Although it is popularly cited that an estimated 70% of Nigeria′s population is engaged in agricultural production, this has sadly not translated into food security for the nation or improved standard of living for its farmers. The reasons are many:
- agricultural production is mostly at subsistence level
- agricultural holdings are mostly small and scattered
- inadequate technology – most farmers still rely on simple and outdated tools likes hoes and cutlasses
- infrastructure deficit – poor transportation network
- outdated land tenure system that constrains access to land (1.8 ha/farming household)
- a very low level of irrigation development (less than 1 percent of cropped land under irrigation)
- limited adoption of research findings and technologies
- high cost of farm inputs
- poor access to credit
- farmer-herdsmen clashes and other forms of insecurity
- inefficient fertilizer procurement and distribution
- inadequate storage facilities and poor access to markets
- acts of nature such as drought, dependence on rain fed agriculture with little or no insurance
- inadequate know-how, machine and equipment for agro-processing and value addition, etc.
These and more have all combined to keep agricultural productivity low (average of 1.2 metric tons of cereals/ha) with high postharvest losses and waste. Nigeria records huge post-harvest losses – over 60% of farm produce valued at US$9 billion. It also loses USD$10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton.
Although there have been some government interventions in the sector such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, there remains an urgent and pressing need for innovative solutions and social enterprises to support farmers in Nigeria.
Introducing Babban Gona
Babban Gona (Hausa for great farm) is an innovative Agric startup that is designed to tackle some of the challenges faced by farmers in Nigeria. Babban Gona addresses the insecurity faced by smallholder farmers by helping them make more money. Its agriculture franchise overcomes a key underlying structural problem that keeps Nigerian smallholder farmer members poor – low economies of scale.
It is a social enterprise that acts as a farmers’ cooperative and offers small-scale farmers loans, credit, training and other support. It launched in 2012 with 102 farmers, and now works with 20,000.
The company has an ambitious vision: To make 1 million smallholder farmer members more money by 2025.
Babban Gona in Numbers
Profitable loans disbursed: 16,000
Farmers targeted by 2025: 1,000,000
Hectares under sustainable cultivation to date: 12,000
Rural Men, Women and Children Provided Access to Healthy Food: 70,000
Growth within last 4 years: 125%
Increased Net Income: 4 Times
Loan Repayment Rate: 99%
Funding raised: US$8 Million
Babban Gona Service Delivery Model
The company focuses on 4 key areas of intervention and support: Financial Service, Agricultural Input Services, Training & Development, and Marketing Services.
- Financial Service: Utilizing an innovative approach to de-risk members of the farmer groups, Babban Gona raises cost effective capital to finance the members of Babban Gona.
- Agricultural Input Services: Babban Gona provides the appropriate balance of agricultural inputs, at the right time, applied in the right way, at highly competitive prices. This ensures that members of Babban Gona attain optimal levels of productivity and product quality, while minimizing negative environmental impacts.
- Training & Development: Babban Gona provides the required training and development to establish strong democratic farmer groups.
- Marketing Services: Members get access to Babban Gona market services that assure good warehousing practices, access to good markets and increased profits.
Field officers employed by Babban Gona photograph its farmers’ fields. An app reviews the photos, evaluating the germination rate and determines if the soil needs nutrients based on leaf colours. The field officers step in to alert farmers of any problems they find and advise on possible solutions. Some farmers have increased their yields by 50 percent as a result of these support.
Once the farm produce like maize is harvested, Babban Gona stores it in sealed containers and aims to sell it in bulk at the right time to maximize the farmers’ profits.
The quarterly payments farmers receive from Babban Gona allows them to invest in their children′s education, simple machines, building a house and meeting other needs without having to wait until after harvest and sales. Success stories and testimonies abound from its members.
Babban Gona Franchise Model
- Babban Gona Franchises Farmer Groups
- Babban Gona provides tailored and cost effective end-to-end professional training, input, credit and marketing services to Groups
- Groups adhere to Babban Gona’s advises and benefit from services to increase yields and profits
Babban Gona inspires and enables hardworking smallholder farmer members reach their full potential by providing a private sector channel for cost effective delivery of enhanced agricultural technologies and end-to-end services that optimize yields and labor productivity, while simultaneously improving market access.
If done right, investments in Nigeria′s agricultural sector can be highly profitable. Nigeria is the world′s largest producer of cassava (50 million metric tonnes) and yams (44.1 million tonnes), second largest for cashews (960,000 tonnes) and ginger (522,000 tonnes). It is the continent′s largest producer of rice (4 million tonnes) and maize (12 million tonnes).
Social enterprises and startups like Babban Gona are required and will play a key role in tackling hunger and poverty in our world. Providing technology for smallholder farmers also helps to increase yield and control the use of pesticides and other chemicals that contribute to environmental pollution.
Are you inspired by Babban Gona?