Sowing the Seeds of Change to Revamp Agriculture in Nigeria

With oil palm farming in decline in Nigeria, the Cross River State is sowing the seeds of opportunity. In response to the country’s overreliance on crude oil revenues, this state is looking to develop a roadmap in order to sustainably revitalize its agricultural sector through high-value crops like oil palm, cocoa and coffee.

Solidaridad assists the smallholder farmers of Nigeria’s Cross River State with an oil palm nursery that provides quality agricultural inputs.

Oil palm, and other tree crops, have historically served as a significant revenue stream for the government of the Cross River State in Nigeria. However, their prominence has waned drastically due to neglect and a reliance on revenue generated from crude oil.

In an effort to diversify and reclaim its agricultural heritage, the state government plans to rejuvenate its oil palm, cocoa and coffee sectors, and has launched a collaboration with Solidaridad to enhance economic resilience and sustainability.

Solidaridad is now working with a multi-stakeholder committee to formulate a development framework focused on oil palm, cocoa and coffee value chains for the state. The goal is to position the Cross River State as one of the largest producers of these crops in the country.

Staff from Solidaridad and Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture at a collaborative meeting.

Once the formal design of the seven-year strategic plan is established, Solidaridad will work with the state and other actors to implement the plan with its focus on improving productivity and quality across the three commodities. Additionally, the plan aims to prioritize policies conducive to direct investment and farmer support, and address evolving market dynamics to ensure long-term viability.

As we embark on a journey to revitalize our agricultural sector, we recognize the pivotal role of strategic partnerships in driving sustainable growth and economic resilience. By bringing key stakeholders together to deliberate and glean lessons from their expertise, we can achieve our dream in an organized and cooperative manner.

Bassey Out, Executive Governor of Cross River state in Nigeria 

Solidaridad’s involvement builds upon its long standing dedication to smallholder farmers in the Cross River State, aiding efforts to improve their yield and income. Through initiatives like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm (RSPO) project, and the National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS), Solidaridad has made significant strides in enhancing the capacity and livelihoods of more than 2,600 smallholder oil palm farmers within the state. 

An oil palm nursery in Nigeria aids smallholder farmers with quality inputs.

The RSPO project built the capacity of over 2,000 oil palm farmers to implement best management practices that improved their yield from a baseline of 2.7 metric tonnes per hectare to 5.3 metric tonnes per hectare. The NI-SCOPS project took this accomplishment even further, achieving an average yield of 9.7 tons per hectare for smallholder farmers in the state. During the implementation of the first phase of NI-SCOPS, Solidaridad supported farmers with over 8,000 oil palm seedlings to reclaim degraded land areas and renew older oil palms. 

Additionally, Solidaridad’s commitment to fostering inclusive and sustainable practices throughout the value chains has led to the establishment of over 200 Village Savings and Loans Associations, an initiative that provides rural farmers with access to locally-managed funds for investment. The formation of oil palm multi-stakeholder platforms (MSP) also established a governance structure for the oil palm sector from the local government to the state level. 

The programme manager at Solidaridad Nigeria, Kenechukwu Onukwube, envisions profound impacts from the strategic plan, ranging from agricultural development and economic prosperity to poverty reduction and sustainable commodity landscapes. 

If executed effectively, this plan has the potential to catalyze transformative change, paving the way for a future characterized by a thriving agricultural sector and resilient supply chains.

Kenechukwu Onukwube, Programme Manager at Solidaridad Nigeria