Agriculture-Tech Program to Boost Incomes of 50,000 Nigerian Farmers
By Aja Beckham
Building on its work to boost food security in Nigeria through technology-driven agricultural services, Thrive Agric has launched an ambitious one-year project to support 50,000 smallholder farmers interested in increasing their crop yields and incomes.
“We know that most smallholder farmers, particularly women and youth, require more nuanced support to facilitate their participation in [the farming] markets and, ultimately, increase food security and incomes at the household and national levels,” says Ayodeji Arikawe, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Thrive Agric.
Thrive Agric is committing $10 million to fund this project and the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub is backing the effort with a $1.75 million co-investment grant.
Fifty-thousand smallholders, particularly farmers in Kaduna, Kebbi and Kano States, were tapped to join the project. The focus of the initiative is to increase the production of three staple crops— rice, maize and soybean—by involving women and youth in the farming industry. Most of the program participants will be women and youth.
The resources that farmers will access include agronomy advisory services, pre-and post-harvest storage and logistics support, links to credit and agriculture insurance products and the company’s current and future mobile apps.
Through the year-long project, launched in May 2021, at least 50,000 metric tons of rice, maize and soybean is expected to be produced by the end of the 2021 season.
The crops which will be sold to premium markets and result in farmers enjoying higher-than-normal incomes.
Thrive Agric developed mobile apps to support smallholder farmers across Nigeria and Africa at large.
Through its Tradr mobile app, Thrive gives farmers direct access to seed and other input providers, farm machinery service providers and off-takers within their locations. Also, its Tmoni mobile app provides customers with a digital wallet on their phone, which they can use to send, receive, save and borrow money.
Karl Littlejohn, Trade Hub’s Interim Chief of Party, says that Thrive will position farmers to be competitive in the market because of technology efforts.
“I look forward to seeing the company’s success in using tech solutions to benefit these farmers,” says Littlejohn. “The lessons learned through their tech-savviness can be leveraged to assist future partners seeking innovative avenues to assist stakeholders in the agricultural value chain.”
The project is creating 1,000 jobs within the agricultural value chain, including for prospective farm, field and warehouse managers. Nearly 70 percent of these jobs will go to women, who are often overlooked for higher-paying managerial positions.
Thrive has already proven that its forward-thinking strategies and technology are effective and reach the masses. Since its founding in 2017, it’s helped over 140,000 farmers in Nigeria increase their capacities to meet supply, quality and food safety standards that are required by domestic and export markets.
The company has accomplished this through bundling a variety of products and services normally out of reach for smallholder farmers and partnering with agriculture organizations who assist with distribution, outreach and other efforts.
Arikawe says this is one of the many ways Thrive Agric is approaching opportunity and the market differently than competitors, who tend to follow traditional approaches to boost farmers’ agricultural productivity.