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IMPROVING THE LIVELIHOOD OF REFUGEE SMALLHOLDER FARMERS IN SOUTH-SOUTH NIGERIA

We improve the agricultural value chain by helping smallholder farmers increase yield and have access to both market and capital.

Photo of Udoka Inwang

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

1. High prevalence of diseases and pests: This is due to lack of pest and disease management knowledge and we are tackling this through our agro-based education provided for both our farmers and apprentice. The disease and pest management training is carried out by our technical staffs who also are assigned to each farm for technical support. 2. Low agricultural yield: This is due to farmers not having proper knowledge on the effective use of the modern agricultural techniques. We are solving this by still providing them with an agro-based education on modern farming techniques. 3. Price manipulation by traders: This is due to farmers not having access to the national and local market price of their farm products daily. We are solving this by providing them with day-to-day market prices on our web/mobile application. 4. Insufficient capital to expand production: This is due to lack of incentives and guarantee system from financial institutions to provide loans to farmers. We are solving this first by keeping records of every transaction which will be used to access loans. 5. High post-harvest loss: This is due to lack of storage and transport facilities. We are solving this by setting up low cost storage facilities (walk-in coolers) and provision of logistics for effective delivery. 6. Poor access to market: This is due to high cost of delivery and monetary exploitation from the middlemen. We are solving this by connecting them directly with the retailers/consumers.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Our focus is in the south-south region of Nigeria. We are running our pilot program in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area which hosts the refugee camp in Akwa Ibom State. The number of Cameroonian refugees fleeing violence and seeking refuge in Nigeria (over 80% are based in Akwa Ibom and Cross River State) crossed 30,000 recently (registered refugees). Despite all the efforts of UNHCR and their partners, the needs of the refugees are far from being met in this region.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Since more than 80% of the host farmers mostly produce tubers and the refugees are more of vegetable and fruit farmers, we provide a space where they both learn from each order in creating a diversified source of income and access to farm infrastructure and inputs. Creating a platform where both the refugees and neighbors in the host community learn from each other will ensure friendship and cordial relationship between them.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Apart from the basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing our project will also provide both psychological and self-fulfillment needs such as; Psychological needs: 1. Belongingness and love needs: Through our project, both the refugees and the host community will forge both working and informal relationships. This will be made possible as they transfer their knowledge of vegetable and fruit plantation to the host community. 2. Esteem needs: It ensures improved livelihood and dignity as they begin earning a living from the sales made from their harvest. Self-fulfillment needs: 1. Education: As a result of the increased earning, both refugee parents and their kids can afford quality education. 2. Healthcare: Based on the positive cash flow from the sales of their produce, a health insurance scheme will be set up for every farmer and their entire family.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

1. Increase in the household income of both the refugee smallholder farmers and community farmers by 50%. 2. Both the refugee farmers and community farmers will have access to quality healthcare therefore reducing the level of maternal and infant mortality rate. 3. Over 80% reductions in external aid or support from international organizations which breeds nonchalant attitude and is not sustainable. 4. Higher social cohesion (less unequal societies and happiness) which will lead to lower level of unemployment and increase in social participation and confidence among refugees and host communities. 5. Increased access to quality education by both refugees and host community.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

One of our team members is a registered refugee with the UNHCR. After spending six months in the refugee camp depending on external bodies and the goodwill of the community for a living, and seeing the plights of the people, he started fruit and vegetable farming and made more than 80% profit margin. He later employed two other Cameroonian refugees after 6 months of farming and this provided a stable source of income for them. The South-South region of Nigeria has large arable lands with fertile soil and good climatic conditions that favors the production of vegetables and fruits. The total household food expenditure in Akwa Ibom State is 53.75% and 90% of the vegetables and fruits consumed in Akwa Ibom State are imported from the Northern part of Nigeria (https://nigeria.opendataforafrica.org).

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

1. The communities that the refugees reside in are mostly rural or peri-urban. 2. The community residents communicate mostly in their local dialect and Pidgin English (otherwise known as broken English which is understood by almost every Nigerian). 3. They are mostly low-income farmers. 4. They have a more stable electricity supply because of the lower load in each home. 5. The communities have good road networks, though not tarred but are good for transportation purposes. 6. Over 90% of the residents have access to mobile devices and over 70% have access to internet-enabled devices. 7. They have both good hospitals and access to free education at both primary and secondary level. Private schools and private clinics are also available. 8. The residents mostly use stream water or fetch with their rubbers when it rains. The state government has also made available boreholes to supply water thrice a week to each village.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

1. We leverage on the high availability of arable farmland within each community to farm. We meet each of the community heads and request for the available community farmland to be made accessible by both refugees and host community for farming. 2. Majority of the refugees are farmers, so we leverage on their expertise in vegetable and fruit production to implement our project. 3. The community in focus also have good climatic conditions such as; temperature, relative humidity and rainfall. 4. Being that Akwa Ibom State (our pilot location) is the safest and most secured state in Nigeria, this will also contribute to the success of the project.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

1. The Local Government Chairmen (future partners): They are responsible for managing the affairs of the villages, implementing projects, and settling conflicts. 2. The Village Heads (current partners): They will be making the farmlands available for us to use for farming. 3. The Youth Leaders (current partners): They will work with us to provide some of the youths to be trained by our refugee farmers and also maintain a cordial relationship with them. 4. The Women Head (future partners): They will work with us to provide women to be trained by our refugee farmers and build a cordial relationship with them. 5. Techcube Academy Limited (current partners): They will be responsible for the development of both the web and mobile application and provision of agents to assist the farmers. 6. Agribloom (current partners): They will facilitate the fruit and vegetable production training. 7. Akwa Ibom State Agricultural Extension Officers (future partners)

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Technology-enabled: Existing approach is more effective or scalable with the addition of technology

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

EL-CHARIS INITIATIVE FOR AFRICA

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

El-Charis Initiative for Africa has over the period of 5years carried out projects on; Vegetable and Fruit Production, Youth Entrepreneurial Training, free dental and eye treatment, donation of dental equipment and textbooks to vulnerable high schools. Mr Ekemini Ukim (CEO) has served the state government as the Special Adviser to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State on Project monitoring for 8+ years. He has built a good relationship with the youth leaders, village heads and local government chairmen in the state. Mr Udoka Inwang (Program Manager) has curated 5 years of experience in business modelling, product testing, and developed 30+ profitable startups in Nigeria. He studied Business and Entrepreneurship at McCombs Business School, University of Texas. Mr Sakwe Njioh (Project Lead) is a Cameroonian refugee smallholder farmer with 6+ years’ experience in Vegetable and Fruit production. He is a Post-harvest extension specialist and is working with us to train other refugee farmers

Website URL:

https://elcharis4africa.org/

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Nigeria

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Uyo/Akwa Ibom State

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of cesar bayu
Team

hi Udoka Inwang your ideas is really good...

Spam
Photo of David Ezra Jay
Team

I like this idea.

I am interested in the payment system and how you are providing them with day-to-day market prices? I am assuming these transactions are primarily cash-based at the moment?

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Thanks David Ezra Jay for taking out time to go through our project and your great question.

Currently, we are building the web application but i will walk you through how we are testing this model presently.

So far we have curated over 40 retailers selling vegetables in the location we are running our pilot program and also currently have 4 Cameroonian refugees planting cucumber, tomato, cabbage and cameroon pepper.

For now, we collect the harvest time of each of the farm produce from the farmers and communicate with the retailers via SMS. The farmers receive weekly SMS from us with respect to the market price of vegetables and fruits and also receive an SMS on the day of purchase. Once a request is made from a retailer, we pick up the order from the farm and deliver to the retailer. Once payment is made, we credit the farmer.

We are currently using mobile money agents to help the farmers have access to cash without having to travel to town to deposit or withdraw. Our farmers have opened sub-accounts under our agent's account, and can deposit and withdraw money through our agent. We directly credit the farmer's account once payment is made to us and we keep our service fee.

Once the app is ready, we will deploy technical agents to each farm to help us update harvest time of each of the farm produce, and also update us with each farmer's name and product to enable us pay them in the case that we have to curate the same farm produce from one farm.

We will continue to use SMS to update the farmers on the market prices and also use the statement of account generated through our platform to help them access loan to increase capacity.

I hope I have answered this well!!!

Spam
Photo of David Ezra Jay
Team

Udoka Inwang Thank for the info. I love how complicated these things can be and like how you are working it out :)
How easy is it for your target users to access mobile money directly? Do they have to go through your agents or can you send it directly?

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

David Ezra Jay our farmers can easily access our mobile money agents. Our farmers open an account seamlessly with our mobile money agents and can receive money from us through transfer of which they have to locate our mobile money agent to make withdrawals.

Spam
Photo of David Ezra Jay
Team

Udoka Inwang This is super cool. There is room to collaborate. If your farmers are planting trees Tree Tracker - Money App can pay them to grow the trees. Let's collaborate. If you can get a few cell phones on the ground in the communities, we can your community into our prototype stage, which will be able to make micropayments on a per tree survival bases. At first, this is a small payment, but if your people are planting lots of trees this can add up. At the current market price, a planter with a thousand trees can make around 14,120 NGN a month. All they would have to do is find a phone to use for a day and track their trees once a month.

Spam
Photo of Rexford Kwabena Essuman
Team

The idea is very good

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Thanks Rexford Kwabena Essuman 

Spam
Photo of NDEF Cameroon
Team

Hello Udoka Inwang. Great to learn of your efforts towards making our Cameroonian refugees over there in Nigeria to have better living conditions. We also appreciate the technological aspect to facilitate business and financial transactions. Here in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, there are lots of power blackouts and frequent telephone failures. If such situations were to happen in Nigeria, how do you intend to handle the situation?

Given that refugees are living with lots of uncertainty and given that the maturity of fruit trees is in the long term, what motivates refugees to plant trees which take over five years to mature? Is it possible for you to introduce vegetative propagation techniques such as grafting, air-layering and rooting of cuttings to produce planting materials which bear fruits faster?

On your agric value chain of fruits and vegetables, could you explore ways to transform or preserve them by drying to add value, add shelf life and fetch more income for farmers?

Kind regards

Nkeng Pius
Executive Director
NDEF Cameroon

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Thanks NDEF Cameroon for your honest feedback.

We are currently working with Cameroonian refugee farmers to plant tomato, cucumber, green pepper, cameroon pepper, cabbage, lettuce, water melon and banana for now.

The problem they had before now was accessing the market more efficiently and also having access to capital to increase production. Under a period of two month, we have successfully brought 10 of them onboard courtesy of Mr Sakwe Njioh (President of Cameroonian Refugee in Akwa Ibom State).

Leveraging technology will help facilitate our work. Each farm will be assigned Technical Agents to work them through how to access market information and as well upload their harvest time. Investors will also be able to invest in their farms through our platform.

Due to the high consumption rate of these farm produce and the expertise already displayed by the Cameroonian refugees in this field, we decided to work with them in this area. Most of the products from seeding to harvesting is approximately 3 months exception of banana. The profit margins after the first harvest can get up to 120%.

Mr Sakwe within a period of 3 months running his cucumber plantation has successfully employed 4 other Cameroonians through our support and they are all earning comfortably. The entire value chain from plantation, processing and distribution seeks to provide a sustainable source of income to over 5000 refugees based here in Akwa Ibom State alone.

I hope this has thrown more insight to what we are working on

Spam
Photo of NDEF Cameroon
Team

Good work Udoka! Many thanks for helping those our peers over there.

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Sevde ┼×engün kindly help provide some feedback for me, thanks a million.
Bremley Lyngdoh kindly help provide some feedback for me as well, i need to know were to improve on, thanks a million

Spam
Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi Udoka Inwang welcome to the Bridgebuilder Challenge 2019 and I like your brilliant idea of deploying technology to improve the agricultural value chain by helping smallholder farmers increase their yield and also give them access to both market and capital. I was wondering how you are engaging the refugees from Cameroon in the human centered design of your idea and how you will measure the long term impact on the ground created by your proposed intervention. I am looking forward to seeing your idea progress on this platform.

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Thanks a million Bremley Lyngdoh for the feedback, i sincerely appreciate

Spam
Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

You might want to check out this idea from Cameroon. Perhaps you could explore some ways of working together or you can get some ideas"As I was reading through your idea, I remembered this other idea https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/enhancing-ndef-farmers-resource-centre-for-entrepreneurial-support-and-delivery-of-livelihood-opportunities-to-idps-and-host-communities

Spam
Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Thanks a million Bremley Lyngdoh . Amazingly, we had started a conversation and i immediately saw the similarities in our project. Looking forward to learning more from him and his project alongside possible partnership.