With 80% of smallholder farmers in Africa living on an income of less than $2 a day, meeting the high cost of food for poultry and livestock is often a challenge. Blessing Mene (Mene Blessing Oritseweyinmi), 26, was inspired to set up UNFIRE (Unorthodox Feeds Innovation for Rural Enterprising Smallholder Farmers) in response.
UNFIRE provides farmers with a novel alternative – feed which costs 60% less than regular options, enabling farmers to increase their output and their incomes by as much as 80%.
Made from agricultural waste, such as mango seed kernels, elephant grass, maize and cassava waste from milling plants, UNFIRE’s feed is unique, culturally acceptable and suitable for a range of poultry and livestock.
It’s sustainably produced too, with UNFIRE operating a community-based, self-supportive model. Local youth groups are engaged in the collection of fairtrade raw materials which are purchased by UNFIRE, and rural women are recruited, trained and empowered to run their own businesses as vendors, supplying and selling the feed within their own communities.
Benefiting farmers and their communities
To date, some 58 tonnes of waste mango seeds have been recovered and used by UNFIRE teams as part of a partnership with JA Farms in Nigeria.
During an 18-month pilot programme, this benefited 5,000 consumers, 27 young people who helped collect raw materials and ten women vendors who were employed to sell the seed. All of these vendors, who were previously unemployed, generated the equivalent of local minimum wage (€47 per week) each.
Of course the farmers benefited greatly from the pilot too. More than 14 million grams of livestock products were produced over the 18-month period, including 45,000 eggs and 3,070 chickens.
On becoming a finalist in the Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards, Mene says: “This is an excellent award programme designed to take our project to the next level. Our team is deeply excited about this ground‐breaking mentorship opportunity.”
Mene has represented Nigeria in a range of different global programmes and competitions, and has received diverse awards from organisations including UNESCO, the University of California Haas School of Business and the London Business School.
*Blessing Mene Orits is an international award winning Social Entrepreneur, Educator, Farmer and Visionary Leader. He has represented Nigeria at different Global Programs and Competitions; and received diverse awards from the University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of California, Haas School of Business, Centre for Responsible Business, San Francisco, Unilever, Nigeria, Toastmasters Club and London
Business School. He is greatly inspired by Dr. Myles Munroe, T.M.E Dogun II, Howard Schultz and Tom Kelley.