Project helps farmers gain access to markets and agroinputs, and women get into business
In northern Nigeria, a project is helping legume farmers gain access to markets and a more sustained supply of agroinputs. The Putting Nitrogen Fixation to Work for Smallholder Farmers in Africa (N2Africa) Project is providing these farmers and value chain actors with technologies and options that they can use to improve productivity and ensure the sale of their products.
N2Africa is a five-year project that aims to provide smallholder farmers in 11 countries with effective technologies and crop management practices for improving soil fertility and boosting legume production. The goal of the project is to increase the adoption of inoculants, fertilizers and improved nitrogen-fixing legumes as well as facilitate sustained market access for the resulting crops so that farmers can continue to improve the quality of their soil and household income and nutrition. It is now on its second phase.
In Nigeria, the project is being implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture IITA and partners in 43 local government areas in eight states (Borno, Kano, Kaduna, Benue, Kebbi, Kwara, Niger, and the Federal Capital Territory). So far, over 20,000 soybean, cowpea and groundnut farmers benefited in 2015. Working together with 22 different public and private sector partners, the project has been able to provide farmers with improved market access as well as sustained supply of fertilizers, inoculants and other legume related agro-inputs.
“The value of benefits to farmers and legume value chain actors within the project areas has been immense,” explained both Emmanuel Sangodele, Country Coordinator N2Africa Project Nigeria and Nkeki Kamai, Borno project coordinator.
“The network of over 450 agro-dealers and community based seed producers created by N2Africa Nigeria ensures a sustained supply of inputs for farmers and creates an outlet for their produce. We facilitated the distribution and sale of over 2.3 tons of inoculants and 490 tons of phosphorous fertilizers. Over 10,000 farmers gained markets for their crops in 2015 through our resource centers for disseminating market information in Kano and Kaduna states as well as through soybean processors identified in Benue and Niger states.”
“Furthermore, our focus on providing opportunities for women led to the establishment of three women-led businesses in soybean products in 2015,” Sangodele added.
In Borno State, Kamai said the focus had been on engaging youth in agribusiness opportunities within the legume value chains, with at least 2,000 youths now earning a living by engaging in legume input supply, value addition, or marketing activities. The project had released starter packs in kind and cash to kick start their businesses.
Training on soybean processing and utilization in 11 communities in Bayo local government area sensitized women on the nutritional value of soybean, built their capacity on soybean processing and utilization, empowered the women economically through soybean processing, and created awareness on the effect of nutrition on infants and young children as well as on infections and diseases, he further added.
The N2Africa Nigeria and Borno projects convened the Annual Review and Planning Meeting, 21-23 March, in Abuja, Nigeria, and brought together all project implementers and stakeholders in Nigeria, to look at the overall progress of the two projects to date.
The N2Africa project is led by the Wageningen University and IITA and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Wageningen University. It is envisaged that within the 5-year timeframe of the project, more than 550,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda (core countries), and Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe would have adopted the project technologies and tripled their investments by getting $3 back for each $1 invested.