Harnessing value-chains for improved livelihoods in Nigeria

John Ogun (in blue shirt) conducting Focused Group Discussion

Poultry farming, one of Nigeria’s most popular agribusinesses, has great potential to increase yields, disposable incomes and food security if farmers can establish reliable and profitable markets for their eggs.

Many of the challenges farmers in Ilorin region of Kwara state in Nigeria face, including rising input costs, are being overcome thanks to the work of John Oluwafemi Ogun. John, a researcher and value chain expert working with IMPAD Africa, is highly experienced in formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating diverse agribusiness strategies, to enhance the value of crops and animals. He completed an Australia Awards Short Course in Agribusiness, facilitated by the University of Queensland in 2016. The short course upskilled John’s knowledge and understanding of practical ways to improve steps in the poultry and crops value chain market.

On his return home, John initiated a project aimed at improving efficiency in producing and distributing eggs and minimising waste. He applied his enhanced understanding of the market to increase information flow, build stronger relationships and ensure more equitable distribution of income across farmers, suppliers, retailers and consumers.

Part of John’s research and analysis for the project involved conducting consumer focus group discussions with 12 suppliers and observing shoppers from seven retailers. The suppliers comprised mothers, university graduates and students, all chosen strategically to benefit from the project through increased incomes.

Most respondents surveyed (90 per cent) preferred large fresh and tasty eggs at an affordable price. A total of 86 per cent did not want mixed sizes in the same package and seven per cent favoured organic eggs, subject to price. John’s market research also uncovered that consumers paid 21 per cent more for eggs in supermarkets than when buying direct from farmers. Moreover, while six of the identified seven retailers only sold large eggs, one enterprising female retailer had carved a niche selling small eggs. In doing so, she attracted mothers and those on lower incomes who were happy with these sized eggs.

‘The research revealed many opportunities for improvements across the value chain, which I developed, in order of priority, into an action plan,’ says John.

A high priority in the plan was to immediately communicate findings on market segments and their preferences. John brought together all value chain actors to share the information and build relationships. Finally, he trained poultry farmers on production, handling and management techniques to increase efficiency, minimise waste and increase profit.

The next phase involved getting actors together to strengthen relationships, boost information flow and improve collaboration. The plan’s priority list also saw John using his market research findings to negotiate with supermarkets to buy eggs from local poultry farmers, thereby widening their consumer market.

One of John’s greatest successes came from introducing new low-cost containers which drastically reduce wastage from breakages during transportation. He asserts, ‘One problem across the value chain was that everyone’s income was lower simply because, on average, 10 per cent of eggs broke in transit and so couldn’t be sold. I designed egg crates from used plastic containers and foam which reduced breakages to less than two per cent.’

John credits the value of seeing first-hand how Australian poultry production can work for part of his success, including a visit during his Australia Awards Short Course to a poultry farm near Toowoomba in Queensland. During the visit, he learned many lessons on managing chickens in hot climates that he is also applying in his initiative.

It’s learning opportunities like these, sharing knowledge and applying expertise that contribute to simple and inexpensive interventions that give rise to remarkable improvements in the poultry value chain.

Photo Credit: John Oluwafemi Ogun

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