In Nigeria, farm training yields fuller harvests for rural women

Rural women sell their surplus food crops for cash in the local market to boost family income, Nigeria. Photo: Bridget Ejegwa / UNDP in Nigeria.
Rural women sell their surplus food crops for cash in the local market to boost family income, Nigeria. Photo: Bridget Ejegwa / UNDP in Nigeria.

For Mama Nsedu, a young widow in Northern Nigeria, feeding her family was becoming harder every day. Like thousands of women in the rural communities of Nanka, Kyado and Yauri, Mama Nsedu faced poor crop yields due to harsh, dry weather, low rainfall, poor soil nutrients and overdependence on expensive chemical fertilizers.

Today, though, Mama Nsedu’s farm produces more than enough yams, cassava, fruits and vegetables to feed her family. By selling her surplus crops at the local market in Nanka, she is able to earn extra cash to provide other basic needs for her family.

Highlights

  • More than 50,000 Nigerian rural dwellers (65% of them women) have benefited from the programme.
  • The UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme supports 69 environmental, capacity-building and poverty reduction projects in 23 states in Nigeria.
  • The project was awarded a total grant of US$1.897 million and US$1.370 million in co-financing within three years.

Mama Nsedu improved her crop yield by learning new farming techniques through a practical training programme delivered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners. The training includes practical demonstrations and teachings on improved farming methods, covering mixed cropping - planting two or more of plants simultaneously in the same field - and how to make compost heaps and green manure.

With this training, more than 50,000 Nigerian rural dwellers (65% of them women) have received a new lease on life. Many have reported that the harvests from their farms have improved tremendously in both quality and quantity. Moreover, women who were not previously involved in farming are now fully engaged on farms as a result.

“The training has helped us a lot,” said Mama Nsedu, who was initially sceptical about the programme. She says the improved farming methods she learned have helped her take better care of her family – a task that has been difficult since the death of her husband.

The training was delivered by national experts, support and funding came from the UNDP-Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme, which helps local initiatives achieve global environmental benefits, enhance livelihoods and build capacity. The joint initiative has supported 69 projects in 23 states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with a total grant of US$1.897 million and US$1.370 million in co-financing.

The next phase of the programme will continue to focus on poor, rural communities and include projects relating to climate change, conservation of biodiversity, protection of the ozone layer and reduction of land degradation.

“I thank all the people who have helped for my farm to be (thriving) like this,” says Mama Nsedu, while proudly showing off her large farm to visitors from the city.

By Kelechi Onyemaobi