The Business Incubation Platform (BIP) of IITA has set a new production record for maize in Nigeria. BIP exceeded the previous record through its Youth Out-growers team in an out-growers program with Nestlé, Nigeria.
Maize is one of Africa’s dominant food crops, rich in vitamins A, C, and E, carbohydrates, and essential minerals as well as 9% protein. Africa harvests 29 million hectares, and as the largest producer, Nigeria produced 1.69 tons per hectare in 2019, its highest production rate. However, the Outgrowers team has achieved an average of 6 tons/ha, a massive development compared to the achievable value across Nigeria.
Despite the vast number of maize farmers in Nigeria, the crop harvest is little due to low yields. The Out-growers program, with the help of IITA, was initiated to investigate ways to increase maize yield and maize farmers’ income in Nigeria and Africa. To help achieve this, the BIP team carried out a trial with some varieties under certain conditions before the launch of the scheme in 2020. At harvest time, the team got far beyond the usual production rate, a result that seemed to achieve its goal of increasing maize yield in Nigeria and Africa.
After a meeting with the outgrower team, Victor Saleh, BIP Communication Executive, highlighted the key measures applied to achieve this huge harvest. They included the selection of quality seed, proper land preparation, planting under good weather and soil conditions, continuous field maintenance, pest scouting and quick eradication, and site-specific fertilizer application as recommended by Agriserve, a unit of IITA-BIP. Farmers were advised to take note of these key measures and implement them for better yield.
This achievement will indeed help the team to work with farmers under this scheme for better maize yield. Also, youth with limited resources thinking of agriculture can have a soft landing in maize cultivation, because it requires minimum capital, low risk of exposure, and has an excellent propensity for a relatively higher return on investment compared to other crops. The scheme also ensures a guaranteed market and higher farmer earnings, as they will sell directly to Nestlé.
IITA GoSeed, an early generation seed production company that produces breeder and foundation seeds for seed producers, can link farmers with seed producers to enable them to access improved varieties of seeds, necessary for better yield.
BIP has focused its platform on linking research, development, commercialization, and capacity development. The unit is open for possible collaboration and partnerships that will create jobs, reduce hunger, and increase the availability of raw materials for industrialization, thereby leading to higher income for farmers.