USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge Winners

Speeches Shim

After reviewing over 500 applications from mid-stage and youth-led companies in Nigeria, USAID is excited to announce the winners of the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge! In October 2021, USAID/Nigeria selected 32 companies to receive awards totaling $4 million in funding and technical assistance to support food production and food security in Nigeria. The winners include 19 youth-led companies and 13 mid-stage companies.

500+ applications received; 32 grantees awarded; $4 million invested; working across 32 states in Nigeria; 31 innovators new to USAID (97% of grantees); 2 women-led businesses

Learn more about the winners and their work supporting food security in Nigeria below.


Afrimash Company Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Online platform that connects farmers to quality inputs from verified suppliers across various value chains

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Delta, Ebonyi, Cross River, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Adamawa, and Yobe States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Afrimash Company Limited provides an online platform that connects small and medium-sized farmers to a variety of quality inputs from verified suppliers swiftly, conveniently, and safely. The Oyo State-based startup currently serves over 8,000 customers and operates in all 36 states across Nigeria.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Afrimash plans to build a multichannel technology, train personnel, increase marketing and communications, and expand its operations to improve its reach and social impact. As more farmers adopt digital solutions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Afrimash accelerates the listing of farm inputs and better connects farmers to these products. The company will use a trained agent network to connect farmers who lack digital literacy or internet access across the 11 Feed the Future focus states in Nigeria: Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Delta, Ebonyi, Cross River, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Adamawa, and Yobe States. Field agents will reach multiple target farmers in their locality and place orders for their farm inputs on Afrimash.com using an SMS-based mobile application and other channels. By providing more efficient access to farm inputs through the agent network, Afrimash’s innovation will boost the productivity and incomes of farmers and create more jobs in the agri-business value chain.

Follow Afrimash on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram


Ayosifam Integrated Service

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Cassava processing and a digital platform that connects smallholder cassava farmers to investors, processors, and input dealers

Nigerian State Implementing: Kwara State

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Ayosifam Integrated Service is an agricultural services company that conducts food processing and agricultural business in Kwara State. Presently, the company processes cassava into high-quality garri flour and garri derivatives, such as laundry starch and animal feeds.  

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Ayosifam Integrated Service will expand its ability to process cassava into garri by purchasing automated equipment to cook, clean, and package garri. The company will also provide 100 cassava farmers in Kwara State with personal protective equipment to use for farming and support two farmers as they create two-hectare demonstration farms to show the other cassava farmers how mechanized farming can improve productivity and crop yields. Finally, Ayosifam Integrate Service will use Challenge funds to upgrade its retail platform, AyosifamHub, as well as conduct training for the 100 farmers on best agricultural practices and effective financial management. As a result of these activities, Ayosifam will build the capacity of Kwara State cassava farmers to increase productivity using high-yield, disease-resistant cassava varieties, which will then be purchased and converted into garri and garri products. 

Follow Ayosifam Integrated Service on Facebook.


Brycoal Nigeria Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Production of clean and sustainable cooking fuel (charcoal briquettes)

Nigerian State Implementing: Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Lagos States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Brycoal Nigeria Limited is a youth-led startup that produces clean, sustainable, and efficient cooking and heating fuel for households and enterprises. Rural communities in Nigeria have an abundance of agricultural waste that is openly burnt or left to rot, polluting the environment. Brycoal seeks to collect and repurpose agricultural byproducts like palm kernels and coconut shells into high-demand charcoal briquettes that can be used as a green fuel alternative.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Brycoal plans to acquire new machinery to produce charcoal briquettes and support the formation of ten clusters of palm oil and coconut smallholder farmers across Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Lagos States. The agro-residue generated by clusters will be collected and utilized for the production of eco-friendly charcoal that can be sold in several communities. With Brycoal’s waste-for-cash model, smallholder farmers can increase their earnings by up to 18 percent, allowing them to acquire farming inputs like fertilizer and improved seedlings. This will also create jobs for up to 1,000 people, protect trees that would normally be used to make charcoal briquettes, and decrease carbon emissions from open crop waste burning in rural farming communities.

Follow Brycoal Nigeria Limited on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


D.E.T. Services

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Fertilizer

Nigerian State Implementing: Abia and Ebonyi States 

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

D.E.T. Services is a youth-led startup based in Lagos that provides fertilizer to small-scale farmers on a subscription basis, enabling them to access fertilizer easily, affordably, and effectively to meet the tailored needs of their crops and farmlands. They plan to have operations in Abia and Ebonyi States.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, D.E.T. Services plans make fertilizer more available, less expensive, and less wasteful. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused inflation rates to increase and agricultural inputs to become more scarce, and as a result, fertilizer is out of reach for many local farmers. D.E.T. Services will acquire a large agricultural drone and flight accessories that can conduct autonomous operations over a variety of terrains to determine the required soil nutrients for a specified crop and the quantities needed. Additionally, D.E.T. Services will use Challenge funds to cover staff salaries, conduct an outreach campaign with 14 local government associations in Abia and Ebonyi States, and furnish its commercial and office space in Lagos. D.E.T. Services’ innovation and associated services will improve farm yield, reduce fertilizer waste, and improve the standard of living and productivity of an estimated 200 small-scale farmers.  


Energy Assured Nigeria Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Hydrotech mobile solar pumps for small scale farmers

Nigerian State Implementing: Bauchi State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Energy Assured Nigeria Limited is a mid-stage business in Bauchi and Adamawa States that provides low-income farmers, particularly women farmers, with comprehensive mobile solar water pumps for irrigation and year-round farming. The company currently has 18,696 smallholder farmer subscribers.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Energy Assured will purchase 45 additional mobile solar pumps and provide training and salaries for staff as they expand their operations in Bauchi State. With the heightened food insecurity and shortage of critical farm inputs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Energy Assured’s pumps use solar power to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of food production for smallholder farmers. The company groups smallholder farmers into clusters and then supplies and installs solar pumps that farmers pay for in monthly installments. Energy Assured will provide irrigation services to an estimated 1,800 smallholder farmers in three communities, resulting in reduced costs and more reliable crop yields.

Follow Energy Assured on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


EZFarming

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Agritech company that sources finance and supplies inputs for smallholder and youth food production

Nigerian State Implementing: Osun State

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

EZFarming is a marketplace that helps farmers finance their business and sell their produce by connecting them to a network of micro-lenders and produce buyers. In the first two years since the company launched, over 2,000 farmers have signed up across the world.

EZFarming will use funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to expand on its farm estate model by supporting an additional 200 smallholder farmers in Osun State to scale their farms and expand their production capacity. Many farmers in Nigeria lack access to credit, land, and irrigation facilities and do not know the best agronomic practices to increase crop yields, all problems that have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. With EZFarming’s model, retail investors fund smallholder farmers by leasing farmland and financing crop production and rainwater harvesting. EZFarming will also use USAID/Nigeria funding to support youth engagement in agriculture by assigning youth interns to farmers to gain experience and will provide training on the best agronomic practices to increase crop yield. With the expansion of their existing model, EZFarming will boost food security, increase farmer productivity, and improve standards of living at the base of the pyramid in Nigeria.

Follow EZFarming on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.


FarmImpact Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Storage systems and storage financing

Nigerian State Implementing: Gombe State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

FarmImpact Limited is a Gombe-based company that provides post-harvest credit and storage bags to smallholder farmers to enable them to store, save, and sell their crops later during the dry season when prices are higher. In the last two years, FarmImpact has delivered over $40,000 in loans to more than 200 households with a 100 percent repayment rate.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, FarmImpact will hire staff to service the 1,000 loans they are giving out this year, purchase Purdue Improved Crop Storage Bags to provide farmers with a means to store crops until the lean season, and conduct a randomized evaluation on how their loans improve health, food security, and farmer incomes. The company will also use USAID/Nigeria funding to research to better understand when their clients feel credit constrained and when they need money. FarmImpact’s loans help to reduce post-harvest food loss that threatens food security and allows farmers to store their crops for longer and sell them for higher prices, increasing their resilience against price shocks.


FARM Network Services 

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Rice

Nigerian State Implementing: Nasarawa State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

FARM Network Services is a Nasarawa State-based business that provides smallholder farmers with access to agro-inputs at affordable rates through a network of Agro Service Centers (ASCs) for equipment hiring and training, Agro Service Shops (ASSs) for farm inputs, and Agro Service Points (ASPs) for the processing and packaging of rice. The company currently has 1,206 customers throughout Nasarawa State.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, FARM Network Services will rent and purchase mechanized farming equipment to prepare a 300-hectare section of farmland in Nasarawa State to use as a demonstration plot for large-scale rice farming. The company plans to level and till the land, and purchase a combine harvester to harvest the rice at the end of the growing season. Finally, the company will train 600 farmers from its cooperative network on farm management, sustainable rice plantings, effective business models, and “agripreneurship,” or entrepreneurship in agriculture. While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted food production in Nigeria, FARM Network Services’ use of mechanized equipment will reduce the physical burden on smallholder farmers, increase productivity, and improve the sustainability of rice production.

Follow FARM Network Services on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Farmplify Agriculture Development Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Digital market that connects farmers to multiple end-users

Nigerian State Implementing: Benue and Kebbi States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Farmplify Agriculture Development Limited is a digital market that connects farmers to multiple end-users in agricultural processing, exporting, storage facilities, retail stores, restaurants, and catering services. The company currently has over 2,000 farmers utilizing their digital market to sell farm produce in Nigeria.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Farmplify aims to expand its operations to reach 1,000 new farmers Benue and Kebbi States by funding the setup of a grain storage warehouse and e-commerce help desk training center. The new warehouse will have a storage capacity of 4,000 tons and the training center will have 30 computer stations for farmers to learn e-commerce services. Farmplify will also hire agricultural extension agents to work in 13 communities in each of the two states to raise awareness of the advantages of utilizing e-commerce services to prepare post-harvest sales, as well as hire a company to establish a chatbot service to handle incoming questions from farmers on its site. Farmplify’s digital platform circumvents COVID-19 concerns and market restrictions on gatherings and provides a safe and secure platform to sell and purchase perishable goods. 

Follow Farmplify Agriculture Development Limited on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


FarmSpeak Technology

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Poultry

Nigerian State Implementing: Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, and Osun States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

FarmSpeak Technology is a youth-led startup based in Ogun State that develops smart innovations to help smallholder poultry farmers combat the effects of COVID-19. One of these innovations is a poultry house monitoring system called Penkeep, which monitors microclimatic parameters of a poultry house such as temperature, humidity, and air quality through specialized sensors and provides real-time alerts with actionable information to farmers. The company also developed FS Manager, a disease diagnosis and electronic farm diary that also serves as accounting software for small-scale poultry farmers.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, FarmSpeak Technology will use social media and traditional advertising to grow their FS software from 200 users to 5,000 users. They also plan to purchase the components necessary to build Penkeep for 400 new users in Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, and Osun States. Poultry farmers often report that manual monitoring and managing livestock is tiring and unproductive, but FarmSpeak has received positive feedback for their innovations from a survey of over 500 potential customers. They also signed up 200 beta testers and converted 50 of those beta testers into paying customers. With the growth of Penkeep and FS Manager, FarmSpeak Technology will accelerate poultry farmer productivity, reduce production costs, and attract technology-minded young people into the poultry business.

Follow FarmSpeak Technology on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.


Flourish Cold Chain Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Cold chain storage systems

Nigerian State Implementing: Lagos, Kogi, Benue, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo, Abuja, and Kwara States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Flourish Cold Chain Limited is a youth-led business that provides efficient and affordable refrigeration systems to off-grid communities to help extend the freshness of vegetables, fruits, and meat from two days without refrigeration to about ten days. Nigeria has one of the largest energy access gaps in the world, with 43 percent of its citizens lacking access to electricity. As a result, over 45 percent of food spoils due to lack of cold storage, resulting in massive post-harvest losses and a 35 percent loss of annual income for 93 million small farmers, effects that have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Flourish Cold Chain Limited will deploy 11 affordable and environmentally-friendly solar fridges in four different markets in the fourth quarter of 2021 and 12 additional solar fridges in four different markets in the first quarter of 2022. Flourish has two refrigerator models that are powered by a small solar panel and a small battery that can keep the fridges running for a day and a half without sunlight. These refrigerators consume a quarter of the energy of a regular fridge and can be accessed and paid for by smallholder farmers through a pay-as-you-go business model with minimal payments. According to co-founder and CEO Benjamin Mebele, Flourish aims to provide over five thousand rural families with access to refrigerated food over three years and help over 10,000 smallholder farmers reduce post-harvest losses by 20 percent. 


Freshmarte Global Services LTD (FarmCorps)

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Agritech/e-commerce for commodities

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna, Ebonyi, and Oyo States

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Freshmarte Global Services is a youth-led company based in Lagos that created a digital platform to help agro-processing and food companies aggregate quality produce from smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Freshmarte’s digital platform FarmCorps is used to manage clusters of farms and monitor crop production levels.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Freshmarte Global Services plans to scale up their FarmCorps digital platform to onboard 300 maize farmers in Kaduna, Ebonyi, and Oyo States. The company will also provide tractor and extension services for the 300 farmers, specifically to provide field plowing and training services to prepare them to become members of the FarmCorps system. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global movement of goods, it forced many agro-processing and food companies in Nigeria to shift toward local sourcing of farm produce. However, the lack of transparency in the agricultural supply chain and low quality of goods caused many local farmers’ materials to be rejected by food companies. The FarmCorps platform seeks to address this issue by using forward delivery contracts between food companies and farmers to specify minimum sales volumes in advance of harvests, allowing smallholder farmers to plan production and grow to the specifications of the food companies. With its expanded digital platform and tractor extension services, Freshmarte Global Services will help farmers increase crop production, decrease food loss, and earn up to 250 percent more in income during each growing season.

Follow FarmCorps on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


Gum Arabic Company Nigeria Limited (GACON LTD)

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Ginger

Nigerian State Implementing: Kano and Kaduna States

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Gum Arabic Company Nigeria Limited is a Nigerian company that works in the processing and export of agricultural produce, herbs, and botanicals. The company aims to increase production and improve the quality of ginger sold in the international market. Nigeria is the third-largest producer of ginger, but it is often sold at low prices due to primitive processing techniques, poor handling, and the absence of washing before slicing. As a result of increased food safety requirements due to COVID-19, Nigerian ginger is sometimes rejected in the international market. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Gum Arabic Company will purchase processing equipment, solar dryers, and tricycles to move ginger harvest. The company will collect ginger from smallholder cooperative farmers and use motorized tricycles to bring it to processing plants in Kano and Kaduna where the ginger is washed thoroughly with mechanical washers, sliced, and then set on suspended stainless steel gauze for open-air solar drying. By introducing washing and replacing the unsanitary surfaces where Nigerian ginger was often set to dry in the past, Gum Arabic Company’s processing practices will meet acceptable global food safety standards. These improvements will drive up the demand for Nigerian ginger and increase the income of Base of the Pyramid farmers.


Hasanta Integrated Farm Enterprises

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Catfish

Nigerian State Implementing: Abuja State

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Hasanta Integrated Farm Enterprises is an Abuja-based youth-led business that specializes in innovative approaches to produce and process oven-dried catfish and trains smallholder aquaculture catfish farmers in good management techniques. The company’s innovation uses heated water to improve the catfish hatching process, reducing the hatching time from 24 hours to 14 hours and increasing the hatchability rate to 85 percent. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Hasanta Integrated Farm Enterprises will upscale their processing equipment to increase the capacity of their hatchery and processing unit to meet the demand for catfish products and expand their selection of post-harvest products to include packaged fish products and fish oil. The company will also use USAID/Nigeria’s funds to research how the enhanced hatching system could be applied to other agricultural value chains, develop an e-commerce and e-learning website, and build the capacity of 500 catfish farmers to utilize good agricultural practices that will increase yields and environmentally sustainable practices. Hasanta Integrated Farm Enterprises will help counter the negative impacts of COVID-19 on food security in Nigeria by increasing catfish production and improving the value and shelf life of fish products. 

Follow Hasanta Integrated Farm Enterprises on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


HerVest

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Financial platform that offers female smallholder farmers key financial services

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna, Kano, Borno, Plateau, Benue, and Nasarawa States

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

HerVest is a digital financial platform that connects female investors looking to build wealth with female smallholder farmers in need of credit financing. As an estimated 53 million women in Nigeria are currently being underserved by existing financial platforms, HerVest’s mission is to improve women’s lives through greater access to and use of financial services.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, HerVest will conduct routine software maintenance and vulnerability tests of the HerVest mobile platform and further its software development to include services such as savings, fund transfers, and impact investments. The company will also increase its farmer outreach and digital marketing to increase awareness of HerVest’s products and services and train 2,000 smallholder female farmers in Kaduna, Kano, Borno, Plateau, Benue, and Nasarawa States on farming methods and financial literacy. When more women have access to credit financing, they can purchase essential agricultural inputs they need for farming and access mechanized equipment, training, agribusiness support, and financial knowledge. This allows female smallholder farmers to improve their harvest yield, increases income generation, and encourages more women to enter into agriculture jobs. 

Follow HerVest on LinkedIn, InstagramFacebook, Twitter.


Kakasku Blan Integrated Farm and Hatcheries

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Livestock and organic fertilizer production 

Nigerian State Implementing: Yobe State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Kakasku Blan Integrated Farm and Hatcheries is a youth-led company based in Yobe State that raises chickens, uses chicken manure to manufacture organic fertilizer, and sells the fertilizer to smallholder farmers. The company currently has small-scale operations and serves local crop farmers that are trying to make ends meet. They sold 30 bags in their first month to positive feedback from customers, but ultimately aim to produce 5,000 bags of fertilizer per week and reach 5,000 customers.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Kakasku Blan Integrated Farm and Hatcheries will purchase equipment to make organic fertilizer at a larger scale, develop a website to market the organic fertilizer, pay for advertising, expand their animal feed mill production capacity, increase their solar power production, and purchase an automatic egg incubator to replace current existing manual egg incubators. Kakasku Blan is one of the first companies in Nigeria to use animal waste for the production of granulated organic fertilizer, which is more eco-friendly and affordable to local smallholder farmers than inorganic fertilizer. While COVID-19 has threatened the economic and food security of many people in Nigeria, Kakasku Blan’s innovative fertilizer and production method will make more jobs available, improve family incomes, and increase food yield so that food is more accessible. 

Follow Kakasku Blan Integrated Farm and Hatcheries on Facebook.


Kitovu Technology Company

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Storage and market linkages. Currently working mostly with grain, tomato, and cassava.

Nigerian State Implementing: Benue, Oyo, and Niger States

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Kitovu Technology Company is a youth-led business with a web and mobile platform that applies data science and remote sensing to provide smallholder farmers with precise inputs, personalized soil and crop health insights, storage, and market linkages. This platform enables farmers to reduce food loss and turns market price fluctuations into a money-making opportunity instead of a source of vulnerability.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security, Kitovu Technology will build and launch a new grain storage service called StorageX. StorageX was successfully piloted for 50 farmers in Oyo State, and the company plans to expand the service by renting a storage warehouse in Oyo State and purchasing a solar-powered grain dryer and weight scales. Kitovu Technology plans to work with 530 new farmers from eight local government associations in Oyo, Benue, and Niger States. These farmers will bring their threshed and cleaned grains to the StorageX facility to be dried by the company’s new solar-powered dryer. Once dry, the company will provide the farmers with hermetically sealed Purdue Improved Crop Storage bags (PICS) to store their dried grains and will provide facilitation reimbursements to help cover costs associated with loading the grains for transport to the StorageX warehouse. While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged food and economic security, the storage and storage facilitation reimbursements offered by the StorageX platform will ensure that smallholder farmers in Nigeria can increase productivity and incomes while reducing losses.

Follow Kitovu Technology Company on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


Melkim Wallocks

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Rice

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Melkim Wallocks is a rice processing company based in Kaduna that uses a single milling rice process. While the single milling rice process takes less time than a double milling process, it is less efficient because it produces mixed rice bran and a higher percentage of broken milled rice, which negatively impacts the productivity and profitability of the mill. Melkim Wallocks can not obtain the industry standard of 60 percent recovery of milled white rice using this single process method. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security, Melkim Wallocks will purchase equipment to implement a double milling process to increase production, improve the quality of outputs, and reduce the amount of broken rice. The company will also use funds to build the capacity of 300 smallholder rice farmers to use climate-smart agricultural practices and increase productivity. The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to transport rice from farmer cooperatives to the processing center and reduced the amount of rice being produced and purchased, which decreased revenue for Melkim Wallocks and incomes for smallholder farmers. Improvements to Melkim Wallocks’ rice processing will help mitigate these impacts by increasing agricultural productivity, reducing post-harvest losses, creating jobs, and increasing household revenue. 

Follow Melkim Wallocks on Facebook and LinkedIn.


Melwing Nigeria Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Plantains

Nigerian State Implementing: Bayelsa, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, and Edo States

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Melwing Nigeria Limited is a Bayelsa-based startup that purchases plantains at market value and processes them into plantain flour, plantain chips, and melwing food, a staple food product made from unripe plantains and soybeans. The company’s customers include smallholder plantain farmers who are primary producers and operate small portions of land, mainly in the Niger Delta.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Melwing Nigeria plans to expand its operations in Bayelsa, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, and Edo States. The company will hire 12 community liaison officers (CLOs) to recruit and recommend 300 farmers to work with Melwing Nigeria Limited, provide ongoing technical assistance to improve the farmers’ productivity, and regularly provide training on improved farming techniques, including climate-smart agriculture. Melwing Nigeria Limited will also establish collection points in each of the target communities that are easily accessible by the plantain farmers and purchase equipment to increase the production of plantain products.  USAID/Nigeria funding will enable Melwing Nigeria Limited to reduce the losses that were exacerbated for plantain farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing access to capital at the start of the growing season, a guaranteed market for their product, and technical assistance to improve the productivity of their plantain farms.  

Follow Melwing Nigeria Limited on Facebook.


MUBAL Agro and General Enterprise Nigeria

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Sorghum

Nigerian State Implementing: Sokoto State

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

MUBAL Agro and General Enterprise Nigeria is a Sokoto-based company that developed a highly nutritious powder food blend from malted sorghum combined with soybeans, groundnuts, tiger nuts, and date palm. The blend is affordable and makes up between 50 to 70 percent of the World Health Organization’s recommended nutrients for children between the ages of one and nine. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, MUBAL Agro will increase their production capacity through the purchase of additional equipment, hire additional staff, and strengthen marketing efforts through radio, television, and social media. The company also hopes to use the Challenge’s technical assistance to improve operations and streamline its supply chain. While food production, processing, and distribution have been limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, MUBAL Agro’s innovation will help increase food and agricultural system productivity and efficiency along the sorghum value chain. It will also help prevent malnutrition in children in Nigeria.


Nnachet Farms

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Catfish 

Nigerian State Implementing: Enugu State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Nnachet Farms is an agricultural enterprise startup that works in catfish processing, drying, and packaging for the production of oven-dried catfish, catfish suya, and catfish oil. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Nnachet Farms plans to purchase equipment to help increase production of oven-dried catfish, catfish suya, and catfish oil, including items such as ovens, a freezer, a generator, a motorcycle for delivery, and smaller supplies. The startup will also strengthen marketing efforts for their products and provide training on good catfish farming practices to build the capacity of smallholder catfish farmers, especially women and youth. While the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns slowed down the agricultural sector and food industry and threatened food security in Nigeria, Nnachet Farms will help address the crisis by producing fish and fish products at a large scale. The company will offer fish farmers a way to process and dry their farmed fish so it can be sold, provide employment and skills to the most vulnerable populations, and reduce malnutrition.

Follow Nnachet Farms on Facebook.


Orisha Farms Nigeria

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Aquaculture

Nigerian State Implementing: Lagos State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Orisha Farms Nigeria is a youth-driven farm organization in Lagos that is committed to increasing aquaculture production in Nigeria and reducing foreign dependency in the sector. Orisha Farms practices cage culture aquaculture, a technology system for fish farming that involves farming fish on existing bodies of water using a system of specialized cage frames and nets. This system of farming increases productivity and profitability for farmers by allowing more fish to be farmed than by using earthen ponds, artificial ponds, and other methods.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Orisha Farms will procure cages and fill them with quality fish eggs and fish fingerlings from their existing hatcheries. The company will also use USAID/Nigeria funds to purchase a fish dryer to dry and preserve harvested fish and other equipment to test water quality. They will secure cage approvals and licenses from the state Ministry of Agriculture and a farming permit from the Lagos water authority, as well as engage consultants for water quality and fish health monitoring. While the COVID-19 pandemic restricted the movement of goods and services and negatively impacted Nigerian farmers, the cage culture farming method will increase production capacity and reduce fish farmers’ financial losses, introduce a better and more profitable method of farming, and improve fish health and final fish output by ensuring that the fish are in their natural habitat when farmed. 

Follow Orisha Farms Nigeria on Facebook and Twitter.


Reeddi Technologies Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Digital infrastructure

Nigerian State Implementing: Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, and Lagos States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-led

Reeddi Technologies Limited is a youth-led company in Nigeria that created TempOwn, a cloud-based, secure digital marketplace where farmers and agricultural professionals can access essential agricultural tools, equipment, and machinery. TempOwn allows companies, farmers, and individuals to list their equipment on TempOwn for rental, eliminating the upfront costs of buying.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Reeddi will finalize its software development and scale its local operations in Western Nigeria. The company plans to hire software engineers and designers, purchase cloud space for hosting the technology, and undergo local marketing and outreach to introduce their technology to Nigerian farmers. TempOwn affordably bridges the gap of accessibility for agricultural tools and equipment by eliminating the expensive upfront costs that hinder productivity and scalability for farmers and agricultural professionals, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital platform allows anyone in the agricultural and food value chain to access essential equipment and machinery quickly, affordably, and securely. 

Follow Reeddi Technologies Limited on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and follow TempOwn on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.


Releaf Marketplace Nigeria Limited (Releaf)

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Palm nuts

Nigerian State Implementing: Cross River State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Releaf Marketplace Nigeria Limited is a mid-stage company that is industrializing Nigeria’s palm nut value chain with two innovations, Supplier Automated Logistics Transparency (SALT) and Kraken. SALT is a software that allows trained field officers to directly source palm nuts from smallholder farmers before de-shelling, and Kraken is a proprietary, low-cost palm nut de-shelling machine that allows palm nuts to be de-shelled before they are sold to manufacturers and food factories. The company currently serves 3,000 customers and operates in all 36 states across Nigeria.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Releaf will offset the costs required to map the Niger Delta and expand operations of SALT and Kraken to Cross River State to increase productivity. The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on rural small-scale producers in Nigeria, including decreased production as farmers and casual workers stayed at home, reduced availability of transportation to move farm products, and poor market prices. However, Kraken allows Releaf to establish direct supply relationships with farmers and makes it easier to de-shell, increasing production and limiting price hikes by lowering the cost of producing raw materials. SALT further increases productivity and reduces waste by providing farmers with direct access to factories, loans, and loyalty programs. With USAID/Nigeria funding, Releaf will be able to scale these innovations to impact more than 5,000 farmers in Nigeria in the next year.  


Revemi Trade Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Agriculture marketing of palm oil, cassava, beans, plantains, and yam

Nigerian State Implementing: Delta State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Revemi Trade Limited, a youth-led company founded in 2020, aims to support smallholder farmers producing palm oil, cassava, beans, plantains, and yams in Delta State by better connecting them to domestic and international markets. Revemi currently has an end-user base of 100 farmers located in Delta State and five domestic and international customers that purchase palm oil. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Revemi will expand the number of farmers it works with and provide free access to their EKi Farmer Kit solution, which leverages signal intelligence and mobile-based applications to support farmers across the value chain. Revemi plans to use Challenge funds to purchase Gricd sensors to gather signal intelligence on humidity, ambient temperature, and real-time locations of agricultural delivery vehicles so the company can track and ensure the quality of their products as they move from farms to customers. Revemi will also provide 2,000 farmers with access to an online and offline data sharing ecosystem called the Area! App, and will use a predictive analytics tool called Pulse. These TownTalk Solutions technologies will provide early warning, training, and support to farmers on environmental events, security events, changes in policies and standards. The COVID-19 pandemic strained food production and obstructed distribution networks, and the resulting economic decline in Nigeria caused security tensions to escalate. Revemi’s EKi Farmer Kit solution will allow marginalized farmers to monitor environmental and security conditions so they can protect their products and improve their earnings.

Follow Revemi Trade Limited on LinkedIn and TownTalk Solutions on LinkedIn.


Royal Blue Contractors Limited

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Vegetable

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Royal Blue Contractors Limited has been the leading input distribution company in the agricultural value chain in Nigeria for the past eight years and serves nearly 10,000 customers. The company recently developed a program to deliver seeds to farmers in the most remote areas of Nigeria. 

Royal Blue Contractors will use funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to establish a motorcycle squad as part of its “Seeds on Wheels” approach that will accelerate the pace of seed delivery to smallholder farmers in Kaduna State. The funding will also help support advertising, sales, and the backup extension services required by farmers. The COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for rural farmers to access seeds due to lockdowns that shut down transportation and urban to rural migration that stressed the job markets in urban areas and placed more strain on rural farmers to produce food, but this company’s innovative approach scales up seed supplies for these farmers. By increasing access to quality vegetable seeds, Royal Blue Contractors will improve productivity, incomes, nutrition, and livelihoods for 3,500 smallholder farmers in Nigeria. 

Follow Royal Blue Contractors on Facebook.


SmartAgro Technologies Limited (Aisiki)

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Transport and storage

Nigerian State Implementing: Edo, Delta, Lagos, Kaduna, Benue, and Plateau

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

SmartAgro Technologies Limited’s Aisiki is a tech-enabled food supply chain startup that sources food products from farmers and brands and sells them to restaurants, grocery stores, and neighborhood shops. Aisiki’s food logistics platform ensures that vendors can access high-quality fruits, vegetables, staples, and proteins with free delivery, while farmers can harvest based on already secured demand and acquire higher earnings. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Aisiki will acquire a solar-powered cold storage facility to keep fruits and vegetables procured from farmers as fresh as possible until they are sold. The company will also use Challenge funds to further develop the Aisiki mobile app software and website, and to expand its customer service platform to handle more customer inquiries, orders, and deliveries. Inefficient food distribution, food waste, and lost revenue for farmers are all existing problems in Nigeria that have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Aisiki optimizes the supply chain between farmers and vendors, and the company’s suite of mobile apps efficiently facilitate post-harvest processing and sales. 

Follow Aisiki on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


Sosai Renewable Energies Company

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Fruits and vegetables

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna, Gombe, and Adamawa States

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Sosai Renewable Energies Company uses market-based strategies to help lift rural communities in northern Nigeria out of poverty by providing access to clean energy and water. In a pilot project, the company set up seven women-led solar dehydrating hubs in Kaduna, Gombe, and Adamawa States. The project demonstrated that dehydrating their fruits and vegetables, tomatoes, hibiscus, ginger, pepper, and onions could reduce post-harvest loss for farmers by 30 percent. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Sosai Renewable Energies will purchase more machinery for the solar drying hubs, launch a massive awareness campaign to drive sales of the produce coming out of the hubs, and train women to work at the hubs. The company will also use USAID/Nigeria’s funding assistance to optimize the solar dryers and add larger dryers to dry more produce. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused food shortages and increased prices, Sosai Renewable Energies’ solar drying hubs reduce the post-harvest loss for farmers, ensure that food is available year-round in its natural form, and provide women with food and sustainable incomes.

Follow Sosai on Facebook and Twitter.


Springboard

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Insects

Nigerian State Implementing: Ondo State

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Springboard is a network of cocoa, plantain, and rice smallholder farmers in Nigeria that empowers rural farmers, women, and youth in agribusiness. Since its inception in 2008, Springboard has trained over 2,000 farmers and over 500 rural women entrepreneurs, creating a network of farms and personnel across its targeted agricultural value chains. The organization’s efforts have resulted in the establishment of over 1,500 farms and 300 village enterprises in over 20 communities in Ondo State. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Springboard, NGN, and Flying Food will help women and youth start cricket farming in Nigeria by providing a trainer and farmer study group. This demo farm is modeled off of New Generation Nutrition (NGN) and Flying Food’s recent work piloting cricket rearing with local farmers in Kenya and Uganda. The partnership’s pilot resulted in a year-round supply of affordable, high-protein food for the most vulnerable groups and stimulated local entrepreneurship and income generation in rural areas. In Nigeria, where food security challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the widespread presence of edible insects provides an alternative to meat, dairy, and fish products and can reduce the environmental footprint. Additionally, this edible insect venture will improve nutrition for vulnerable populations, boost employment, and generate income in rural areas, especially for women.

Follow Springboard on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Tractor On The Go

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Mechanization

Nigerian State Implementing: Niger, Taraba, Plateau, Ebonyi, and Lagos States

Women-Led Business: No

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Tractor On The Go provides TOG World, a tractor hailing application that helps farmers across Nigeria access tractors and farm implements for mechanized farming. Farmers can make payments through the app using a local payment gateway or through field agents, and the app then uses Google Geolocation to track farmers’ locations and bring the equipment and services straight to them. TOGWorld operates in 23 states across Nigeria and has 24,000 registered customers.

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Tractor On The Go will develop five new tractor centers, each with four tractors, as well as expand their customer outreach efforts through online and offline advertising. The company will be able to upgrade its software and organize training for local hires to highlight the importance and value of farm mechanization services and how they can improve their wealth and productivity. USAID/Nigeria’s support will help Tractor On The Go continue to increase productivity, maximize food production, and increase efficiency for farmers to improve food security in Nigeria.

Follow Tractor On The Go on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Uzoebo Nigeria

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Food packaging, storage, and distribution

Nigerian State Implementing: Delta State

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Youth-Led

Uzoebo Nigeria is a digital hub for raw and processed agricultural products that aims to expand through the creation of Uzoebo Organic Food Hub, a hybrid food hub that manages the aggregation, packaging, branding, storage, distribution, and marketing of organic food products from local and regional smallholder farmer cooperatives from Delta, Edo, Bayelsa, Anambra, Enugu, and Ebonyi States. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Uzoebo plans to develop the Uzoebo Organic Food Hub in Delta State. With this new expansion to its existing online hub and offline organic food store, Uzoebo will be able to attract 6,000 new customers, expand home delivery services, and sell company-branded products to other supermarkets or wholesalers. The Uzoebo Organic Food Hub helps bridge the gap between the farmers and their target customers by aggregating fresh food directly from farmers, preserving them at the right temperature, and selling them directly to customers or to partnering grocery stores at affordable prices. While the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the food supply chain in Nigeria, Uzoebo’s new hub will help reduce its negative impacts by increasing food availability and reducing food waste. 

Follow Uzoebo Nigeria on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Wandieville Media

Agriculture Value Chain Focus: Eggs

Nigerian State Implementing: Kaduna State

Women-Led Business: Yes

Youth-Led or Mid-Stage Business: Mid-Stage

Wandieville Media is partnering with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Poultry Association of Nigeria, and the Kaduna State Government to run an advocacy campaign to promote eggs as a nutritious food for children in Kaduna State, where few young children meet the international standards for dietary diversity and childhood malnutrition is widespread. Eggs are a widely available and affordable source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that support children’s growth and development. 

With funding from the USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Food Security Challenge, Wandieville Media will scale up GAIN’s existing advocacy campaign with two strategies. With an Above the Line strategy, they will produce radio jingles to increase the reach of their campaign. With a Below the Line strategy, they will place campaign materials at egg vendor locations and at hospitals where women bring their children. The weak market linkages at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic not only increased post-harvest losses and egg waste for farms that lacked buyers for their eggs, but also resulted in young children lacking adequate access to eggs and farmers. This campaign will help address this issue by increasing consumer demand, purchase, and consumption of this safe and nutritious food. 

Follow Wandieville Media on Twitter and Instagram.

USAID/Nigeria COVID-19 Challenge Winners Expected Impact

Last updated: October 26, 2021

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