial over subsistence farming, and in turn food security.

The ThriveAgric Marketplace is aimed at increasing local food production, boosting aggregation of farm produce in high demand, and enabling access to premium markets through trade and supply to domestic & global offtakers.

Beyond the company’s outgrower programme, its marketplace also offers farmers access to quality and affordable farming inputs and tools such as seeds, fertilizer, crop protection products, grains, and water pumps.

Commenting on the initiative and new strategy, Chief Executive Officer, ThriveAgric, Uka Eje, expressed the company’s desire to transform agricultural infrastructures in Africa.

He said, “In recent times, experts argue that agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa remains lower than the rest of the world due to factors such as limiting regulations, climate, soil quality, disease, and a reliance on subsistence farming.

“At ThriveAgric, we aim to overthrow this current trend and rebuild Africa’s agricultural systems through our new strategy and attendant initiatives which will encourage scale by positioning our smallholder farmers to derive more value for their efforts.

“In the long term, this will contribute to the sustainable growth of Africa’s agricultural sector and support food security, manufacturing, and trade.”

In barely four years of operations, ThriveAgric has used its proprietary technology; an Agricultural Operating System (AOS), to empower over 350,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria to increase their yield and income by selling their products to FMCGs & food processors.

The company has provided farmers with over 150,000 tonnes of fertilizers and seeds in loans, produced & traded up to 800,000MT of grains, impacted 2,600+ communities, created 9000+ jobs, and has over 500 warehouses across Nigeria.

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