Poverty in Nigeria is extreme compared to developed nations. For example, 82 million people, or 40% of the country’s total population, earn less than $1.90 per day. Although Nigeria exports more oil and natural gas than any nation in Africa, massive population increases have hampered potential growth. This change has forced the economy and government to prioritize keeping its citizens alive by providing food. However, the unfortunate reality is that this often comes at the expense of health care and other essential infrastructure. To help improve food access, the startup Zenvus brings innovations in poverty eradication in Nigeria.
Improving Agricultural Productivity
Food production systems are inefficient in many parts of the country. For instance, with little availability of irrigation or fertilizer, 66% of the labor force works to produce 90% of Nigeria’s calories. This deficiency in resources is a result of outdated farming methods. The Green Revolution, which applied World War II technology to farming through mechanization and increased crop yields by 200%–300% in the last 50 years, skipped over Nigeria. Likewise, other developing nations missed this innovation as well. Zenvus, an agricultural technology company, aims to fill this gap by providing access to resources that help Nigerians experience the same explosive productivity boost that other countries enjoyed, decades ago. Here are just three of the many services Zenvus offers as innovations in poverty eradication in Nigeria:
- Soil Quality Measurements. Because certain crops grow best in specific soil types, understanding soil quality can help farmers plant strategically and maximize profits. Additionally, for a country bordering the Sahara that has already lost 35% of cultivatable land in the past 50 years, carefully extracting resources from certain dirt areas can help prevent desertification.
- Disease Warnings. Through a mountable camera and a complex computer algorithm, Zenvus determines plant health so farmers can proactively resolve problems. These individuals can then use pesticides more selectively, reducing costs and the amount of runoff into the surrounding environment. Zenvus has even devised methods of analyzing this data without an internet connection. This is an especially necessary feature, given how far these cameras must be spaced out.
- Financial Support. Implementing these technological innovations can be expensive. Especially when considering that Zenvus-supported farms are large enough to start mechanization of multiple processes. For example, tilling, planting and harvesting. Economies of scale — or the cost advantage that comes with bigger business, tends to dominate smaller businesses due to their ability to afford the high upfront costs of these machines. These smaller farms create a need for investors and loans to get off the ground. Acknowledging this phenomenon, Zenvus has created multiple products in this sector designed to fill this need. Examples include zCrowdfund, a program where people buy a ‘subscription’ to goods a farm produces; zInsure, or affordable insurance; and zMarkets, which connects consumers to producers both locally and globally.
The Spirit of Innovation and a Positive Future
Companies like Zenvus provide hope for Nigerians through their capacities to create jobs, increase wages and ensure sufficient food access for all Africans. With 239 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone in poverty, the spirit of Zenvus’ innovations in poverty eradication in Nigeria is perhaps more essential (and more promising) than ever.
– Michael Straus
Photo: Wikimedia Commons