Whenever I visit a friend at home in Nigeria and he offers me protein food like chicken for lunch, this tells me he is doing well. Because, growing up, we only get to eat chicken whenever there is an occasion like Christmas, marriage, birthday ceremony, etc.
Was it like that for you too?
Animal protein like chicken has remained a luxury for low-income consumers who live on less than USD 2.00 a day. Because, it is expensive, but this is only a symbol of the bigger challenge.
Protein foods like livestock (poultry and aquaculture included) are expensive because rearing and growing them costs farmers a lot of money. And 70% of farmers’ expenses go to buying feed—not fair.
This concern, according to Food and Agriculture Organization, is caused by overdependence on corn, which has directly led to the high cost of poultry and livestock feed, and this challenge is the biggest problem crippling the Livestock industry in Nigeria and depleting the livelihood of over 3.500,000 farmers in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa’.
This ‘feed gap impoverishes farmers and makes livestock and poultry-rearing unfairly expensive, putting smallholder farmers and millions of families, especially in rural communities, at risk of poverty and malnutrition (protein energy malnutrition)—the single biggest contributor to child mortality.
However, June 2007 was a great day for my family and we were super excited. It was harvest day and my Dad was going to harvest and sell the fishes he had been growing for the previous four months. The buyers came, they loved the product, but underpriced it and my Dad refused to sell.
Two days later he sold but he sold at a loss. It was so disappointing and that was the moment I promised to put a smile on his face. But not just on his face but also on the faces of over 500,000 smallholder farmers like him in Nigeria and beyond.
Two years ago my co-founder (Mene Blessing) and I started working on how we could help struggling farmers in our community make more money and spend less on buying expensive animal feed, which is their biggest challenge.
We came up with a solution—the first of its kind globally—called : UNFIRE (Unorthodox Feed Innovation for Rural Enterprising Smallholder Farmers).
A solution which helps to provide low income communities access to good nutrition, better livelihoods and best quality protein food by giving smallholder livestock’s (chicken and fish etc.) farmers access to sustainable, low-cost animal feeds (chicken and fish food) that is 20-30% less expensive than conventional feeds (corn) and are made from agricultural/environmental organic waste like (Brewers Dried Grain (BDG) and Sorghum Waste, Water Hyncint (Sea Weed) in water ways, Musta Domestica and Black Soldier fly larva and Maggot – (protein feeds inputs replacement for soya and fishmeal in poultry and fishmeal diets etc) a prototype still on going…) so they could generate high protein food for themselves and more income from sales of surplus livestock’s at a competitive price, while also helping to reduce the retail price of protein rich food like chicken, eggs and fish products by 40-60% – making them more affordable & available to low income communities.
UNFIRE feed are scientifically proven and innovatively tested, a model which also helps to create job opportunities for rural women and engages more youth in agriculture for the collection of these wastes.
We measure success through the following ways :
Indirect access :
- Increase in farmers’ income
- Amount of money saved by the farmer from buying UNFIRE feeds.
Quantitative Impact (direct access):
Amount of feed sold
- Amount of poultry/livestock produced
- Amount of waste (agricultural and environmental) recovered
- Number of consumers served
- Number of rural youth engaged/employed in agriculture
Qualitative Impact :
Positive impact on consumers’ health due to increased consumption from lower prices of eggs and chickens—effective protein