Farm Progress Show may hold answers for Nigerian farmers

Agbor Ndoma says his visit to Canada’s Farm Progress Show last week in Regina was “mind-blowing.”

The executive director of the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Lagos, Nigeria, is believed to be the first show attendee ever from the African country.

He was impressed with the show itself and was hoping to purchase storage for small farmers in his country.

CSAD is a non-profit organization focused on empowering younger farmers through the production of root crops, such as potatoes and cassava, plantain and fish.

Exports of cassava chips (similar to french fries) to China is a large market for subsistence farmers with land holdings of five to seven acres.

Ndoma said he had discussions with bin companies such as Meridian looking for storage and handling systems.

“We are looking at steel bins that have cones,” he explained. “We are also looking at plastic bins that can carry between 100 and 200 tonnes per time.”

The organization wants to have storage scattered in many small communities so farmers can increase production and store crops longer.

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Now, most storage is on wooden platforms with the crops exposed to the air.

Weather, rodents and insects are all problems producers face.

“Weather is the major problem,” said Ndoma. “It can be terribly hot. We need to monitor temperature and moisture content.

“The technology I saw yesterday with IntraGrain is so incredible,” he said, referring to the company’s Bluetooth Bin-Sense technology. “That means I can have the temperature and the moisture content on my phone anywhere in the world.”

The shelf life of cassava chips on storage platforms now in use is about three months. Having proper enclosed storage would enable one-year storage. Farmers could increase production, earn more money and sell when they want to sell, he said.

Ndoma also noted that 40 percent of a Nigerian farmer’s investment is in land preparation.

He met with Seed Hawk to learn about zero tillage.

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“That was mind blowing,” he said, a note of wonder still in his voice. “That was actually mind-blowing that you could plant your seed without preparing the land.”

However, he said their discussion also focused on whether companies like Seed Hawk could make smaller equipment to deal with undulating terrain and the smaller farms.

Ndoma said there is a role for the Nigerian government to help farmers import expensive equipment.

“They are big, they are expensive and every good-thinking government should be able to think towards the farmers,” he said.

Ndoma has been to a large agricultural show in Israel but repeated that what he saw in Regina blew his mind.

“It was awesome, incredible. I have never seen anywhere in the world proudly promoting agriculture in this manner, attracting an array of agricultural equipment in one stop shop, I’ve not seen it.”

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