Northern Nigeria as part of West Africa's savanna region has vast expanses of rich arable land. However, a number of problems keep farmers in poverty. Pests, parasites and disease as well as poor soil fertility and crop management have had dire consequences on food security in the area. Furthermore, more frequent bouts of droughts and floods due to climate change have also had a great effect on the livelihoods that are based in agriculture.
Now help is coming to the resource-poor farmers of the North. They are benefiting from innovations in agricultural research, brought about by IITA and its partners working on the Sudan Savanna Task Force of the Kano-Katsina-Maradi (SS TF KKM) Pilot Learning Site (PLS) part of the Sub-Saharan Challenge Programme.
The scheme has introduced improved seeds and better farming practices to the small-scale farmers that has raised their incomes, increased overall productivity, led to better nutrition and created a sense of optimism.
Mohammed Mustapha, a cowpea farmer in Kunamawa village in Katsina State, has seen his crop yield double in the last year. He says: “My family is happy that I am now a successful farmer. I can now provide them with enough food and send my children to school.”
At a recent Farmers’ Field Day in Jikamshi, Katsina State, Hajia Fatima Shema, Wife of the Executive Governor of Katsina State; and Dr. Lawal Musawa, the Honorable Chairman of Musawa Local Government Area confirmed that the research done by this project was reducing poverty and improving the livelihoods of millions of people. They also encouraged more farmers to take advantage of the technologies offered by IITA and pledged their support to the ongoing scheme.