17 ways to profit from the Irish Potato Value Chain in Nigeria
Irish potato is a crop that many do not understand its importance, value and how best to profit from its uses across the agricultural value chain of the crop. In Nigeria though, it is regarded as a luxury food that only the rich or well to do can afford due to the fact that it grows only in certain temperate regions (regions where the average temperature does not rise above 35 ° C). Places like the Jos plateau, Mambilla Plateau and the Obudu Plateau are the only places where this extremely important species can grow.
Known by the Latin name of Solanum tuberosum L., irish potatoes first came into Nigeria through the activities of the missionaries who came to what we know today as Plateau State. Once they discovered that the soil and the climate of the surrounding region was good for the cultivation of Irish potatoes, they then implemented it in full scale; having missed a taste of what home foods tasted like. Later on, during the Second World War, Irish potatoes were further cultivated in order to feed British Soldiers in West Africa.
Today, Nigeria is the fourth largest producer of potatoes in sub-saharan Africa despite being the largest consumer due to the sheer size of its burgeoning population; over 60% of whom are youth.
|African Countries||Harvested Areas (Ha)||Yields (t/ha)||Quantity Produced (tonnes)|
(Source: World Bank report, 2009)
Potatoes have many uses apart from being food for consumption. They are used in brewing of alcohols including vodka and akvavit. Also, Irish potatoes serve as a major component in feeds for animals. Potato starch serves as a thickener and binder in soups and sauces, as adhesives in the textile industry and also in the manufacturing of papers and other paper related items.
Nutritionally speaking, potatoes have a lot of value when it comes to nutrition. Potatoes are an important source of vitamin B complex and C , they also serve as an excellent source of carbohydrates and starch, the skin also provides a source of roughage equal to many vegetables and of course phyto chemicals used in fighting cancers and carotenoids required in the removal of free radicals in the human body.
In order to profit from the potato value chain in Nigeria, the following steps provide a pointer that can easily be adhered to:
- At the producer stage, lease of land provides a way for anyone who does not want to get his or her hands in the so called “dirty” aspects of the business. This provides the lessor with passive income that comes stress free without due recourse to any other activities that occur on the land. This of course must be done after due diligence and effective legal considerations are taken into cognizance. Land leases provide the quickest way to enter any agricultural activity without participation in the process itself.
- Investment with farmers is another strategic action that can be taken as the investor can remain a sleeping partner while the farmers remain the active partners in such a project. The farmer and the investor must of course come to terms in such a scenario and proper feedback from to time is necessary between both parties in order to foster trust.
- Sales of inputs to farmers is another way to profit. Such inputs include potato seeds, fertilizers or manures, implements required for cultivation and others not mentioned. As there exists a dearth within the value chain for inputs in the system, this provides a critical but equally important opportunity for anyone who can exploit it to the fullest.
- Sales of post planting inputs such as weeding implements and herbicides is another way for anyone to profit in the potato value chain.
- Mechanization of production using machines like potato planters, potato weeders and other mechanical tools provide ample leverage for people to be able to take advantage and to cultivate the crop on a large scale. This is another income opportunity that is too good to miss for potential investors. Most farming activities as regards Irish potatoes are performed on the small and medium scale and as such are at best rudimentary. This then goes to show the depth to which profits can be made from the farming and post farming activities of the Irish potato.
- The creation of cooperatives for the farming of Irish potatoes is another powerful way of profiting from the value chain. Cooperatives allow for not just the pulling of funds together but also for the creation of social capital in a semi-formal way which allows also for access to micro credit in certain cases. Cooperatives also allow for individuals to go into development finance, bulk selling and access to special inputs which is hitherto not accessible. Cooperatives also provide a vehicle for common development of its members. Giving an opportunity for anyone who wants to succeed to do so together with like-minded individuals.
- Creation of semi processing clusters with small and medium scale capabilities allow for enterprising individuals to be able to tap into the potato chip market due to the fact that potatoes are only grown mostly in Plateau State and thus create high demand for the product nationwide. These semi-processing clusters give a foundation for further development along the value chain. For instance, if there existed small scale potato chips manufacturers who buy directly from the farmers, this will create an industry from scratch that takes care of itself internally without the need for external interferences which include but are not limited to loan sharks, predatory middlemen and other such unscrupulous characters.
- Use of proper irrigation farming methods and practices which during the dry season would provide a good source of income as potatoes are indeed scarce during this period and as such the prices tend to be far higher than normal. Dry season farming is currently being practiced by few who are currently making huge profits from the business as mining ponds exist in Jos and during dry season, the lands adjacent to such ponds are utilized by the smart business people for farming which produces huge profit margins.
- Corporate supplies to high net-worth end users such as hotels and supermarkets especially in areas that do not have the supply of the product provides a way for high turnover due to hot demand of Irish potatoes in such institutions. This is because corporate suppliers do not farm potatoes. And these corporate suppliers have a perennial demand for the product. These high end users do not necessarily go to the market to obtain these goods but rather obtain them from a close knit circle of producers whom they trust. Easy money eh?
- Bulk supplies to end users can give a ready steady source of income and due to the perishable nature of the product can produce high returns associated with products of high risk.
- Participation in research projects give insight into ways, methods and means of improving farming practices. Such research institutions include but are not limited to the Raw materials research development council, the potato research project kuru Plateau State, the international institute of tropical agriculture (IITA), the national root crops research institute (NRCRI) to name a few.
- Inclusion of development partners allow for cash inflow and transfer of techniques, technologies and knowledge that improve the total quality of the value chain across the board. Such development partners include but are not limited to the food and agricultural organization, the international potato center Peru and other development organizations that aim to improve the value chain in the process.
- Provision of transportation facilities of the product from the farms and village markets to their ultimate destinations provide a unique opportunity for one to profit from the Value Chain.
- Provision of storage facilities for harvested produce gives another income opportunity for profit. Inadequate storage often leads to losses.
- The use of proper handling techniques apart from baskets and sacks gives the product a higher shelf life and as such higher values in the market place. This is one of the reasons middle men single handedly dictate the price of the commodity without due recourse to the producers or the consumers.
- Development of local technologies as regards the automation of inputs reduces the costs of acquisition via imports and maintenance which also allows for inclusion and growth of the potato production subsector is also another critical aspect which can be exploited for profit.
- Green house farming of Irish potatoes in places like plateau state, provides an opportunity for all year round farming of the commodity with adequate profit as 85% of the cost of operations of the green house itself is in the construction.
So there you have it. Irish potatoes present a huge economic opportunity for anyone who is serious enough to be able to make a profit in so many more diverse ways than those listed here. It is up to you to find out many more ways that profit can be made. Take action today and make profit! Do it, Do it right, do it right now!!!!