An action plan for the 2017 cropping season for groundnut and cowpea was drawn up at a training workshop to strengthen the capacities of stakeholders in the legumes value chain in Nigeria.
The training centered around five specific objectives:
- Strategy to increase production and productivity of groundnut and cowpea to meet the Nigerian seed road map target;
- Appropriate data collection using updated digital tools;
- Strengthening of seed dissemination pathway (formal and informal seed sector);
- Developing a seed business plan and marketing strategy; and
- Developing policies and regulations related to seed development.
The key issues identified for implementation are as follows:
- Multi-stakeholder platforms were identified that would aid in improving farmers’ access to quality seed of cowpea and groundnut as they facilitate a better matching of supply and demand for specific varieties.
- Developing a more robust seed value chain by promoting synergies among projects and minimizing duplication of efforts. Improving informal seed production involves a number of areas including capacity building, training seed producers and establishing outgrowers scheme, supporting community-based organizations and individual entrepreneurs.
- Market information systems and demand forecasting are needed to synchronize seed production with the market. Creating awareness through mass media advertisements and promotional activities such as demonstrations, field days, fairs and exhibitions by seed companies were recommended to align supply with demand.
- Business models for profitable seed production need to include individual seed growers, farmer associations or cooperatives among others. Contract grower arrangements between seed companies and legume producers are important for increasing profits in the informal seed production sector.
- It was agreed that the sister projects should continue to support private seed companies by developing business skills through trainings and practical mentoring, and facilitate linkages with financial service providers for the legume seed value chain.
- The informal seed sector comprised about 80% of the total seed system for all legume seed demand in Nigeria. Therefore, improving farmers’ access to better quality seed from the informal sector was identified as a potential strategy for reaching farmers in the remote areas.
Farmers participating in the workshop provided constructive feedback. Mr Ahmed Auwalu, a farmer from Jama area in Bauchi State, suggested that producers and processors of seeds should come together to find ways of sustaining their businesses. Another farmer suggested that participating farmers, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and other farmers’ groups should be made to understand that the local communities benefit from such projects activities. He advised participating members to focus on sustainability of the project for farmers to enjoy the gains even after the project ends.
The importance of spreading awareness on health benefits of legumes and promoting their consumption, especially among young children and pregnant women, was stressed by Mr Ado Rabo, Station Manager, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Kano, who was representing Dr AY Kamara, IITA, Kano Officer In-charge. Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, Country representative-Nigeria, ICRISAT, and Dr Lucky O Omoigui, Seed Systems Specialist, Tropical Legumes III (TL III), also addressed the participants.
Other important presentations and hands-on sessions conducted were: ‘Data collection using mobile tools’ by Ms Sylvia Kalemera, M&E/GIS analyst, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Tanzania; ‘Government policies and regulations governing seed production in Nigeria’ by Mr Folarin Okelola of National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC); and ‘Developing a seed business plan’ by Mr Enok K Maerekar, CIAT, Malawi.
The workshop was jointly organized by TL III, USAID Cowpea Upscaling, and N2AFRICA projects operating in Nigeria from 24-26 May 2017 at IITA, Kano, Nigeria. It was attended by 67 (8 women and 59 men) participants from private and public seed companies, outgrowers, community-based seed producers, grain traders, researchers, extension staff, agro-chemical dealers, fertilizer dealers, project desk officers from the five participating Agricultural Development Programs, NASC and the media.