Releaf’s business model optimizes agricultural productivity in Nigeria’s oil palm sector through efficient digital farmer sourcing and palm nut pre-processing technology. Generating over 3,500 decent jobs, Releaf will exemplify the potential for careers in agri-tech and agribusiness. Through partnerships with training and technical experts, Releaf will inform, recruit, train, retain, and conduct business with over 1,900 young women in the oil palm sector, building equity in previously male-dominated roles like logistics, mechanics, and sales. Jobs skills programs funded by CFYE will result in over 830 technical and digital jobs throughout the oil palm value chain.
The overarching project goal is to create jobs and economic growth by increasing demand and adding value across the oil palm value chain. Economic data reveals the precipitous fall in Nigeria’s contribution to robust national and global demand for palm oil. While Nigeria accounted for 43% of the global oil palm production in the 1960s, this dropped to about 1.5% in 2017. Today Nigeria produces less than half of its domestic demand for palm oil, facing an estimated deficit of 1,250,000 MT valued at approximately US$850M.
This lamentable drop in Nigeria’s production is largely due to two major challenges: production inefficiency, and lack of investment.
The oil palm sector in Nigeria has traditionally been manually-intensive with inefficient processing methods and reduced profitability. Oil palm milling, palm nut deshelling, and palm oil extraction are done with functional but inefficient technology. Such conditions mean that the majority of participants are male, unskilled, and low-paid.
Releaf has developed a low-cost palm nut pre-processing machine which the company exclusively owns and operates to significantly improve efficiencies in palm oil extraction, adding value to benefit all stakeholders. Releaf also improves supply chain logistics through digitized relationships with farmers and food factories through its proprietary SALT (SMS Application for Logistical Transparency) software application. SALT enables direct farmer buying, price testing, and loyalty programmes.
The implementation of Releaf’s business model will be the catalyst for direct and ancillary jobs for women and youth in farming communities in Eastern Nigeria.
With CFYE support, Releaf will invest in actions that remove barriers to decent work for women and youth, proving a model for agri-tech and agribusiness careers. While research shows that 80% of actors in the oil palm value chain are women, Releaf currently employs less than 7% of women. With the intention of Releaf’s young founders to redress the balance, the expertise from local workforce partners, and resources dedicated to the task, the project will ensure women earn half of new technical and digital jobs through a growth strategy that contributes to the following outcomes:
- Women earn higher-level roles in agriculture with oil palm as a model for other value chains
- Youth seize opportunities for entrepreneurship and decent work in agriculture
- Productivity and connectivity throughout the value chain are improved to generate efficiencies
- Wealth is generated for participants in the expanding oil palm value chain
- Agro-processing spurs investment that creates a virtuous cycle of value addition.