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USAID partners with Doofy Ostrich Agro to promote extension delivery service in Nigeria

USAID partners with Doofy Ostrich Agro to promote extension delivery service in Nigeria

Ms. Dorcas Shoja is the CEO of Doofy Ostrich Agro, a woman-owned business that sells agro-inputs to farmers in her town, Gboko, Benue State, in Nigeria. The firm initially struggled to stay in business due to low patronage and sales, finding it hard to provide quality services to customers and attract farmers to her shop. In 2021, the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Activity identified Doofy Ostrich Agro due to its potential to support farmers in the community with access to quality inputs and an outlet for extension service provision.

Through the USAID-funded activity, Ms. Dorcas trained for six months in business development, customer relations, the use of digital apps, and good agronomic practices as a value addition to her business. Apart from selling inputs, Doofy Ostrich Agro teaches farmers about input use and on-farm applications. As a direct result of the training and use of technology by Ms. Dorcas, the firm expanded its customers from 50 farmer-clients to 6,500 farmers between 2021 and 2023.

Doofy Ostrich Agro achieved this success by sensitizing farmers on the use of the quality inputs sold to them. Farmers in Ms. Dorcas’s community are happy for the improved yield recorded due to their access to improved seeds, fertilizer, herbicides, and mechanization tools. But most importantly, they have reduced production costs from the use of these inputs and reduced waste from misuse.

Ms. Dorcas Shoja (left) is CEO of Doofy Ostrich Agro, a business that sells agro-inputs to farmers in Gboko, Benue State, in Nigeria. Photo by: Jean-Pierre Rousseau for Winrock International.

Andrew Ukur, one of the smallholder farmers who participated in the training facilitated by Doofy Ostrich Agro, remarks: “In the past, I used manual labor and operated at a loss every year because I used to hire 30-40 farm laborers for my land preparation. The high cost of labor increased my cost of production and reduced my profitability. Now, I use power tillers to prepare one hectare in a day, saving me about 25% of what I spend on manual land preparation, and this has greatly reduced my crop production cost and increased my yield and income.”

In 2023, Andrew harvested 3 tons of rice and recorded a yield increase of 131% from last year’s harvest of 1.3 tons. Further, he generated sales worth of N1,350,000 (or about USD $1,350). Andrew continues: “I cannot fully express my gratitude to USAID for introducing the most impactful practices to smallholder farmers like me. We are so happy. Now, people come to observe and learn about the most impactful practices from us.”

When Ms. Dorcas realized her business patronage had increased, she created a savings scheme targeting female farmers. This innovation increases access to input credit during the farming season.

Reflecting on her newfound business acumen and success, Ms. Dorcas remarks: “My farmers are happy making good yields, so they will continue to patronize my business. In the 2023 farming season, one of my farmers recorded 6 MT per hectare in her rice farm against 2 MT realized in 2022. At the price of N450,000/MT ($1,000) of rice paddy, the extra 4 MT/ha is an additional N1.8 million ($4,000) income from the same land size.” She adds that in 2021, the firm’s annual sales volume was N300,000 ($667).

“My company is what it is today because of the support and training I received from the Agricultural Extension Activity. I made sales of N2.2 million ($4,889) in 2023. I plan to achieve increased sales in 2024 because I now have more farmers to provide input and extension services to.”

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Feed the Future Nigeria Agriculture Extension and Advisory Services Activity

Technology offers the potential to achieve major change, and that is certainly true in Nigeria’s agriculture sector. Using a facilitative market systems approach for sustainability, this USAID-funded project takes a “farmer-first” approach to ensure on-farm results and achieve impact at scale. Winrock is partnering with micro, small and medium enterprises and key market actors within…