GrowExpress Ltd.: Experts from the seed bank IITA in Ibadan/Nigeria help with the selection of seeds and fertilizers – by Erik Simon, Managing Director
A world without hunger is possible, action is needed. This is the motto of Thomas Wegener, founder of the GrowExpress model farm in Nigeria. It is located near the university city of Ibadan, a major commercial and economic center of Nigeria. Nigeria’s rapid development through oil discoveries several decades ago led to the neglect of rural areas and agriculture, although over 70 percent of the population is involved in agriculture. Money and land are available. All that is lacking is an entrepreneurial structure and good organization. In cooperation with the local university in Ibadan, GrowExpress Ltd. was awarded the contract for a model farm.
As part of the concept, the land was recultivated and returned to agriculture by removing the ecologically non-valuable bush land that had developed over the past decades. Involving local forces who also benefit from these economic activities through education, respect as well as income, international investors were found to work together to revive agriculture in one of the most fertile parts of West Africa in the state of Nigeria. Thomas Wegner: „The situation on the ground is that there is a lot of unused former farmland in Nigeria that has been lying fallow for 70 to 100 years. This is due to the circumstance of rural exodus. Most villagers hope for a better life in the city. Left behind are single women and children who struggle through everyday life with small-scale farming. GrowExpress is committed to cleaning up these large tracts of land again in a gentle way and starting organic farming.“
Sustainable development – respect – development efforts
The GrowExpress farm concept is not to break up local structures, but to respect them. This means preserving the existing small-scale field cultivation that depends on human power. The Agriculture Department of the University of Ibadan has developed a farming concept with the involvement of local fertilizer producers and protected seeds. GrowExpress Ltd. provides local farmers with know-how, seeds and fertilizers, and also gives them land in addition to their own land.
ITA experts help
Unknown to many is the fact that one of the most important research institutions is also located near the farm. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a non-profit institution focused on agricultural innovation and addressing Africa’s most pressing challenges, hunger, malnutrition, poverty and natural resource depletion. .IITA’s headquarters (research institution and major seed bank of Africa) was established in 1967 and is also located in Ibadan, Nigeria. The center is equipped with established facilities that have been at the forefront of agricultural innovation in sub-Saharan Africa for 50 years. As a result, GrowExpress is using IITA’s latest findings: local drought-resistant seeds that are adapted to climate change and have already tripled harvests. Through irrigation and the quality of the soil, fertilizer is only added when soil samples show deficiencies. Crop rotations try to reduce fertilizer use.
Better organization, better irrigation, better fertilization and better seeds
In particular, irrigation, multi-field farming, fertilizers and the use of modern seeds have not yet been adopted by individual families in smallholder farming; GrowExpress is working this out with the farmers and the experts. After soil analysis and clearing of ecologically non-valuable bush land, crop rotations are selected and farming mechanization is carried out. Nigerian government officials support the farm project and fixed purchase contracts have been signed, thus ensuring the economic dimension of agriculture.
In addition, the GrowExpress farm project focuses on education and training, good seeds, high-yield harvests and marketing of the products for an attractive life in the country. Small farmers are still disadvantaged. In purely mathematical terms, ten billion people worldwide could be fed, but the production and nutrition situation does not match. Agroecology in the view of GrowExpress Ltd. makes it necessary that small farmers are also financially protected and supported. Agro-industrial agriculture is not made for fighting hunger. Multinational companies have a great influence on politics and legislation, even patents are in the hands of big companies. This must be countered by acting in an ecologically and economically correct manner. This includes respect for local people, scientific monitoring and the use of locally produced seeds and fertilizers.
CEO – Managing Director
About Erik Simon:
Banking and economics are the domain of Erik Simon, who has been globally responsible for years. After an apprenticeship as an insurance salesman, independent sales followed with extra-occupational studies in economics at the University of Trier and the University of St. Gallen, among others. DZ Bank Luxembourg and Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. in London significantly promoted his focus on documentary crediting and alternative financing. In today’s world, independent and qualified advice to countries and institutions is becoming increasingly important to achieve short, medium and long term goals and successes that contribute to the improvement of people’s lives and on many levels, Erik Simon CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Managing Director of GrowExpress Ltd. is convinced.
Chief Operating Officer – GrowExpress Ltd.
Cocoa House, Dugbe
GrowExpress Ltd office is located in Nigeria, Cocoa House, Dugbe, 200263 Ibadan, one of the major industrial estates in Oyo State, Nigeria. GrowExpress Ltd. manages an agricultural estate of 800 hectares approximately 200 km north of the megacity of Lagos, Nigeria. GrowExpress stands for sustainability. By investing in the agricultural future with innovative production methods for maximum efficiency and yield increases. For more information, visit https://growexpress.org
Chief Operating Officer – GrowExpress Ltd.
Cocoa House, Dugbe