Whenever I visit a friend at home here in Nigeria and he offers me protein food like chicken for lunch, this tells me he is doing well. Because, growing up, we only get to eat chicken whenever there is an occasion like Christmas, marriage, birthday ceremony, etc.
Was it like that for you too?
Animal protein like chicken has remained a luxury for low-income consumers who live on less than USD 2.00 a day. Because, it is expensive, but this is only a symbol of the bigger challenge.
Protein foods like livestock, poultry, and aquaculture are expensive because rearing and growing them costs farmers a lot of money. And 70% of farmers’ expenses go to buying feed—not fair.
This concern, according to Food and Agriculture Organization, is caused by ‘overdependence on corn, which has directly led to the high cost of poultry and livestock feed, and this challenge is the biggest problem crippling the Livestock industry in Nigeria and depleting the livelihood of over 2,000,000 farmers in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa’.
This ‘feed gap impoverishes farmers and makes livestock and poultry-rearing unfairly expensive, putting smallholder farmers and millions of families, especially in rural communities, at risk of poverty and malnutrition (protein energy malnutrition)—the single biggest contributor to child mortality.
However, June 2007 was a great day for my family and we were super excited. It was harvest day and my Dad was going to harvest and sell the fishes he had been growing for the previous four months. The buyers came, they loved the product, but underpriced it and my Dad refused to sell.
Two days later he sold but he sold at a loss. It was so disappointing and that was the moment I promised to put a smile on his face. But not just on his face but also on the faces of over 500,000 smallholder farmers like him.
Two years ago my co-founder (Mene Blessing) and I started working on how we could help struggling farmers in our community make more money and spend less on buying expensive animal feed, which is their biggest challenge.
We came up with a solution—the first of its kind globally—called: UNFIRE (Unorthodox Feed Innovation for Rural Entreprising Smallholder Farmers).
This is a product that is non–cereal, non–ethanol base, which provides farmers in Nigeria with access to sustainable, low-cost animal feed, that is 20-30% less expensive than conventional feeds (corn).
UNFIRE feed is made from agricultural and environmental waste (fruit waste is in abundance—like mango seed kernels, seaweed, etc.), which are scientifically proven and innovatively tested.
This model also helps to create job opportunities for rural women and engages more youth in agriculture for the collection of these wastes. UNFIRE is fair trade. UNFIRE is a highly nutritious feed blend resulting in higher profits for farmers and helping to increase their income by 60%, while also increasing availability of protein rich foods like chicken, eggs, and fish in rural communities.
We measure success through the following ways:
- Increase in farmers’ income
- Amount of money saved by the farmer from buying UNFIRE feeds.
Quantitative Impact (direct access):
Amount of feed sold
- Amount of poultry/livestock produced
- Amount of waste (agricultural and environmental) recovered
- Number of consumers served
- Number of rural youth engaged/employed in agriculture
- Positive impact on consumers’ health due to increased consumption from lower prices of eggs and chickens—effective protein
Use of Grant for 2016–17
- Research and development of new feed formula from available waste for farmers (UNFIRE Lab), USD 1,500.
- Agricultural and environmental waste (feed input) collection by local youth and women, production and logistics (fair trade) USD 2,500.
- Operations USD 1,000.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Ogholi Kelvin (Nigeria): kelvinogholi[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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