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Topez Farms, Empowering Local Farmers, Transforming Rural Communities

The Topez Farms vision is to see African rural communities transformed by the power of agritechnology.

Photo of Tochi Opara-Eze
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Topez Farms, the agritech unit of Arapezie Ltd

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.topezfarms.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Port Harcourt City

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Nigeria

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Niger Delta region of Nigeria

What country is your selected Place located in?

Nigeria

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Rivers state, one of the states in the Niger Delta region is my home state. I was born in this region and have spent my 24 years of existence here. It gives me a sense of pride that I reside in the land my ancestral fathers founded and defended for their descendants like me. The interwoven culture despite different ethnic groups and language differences marks this region out above others around us. Our land is one of the most promising with talents and treasures. The Niger Delta region believes in unity, peace, development, progress, love, and building a strong viable economy of our great and blessed country called Nigeria.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Niger Delta extends over about 70,000 sqkm. It is home to more than 40 ethnic groups including the Bini, Efik, Esan, Ibibio, Igbo, Annang, Yoruba, Oron, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Abua/Odual, Itsekiri, Isoko, Urhobo, Ukwuani, Kalabari, Okrika, Ogoni, Epie-Atissa people and Obolo people, are among the inhabitants of the region, speaking about 250 different dialects. It is located in the equatorial climate zone, during the year there is almost the same temperature. A lot of precipitation falls. Here is a zone of humid equatorial forests, and on the coast there are preserved areas of mangroves. It has the world's third largest mangrove forest with the most extensive freshwater swamp forest and tropical forest and tropical rain forest characterized by great biological diversity. Elevated sites are mostly in the Cross River on the border with Cameroon. It is a very densely populated region sometimes called the Oil Rivers because it was once a major producer of palm oil. The area was the British Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 until 1893, when it was expanded and became the Niger Coast Protectorate. The region has major urban cities like the popular Port Harcourt City, Benin City, Uyo, Calabar, Owerri, Yenegoa, Warri, and others. Agriculture has been the main stay of over 70% of its population who mostly live in the rural communities. Dominant crops are cassava, oil plam, plantain and vegetables. The Bayelsans and Rivers are mostly fishermen by occupation. It is the expectation of the region that time will come when they will start feeding the whole of West Africa as a World Bank report of 1952 and 1953 declared when they payed a visit to the region.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

70000

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

31277790

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

In the Niger Delta region, we face different challenges Environmental challenge caused by: 1. Oil spillage which has badly damaged our soil 2. Gas flaring resulting to black soot and constantly subject residents to air borne diseases, 3. Flooding that sacks communities from their homes and wash off farm lands 4. Continual rise in temperature 5. Post harvest losses Diets Challenges 1. Low access to fresh sea foods 2. Gradual extinction of edible insects like beetle that is gathered from the raffia palm as a result of the destruction of the swamps and rain forest due to oil-related activities. In Bayelsa State, this insect is called Bayelsa suya (palm weevil larvae), and it serves as a supplementary source of protein for many people, given the scarcity or depletion of fish. Policy Challenges 1. The land tenure system practiced in Niger Delta makes agricultural activities a difficult task 2. Little or no financial inclusion especially for smallholder farmers who make up to 70% of the region's population and food producers.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The Topez Farms Food Vision shall address the above problems by: 

1. Reducing post harvest losses of farm products through building smallholder processing hubs within farming communities.

2. Reduce green house gas emission from the farm crop losses by processing them at farm gate.

3. Improve nutritional security

4. Diversify livelihood options through employment in the various processing industries mostly located in the rural communities.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Once the Topez Farms vision is realised, rural communities will be transformed into agritech smart towns and cities powered by agritechnology spearheaded by vibrant and young farmers.

By 2050, I see a Niger Delta with:

1. High rural economy boost

2. Youth employment/talent retention in their indigenous communities.

3. Little or no rural - urban to urban migration in the region.

3. Renewal of interest to build their indigenous communities

4. Increase in home based solutions to internal communal problems

5. Less movement of raw farm products to more sales of value added product

6. Increased farming capacity, productivity and purchasing power of the locals especially the rural smallholder farmers.

7. More of agro-related cooperatives and associations will spring up.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Before 2050, Niger Delta will stop treating agriculture as a development project but as a business large run by smart young farmers.

Its government and donor agencies will stop funding isolated projects that do not grow the sector in a clear and measurable way. 

The people of the region will not allow big government to crowd-out the private sector but will focus on investment driven strategic partnerships with the private sector.

The region's food industry may be characterized by integrating food production, storage, food processing and industrial manufacturing by value chains (Farm-to-Family).

Niger Delta region will focus on value chains where we have comparative advantage (production) while adopting import-substitution measures to drive sector growth.

I see a future where hunger is not because you don't eat a single meal a day but because you are choosing between which of the means to pick out of in the region of Niger Delta.

My region's food system will be massively transformed before the end of 2050 with the springing up of companies in different states of the region that might take the framework of the one in the video attached.

This will change the general landscape of the region since most of the citizens will move to middle class grade as can be seen from the image uploaded.


Photo Credit: Kunle Adeyemi, the architect

https://www.archdaily.com/603169/7-architects-designing-a-diverse-future-in-africa/54eb8322e58ecec3f000003c-an-urban-growth-prop

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Tochi Opara-Eze  Great to see you joining the Prize!

We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Prize. Even if you've not started populating your Vision just yet, by publishing your submission you can make it public for other teams in your region to see, get in touch and possibly even collaborate with you.

You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your Vision at any time before 31 January 2020 by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. If you need inspiration or guidance, take a look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit.
Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit: http://bit.ly/2X4ZxQk

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.