In Nigeria, emphasis has traditionally been placed on the oil and gas sector of the economy in terms of income generation. Increasingly however, the Federal Government as well as the private sector are focusing more on the improvement of the non-oil sector of the economy. Exploring opportunities for inclusive business models in the agricultural sector was the focus of a business executive meeting on February 21 in Lagos, organized by The Convention on Business Integrity (CBi) in collaboration with the Business Innovation Facility (BIF).
Various case studies were presented. Tom Harrison, BIF Project Portfolio Manager spoke about how the BIF-supported MKRISHI project implemented by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) leverages mobile phone technology to improve agricultural production. He also gave a summary of research carried out by Vodafone and Accenture, which examines the best potential for ICT to support farmers, such as through:
During the discussion participants – who were mostly top executives of agriculture-related companies -shared their views and the challenges they encounter. It was highlighted for instance that the majority of rural areas are not yet prepared for such web-based platforms due to lack of internet connectivity and mobile phone coverage. Jennifer Abuah (OLAM Cocoa, Nigeria) talked about the importance of improving farmers’ livelihood through Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) mapping for planning, verification of farm sizes and locations, planting and harvesting. She explained that OLAM has a department (CRS dept.) which works with farmers to build certification ability as well as impacts social programs in specific areas.
Mr Andrew Wagner (Alithea Capital, a fund management company) spoke about financing inclusive value chain in Nigeria. He explained that that the value chain approach is of particular importance to push products (that is, products with low product availability and low market share).
Finally, Carolin Schramm (Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, BIF) highlighted the importance of measuring inclusive business project results and why it increasingly matters to businesses. Amongst other things, she explained that measuring project results can support the following issues within a business:
Participants made several contributions on various areas affecting their businesses and a lot of networking took place at the end of the event. Participants agreed that the event was a life-changing experience.