To boost food security and finances of smallholder farmers in the Niger Delta region, tractor maker, John Deere and India’s biggest conglomerate, Tata Group, have agreed on an initiative to provide machinery to 100,000 smallholder farmers in the region.
The deal announced recently is the result of a seven-year project by Nigerian collective farming business, Alluvial Agriculture, to address the systemic problems that leave most African smallholder farmers in poverty and threaten food insecurity across the developing world.
Alluvial’s solution focuses on aggregating smallholders to create a nucleus of minimum efficient scale and the necessary education, mechanization, inputs and market access.
Under their agreement, Tata John Deere, the joint venture with distribution rights for Nigeria, will deploy up to 300 tractors over the next two years to farms spanning 120,000 hectares, or 463 square miles, in the Niger Delta and adjoining states.With ploughing times ranging from 20 minutes to half a day on each of the thousands of adjacent smallholdings, the tractors will save farmers several days to weeks of toiling by hand.
Individual farmers will undertake self-financing lease agreements for the use of both the tractor and a driver as part of an overall package that includes collective agreements to reduce the cost of seeds and fertilizers and increase the sale price of their crops.
Tata’s Country Head in Nigeria, Chijioke Okoli in a statement, said the firm is proud to support one of the most innovative solutions to food security that we have seen in the developing world.
Alluvial’s first project, in 2013, took disused agricultural land held by the Cross River state government and created a cooperative farming model. The community was given technical training, help in site clearance and lease of tractors and other machinery to maximize yield, and off-take agreements to secure sale at a sustainable price.
Having created a highly scalable and sustainable agriculture business model, Alluvial expanded into other Niger Delta states from 2015 and is now working to strengthen its market access.
With the help of the agreement with Tata and John Deere, farmers will pay just over $100 for the use of a tractor to plough, harrow and harvest one hectare of land.