YieldWise Connects Farmers with Executives and Everyone in Between
In early October, PYXERA Global convened 250 individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives in Kano, Nigeria to discuss how we, as representatives from an array of sectors and organizations, might better work together to reduce post-harvest loss (PHL) in the tomato value chain in northern Nigeria. The objective was clear: foster collaboration between stakeholders from the public, private, and social sectors in the region’s tomato value chain to operationalize the “Tomato Triangle +,” a partnership between the state governments of Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, and Katsina, to strengthen the value chain and reduce post-harvest food losses.
In Nigeria, the YieldWise project, funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, is implemented by PYXERA Global with the goal to reduce the amount of tomatoes lost each year post harvest by 50 percent. The program integrates targeted interventions that address the contributing factors of loss to strengthen the vulnerable segments of the value chain to drive loss reduction and, consequently, increase farmer incomes as well as the quantity and quality of the tomatoes that reach the market. The project model is rooted in the understanding that any improvements on-farm must be complemented by strengthening the system as a whole. YieldWise Nigeria has worked with farmers, middlemen, buyers, input suppliers, technology providers, financial institutions, and state and local governments to address post-harvest loss challenges at every stage along the value chain.
The project model is rooted in the understanding that any improvements on-farm must be complemented by strengthening the system as a whole.
With an eye toward enhancing the agribusiness ecosystem, the ten-person PYXERA Global team in Kano organized and facilitated a packed one-day agenda that brought together stakeholders to make real commitments on post-harvest loss solutions alongside unlikely allies. The morning sessions established a common language on the challenges facing the tomato value chain. Though diverse in their mandates, missions, and business plans, all stakeholders who touch the tomato value chain face cross-cutting challenges. After kicking off the convening and welcoming high-level guests, PYXERA Global’s Nigeria Country Director, Ann Oden, introduced Dr. Kabiru Mato, Kaduna State Commissioner for Agricultural and Natural Resources, who, during his keynote address, emphasized that national attention is focused on agriculture. He stressed the need for macro and micro processing facilities for tomatoes across the country. Dr. Mato was followed by Betty Kibaara, Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation, who focused on practical wins for the farmer and the system as a whole, saying “if you grow a crop without a market, the farmer loses.”
Representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture of the Tomato Triangle + states then participated in a panel discussion facilitated by Chief Emmanuel Ijewere, Vice President of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG). The main focus of the panel was to bring forth practical and actionable commitments from the state governments which will ultimately feed into a formal proposal to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Chief Ijewere consistently brought the conversation back to the small-holding tomato farmer, asking targeted questions such as, “A recent report showed that Kano state needed at least 5 million plastic crates to reach its farmers. What efforts is the government making to meet that demand? What is Katsina state’s plan to improve farmers’ wellbeing?” He was met with specificity and openness from the government representatives, who subsequently called on increased private sector investment in the value chain. As explained earlier in the day by YieldWise Nigeria Project Director Lekan Tobe, the main objective of the Tomato Triangle + is to develop a common strategy for PHL reduction in the tomato sector by creating an environment that encourages investment and collaboration.
As explained earlier in the day by YieldWise Nigeria Project Director Lekan Tobe, the main objective of the Tomato Triangle + is to develop a common strategy for PHL reduction in the tomato sector by creating an environment that encourages investment and collaboration.
Mrs. Olubukola Nwaneri, CEO of an off-taking firm for horticultural crops called Naija Pride, Limited, then took the stage and cited practical solutions for the agreed-upon challenges: refrigerated coaches for rail transport, local and hygienic solar drying methods, high quality seeds, and pre-cooling systems. Yet again, focus returned to the availability of solutions in the current marketplace and the readiness of input and technology providers to scale up. A challenge that persists is the lack of coordination within and a holistic understanding of the value chain.
The post-lunch session signified the final step in breaking down the siloes within which stakeholders currently operate. This technical session asked participants to tackle specific questions that aligned with three of the five YieldWise Nigeria intervention areas – access to value chain financing, access to post-harvest loss technologies, and market linkages. After self-selecting a topic area, participants were assigned one of the following questions:
Access to Finance
- What constraints exist between financial institutions and small-holder value chain agribusinesses? Why? How might we improve the relationship?
- What agri-financing options are available for small-holder farmers? How might we improve their access to these options?
Access to PHL Technology
- What are the most appropriate post-harvest loss technologies for reducing loss in the tomato value chain? How might we increase their availability?
- How might we make post-harvest loss technologies more affordable for small-holder farmers?
- What might be the main challenges in transporting tomatoes from farm to market? How might we alleviate these challenges?
- What might be the main causes for unstable market prices for tomatoes in Nigeria? How might we stabilize market prices?
During their discussions, groups were first asked to exhaust the question by thoroughly exploring its root causes. This exercise entailed going beyond common knowledge and diving deep into the problem at hand. Then, groups shifted to identifying which stakeholders would need to be at the table to begin addressing the problem and thinking about solutions. Group members were encouraged to discuss how these stakeholders can and should work together, especially if they don’t currently or traditionally interact. Finally, groups were asked to write down three practical, actionable commitments, or “asks,” from these stakeholders to begin solving the problem.
By the end of the technical session, it was clear that the mere act of bringing these disparate actors together to discuss solutions to commonly held, cross-sectoral issues resonated well. As table discussions kicked off, it was difficult to veer group members away from discussing post-harvest loss at large, demonstrating that they relished the opportunity to connect with fellow value chain actors with whom they do not commonly have occasion to connect. Smallholding tomato farmers provided their insights into the many challenges faced in all facets of their trade, an oft missed perspective that was highly compelling to other participants. The content of the discussions was validating for the YieldWise Nigeria team, as it confirmed that the project is addressing the majority of the challenges raised by participants.
As table discussions kicked off, it was difficult to veer group members away from discussing post-harvest loss at large, demonstrating that they relished the opportunity to connect with fellow value chain actors with whom they do not commonly have occasion to connect.
Through this stakeholder convening, PYXERA Global intended to answer the question, “How might we work together?” The event did just that – help those with a stake in the tomato value chain in Nigeria envision ways they can work together to reduce post-harvest loss. This was affirmed by the various commitments made throughout the day, from implementation of solar-powered water pumps in Kano state to unification of the pricing system where both buyers’ and sellers’ interests are protected to forming a secretariat within the Tomato Triangle + that will manage the tomato value chain across states. These commitments require coordinated solutions, an agenda PYXERA Global and its partners will continue to shepherd under the YieldWise initiative.