Nigerian Maize Sector Recognizes Role of AgResults Competition to Boost Crop Quality and Prices

September 19, 2019

stakeholder in Nigeria holding a check

On September 12, the AgResults Nigeria AflasafeTM Challenge Project held its official closeout event to recognize how the six-year prize competition that promoted the delivery and adoption of AflasafeTM has dramatically reshaped the country’s maize sector and market. Since 2013, the project tackled aflatoxin contamination, which can increase the risk of cancer and is associated with childhood stunting, by encouraging smallholder farmers to use AflasafeTM to produce aflatoxin-reduced maize.

Held in Abuja, the closeout event brought together stakeholders from the maize sector to reflect on maize aggregators’ efforts to transform their business models to participate in the competition and the premium market that emerged. A representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development provided the keynote address for the event, reflecting on the project’s achievements and the ongoing need to tackle aflatoxin contamination using the biocontrol technology of AflasafeTM and the project’s achievements.

man at podium speaking and others sitting at tables

“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would like to congratulate the team for exceeding its core primary objectives,” said Engr. Frank Satumari Kudla, Director of Irrigation Agriculture and Crop Development. “This project demonstrated a successful model for increasing smallholder adoption of an important biocontrol technology in Nigeria … with interventions that boost socio-economic benefits at every stage from when the crop is planted through harvest and to the market.”

In addition to the keynote, the Project Managers from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) presented project results and the underlying science that makes AflasafeTM so effective. External Evaluator Abt Associates also presented findings from their independent evaluation. A particularly compelling moment was when several farmers shared their first-hand experiences incorporating AflasafeTM into their practices.

man and woman holding a certificate

“I have embraced the use of AflasafeTM to improve our animal feed and our animals’ health,” reflected Ms. Jemimah Stephen, a maize smallholder farmer. “Through the adoption of AflasafeTM, we have seen a health benefit in our poultry.”

The AgResults Nigeria AflasafeTM Challenge Project (2013 – 2019) was a US$10.65 million Pay-for-Results project designed to catalyze the private sector to deliver AflasafeTM to smallholder farmers. AflasafeTM was created by IITA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; this biocontrol agent can crowd out 80-99% of aflatoxins if applied at the right time during the cropping season. For maize that tested positively for AflasafeTM, maize aggregators received a premium: $18.75 per MT in the first five years and $9.38 in the final year. To qualify for the prize, competitors had to incorporate new practices into their existing operations and develop relationships with smallholder farmers to convince them of the value of AflasafeTM.

“By using the incentive that we received from the project, we’ve been able to diversify our business, creating a more sustainable business structure,” explained Mr. Oyeniyi of Agrisupply, one of the participating companies.

Adoption of AflasafeTM took time, but as more aggregators leveraged existing financing and demonstrated the value to farmers, a premium market emerged. Farmers began incorporating AflasafeTM into their practices, and consumers across Nigeria began to acknowledge and demand higher-quality maize.

man speaking at a podium

Over six years, 35 aggregators participated in the competition, providing AflasafeTM to more than 75,788 smallholder farmers. Farmers planted 102,503 hectares using AflasafeTM, and in all, 213,510 MT of AflasafeTM-treated maize was aggregated. The closeout event on September 12 recognized these achievements and acknowledged the long-term role that AflasafeTM will have for Nigeria.

“Our dream is to have every child in Africa eat aflatoxin-free maize,” reflected Dr. Kenton Dashiell of IITA. “This is real sustainability. We don’t need this project anymore.”

The project is part of AgResults, a $145 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank Group that uses prize competition to incentivize the private sector to overcome market barriers and create lasting change. Under AgResults’ PfR model, these competitions encourage actors to achieve predetermined results thresholds and quality for monetary prizes.

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