A group of women across four regions of south-western Niger have grown 84,000 trees to earn US$ 20,400 (CFA 11,200,000) in just three months. Their entrepreneurial quest, an example of besting odds in harsh environs, has seen the women bond over fruit trees while leaving them financially empowered. ICRISAT has interconnected the seven groups to better share business ideas and to promote inter-community exchange.
“Since our group started the nursery business, we have seen many changes in our lives. We are now very busy doing tree growing activities during the dry season,” says Ms Attou Abou, leader of a women’s group in Sarkin Yamma Saboua village, Maradi region.
“On the social front, we meet every day and this has created a kind of empathy and cohesion among women of the village. In addition to this, income generated from selling trees helps us to take care of our children and contributes to family expenses,” she beamingly adds.
It all began in June when a nursery was installed in each of the seven villages – Sirimbana, Djoga, Nazamne, Nadara1, Djinguiniss and Sarkin Yamma Saboua village. Seedlings of fruit trees, Mango (Mangifera indica L.), Lemon (Citrus spp.), Guava (Psidium guajava L.), Pomme du Sahel (Apple of the Sahel) and Moringa oleifera were provided to the women to grow, manage and sell.
The initiative was taken up under Government of Niger’s World Bank-funded Project, Supporting Sensitive Agriculture to Climate Risks (PASEC). Groups of 100 women, farmers engaged in limited income generating activities, were tasked with maintaining and managing each of the nurseries. The women were trained by ICRISAT in fruit plantation and nursery management. Each nursery came to have 12,000 trees.
To address climate change and recurrent food crises that hits villages the hardest, Government of Niger launched in 2011 the National Program dubbed “Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens”, popularly known as the “3N” initiative. The initiative aims to make agriculture spearhead the country’s development. Overall, the objective of the initiative is to protect Nigeriens from famine and guarantee them conditions for full participation in national production and improvement of their income. The PASEC project is in line with the 3N initiative.
The way ahead
To consolidate the groups’ achievements, ICRISAT has interconnected the seven groups to promote inter-community exchange. ICRISAT has also linked them with a women’s group in Sadoré (close to Niamey, Niger’s capital city) that has been running a nursery for 12 years.
According to Ms Djénabou Harouna, the more experienced Sadoré women’s group is well organized and each woman has several types of fruit trees. “A part of the sale is donated to the cooperative to support its sustainability. We will use these experiences to better develop our cooperative for the benefit of our communities,” she says.
Ms Abou is very optimistic about the future of the groups. “I am convinced that even after this project, the dynamic created within the women’s group in our village will continue for our own benefit,” she confidently says.
Dr Vincent Bado, Principal Scientist – Dryland Systems and Livelihood Diversification, Innovations Systems for the Drylands, ICRISAT-WCA
Dr Bouba Traore, Scientist, Innovations Systems for the Drylands, ICRISAT-WCA
Dr Malick Ba, Country Representative – Niger, ICRISAT