African smallholder farmers are set to benefit from Impulse Start-up Accelerator program.
The program, which is an initiative of the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), supported by OCP Group and its subsidiary OCP Africa, is aimed at helping start-ups in the fields of agritech, agricultural biotech, mining tech and materials science and nanotech.
During a capacity building event for Agritech startups in Nigeria, held in Lagos, the Program Director, Impulse, Mr. Adnane Alaoui Soulimani, explained that Impulse is the first step towards the creation of a much bigger sector-agnostic accelerator called, MassChallenge Africa, that will accelerate each year between 50 to 100 start-ups working on African challenges.
“Startups that will be selected for our program will benefit from the mentorship of senior managers and business experts from OCP Group. Startups will also have access to potential business opportunities through OCP Group, UM6P and their ecosystems,”Alaoui Soulimani said.
In his keynote address, a Director at Novus Agro, Mr. Ayodele Balogun noted that until recently, much attention have not been paid to sustainable agriculture in Nigeria. “Effectively, we lose FOREX because we are not able to produce enough and process enough to satisfy ourselves” he said.
The OCP Country Manager, Mr. Caleb Usoh said, “OCP Africa is committed to supporting the Nigerian government’s effort towards the development of the agriculture sector. In 2016, OCP Africa entered into a partnership with The Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FESPAN) under the “Presidential Fertilizer Initiative”, with the support of Nigeria Investment Sovereign Authority (NSIA).
“The partnership activities encompass the entire agricultural chain: creating fertilizer solutions, making fertilizer available on the local market at competitive prices, and fostering mentorship for Nigerian farmers. As a result of the partnership with FESPAN, local investments in new Fertilizer blending plants have grown from nine factories in 2016 to 25 factories within a span of three years, creating a number of direct and indirect employment opportunities for Nigeria’s youths and reducing the prices of fertilizers for farmers.”
In his remark, Mr. Adunoye Olubiyi, an Agronomist acknowledged the impact of the agritech initiatives and advised farmers to be more deliberate in engaging the processes. “One of the things we have benefited from Hello Tractor is that we have been able to scale up production without having to worry about money to make things available. Last year, we did some things in the range of 30 hectares in terms of production.
However, acknowledging the dynamics of the current trend and the need for financial literacy, another keynote speaker, Mr. Dennis Goje advised start-ups to familiarise themselves with government socio-economic policies in order to be firmly grounded in their chosen trade.
Goje stated that, “for instance, when the Federal Government signed agreement on the importation of phosphate from Morocco, the policy resulted into the resuscitation of 21 fertilizer producing companies in Nigeria. In Jos, one of the companies was able to employ over 200 persons directly and indirectly and that is just one of them.
“The consistency of government policies on agriculture since 2011 has made some of the success stories we now have possible. Therefore, start-ups and commercial farmers are able to understand the direction of government in this regard.
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