In a remarkable turnaround, farmers in Northern Nigeria organized themselves into innovation platforms, and with support from the Tropical Legumes (TL) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, turned into successful groundnut seed producers in 2011. The impacts of those actions are felt even today, with farmers continuing to adopt improved variety seeds and good agronomic practices to obtain high yields that help them improve their nutrition as well as incomes in the community.
In Kausani community, Kano State, Northern Nigeria, 11 years ago, production and productivity of groundnut and other legumes was falling. There was also an absence of improved technology packages and, in particular, improved seeds were lacking. This had negatively affected farmers’ income and commercialization of legume production, pushing farmers into food insecurity and poverty.
Then, motivated by a strong desire to improve their conditions, the farmers decided to become part of multi-stakeholder platforms called innovation platforms (IPs) that helped them strengthen seed multiplication, thanks to the TL project. “The TL project has saved groundnut production in Kausani Community,” says
Mr Balarabe Inuwa, member of the farmers’ association. Prof Sanusi Gaya, a groundnut breeder at the Centre for Dryland Agriculture, Bayero University of Kano (CDA/BUK) explains, “Members of the association cherished the TL project as a development intervention which focused on enhancing smallholder farmers’ access to seeds of improved groundnut varieties.”
As a continuity, the selection of appropriate project location, reliable beneficiaries, training on good agronomic practices (GAPs), and effective supervision on production activities, among others, were the major reflections of the TL projects imbibed by the Accelerated Variety and Seed System for Cereals and Legumes in Africa (AVISA) project launched in February 2019. “Now AVISA is here to consolidate the previous efforts of the TL project and put smiles on the faces of smallholder farmers,” adds Mr Inuwa.
AVISA’s approach is the continued use of IPs to serve as a medium of activities to drive technological innovation among members and communities at large. Members of the association strongly consider the donors and implementers of the project as the major drivers of the revival of groundnut production in Kano State in particular, and Nigeria as a whole. “There is no household in the Kausani community that will claim using any other variety apart from those brought to us by TL and AVISA projects,” testifies Mr Abdullahi Musa, a member of the KSPA (Kausani Seed Producers’ Association).
During the 2020 rainy season, 20 farmers in the Kausani community were engaged in demonstrations and foundation seed production of three improved varieties – SAMNUT 24, SAMNUT 25 and SAMNUT 26 – that are early-maturing, and give higher pod and haulm yields compared to the local cultivars. In addition, they are resistant to common pests and diseases, and retain their green foliage up to maturity, which enhances profitability.
Farmers who have adopted these improved varieties have produced 2.15 t of grains and 2.02 t of quality haulms per hectare. The seed produced will be distributed and used to support more farmers getting into certified seed production in the 2021 rainy season. This will help to meet the growing demand for improved groundnut varieties. “All those years ago, we lost hope on groundnut production, mainly due to lack of quality seeds,” says Mr Kabiru Adamu from KSPA. “But now, the story is different!”
The support of the TL and AVISA projects through farmer associations and innovation platforms has opened a window on opportunities to members engaged in demonstration plots with strict adherence to GAPs that has helped them produce quality seeds, including those of newly released improved varieties. There has also been an expansion in land area under groundnut production. According to Prof Gaya, “Members believe that the use of demonstration plots to showcase the performance of new groundnut varieties play a key role in convincing farmers to adopt the improved varieties and adapt their associated technologies.”
Activities of the innovation platforms started under the TL project, and now being pursued under the AVISA project, include awareness generation among community members, pre-season training on GAPs, inputs distribution and periodic supervision by the project team to assess progress including pre-production, production and post-harvest handling and operations. The impact in yield and income was extended to improve other livelihood activities such as financing children’s education, health care delivery, clothing, housing, and other essential needs of the households. “The quality characteristics of the SAMNUT varieties has increased the number of women who venture into artisanal groundnut processing for economic development,” explains Mr Garba Ali, a KSPA member.
In a decade’s journey, it is no mistake to say that KSPA of Wudil Local Government Area of Kano State, established in 2010, has become a stronghold on groundnut technology adoption and dissemination using the assets and capacity of an innovation platform.
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About the authors:
Prof Sanusi Gaya, groundnut breeder, CDA/BUK
Mr Moussa Magassa, Communications Assistant, AVISA Project
Ms Agathe Diama, Head, Regional Information, ICRISAT WCA.