By Alkali Amana
In March 2019, when exploring investment options in an estimated $11 billion global banana market, Nigeria’s erstwhile Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, voiced the possibility of Nigeria taking advantage of that market across Europe, hinging his optimism on the innovative solutions engineered by Contec Global Agro Limited. A keen understanding of this outlook reveals the pull and power of an organization committed to building and enhancing biodiversity in agriculture and other sectors it operates.
With its African headquarters and major centres of operation based in Lagos and Abuja, in Nigeria, Contec Global Group (CGG) is a group of companies focused on using technology to advance humanity sustainably; established by Dr Benoy Berry in 1984. It was first established as a security technology company, however to its credit; the Group transcends geographical, social and political borders in various sectors, including biometric technology, agriculture, transportation, mobile and financial technology, telecommunication and green energy. Over the years with consistent application of best practices, the Group has achieved uncommon results and rapid progress in sustainability indices across geographies and different territories – thanks to its expertise and high-level commitment towards the development and implementation of purposeful large-scale Agricultural projects in Africa.
Among the Contec Global Group’s subsidiaries, Contec Global Agro Limited (CGAL) has stamped its authority and impact on the Nigerian terrain for over two decades by employing smart bio-solutions bio-herbicides, bio-pesticides and organic fertilizers devoid of caustic chemicals, to overcome food challenges. Remarkably, the vision of the Group aligns seamlessly with the interests of the present Nigerian administration in the pursuit of zero hunger and food security within the country, and this is made better given the Contec’s commitment to the use of organic food crops devoid of any form of chemical inputs in fertilizer. The organization’s policy also aligns with the target to improve food production, both in variety, quality and quantity, presenting a timely intervention in the agriculture sector at a time when local production is widely encouraged.
as part of its core operations. Under the leadership of Dr Benoy, this vision ably transmits via CGAL to revolutionize agriculture in Nigeria using organic means, thereby significantly helping to put organic food on every Nigerian dining table, established in 2016, is another leading innovation lab owned by Contec Global and recognized as the first Nigerian Scientific and Industrial Laboratories Technology [NISLT] certified lab focusing on Agro Research and dedicated to screening the native and unique agriculturally beneficial micro-organisms in soils. In its efforts in various projects sites on agricultural development in the country and further innovation, the organization deploys earth-friendly, efficient and commercially viable solutions while also creating alternative technologies through careful research using non-toxic biodegradable and Eco-friendly approach. Situated in Abuja, Contec’s laboratory has a centralized facility for basic research, quality control, in-depth analysis, fermentation facility, product development, and packaging.
The lab boasts of a 5,000 feet state of the art facility with five (5) fully monitored growth rooms which can store over 1.5 million plants and completely controlled greenhouses spread over 1 acre of land alongside a team of qualified personnel and perfectly tuned logistics that ensure products are delivered on time. In the area of research, development of appropriate trials and production of various plant species serve as the focus of the lab with consideration on products like Plantain, Potato, Garlic, Onion, Pineapple, and Cocoa etc.
Defined as world-class in infrastructure, CGAL fixes education as a core part of its operations and possibly as a means of executing its corporate social responsibility by collaborating with institutions to improve research. Instances include:
-Sealing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Organic Farming and Research with the University of Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. The MoU and the plan are geared towards assisting the Federal and State governments to boost Nigeria’s food security drive. Accordingly, the partnership involves intensive research and training and incorporates the mechanism to get organic farm produce to Nigerians, Africans, and the world at large. Commenting on the organization’s laboratory facilities while on tour, the Vice-Chancellor of the University said: “I never knew that this kind of world-class agro-facilities exists in Nigeria”.
-Notable collaborations with other institutes reveal the organization’s zeal to partner with local players. Some of these collaborations are with Ahmadu Bello University College of Agriculture (ABU), in Zaria, Kaduna State; and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) at Ibadan, Oyo State, in a bid to engage its laboratory in evaluating the efficacy of the developed products on various cereals, pulses and vegetables under local environmental conditions.
Amidst its active contributions in Nigeria, CGAL has also:
-Developed organic banana plantation initiatives with its pilot project inspected in 2019 by the Minister of Agriculture at the time, Chief Audu Ogbeh, in Kwali Area Council of the FCT. The project was touted for replication in various other states such as Osun, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Taraba, Edo and Oyo States.
-Invested NGN 20 billion in 2015 towards the successful trial of inputs that breathe life into depleted soils, shorten the period between breeding and harvest of crops and livestock and resist pests’ incursion in the agricultural sector.
-Partnership with states such as Niger and Katsina states boosts agricultural development and promotes certain crops using improved organic varieties, amongst other products.
-Collaborated with Mercy Corps to provide organic fertilizers to over 1000 farmers in Borno State and across the country’s North-eastern flanks.
It is worthy and vital to note that bar its venture in agriculture, using Contec Global Agro Limited, the parent organization thrives with other subsidiaries creating growth, development and opportunities in the different lines they feature in. These subsidiaries include:
-The Continental Transfert Technique Limited – involved in the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card Project, pioneering identification biometric technology in Nigeria, Niger and Burundi. The company also led the e-pass technology, the identity card referred to as e-gates, across the international and local airports in Nigeria.
-Contec Global Infotech Now now – a mobile money software for quick, error-free and efficient financial transactions.
-Other subsidiaries include the Weismann Autos, Contec Global Hospitality (CGH) and Contec Global foundation (GCF).
With its subsidiaries spread out worldwide across four continents, the multinational Group boasts over 10,000 staff strengths of mixed race, integration and ideologies. Through its various initiatives, Contec has also acted as a major employer of labour within its entities, creating opportunities for the people.
It is evident that under the leadership and steering of Dr Benoy Berry, a man who has been awarded multiple times for his visionary ideas and commitment towards development and innovation, Contec as a group will continue to impact the agriculture and food ecosystems in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.