Dr Joseph Rusike, the N2Africa value chain specialist was in Nigeria 17th-30th July to conduct a rapid rural appraisal for legume value chain in the country. During this period, Dr Rusike met and interacted with a wide range of stakeholders in the country’s legume value chain. His survey carried him to some of the major cities within the moist savanna agro-ecological zone, such as Kano, Zaria, Kaduna, Jos, Makurdi and Abuja. In the course of his survey, Dr Rusike discovered that because demand for soyabean in Nigeria cannot be met by local production, soyabean aggregators and millers import soyabean into the country from other neighbouring countries – Benin Republic, Cameroun and Chad. His survey also uncovered some of the major actors in the soyabean value chain in Nigeria.
Grand Cereals Limited, Jos, is the largest buyer and processor of groundnuts and soyabeans. The company mills 36,000 tons per annum of groundnuts and 100,000 tons per annum soyabeans. If farmers market more groundnuts, the company can process 100,000 tons of groundnuts per year. It has recently installed a fish feed extruding plant to produce high quality surface feeds with capacity of 3 tons per hour giving an annual capacity of 22,500 tons.
Sunseed Nigeria PLC, Zaria, is another major player in the purchase and use of soyabeans, crushing 70,000 tons per year. The company regards the poor availability of soyabeans, especially during the last 2 years, as the major constraint to its operation and foresees no problem of market even if farmers were to double the production of soyabeans because the demand for soyabean is very high.
Fortune Oil Mills Nigeria Limited, Kano, processes 17,000 to 20,000 tons per annum of groundnuts and 30,000 to 90,000 tons per annum of soyabeans depending on relative prices of soyabean meal and oil to soyabean grain prices and availability. Installed milling capacity of soyabeans is 100,000 tons per annum. The company holds inventory stocks of soyabeans for meeting its requirements for the next 5 years. The company sometimes acts as a commodity trader and sells soyabean grain to other millers or crude oil and soyabean meal and cake for further value addition by other processors depending on seasonal price movements.
Yakasai Oil Mills Kano processes 3,000 tons per annum groundnuts and 1,000 to 3,000 tons per annum soyabeans. This company is planning to install a solvent plant with a capacity for 60,000 tons of soyabeans per annum. Currently, they sell crude oil to other millers, soyabean cake to poultry feed manufacturers and sometime raw soyabean grain unexpressed to sister companies.
Representatives of all of these companies state that a major constraint they face is a sustainable supply of grains. They particularly identify the lack of capability to supply raw grains (large volumes, consistency, quality, and price) as a major problem. This throws up a paradox in the sense that farmers in rural communities often complain of lack of access to markets, especially for soyabean. While the presence of these millers and their stated ability to mop up any excess that may arise from increased production is good news, more needs to be done to properly link the smallholder farmers directly to the millers. Most of these companies do not have time and resources to invest in organizing smallholder farmers into contract growers; others who had previously made attempts reported that contracting with farmers was too much of a headache. For instance, Yakasai Oil Mills has had previous experiences with USAID and PrOpCom (Promoting Pro-Poor Opportunities in the Commodity Service Market) project interventions to link farmers with end-users in order to cut out middlemen and improve marketing efficiency. The interventions could not be implemented because of the limited soyabean production by farmers.
Based on the information emerging from Dr Rusike’s survey, it is obvious that efforts at improving the linkage of smallholder farmers to market will require a multi-pronged approach. There is the need to increase average yields both in terms of total acreage cultivated and yield per unit area. First year results from the activities of N2Africa have shown that average on-farm soyabean yields have been increased from about 1000 kg/ha to 2000 kg/ha. Second, farmers need to be trained on postharvest handling of products so that they produce quality grains that can receive premium prices. These include activities such as sorting, grading, storage, and the capacity to warehouse properly. There is also the need to organise farmers at the community level to be able to collect a minimum quantity of grains at identified collection points such that evacuation to factories can be done in a cost-effective manner. Buyers cannot efficiently deal with numerous farmers widely dispersed over large geographical areas each marketing 1, 2 or a few bags of produce. There is a need for one body to assemble products to a minimum of a delivery truck load. Thus the challenge for NGOs and interventions, such as the N2Africa project, is to organize farmers to produce quality grains that can attract premium prices in the markets and also organise them into commodity associations that allow them to aggregate their products in sufficient quantities that allow producers to come in and evacuate the produce to the factory.
Abdullahi Bala and Joseph Rusike