USAID-backed Trade Hub Awards $1.2 million Grant to Boost Production of Maize, Soybeans in Nigeria

By September 10, 2021 NEWS

The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) on Monday announced a $1.2 million (N494 million) co-investment grant to Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited (Tomato Jos).

The hub, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), said the grant would also help boost smallholder farmers’ maize and soybeans productivity in Kaduna State.

This was disclosed in a statement by Karl Littlejohn, its acting chief of party.

“The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has awarded a 494 million naira ($1.2 million) co-investment grant to Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited (Tomato Jos) to boost the productivity, incomes, and resilience of maize and soybean smallholder farmers in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna State,” the statement said.

It said Kaduna is the home to approximately 1.3 million farming families, many of who farm both maize and soybean, two of Nigeria’s staple crops.

According to the statement, domestic production of these grains is failing to meet the high market demand because of several limitations faced by farmers, including outdated farming techniques, limited awareness of the market’s quality demand, and a lack of funds to improve their farming practices.

Key Targets

To address these challenges, the statement highlights that Tomato Jos will leverage its grant and approximately N3.3 billion ($8 million) of private funds to launch a three-year maize and soybean outgrower project in northern Nigeria.

“The project will benefit 4,000 smallholder farmers who will work as outgrowers (also known as contract farmers) with Tomato Jos. Sixty percent of the outgrowers will be women and at least 40 percent youth,” the statement partly reads.

It noted that the 4,000 smallholders will be trained on modern farming techniques to ensure their crops’ quality and increase their productivity.

“As many smallholders currently lack the capital to fully run their farm, loans will also be offered. These loans, combined with a guaranteed offtake of the crops through Tomato Jos, will provide a much-needed financial backstop to the smallholders, particularly for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

Prospects

The statement stated that through these efforts, smallholders’ will be able to produce 3,600 metric tons of maize by the third year of the project, and 400 metric tons of soybean.

Mira Mehta, Tomato Jos founder, was quoted to have said; “Leveraging private investments to finance smallholder farmers is key to driving inclusive economic growth in Northern Nigeria.”

“We are proud to partner with the Trade Hub on this innovative project,” she added.

How the Funds would be used

The statement stated that the co-investment will also be used to assist Tomato Jos in improving its operations and productivity.

It said the company will expand its storage capacity for grains, source improved inputs for greater yields, and increase its model farm and outgrower programmes to cover more locations for maize and soybean farming.

The statement noted that Tomato Jos will also develop its mobile and cloud technology platforms for data capturing, farm monitoring, and improved communication and that Trade Hub’s partnership with Tomato Jos builds on its other recently launched partnerships in Nigeria, such as ones with PYXERA Global and Thrive Agric, which also focused on increased maize and soybean production.

Mr Littlejohn said; “Nigeria has seen its outputs of maize and soybean decline in recent years and efforts to counter this have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Thus, it is vital to assist companies such as Tomato Jos to help farmers increase production of these two staple crops and support food security,” he added.

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