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2SCALE AND THE APOMU AGRIBUSINESS CLUSTER

The 2SCALE project was coming to a halt; it was necessary for regular farm business meetings to continue, most especially for the purpose of getting new sources of support. To discuss this, a meeting was held on August 17, 2017 at ADC Arikoko secondary school, Ologan village, Apomu Osun state. First were introductions- cluster actors introduced themselves and gave detailed information on their activities on the value chain. Mr. Sola Fagorusi and Mr. Sodiq Olayiwola represented Onelife Initiative at the meeting. Mr. Sola began the discussion by reiterating the ideals of 2SCALE and its goals, especially in regards of the Maize Clusters. Then he addressed the roles of the stakeholders of business meetings to improve the quality and quantity of business.

There was an interactive session where the facilitator inquired from the cluster actors the frequency and nature of their meetings. They responded that meetings are held fortnights. Their challenges as agribusiness owners are discussed, and ideas are shared at these meetings.

The members get their planting materials from reputable agro-inputs dealer such as Saro and Premier; due to the intervention of 2SCALE, they know all about the benefit of planting improved seeds.

The coach explained the need to create a group within the cluster; he presented, and taught pesticide application guide to the cluster. He promised to come later with maize farming guide on the production of aflatoxin-free maize, for use and adaptation by producers and other cluster actors.

The cluster actors lamented about lack of access to loan, but were reminded of the benefit of forming a group at this point – to give them access to loans from banking industries.

Chief Oyebamiji promised that cluster will meet fortnightly when the 2SCALE project is over; to leverage on the relationship the project had built between actors.

The coach urged actors within cluster to visit other maize clusters like Ayetoro maize, Ogbomosho maize, Oyo maize that, perhaps, they might learn new things, and be more motivated and challenged.

 

The major conclusions at the meeting were that the cluster would form a group in order to have access to quality agro inputs at a cheaper rate, and to facilitate the establishment of agro dealer shop within the locality; the coach would link all actors within cluster to financial support services like LAPO micro finance bank and Bank of Agriculture.

 

At Onelife Initiative conference hall, New Bodija, Ibadan, a three-day workshop commenced at 4:00pm on September 6, and lasted till Friday September 8, 2017. The workshop was held in order to provide cluster business opportunities to enhance the ability of internal coaches to continue rendering services beyond the lifespan of the 2SCALE project.

At the commencement of the workshop, this introductory remark was given by the Facilitator, Dr. Gbenga Idowu (2SCALE Agribusiness Trainer-mentor):

“2SCALE started in 2012 to improve food and nutrition security in Africa through partnerships, for fostering inclusive agribusiness. So far, 2SCALE has developed a portfolio of fifty partnerships across nine countries in Africa, of which Nigeria/Nigerian maize partnership (Aiyetoro maize ABC, Ogbomosho maize ABC, Apomu maize ABC and Oyo maize ABC) is one.

Coordination action and business/market linkage involving the pooling of supply and demand are important aspects of 2SCALE’s efforts to strengthen grassroots Agribusiness clusters (ABCs) involving smallholders, for improved productivity and inclusive value chain linkages within and among the different actor groups in each partnership.

The program is ending and it important to deepen the gains already recorded in the partnerships in order to create the chance for continuity and sustainability of inclusive business in the Agribusiness Clusters (ABCs). ”

Here are the objectives of the workshop:

  • Recapping the contributions to inclusive agribusiness within ABCs through the BSSs;
  • To critically reflect on, and identify workable strategies and activities for financial and functional build-up of BSSs beyond 2SCALE, in the ABCs;
  • To identify workable strategies and activities for leveraging immediately on emerging agribusiness support opportunities after 2SCALE, in the ABCs; and
  • To set up action plans with funding arrangement for BSSs, starting immediately and continuing after 2SCALE, in the ABCs.

 

THE PHASING OUT OF 2SCALE:

2SCALE has been the catalyst for BSSs in ABCs, and its phasing out does not mean that IFDC, ICRA and BOP will no more have anything to do with ABCs.

Phasing out is a transition in the position of BSSs in the ABCs from being people paid by ‘external sources’ to those paid by the ‘internal cost structure’ of the ABCs and off-takers.    BSSs will no longer be ‘external’ to ABCs and off-takers.

After a question and answer session, the facilitator proceeded to talk on some key aspects of the Agribusiness.

Here is a summary:

INCLUSIVE AGRIBUSINESS: It is a commercial relationship between private agro-allied companies and groups of smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs working around agricultural products, whereby the parties together generate social, economic and environmental value as well as the resources, knowledge and mindsets needed to sustain long-term, profitable mutually benefitted interdependence.

AGRICULTURAL VALUE CHAIN: This is a connected series of organizations, resources and knowledge streams involved in the creation and delivery of value from primary producers of an agricultural commodity to the end consumers.

COOPERATIVES VS AGRIBUSINESS CLUSTERS: Cooperative Alliance is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise, while Agribusiness cluster, sometimes represented simply as cluster, is a network of local actors (producers and other agripreneurs) interacting in a local area on one or more agricultural products, and serving the same segments(s) of the market through a common vision.

The role of BSSs is inevitable and there is a need for internal arrangement to sustain the funding of coaching support at post-2SCALE. The facilitator schooled the participants on how the cluster can fund BSSs and also told them about some other ways to get support for the cluster post-2SCALE.

FEEDBACKS

An actor said that 2SCALE was an ‘eye opener project’ for POs. This is because in the past, POs concentrated on production, neglecting the business part of farming. But now, they are aware of the need to identify their market first before going into production. She also acknowledged the need to continue being cluster rather than individual entities.

The facilitator urged all participants to see to the execution of all that were concluded on during the course of the workshop to ensure the continuity of 2SCALE’s legacy, and also for them to benefit more opportunities as a cluster.

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