Commodity Association Applies New Knowledge to Increase Farm Yields and Unlock Access to Finance
Maize is an important staple food in Nigeria with the country producing over 33 million tons in 2018, making it the largest producer of maize in Africa. Not only is maize the most consumed staple food in Nigeria, but a recent study also reported that 50 – 70% of the country’s maize is used to manufacture poultry feed, another key product for farmers. Therefore, to properly support this industry, it is no surprise that the successful cultivation of maize, like any other crop, depends on the correct application of inputs and best practices to enhance efficiency and boost productivity for farmers.
Conscious of how insufficient practices have impeded their productivity in previous years, the Ebonyi State chapter of the Maize Growers and Processors Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN) partnered with the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity to arm themselves with new knowledge and apply improved maize cultivation practices in seed distribution, fertilizer application and soil tillage. Supporting their commitment to commercialize maize production and meet growing demand, the USAID Activity implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture facilitated trainings on good agronomic practices for 350 MAGPAMAN lead farmers in the state. The lead farmers then went on to cascade the training to 910 additional farmers.
According to MAGPAMAN’s State Chairman, Chief Ebere Orji, the training provided by the Activity in July 2020 helped farmers learn maize production best practices, which unlocked Eco Bank input loans for the 2020 wet season worth $415,000 (171.4 million Naira) through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Program. He added that the farmers also successfully applied these practices during the 2021 planting season, earning input loans worth $367 (157,461 Naira) for each of the 1,260 trained farmers.
“We were able to put our knowledge from the Activity’s good agricultural practices training into good use. In 2021, I harvested about 210 bags (21 tons) of maize on my 300ha farm because I applied the information I learned from their training”, Chief Orji said. He added that as a result of their increased yields, his members could also repay their loans to Eco Bank.
Today, farmers can boast of their improved yields and access new funding opportunities that expand their farm productivity, improve their incomes and sustain their livelihoods. Additionally, the Activity’s continued support to MAGPAMAN will help the commodity association position themselves well enough to take advantage of the opportunity to produce maize on a commercial scale. The Activity will keep supporting the commodity association to strengthen their knowledge on enterprise fundamentals and enhance their leadership skills, enabling them to stand out as commercial maize producers in Ebonyi State.