Canadian supported project help poverty reduction in northern Nigeria

By Godwin Atser
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IITA-Ibadan—Farmers participating in a seven million Canadian-dollar supported project in northern Nigerian have seen their incomes raised by about 81 per cent with the improvements in agricultural yield.

Government officials and farmers say the project has helped farmers to increase agricultural productivity and build capacities of farmers' associations.

“This is commendable,” says Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff at a conference that is ending today in Borno State.

The Canadian International Development Agency-sponsored project which began in 2004 is implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture under the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno State (PROSAB)— a state where majority of the population belong to Islamic faith where women-men interaction in public domain as well as development projects are restricted by cultural values. Researchers from IITA and partners from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State Agricultural Development introduced improved crop varieties, trained farmers on improved agronomic practices and above all promoted women participation in agricultural development. Consequently, women have seen more incomes in their wallets, improved access to farm inputs with many of them involved in value addition such as soybean processing.

“The program has helped us in the area of freely interacting with our male counterparts in development projects. We are no more ashamed,” says Mrs. Ruth Dasika Mshelia, a mother of five children.

The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Adamu Dibal says his government will upscale the project to reduce poverty in the state just as he called on the state's Agricultural Development Program to educate farmers on best agricultural practices. He also welcomed the participation of women in the program.

Dr. Tegbaru Amare, IITA-PROSAB Manager, says the program has improved the nutrition of farmers especially children.

“Farmers in the project area who adopted improved technologies and management practices experienced increased food availability and livelihood. Also considerable progress has been made in addressing the problems of declining soil fertility and Striga—a parasitic weed that lowers yield of most legumes and cereals,” he says. According to him key areas of interventions were:

• Increasing sustainable agricultural productivity of male and female farmers

• Improving access of male and female farmers to agricultural input and output markets

• Contributing to an improved policy environment for sustainable management of crops and livestock and

• Strengthening project partners for the implementation of activities.

Mr. Ako Amadi, of the Canadian International Development Agency, says the success of the project signposts more projects for not only Nigeria but the West African region.