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Members of environment committee learn about the challenges facing farmer clients

By Dennis Tessier and Salihu Samuel Wamdeo
(Editor’s note: Several MEDA offices have Green Teams, volunteers who work on ways for the organization to be as environmentally responsible as possible.)
The Nigeria Green Team is an ambitious bunch. Most MEDA Nigeria staff have joined the team. They have started an office compost, plastic recycling program and a garden producing everything from passion fruit, tomatoes and hot chillies to groundnuts (peanuts).
The garden was intended to provide fresh food for office lunches. It has since grown into an educational tool to better understand the ground nut value chain.
Alongside rice and soy, groundnuts are one of three core value chains MEDA’s Nigeria WAY team is championing. (WAY stands for Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Empowerment, MEDA’s main project in Nigeria. It is funded by Global Affairs Canada.)facility manager Hauwa Bala with groundnuts grown outside MEDA Nigeria officeFacility manager Hauwa Bala with groundnuts grown outside MEDA Nigeria office
With the project’s private sector-led approach of supporting initiatives to reduce barriers and constraints faced by economically active poor women and youth in accessing markets, learning how to grow groundnuts gives an incredible amount of insight into the value chain. This includes learning the process of farming, its challenges and level of effort required to produce a crop. MEDA facility manager Victoria Nuhu with a bowl of groundnutsMEDA facility manager Victoria Nuhu with a bowl of groundnuts
Project support for the groundnut value chain has got off to a good start working with No Retreat No Surrender, a co-op of 250 women that grows and sells peanuts, to create linkages in the groundnuts value chain for women growers.
Several commercial organizations, known in the industry as lead firms, are working with MEDA clients. Ebiku Investment Limited, a small-scale ground snack producer of flour-coated organic peanuts called Kele’s Nuts, is working with WAY to establish a sustainable supply system of Grade A groundnuts (uniform size nuts with no breakage). Madaki Agro, a large processor that works with 4,000 farmers in over 300 co-operatives, is supporting practices that contract growers incorporate to improve soil quality, enhance water usage, manage crops and improve the environment for a 96 metric-tonne (1,643.8 pound) groundnut supply chain.
Last summer at the MEDA office, the Green Team planted the Ex-Dakar variety of groundnuts, a low-oil nut with a unique shape that is easy to coat with a flavor. That is the same variety grown by No Retreat No Surrender. The planted plot measures 127.5 square meters (1372 square feet). About 1.2 kilograms (2.65 pounds) of the groundnut seeds were planted by hand during the second week of July. No chemical pesticides or herbicides were used during the production period. The team had to contend with weeds and a few pests.
In the last week of October, the hard work paid off. Fifty kilograms (110 pounds) of groundnuts were harvested by MEDA staff. That’s in addition to eight kg (17.6 pounds) of groundnuts that were harvested and boiled for MEDA WAY Staff before the final harvesting.
Staff were surprised at how long it took to do the harvest, which included pulling plants out of the ground, pulling off the roots and washing the nuts. They were only able to harvest about five per cent of the crop in one lunch break.
After harvest, a staff member volunteered to further process the groundnut into green organic groundnut cookies and green groundnut oil. The green products were advertised to the WAY team. The products sold out in a short time with members asking for more. The oil sold for 500 Nigerian Naira ($1.37 USD) per bottle. A bag of cookies sold for 400 Nigerian Naira ($1.10USD).
After everything was sold, the Green Team earned $28.77USD that will be re-invested into their next big project. ◆
Dennis Tessier is MEDA’s senior program manager, environment and climate change.
Salihu Samuel Wamdeo is the environment and technology co-ordinator for MEDA’s Nigeria WAY project, and the acting head of that office’s Green Team.