WFP, Mastercard, Christian Aid To Support Farmers, Improve Productivity

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), MasterCard Foundation and Christian Aid are set to support smallholder farmers’ economic growth, job creation and households’ livelihoods needs by improving agricultural capacity and access to productive assets.

An initiative, Smallholder Farmers Agriculture Market Support Initiative (SHF) designed by the World Food Programme (WFP) with funding support from MasterCard Foundation and implemented by Christian Aid Nigeria, has been rolled out to support farmers, households and communities in Nigeria’s northeast.

The goal of the initiative is to address the root causes of post-harvest losses and low productivity, commodity quality and to strengthen smallholder farmers’ access to markets to enhance their income and create new jobs across the selected value chains, particularly for youth and women in northeastern Nigeria.

The initiative will be implemented in LGAs across Borno (Biu, Bayo, Hawul and Kwayakusar LGAs) and Adamawa (Michika and Madagali LGAs) states. The SHF project is aimed at reaching 50,000 beneficiaries across 3 different tiers. Tier 1 will see 10,000 direct farmers supported with high-quality variety seeds of millet, sorghum, aflasafe, fertiliser and glyphosate; Tier 2 will focus on 20,0000 farm labour force who will be trained to support smallholder farm activities and earn economic benefit and Tier 3 which will see to the training of 20,000 post-harvest service providers and value addition actors on post-harvest loss reduction.

For Tier 1, the project will last 8 months, from July 2022 to February 2023; Tier 2 will begin in March 2023 and end in December 2023 and Tier 3 will be begin in January 2024 through December 2024. SHF will work with targeted farmers and support them to increase the cultivation of sorghum and millet and strengthen their ability to reduce post-harvest losses to produce more for the market.

These will be achieved by improving farmers’ knowledge and practice of climate-smart agricultural production for Sorghum and millet value chains through improved technologies; Improving awareness of post-harvest management practices for smallholder farmers at the farm, household and aggregation levels; Establishing structured and sustainable markets for the selected smallholder farmers to sell their surplus produce for the improved household economy; Improving the capacity of the smallholder farmers and farmer organisations to take advantage of the established markets, including aggregation capacity, commodity quality improvements and developing sustainable linkages between the smallholder farmers and value chain service providers such as agro-input suppliers, extension and financial services.

Christian Aid will work with farmers who have the potential to produce more for the market. These farmers will be supported to increase production and strengthen their ability to reduce post-harvest losses. Producing for the market will enable the selling of what is produced and increase incomes for the target groups.

This will ensure such targeted groups of households become productive members of their host communities and participate in furthering their common resilience, socio-economic growth, and development in Northeast Nigeria. This aligns with WFP strategy, the Northeast Development Commission as well as Borno State Government Development Plan strategic pillar two (“Prioritising the development and enhancement of the agriculture value for ‘a secured, competitive agri-business and commercial hub anchored on prosperous people and sustainable development, that reaffirms Borno as a leader in agriculture”) to empower people-guaranteed resilience and mitigate the risk of harmful negative coping mechanisms.

Christian Aid will enable the Households (HHs) to meet their livelihoods needs, economic growth and job creation through agricultural livelihood capacity enhancement and access to agricultural productive assets through the provision of improved high yielding, disease and drought resistant and early maturing millet and sorghum seeds. While ecological conditions cannot be modified to generate the desired crop yields per hectare of land, the use of certified seeds of improved varieties and the adoption of modern farming techniques by farmers are effective production improvement levels that can be utilised to enrich the domestic food landscape.

The deliberate millet and sorghum development programmes embarked upon by the Federal Government, donor agencies and other actors to support the national food security programme, when fully optimised will no doubt reduce the high dependence on food importation and reduce the financial burden. There is no better time than now to adopt the high-yielding-seed approach geared towards stimulating increased production on a national scale. Although main food crops in Nigeria, millet and sorghum are usually underestimated. However, the taste of the domestic market is changing and the importance of these crops has grown over the years.

In his comments, the senior programme coordinator, livelihood, Christian Aid Nigeria, Mr. Danladi Mamza, stated: “The project will contribute to lessening the persistent food insecurity, chronic food shortages and in the long run the malnutrition, especially among children in Nigeria’s northeast states which have been facing one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world; this is in line with Christian Aid’s purpose.”

Christian Aid, in coordination with WFP and relevant government stakeholders (such as both federal and state ministries of agriculture, states agricultural development programs (ADPs), LGAs departments of agriculture, agro-inputs dealers, agricultural service providers etc) will conduct target exercise with the community members to determine the exact wards and communities for the intervention.

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