Spearheaded by Olam, springboard is Jigawa State
Aflasafe™ has made its debut in the groundnuts arena in Nigeria, thanks to Olam – an international trading company with operations in Nigeria – and Nigeria’s Jigawa State Government. Olam is seeking aflatoxin-safe groundnuts for export, for which the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July 2017 with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Jigawa State Government. The MoU was facilitated by IITA’s Aflasafe Technology Transfer and Commercialisation initiative (ATTC).
Under the terms of the MoU, Olam Nigeria provided groundnut farmers with Aflasafe, while ATTC trained extension agents and lead farmers on correct and effective Aflasafe application. Olam partnered with the Jigawa Agricultural Supply Company (JASCO) to set up groundnut collection points at JASCO warehouses. The State government clustered groundnut farmers, and provided major inputs such as seed and fertiliser. IITA’s scientists monitored post-application performance on farmers’ fields in selected parts of the State. Although it is early days yet and sample size small, the results on product performance are extremely positive. While Olam set an aflatoxin target of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for the first year, testing of a few samples aggregated for purchase by Olam showed 2 ppb and less. This factor alone – outstanding product performance – has inspired confidence in Aflasafe, which has in turn motivated actors in the agribusiness clusters to continue using Aflasafe.
Despite product-performance success, there are also sobering lessons and reality checks for all partners involved, from which much has been learnt to avoid recurrence. Amongst the setbacks were delays in providing inputs, insufficient data-capture of participating farmers, as well as miscommunication between the various actors, which all in turn hindered the scope. Whereas the target had been to protect 3,500 hectares of groundnuts with Aflasafe, the coverage was one-tenth of the target, at 350 hectares. But despite the impediments, all partners are committed to continue the drive, and to treat the hurdles as teething problems to learn from, which are part and parcel of a new initiative. One idea partners are considering for strength in numbers is to formalise the Groundnut Agribusiness Cluster in Jigawa, in a bid to attract more businesses along the groundnut value chain.
Motivated by the success in Jigawa State, ATTC will be working with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Harvestfield Industries Limited, international commodity trading companies and the National Groundnut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NGROPPMAN) to spread the intervention to four other states in 2018 (Adamawa, Bauchi, Kebbi and Kwara).
This new drive on groundnuts falls under the non-oil Export-Oriented Production Cluster (OPEC). OPEC was designed by ATTC as a strategic intervention to revive groundnut exports in Nigeria through improved quality, and thus contribute to the country’s quest for non-oil exports, as part of The Green Alternative. OPEC’s primary focus is to use Aflasafe alongside other good agricultural practices in addressing the aflatoxin challenge afflicting Nigeria’s groundnut value chain. Nigeria has lost much revenue through lost export opportunities owing to aflatoxin.