Moroccan phosphate company OCP announced a new partnership with USAID through its West Africa Trade & Investment Hub subsidiary for a $1.4 million investment to revolutionize farming in West Africa.
OCP is one of the leading phosphate production companies in the world and a leader in the African market for fertilizers. Phosphate is an essential component of fertilizer production and therefore an essential factor of large-scale crop production. As the US government’s agency for foreign aid and development assistance, USAID “works to end extreme global poverty” through various development initiatives around the world.
The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub is one example of the US group’s wealth-creating initiatives. Funded by USAID, the Trade Hub works to generate investments and create jobs in the region via partnerships with private corporations.
The project will be carried out via OCP’s Africa Fertilizers Nigeria division, with the goal of building fertilizer blending equipment in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna state. The equipment, which OCP described as “top-notch,” will produce fertilizer blends tailored for the cultivation of “rice, maize, soybean, cassava, tomato, and other staple crops grown in Nigeria.” The new fertilizer plant will have the potential to increase crop yield by between “50 to 85 percent,” according to estimates.
Kaduna’s new plant will also be able to support 75,000 farmers throughout the region, enabling farmers in deprived regions to gain easy access to fertilizer. OCP plans to expand its project to 36 hubs across 13 Nigerian states by the end of the operation.
The Kaduna plant will produce approximately 120 tons of fertilizers per hour, thus creating a state-of-the-art level of access for local farmers. In addition to fertilizer, farmers will also gain access to training programs that will familiarize them with new agricultural technologies.
Michael Clements, Chief of Party at the Trade Hub, explained that the implementation of this program will allow Nigerian officials to “leverage locally available resources,” and will lead to “achieving the food security goals in Nigeria.”
The Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies reports that the agricultural industry in Nigeria has “suffered from decades of underinvestment, corruption, and policy neglect.” As a result, Nigeria has become a “net importer of food,” despite the potential for large-scale agricultural operations.
OCP’s initiative appears to be a major step in the course to both correct this neglect of the Nigerian food supply and improve the country’s economic outlook. OCP and the Trade & Investment Hub expect the new partnership will create 826 jobs for locals in the region, including trainers, operators of the new equipment, and other roles managing operations for the new facility.
In addition to supporting a “thriving agricultural business ecosystem in Nigeria,” the partnership also seeks to contribute to creating more equal and inclusive access in the region. OCP’s statement announced that “at least 50 percent” of the jobs created as part of the partnership with USAID “will go to women and youth.” Currently, the majority of agriculture conducted in Nigeria is at the subsistence level, meaning most farmers only plant crops for immediate survival, with no monetary benefit for their work.
Addressing this issue by training farmers in income-generating agriculture is one of the two initiatives announced in line with USAID’s Feed the Future project in West Africa. The Trade Hub is also planning a project with NGO PYXERA Global to introduce economically sustainable opportunities for farmers.
This initiative, referred to as the West Africa Agriculture Resilience Program model, will seek to expand farmers’ yields in rice, maize, and soybean production in the Nigerian states of Cross River, Kebbi, and Benue.
For this project, the partnership will work in conjunction with Dantata Foods, a Nigerian agricultural production company. Farmers participating in this initiative will receive “quality seeds” and training from Dantata on methods to improve crop yields, and will also be able to sell crops to Dantata at market prices.
According to OCP, the goal is to ensure a quality food supply chain for the company, and an opportunity for local farmers to be included in Nigeria’s food supply ecosystem.
Farmers in the targeted regions have long struggled to make dependable inroads in the agribusiness industry due to “disrupted market channels and food supply chains.” Income from the project is expected to total $6.72 million in the first year, with nearly $10 million every subsequent season.
Similar to USAID’s initiative with OCP, this program will also work towards securing at least 50% of the jobs created through this initiative for women and children in the region.