Expanding Education in Nigeria: Opening Doors for U.S. Soy

Nutrition and food security remain chronic and growing concerns plaguing Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. For instance, more than 70% of Nigeria’s population lives on less than $2 a day. Taking on the task of feeding this population while also trying to contribute to the global value chain is daunting for Nigerian farmers, who face issues of their own including security and access to adequate technological and educational resources. These core challenges drove an important partnership between U.S. Soy and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to establish a Soy Excellence Center (SEC) in Nigeria three years ago.

Recently, USSEC Chairman, Doug Winter, along with other grower leaders and members of the SEC Steering Committee visited Nigeria to have a look at the progress the SEC is making and to better understand opportunities for U.S. Soy.

“The Soy Excellence Center that we started in partnership with Nigeria has been an excellent starting point,” said Winter. “It’s going to be a program that advances over the years and becomes more beneficial to the Nigerian agricultural sector. It’s proving to provide an excellent education tool to Nigerian farmers and the Nigerian protein use sector.”

There is a growing middle-income bracket in Nigeria that desires quality, nutritious foods such as poultry. In addition, the country has a large existing soy crushing capacity that supports imports such as U.S. soybeans. Other areas of opportunity for U.S. Soy include established trade lanes between the U.S. and Nigeria for wheat, and recently opened pork sausage import channels from the U.S.

Nigerian farmers produce soy; however, consumption of soy products far outpaces domestic production. This is where SEC programming can help fill the gap to provide technical training and enable knowledge transfer that leads to increased productivity. Moreover, this increases capacity and ultimately drives more demand for U.S. Soy in the process.

SEC program participant Austin Dalyop, General Manager at Premier Feedmill in western Nigeria, explained that the Nigerian poultry industry is poised to ramp up production capacity, opening doors for U.S. Soy.

“U.S. Soy will be our first priority and contact because we will need more soy in the expanding poultry industry,” said Dalyop. “We have a shortage in Nigeria and need to fill the gap. There will be more activity in the economy and value chain to double our capacity. Everyone will benefit, including U.S. Soy who will guide us in expertise and aid in filling the production gap.”

The SEC focuses on capacity-building training along the protein value chain. In Nigeria, education across four SEC tracks has been offered to date, including poultry production, aquaculture farming, agronomy and feed milling. The program provides Nigerian farmers education in technology and quality, helping them produce better products and yields entering the value chain. To these producers, access to an internationally vetted training curriculum along with a global network of industry professionals will help them take big steps forward in addressing their country’s needs.

For Winter, this training is a steppingstone towards a stronger relationship with Nigerian farmers and industry leaders.

“I hope we can advance and fine-tune the knowledge,” said Winter. “It will become an even more integral tool for the Nigerian agriculture and protein use sector. They can rely on us to provide them with the most valuable and accurate information.”

Growth of the SEC in Nigeria will continue this year with training planned in all four tracks in the Southwest, Southeast and North Central regions of the country. The training will provide Nigerian protein industry professionals with tools that will enable them to grow capacity, positioning U.S. Soy as a reliable partner for soy product and expertise.

This article was partially funded by U.S. Soy farmers, their checkoff and the soy value chain