FARM –TO-FORK-TO FIRM: ACCESS TO MARKET TO IMPROVE LIVILIHOODS FOR SMALLHOLDER WOMEN VEGETABLE PRODUCERS IN ONDO-EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ONDO STATE – NIGERIA
My name is Joy Oluwayemisi Fadayomi, a Nigerian, 36 years old and married. I am the founder/Business Development Manager of a small company, Synergy Development Director of Synergy Enterprise Development Nigeria Limited (SEDNIL). Though a registered Nurse-Midwife, I had attended several agricultural trainings on rural development, production techniques, value chain approach for commodity development etc. after resignation as a Nursing Officer to concentrate on community based agricultural and health related activities to educate, engage and empower farmers in rural areas especially, women.
My target is towards facilitating reduction of bottlenecks in agricultural production for women into vegetable production (especially tomato and cabbage) in Ondo East Local Government Area (LGA) of Ondo State (Nigeria). The LGA consist of several communities but attention will be concentrated in Bomodeoku, Bolorunduro, Igbo-Oja and Igbo-Oja. The opportunity will be used to relate with the women on utilization of vegetable to attain nutrition for the household and reproductive health issues as it affect agricultural production.
My focus is to educate, engage and empower these women in these communities (Bomodeoku, Bolorunduro, Igbo-Oja and Igbo-Oja). I seek to also work through action-research on SPECIFIC gender barriers for women in vegetable production in the various communities. This will be done in collaboration with interested international organisations operational in the LGA. Attention on farming households (especially women) that are negatively impacted due to house chores and reproductive activities that had resulted into bottleneck from breaking even in vegetable production will be examined.
Specialized services will be rendered for these women on the concept I regards as “Farm to Fork to Firm”. The concept is in two folds; (1) from farm to fork concentrates on food security and nutrition for the homes and (2) from farm to firm meaning building effective business relationship with institution buyers for the various women. The concept is illustrated in diagram below
Innovative technologies and labour saving tools that will serve as supporting structures for women in vegetable production will be explored via the use of locally available technologies. Selected women to be involved in the project from Bomodeoku, Bolorunduro, Igbo-Oja and Igbo-Oja will be committed into getting other women involved. There will be 50 direct women beneficiaries who will indirectly involve additional 100 women and 150 women will be reached altogether in the 4 communities.
My motivation was out of concern to see women that are very fit in agricultural production. I was motivated from health point of view but discovered it takes earnings (and not only education and sensitization on health related issues) to live well. For women to live well, they need to have a source of income that will allow them to be part of supporting structures to make their family work.
Also, women are majorly involved in vegetable production but with much constraints on effectively breaking even and having access to institutional markets. Also, I have a passion to render services to generality of smallholder farmers with special concentration on women negatively impacted due to reproductive activities.
Steps to achieving set goals
Some specific Gender Based Constraints (GBC) militating against women in vegetable production are numerous, some of these include non-access to close by land for cultivation, difficulty in getting improved seeds of vegetable (most women use safe seeds which constitutes to reduction in their yield), payment of higher fees for labour because of limited knowledge on best practices could reduce labour.
There are other constraints related to reproductive activities, household issues on resource control, and cultural related issues at community level. In order to handle these aspect of GSC, there will be strategic collaboration with relevant organisations.
The other aspect of activities will be based resolving women challenges in vegetable production will include the following:
- Facilitate establishment of a business driven women cooperative. The women in the different communities will be brought together to have a cooperative that can engage in doing business with institution buyers
- Train selected women on organizational development issues to fastrack their being able to work with intending institution buyers in Ondo State
- Train women on best practices for vegetable production. There will be facilitation on usage of one of the women’s farm as learning plot on this
- Conduct market prospects on available institution buyers in Ondo State. This will include facilitation towards getting such institutions signing contractual agreement with the women group
- Sensitize women on HIV-AIDS awareness and stress management and use the opportunity to form a working groups to find out time/task allocation of household labour in family in order to ascertain time frame with women and could be judiciously used for vegetable production and type of vegetable that will be relevant for such timing
Services to be rendered to the women by SED will attract some specific incentives compare to services currently rendering for others individuals and organisations. For example, some of the women will be given some time before payment of the service. Market linkages for sales of their commodities will be included in their training package and as such they might have to pay after their produce might have been sold.
SED will work with the women across in the designated communities to aggregate their produce and be attractive to an institutional market. Assist them to ensure they produce based on targeted market and facilitate towards ensuing they have access to contractual agreement growth institutional buyers who will be interested in their commodities.
SED initial involvement
SED has carried out several field trips to the various communities in Bomodeoku, Bolorunduro, Igbo-Oja and Igbo-Oja and has the list of contact of existing women vegetable farmers in the communities. Some of the women had been part of the beneficiaries of sensitization on use of quality and improved seeds for vegetable production which was conducted by IFDC through MV with representatives of SED in attendance. Engagement on the project with this women will not involve fresh scooping study as the environment is already known. SED has office in the state capital and a training hall that can accommodate 30 people conveniently for training
The overall success (impact) expected from the project will be to improve the livelihoods, food security and nutrition for 150 women into vegetable production in Bolorunduro, Bomodeoku, Igbo-oja and Obu-ewi. Several indicators will be put in place to monitor this in order to ensure success. Before commencement of the project, a monitoring result chain will be developed to ensure that activities are benchmarked against indicators set from the beginning. This will help to make sure outputs and outcomes are monitored effectively and activities that will not contribute to overall impact of the project will be played down.
Furthermore, some mitigation measures against risks will be put in place. The following are already foreseen to pose risks to the success of the vegetable project, suggested mitigation measures are also included:
- Natural disasters e.g. Flood, drought, new pest and diseases. Mitigation measures will include introduction of dry season farming and link cooperative with Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation for crop insurance
- Glut in market. Mitigation measures will include training women on processing and storage techniques
- Adverse strategies of competitors e.g. flooding market with low priced alternatives vegetables. Mitigation measures will include set up promotions, create class/hype for products, low cost adverts, ensure availability and competitive pricing
- Adulterated, high cost and scarcity of inputs. Mitigation measures will include purchase in bulk from specific suppliers of input in order to have traceability in place and reduce cost of purchase by individual women
- Thefts on farms. Mitigation measures will include; involvement of local community security operatives as most of them are husbands to the women
- Local traders block access to market. Mitigation measures will include; ensure there is contractual agreement with institution buyer, integrate women who are local traders as part of cooperative, establish inclusive business models that will involve local traders as alternative means of market if institution buyers fail
- Internal disagreements in women cooperative because of differences in norms and culture. Mitigation measures will include; set out clear terms of engagement and promote shared vision and mission
Budget and time frame
$500 of the grant will be dedicated as revolving loan to purchase improved seeds in bulk and distribute to selected women. Beneficiaries to pay back after sales. $3,500 will be manageably used for implementation of activities 1 -5 stated above. SED will provide meeting hall for free while women direct involvement will be part of their contributions. $1,000 will be expenses logistics to follow up on all the communities during production, broker relationship between women cooperative and institutional buyers etc. Activities will be rolled out within 7 months. 2 staff SED (Coordinator and Technical Assistant) will be directly involved while others will be considered as support for the women.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Joy Oluwayemisi Fadayomi (Nigeria) – joyemisi[at]yahoo.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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