OCP, BoA collaborate to\support maize farmers

OCP Africa, a company renowned for fertiliser production is entering into a collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) to support maize farmers in Nigeria by way of  increasing opportunities for enhancing maize for food, feed, nutrition and environmental security in the country.

The company, also, hinted at exploring ways to generate employment for low-income people in rural areas.

Country Director, OCP Africa, Mr Caleb Usoh, said the company is determined to enhance the agribusiness sector by lifting the incomes and skills of farmers through its agribooster initiative. The initiative works across the supply chain to connect farmers with quality input, financing and insurance, aside providing comprehensive training on proper input use that would increase crop yields and farmers’ income.

Under the deal, Usoh said the company will work with BoA and Novus Agro to facilitate the provision of resources, training, extension service and market access for smallholder farmers.

Usoh explained that the agreement  signed in Lagos with BoA and Novus, was for the establishment of a pilot Agribooster Initiative scheme in the Southwest for the empowerment of 1000 farmers in Iseyin in Oyo State to participate in maize farming.

He said the importance of maize has grown rapidly and there was  need to keep up with ever-increasing and competing demands for food, feed and industry needs through increased production.

He said OCP’s continued investment in research for agricultural development is required to ensure future maize production can meet demand in Nigeria.

According to him, constraints to maize production and productivity exacerbates the pressure to meet demand, further emphasising the need for improved technologies and management practices.

He said the company will supply high quality fertiliser, training and extension services to farmers that have been enumerated and registered within communities within the area.

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He said 5,000 smallholder maize farmers participated in the trial phase of the  initiative in Kaduna State and their productivity increased by 41 per cent. He added that the success made his company to extend the project to rice farmers in Kebbi State, where it is supporting 4,000 smallholder farmers in Suru, Argungu and Birnin Kebbi regions of the state.

This year, the company is investing $2.350million to develop the country’s agriculture sector through its various projects. Through the projects, which include OCP School Lab, OCP Agribooster, One Stop Shop, and others, the organisation is targeting about 200,000 farmers.

BoA Executive Director, South, Olabode Abikoye said the bank is partnering OCP Africa to give farmers across the nation new technologies to transform agricultural production.

He said maize is a short-term crop and needs further promotion to encourage youth participation in agriculture.

He said tremendous opportunities exist for innovations in maize farming precision agriculture, seed systems, and value chains, adding that the partnership with OCP Africa   offers exciting prospect for future growth and development of maize in the Southwest.

He said the partnership will focus on how to enhance farmers’ access to high-yielding, climate-resilient and quality seeds, along with climate-smart agronomic management practices.

Abikoye said the bank  is committed to providing loans to farmers.

Novus Agro Chief Executive Chike Nwagwu said the organisation will  offer youths the incentives to get involved in the agri-food system.

He said each farmer would receive fertiliser, improved seedlings and herbicides.

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