The lack of knowledge and knowhow amongst the farming community has resulted in the inefficient use and value derivation from existing resources. Furthermore, the insufficient mechanization of the agricultural sector along the value chain limits the options farmers have to earn additional income from the produce they cultivate. Therefore, many farmers only harvest their primary produce and are not able to derive additional value from the byproducts of the very same produce. These byproducts, many times, end up as waste, or used very inefficiently, as animal feed for example, when they can have much higher value applications. If value can be generated from the byproducts, then these very farmers can enjoy an additional stream of income from the very same produce. This will increase their production efficiency, afford them additional income and the motivation to produce again in the next planting season.
Who we are
Agroplanet Ltd is an agri-business venture committed to organic and responsible production techniques across all its production activities. Our mission is to lead diversity in the African Organic Agricultural landscape. Currently, we produce a premium quality 100% organic virgin coconut oil. We are in process to further process the byproducts of this activity to produce coconut flour and activated charcoal from the coconut pressed cakes and the coconut shells respectively. This is in line with our zero-waste policy which aims to minimize or even eliminate agricultural waste, while maximizing production efficiency and profitability.
Agroplanet Waste to Value Initiative is geared towards reducing agricultural waste and maximizing profitability for farmers across already existing agricultural activities. We target agricultural waste that can be processed into higher valued goods and have developed a business model in which farmers activities become more profitable, agricultural efficiency is realized and agricultural waste is minimized. Our approach can be applied across several produce, however, it can be better explained using an example showcasing one produce, which in this case is the banana crop.
In Nigeria, the banana and plantain crops are cultivated extensively across the nation’s southern regions, which contain fertile forest and laterite soils conducive to plantain and banana growth. Each banana tree produces one banana bunch. Once the bunch is harvested, the tree is cut down and left to rot, with a small percentage of it being fed to animals. However, the banana tree has one of the strongest, most durable and absorbent natural fibres, which can be put to use in many applications, such as rope making, sack making, sanitary napkin production and even weaving of fine textiles comparable to silk. In the process of extracting the banana fibres, there is also a pulp that is harvested. This pulp is an excellent organic fertilizer, and can be pelleted for ease of distribution and use by farmers across the nation.
Sustainability and Scalability
The nature of farms in Nigeria are generally small holdings, an average of 0.5 to 1 hectare. The highest production levels are in the states of Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Imo, Kwara, Enugu, Plateau, Kogi, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Oyo. In order to make this solution cost effective and feasible for this particular produce (the banana crop), we intend to establish mobile processing units. A mobile unit will consist of 3 or 4 lite fibre extractors, a 10KVA generator and a van to transport of these equipment. These units will be mobilized from farm region to farm region from which we wish to purchase the waste from nearby farmers. The initial fibre extraction and pulp harvesting will take place on the farm in which we have located, which will enable us to harvest and move larger amounts of the waste off the farming region at a time. At our permanent site, which is centrally located at Anambra State, the fibres will be sorted and graded, spun into fine yarn and then be put into various uses, which will be sold to sustain our activities. The pelleted organic fertilizer from the harvested pulp can be sold through wholesale markets or by partnering with existing government programmes that distribute fertilizers to the farmers who need them the most.
The direct impact of this business model cuts across several streams. The farmers, first and foremost, benefit from an additional income stream from the same produce, possible increasing their income from agricultural activities by an additional 20% on average. This will further empower them to improve their standard of living, develop their farming techniques, capacity and motivation to plant again the following season. In addition, we will encourage the development of new markets for agricultural waste and the transformation of pre-existing ideologies of product value. Furthermore, the environmental ambiance would be improved as there will be less rotting material laying around the farms. The reduction of agricultural waste and achievement of production efficiency can be expected. The additional income generated from the domestically produced good will result in a higher Gross Domestic Product, and contributes to the country’s economic development. The creation of job opportunities for those in rural areas cannot be overlooked.
This business model can be applied across multiple produce, including honey production, orange production and even rice production to produce valuable goods of beeswax, orange essential oil and biofuel. There is a challenge in the collection of the waste material directly from the small holder farmer, ensuring that they are the ones to receive the pending benefits. There are currently no awareness or or organized markets for these waste. There is a need to sensitize the farm populations of our intention, enter into discussion with them and develop a working model for waste collection. Another challenge lies in developing the infrastructure and equipment needed to process this waste material, and develop them into polished goods, ready for the market. The model, even with one produce, is capital intensive, however, it is sustainable, and will eventually be able to sustain is operations.
Agroplanet’s Waste to Value Initiative is a model that offers tremendous benefits to both the farmers and the economy. It is a mutually beneficial model that maximizes agricultural production efficiency, increases profitability of the farmers, creates opportunities for new product development, all while reducing agricultural waste. We believe that our initiative addresses the proposed challenge of Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger. It has the potential to bring real and transformative change to our nation’s agricultural sector. Once successful in our nation, this module can be replicated in other nieghbouring countries with similar challenges and agricultural ecomomy.