Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity Supports Social Enterprise to Increase Rice and Soybean Production for 500 Smallholder Farmers

Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity Supports Social Enterprise to Increase Rice and Soybean Production for 500 Smallholder Farmers

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Farm on Wheels is a social enterprise that works with smallholder farmers in hard-to-reach rural communities of Niger State, Nigeria. The enterprise provides agricultural input credits to smallholder farmers in the form of seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals, while also guaranteeing markets for farmers through a well-coordinated system.

To improve yield for farmers and ensure optimum supply of rice and soybean production, Farm on Wheels planned to disburse input loans worth over 24 million Naira ($58,151) to 500 smallholder farmers, including 100 youth during the 2021 wet and dry seasons, which fall between May 2021 to April 2022. To build staff capacity in preparation for the loan disbursements, the enterprise partnered with the five-year Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, a USAID-funded activity implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) that works to strengthen the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment in Nigeria.

In August 2021, the Activity facilitated a master training for ten Farm on Wheels staff and extension agents, strengthening their knowledge and capacity on good agronomic practices for rice and soybean production. The training covered critical topics for supporting smallholder farmers such as communications, ethical work practices, good agronomic practices, group dynamics, leadership strategies, data collection and environmental compliance.

Farm on Wheels’ field officer, Jennifer Ahnole, recalled her key takeaways after the training, noting, “The knowledge and skills I gained from this training will enable me to improve my field activities with farmers. I have resolved to take responsibility for my personal development and to keep improving my work.” She then highlighted how she has increased her environmental consciousness to ensure that possible negative environmental effects from farming activities are mitigated or eliminated.

Her colleague, William Bello, also a field officer, reinforced the group’s commitment to work as a team to achieve the goals and objectives of Farm on Wheels.

“My perception of work has changed,” he said. “I have improved communication with my team and can now engage better with the extension agents and farmers.”

The training enabled the Farm on Wheels staff and extension agents to cascade the information and skills they learned to 60 additional lead farmers in the Farm on Wheels out-grower network. The leads were then supported to deliver the training to the 500 smallholder farmers targeted for the enterprise’s 2021 wet and dry season input loans. The cascaded trainings are expected to introduce soybean and rice production best practices, enabling smallholders to obtain optimum yields and increased profits.

Over the next two years, the Activity will continue to support and improve the enabling environment and groups, such as Farm on Wheels, to deliver wholesome financial and business development support services to smallholder farmers in Nigeria, improving incomes, ensuring food security and tackling hunger.

Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity Supports Agriculture in Benue State, Nigeria

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The Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity works in Benue State, Nigeria, to strengthen the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment. By improving the enabling environment for agricultural sector growth, broadening access to finance, promoting and facilitating investment opportunities for agribusinesses to expand and scale up operations, and sustainably enhancing the performance of agribusiness micro, small and medium enterprises, the Activity is increasing the depth, breadth, dynamism and competitiveness of Nigeria’s agribusiness sector for improved investment and food security.

 

Local Maize-Cob Model Reaps Benefits for Maize Growers

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Through the USAID-supported maize-cob model, farmers have tripled their profits and are able to engage in profitable agribusiness development.

Typically, post-harvest handling processes for maize farmers in Rwanda are lengthy and done without adequate infrastructure. These inefficient post-harvest practices can lead to increased damage and post-harvest losses, particularly because of the presence of aflatoxins—a naturally occurring soil-borne fungus that contaminates many staple foods, especially maize and other cereals.

Aflatoxin contamination of foodstuffs is not only an issue in Rwanda. It impacts hundreds of millions of farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a recent study by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and funded by USAID. Although farmers in Rwanda have not been spared its devastating effects, collaborations with private sector stakeholders are now reaping a positive impact for farmers.

In Ngoma district, the Duteze Imbere Igihingwa cy’Ibigori (KODUIBI) cooperative is working to transform the lives of its 102 members, the majority of whom are women, by introducing post-harvest innovations that increase maize quality and improve production efficiency. Through their partnership with the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity, KODUIBI was introduced to the maize-cob model from Kumwe Harvest Ltd., which reduces the time needed to aggregate, thresh and dry grains for market. Since 2020, Kumwe has supported smallholder maize farmers across 10 Rwandan districts by providing access to more consistent, efficient and better-quality harvests.

The maize-cob model itself could not have been successful without the preliminary post-harvest practices implemented by farmers such as gusharika  (drying in the sun). During gusharika, harvested maize is tied up and placed face-down in a row with the dry leaves shielding the cob away from water. Maize is then placed in shelters which reduces contamination to manageable levels, usually reaching required moisture content by buyers at 13.5-16 percent, which traditionally took about 10 weeks. The maize cob model borrows from this tradition, reducing drying time to 3-8 days, greatly benefitting farmers and enabling them to supply high quality maize to local agribusinesses.

The Kumwe maize-cob model was developed with support from Hinga Weze, a USAID project that aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmer incomes, improve the nutritional status of Rwandan women and children and increase the resilience of agriculture and food systems to the changing climate. Hinga Weze also links farmers to maize market premium buyers like AIF, who signed a contract with KODUIBI in Season 2019 A to deliver high quality, Grade 1 maize with a low presence of aflatoxins. In total, KODUIBI sold 300 MT of their maize compared to 14 MT sold during the previous matching season.

‘’For the first time our cooperative members were able to save and buy small animals to improve family nutrition and diversify foods at household level and get other sources of income” stated Epiphanie Murerwa, KODUIBI president.

Hinga Weze also works with financial institutions to develop client-friendly products that strengthen the post-harvest handing supply chain. For the upcoming season, 2019 C, Hinga helped Kumwe secure a financing service loan of $100,000 (1 billion RWF) from KCB bank to purchase professional grade drying and processing machinery and to increase the amount of maize purchased from farmers. As a result of their support to post-harvest handling, farmers have been able to improve their products’ value, nutrition and productivity.

New Terraces Increase Crop Yields and Incomes for Farmers

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Farmers get better yields and generate income from terraced land in seven districts.

Nyabihu district is renowned for its scenic hills and steep terrain, with an elevation estimated at 2,445 meters above sea level. However, for farmers like Seraphine Nyirarubanza, a resident of Rurembo sector, it is a daunting task to cultivate on the steep slopes.

Seraphine Nyirarubanza, Farmer, Nyabihu district

In this region of Rwanda, crops and fertile topsoil are frequently washed downhill by rain, causing reduced soil fertility and a decline in crop productivity.  To support over 5,620 farmers growing crops across this region, including Nyirarubanza and the members of her cooperative, the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity constructed and rehabilitated approximately 818.85 ha of radical and progressive terraces. Funded by USAID and implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), Hinga Weze aims to sustainably improve agricultural productivity, increase smallholder farmers’ incomes and improve nutritional status of women and children.

Together, Nyirarubanza and 164 other cooperative members offered their paid labor to construct the terraces, a task that involved setting up a drainage system around the plots by establishing cut-off drains, waterways and dams. The cooperative also planted grasses, such as French Cameroun, to protect the drainage systems and embankments.

As part of Hinga Weze’s integration model, the planted grass was also used as livestock feed, with the residue turned into manure and added to artificial fertilizers to improve soil fertility. Additionally, producers were encouraged to re-use topsoil removed during the terrace development phase, to add in three tons of lime per ha every three years to cultivate healthy soil and to add 10 to 30 tons of organic manure per ha per season to reduce soil acidity and improve fertility.

Many farmers quickly reaped the fruits of their labor. For example, at the Muhanda site in the Ngororero district, farmers planted Irish potatoes on 40 ha and increased their yield four-fold from five tons to 21 tons per ha, worth approximately $167,000 (173,677,500 RWF).

Nyirarubanza’s hard work also proved beneficial. “I used to harvest only 200 kgs on my 20-acre plot,” she said. “But after learning to terrace and apply fertilizers and manure, I am now able to harvest 400 kg.”

With the completion of progressive and radical terraces, farmers like Nyirarubanza are assured of improved yields and higher quality crops of maize, high-iron beans, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and various other horticultural produce, some of the key commodities in the region. These yields also translate to higher income generation and improved food security.

Poultry Farming Through Care Group Model Transforms Rural Livelihoods

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Through the care group model, farmers have transformed their livelihoods

Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38% of children under five classified as stunted and 9% of children under five manifesting as underweight (RDHS 2014-2015). One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of dietary diversity among Rwandan children due to a lack of animal-source protein consumption, which can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant-source foods alone.

Dietary diversity is also a significant challenge in the ten target districts where the Feed the Future Rwandan Hinga Weze activity operates, including in Nyamagabe and Kayonza. To overcome this challenge, Hinga Weze adapted the care group model and mobilized households to join care groups as a conducive space for nutrition-sensitive agricultural education, peer learning, saving and chicken rearing to increase income and the consumption of nutritious foods for women and children.

Since 2018, Hinga Weze has worked with communities to strengthen the capacity of care groups through trainings and coaching, mostly in good agricultural practices, nutrition, food safety, savings, gender and poultry farming. In Kayonza and Nyamagabe districts, Hinga Weze also introduced the Small Livestock Program to improve the intake of animal-sourced foods by increasing the local availability of small livestock, mainly chickens. This, in turn, helped families generate household income to purchase nutritious foods, while increasing access to meat and eggs for consumption.

So far, 46 care groups have received 9,200 chickens through Hinga Weze’s Small Livestock Program. After receiving and rearing their chickens, care group members were able to pay back $400 (400,000 RWF) through a pay-back model and to fund a second chicken production cycle. Care groups have also been able to generate incomes from egg sales, distribute 15 eggs for consumption to each member per month and use organic chicken manure in crop production and home gardens.

“Due to lack of skills and knowledge related to nutrition-sensitive agriculture and nutrition, we were ignorant about what contributed to malnutrition in our area,” says Masengesho, the leader of Imbereheza care group in Kayonza district.

The care group trainings equipped communities with skills on chicken farming, feed formulation and chicken rearing. For example, many care groups were supported to raise one-day old chicks, while some have even become agents for Uzima Chicken, a local chicken supplier. Similarly, Wisigarinyuma care group was able to raise 1000 one-day-old chicks until 35 days and sell 840 chicks to farmers outside of their care group.

Hinga Weze’s Small Livestock Program also provided a full package for supply agents and farmers to care for their chickens, which included vaccines and specialized technical trainings on chicken maintenance, poultry house standards, feeds, transportation, marketing, business development and general health standards for poultry businesses. This made the Small Livestock Program a de-facto business-provider for farmers and a nutritional conduit for households.

In addition to the chickens distributed as part of the Small Livestock Program, Hinga Weze distributed 86,400 chickens to 14,400 households (six chickens per household) across eight districts, which has greatly contributed to improving nutrition and dietary diversity. Through their weekly savings and joint household budgeting, farmers have increased their incomes and improved their livelihoods at the household level.

Hinga Weze is a five-year project funded by the USAID that aims to sustainably improve agricultural productivity, increase smallholder farmers’ incomes and improve the nutritional status of women and children.

Public-Private Partnership Improves Veterinary Regulations in Burkina Faso

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In Burkina Faso, livestock and animal husbandry producers rely on essential veterinary services to strengthen animal health, producer livelihoods and incomes. To create a more robust veterinary enabling environment and improve enforcement of Burkina Faso’s law 048-2017/AN governing animal health and veterinary professions, key public and private sector institutions convened for a workshop organized by the National Order of Veterinarians of Burkina Faso (ONV-BF) with support from the Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri Activity, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).

From May 10 to 11, 2021 in Korsimoro, Centre Nord region, the workshop brought together 20 participants, including representatives of the Ministry of Animal Resources, ONV-BF and the Collective of Private Veterinarians (COVEP). The participants examined the results of a study done by the group on challenges faced by veterinarians across the country and proposed solutions to increase respect for the animal health regulations that mitigate these challenges.

Attendees then identified immediate priorities for the group, including monetary penalties to strengthen the enforcement of animal health laws and letters informing key agricultural sector apex organizations of the importance of these animal and veterinary public health policies. The workshop also passed resolutions to organize meetings with agricultural sector actors and distribute the texts of these regulations to relevant professionals, raising awareness of animal health regulations.

The Minister of Animal Resources and Halieutics, Dr. Tegwendé Modeste Yerbanga, presided over the workshop’s opening ceremony and acknowledged USAID Yidgiri’s initiative in convening the workshop. Continuing its support for the country’s animal health sector, USAID Yidgiri will organize another workshop to craft complimentary materials that further expand veterinary regulations. Together, these solutions will strengthen the enforcement of veterinary health laws, boost awareness of animal and veterinary public health and build the capacity of veterinary professionals to bolster Burkinabe livestock’s productivity and animal husbandry producers’ livelihoods and incomes.

Youth Interns Help Farmers Turn Poultry Farming into Business

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Nutrition continues to be a major public health concern in Rwanda, with 38 percent of children under five being classified as stunted and nine percent of children under five manifesting as underweight (RDHS 2014-2015). One significant contributor to stunting is a lack of animal-source food protein consumption, which hinders dietary diversity among Rwandan children. Dietary diversity was also a challenge in the 10 Hinga Weze targeted districts of support including Nyamagabe and Kayonza.

Eggs in Hinga Weze beneficiary dish, supporting increased household income to purchase nutritious foods and increase meat and egg consumption.

To overcome this issue, Hinga Weze adapted the care group model and mobilized household members to join care groups as a conducive space for nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) education, peer learning, saving, and chicken rearing to increase incomes and consumption of nutritious foods for women and children. Animal-sourced foods can provide a variety of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant source-foods alone. Hinga Weze is committed to contributing to overcome this challenge by increasing small livestock, mainly chicken, available for beneficiaries to increase household income, purchase nutritious foods and increase meat and egg consumption.

To achieve the above, Hinga Weze engaged youth interns to speed up implementation for the activity and work with farmers on how to develop and manage poultry farming. Interns were hired from places where farmers lived so that they would have familiarity and knowledge about the specifics of the area and of farmers’ needs. It also created opportunities for employment and self-reliance for interns to start their own businesses after the end of their ten-month internship period. Over 250 interns have been engaged by Hinga Weze.

Youth interns strengthened the capacities of care groups through different trainings and coaching mostly in good agricultural practices (GAP), nutrition, food safety practices (FSP), from farm to fork, savings, gender, poultry farming and more in Kayonza and Nyamagabe districts, with the aim of achieving Hinga Weze’s objective of nutrition improvement through agriculture. So far, 46 care groups received 9,200 chickens. After receiving chickens, care groups experienced success with the program and members were able to pay back $400 (RWF

Chicken manure and feeds applied to a home garden done with Hinga Weze support by care groups.

400,000) through a pay-back model. “Most of us did not even know that we were supposed to eat better or about nutritious meals due to a lack of skills and knowledge related to nutrition-sensitive agriculture and nutrition. We were ignorant, which contributed to malnutrition in our area,” says Masengesho, the leader of Imbereheza care group in Kayonza district, Ruramira sector, Ruyonza in Taba village. “Our lives have now been changed and improved. We are getting sufficient and balanced diets but also investing in the poultry business as a care group to provide services to our neighbors.”

Hinga Weze has since given 203,271 chickens in 10 districts to 27,522 households, which has greatly contributed to improved household nutrition. The poultry program has also thrived for farmers supported by youth interns attached to care groups, who have instituted weekly savings and taught joint household budgeting to farmers, an undertaking that has strengthened poultry businesses, increased incomes and improved livelihoods at the household level.

 

 

Ailing Fruit Project Saved by New Solar Irrigation

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Farmer Jean Claude Sindikubwabo (35) has experienced a long and painful journey from the time he started farming in 2014. Like most beginners, he started off on the wrong foot, seeing losses on his first vegetable harvest mainly due to a lack of knowledge and unconducive weather conditions around Bugesera, one of Rwanda’s driest districts. Unfortunately, he never fully recovered from that bad start until much later in November 2019, when he received an approx. $4,000 (RWF 4 million) bank loan to invest in watermelon farming that matured the following year in March 2020. By bad luck, that coincided with the first total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic! The project was doomed without access to markets. The pain of watching his produce rot in the garden and the thought of the unpaid bank loan were too much to bear. Sindikubwabo needed urgent help.

That same year, Sindikubwabo joined 63 farmers on Kamabuye solar irrigation site, one of the sites set up in the four districts of Gatsibo, Ngoma, Kayonza and Bugesera by the Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity and the Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). Funded by USAID, Hinga Weze mobilized the farmers into a cooperative and coached them on good farming and climate smart practices. Hinga Weze aims to improve productivity and incomes for 535,000 farmers, improve nutritional intake for women and children and build the resilience of agriculture to climate changes.

Fully equipped with new skills, Sindikubwabo returned to farming. He also learned to diversify and grow other crops, which he marketed ahead of harvest time in order to minimize losses. Last season alone, Sindikubwabo sold 178 sacks of green pepper and nine tons of watermelon for a combined total of approx. $3,059 (RWF 3,080,000). This adds to $5,294,907 (approx. RWF 5 billion) gained by farmers in sales value for horticulture. Like the other 12,000 farmers on solar-irrigation sites across the four districts, Sindikubwabo is able to plant vegetables and fruits all-year around, unlike previously when they would wait for favorable seasons.

“I’m able to pump water upstream for irrigation without spending a lot of money on fuel and labor,” observed Sindikubwabo. He was also able to use profits from farming to set up a permanent house and a piggery project. He employees four permanent staff and 25 casual laborers, whom he supports with soft loans and vegetables for their families’ welfare.

As Hinga Weze winds up, Sindikubwabo has paid off 90 percent of the bank loan and is now planning to expand his farming business.

Technology Adoption in Livestock and Dairy Sectors Lead to Better Animal Health and Increased Sales

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In Pakistan, approximately 65% of women work in the country’s agriculture sector—a majority of which are involved in livestock care and management activities such as calf rearing, cattle cleaning, milking and producing home-based dairy products like butter and yogurt. The USAID-funded Pakistan Agricultural Technology Transfer Activity (PATTA), implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), supports women smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs by working to increase their access to modern technologies and improve their management practices in high-value sectors like dairy and livestock.

Within these sectors, improved feed varieties and technologies play an important role in enhancing animal diets and health. Through its partnership with woman-owned agribusiness Farm Solutions, PATTA introduced improved feed varieties and feed formulation and nutrition practices to women farmers in the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). By improving livestock nutrition, farmers were able to improve the quality of their meat and dairy products and subsequently increase their profits.

In early 2019, PATTA and Farm Solutions also held a series of women-centric awareness-raising sessions and demonstrations in villages across GB. Attended by a large number of women farmers, the events supported them to develop linkages with local dealers like Farm Solutions and motivated them to adopt modern, science-based feed for their cattle.

Farhat Bibi, woman dairy farmer, benefits from the adoption of improved feed technology for her cattle.

Farhat Bibi, a session participant and dairy farmer from the Barmas village in GB, learned the optimum amount of feed and timing needed to keep her cows healthy and productive. She also learned about and tried the improved ‘Barkat’ feed variety noting, “Its usage not only increased my yield of milk up to two liters per day, but also improved the health of my cattle. In addition to these benefits, the price of this feed is affordable for majority of dairy farmers.” Due to this increase in production, she now earns an additional 4,000 rupees per month in milk sales, which helps her improve her family’s livelihood and expand her business.

Reaching farmer communities across Pakistan with modern agricultural technologies, particularly in the most remote areas of the country, is vital for advancing agricultural productivity, increasing smallholder incomes and jobs and enhancing economic growth. While the current pace of technology adoption among farmers in Pakistan is slow, PATTA continues to promote enabling environments that allow smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs, particularly women, to invest resources in agricultural activities and increase technology uptake. By its end, PATTA anticipates that over 50,000 women will benefit from technology transfer, investments in agricultural technologies and awareness-raising initiatives.