Empowering Nigeria’s Farmers.

June 2, 2016

“I never thought I was capable of having such a good life, and especially not from farming."

Vitalis Tanongo, farmer

“This was my turning point. I never thought a three-day training would change my life forever and for the better. I will continue training more youth so that they can get a meaning for their lives like I did.”

Khadija Suleiman, aquaculture farmer

“Being a successful farmer does not just mean growing more on a hectare of land. Successful farmers need the tools of small business owners. The MARKETS II training provides these tools, and we showcase successful farmers and their farmer associations as models to emulate. And everything we do considers the long-term sustainability of our efforts beyond the project’s end date.”

Harvey Schartup, chief of party of MARKETS II

“Before the training, I didn’t know anything about profit or capital. I would just sell and use all the money, sometimes forgetting to keep some for restocking. I do not have a perfect life, but I certainly have a better one. I will take one step at a time and eventually get where I want to be.”

Ladi Mathias, beneficiary of a MARKETS II-led training in an IDP camp in Abuja

The Proof is in the Income

Vitalis is just one of many farmers who are discovering new ways to increase their income. For Khadija Suleiman, aquaculture was a turning point in her life. After graduating from college in Kano state, she attended a government-sponsored training on fish farm management at the Kano Fisheries Institute. Afterward, using donated plastic tanks and 500 fingerlings (small young fish), she managed to harvest 350 fingerlings, but lost 150. Determined to master her trade, she attended a training jointly offered by MARKETS II and the Kano Fisheries Institute. There, she learned about business concepts and market conditions that could affect her profit and production.

“This was my turning point,” she said. After the training, she restocked with 500 catfish and sold them for 300,000 naira, using part of her earnings to restock. In time, she began to sell fish feed and other fish products, and is planning to start drying fish to add value and attract more income.

With her newfound success, Khadija is now a role model in her community, especially among other young people. She trains youth on fish and business management, helping them to gain the same financial independence that she enjoys.

“I never thought a three-day training would change my life forever and for the better,” said Khadija. “I will continue training more youth so that they can get a meaning for their lives like I did.”

Across target states, thousands of farmers are seeing similar successes following the integrated training program. For example, most aquaculture farmers in the country harvest an average of 10 metric tons of catfish per hectare per production cycle. By comparison, project-trained aquaculture farmers harvest an average of 18 metric tons per hectare—and are not only recording their expenditures and revenues but also looking for opportunities to reduce costs.

“Being a successful farmer does not just mean growing more on a hectare of land. Successful farmers need the tools of small business owners,” explained Harvey Schartup, the project’s chief of party. “The MARKETS II training provides these tools, and we showcase successful farmers and their farmer associations as models to emulate. And everything we do considers the long-term sustainability of our efforts beyond the project’s end date.”

18

metric tons of catfish harvested per hectare by project-trained aquaculture farmers; compared to an average of 10 metric tons.

8,733

people provided with training resources on nutrition, sanitation, and microenterprise.

Remaining Flexible to Changing Needs

While keeping its focus on smallholder farmers, the project is also expanding its training to respond to the needs of vulnerable groups. With internal armed conflicts, there are roughly 1.4 million internally displaced people across the country. As of March 2016, MARKETS II has distributed resources for nutrition, sanitation, and microenterprise training to 8,733 people. These sessions taught vulnerable households how to overcome malnutrition and poor hygiene while gaining critical business skills to increase their incomes.

For Ladi Mathias, this training came at just the right time. While attending a MARKETS II-led training in Kuchingoro camp in Abuja, she learned how to better manage her small akara business, provide affordable balanced meals to her family, and practice proper hygiene and sanitation to avoid illness. Although initially disappointed that MARKETS II was providing training rather than money, she now says that the knowledge she gained is far more valuable than cash.

“Before the training, I didn’t know anything about profit or capital. I would just sell and use all the money, sometimes forgetting to keep some for restocking,” she said.

The training gave her the tools to keep records and save, and she now sets aside enough money to feed her family three balanced meals a day (compared to just one daily meal prior to the training). She can also afford to send her children to school, and uses her increased income to help others in need; for example, she recently paid for a 500 naira injection for a sick woman in her camp.

“I do not have a perfect life, but I certainly have a better one,” Ladi said. “I will take one step at a time and eventually get where I want to be.”

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