Nigeria has Africa’s biggest population and economy, but poverty afflicts the countryside where smallholders eke out a living. Thanks to Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu and his network of radio stations, they are now learning how to improve farm incomes.
More than 90 per cent of Nigeria’s population of 187 million – many of them farmers on smallholdings – survives on less than US$2 a day. Growing up in a rural community, Ikegwuonu spent his after-school hours raising poultry and cattle, and noticed that farmers had little access to information about farming practices and environmental issues.
The radio programmes have been heard by millions of people. It’s all about knowledge, helping farmers to manage their crops and harvesting in difficult circumstances.
In 2003, he founded the Smallholders Foundation to provide the rural community with information via interactive radio – so farmers can themselves both ask questions and provide feedback on contemporary agricultural techniques and environmental conservation. The radio network audience has grown to an estimated 2 million. His foundation is also the springboard for two new for-profit companies: ColdHubs Limited (focusing on improving the shelf life of local produce) and the Agripreneurship Academy (training young farmers).
With ColdHubs, Ikegwuonu has already designed a revolutionary solar-powered walk-in cold room that stores, preserves and extends the shelf life of perishable food from two days to 21 days. He also designed a wire-mesh trolley that will preserve cassava, extending the shelf life of Nigeria’s staple food from three days to 16.
He has won 24 awards, both national and international, including the Yara Prize for Green Revolution in Africa (now the African Food Prize).
Population of Nigeria
Nigerians living on subsistence agriculture
Districts in Nigeria where Ikegwuonu’s farm radio broadcasts