Alhaji Mu’azu Umar, 55, retired eight years ago as a primary school teacher in his Madawaki village in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, and quickly embraced farming as a source of livelihood to augment his pension.
He cultivates a variety of crops, including maize, sorghum and millet in his eight hectare farm that gives him a yield of between 20 and 25 bags of produce.
In 2009, he attended a simulation exercise of the Nigerian Agricultural Enterprise Curriculum (NAEC) organized to train small-holder farmers to employ commercial approach in their agricultural activities.
Umar is one of an estimated 80 million Nigerian small-holder farmers whose production practices can best be classified as subsistence, resulting in low productivity and profitability.
To raise the quality of life of Nigeria’s rural farmers, MARKETS, collaborating with the World Bank assisted Fadama III Project, initiated the roll-out of a National Agricultural Curriculum to train 500 Fadama facilitators and 76 staff members who are expected to step-down the knowledge to 250,000 farmers across the country.
The partners identified increased productivity, value addition and access to market, improved incomes and job opportunities in Nigeria’s agricultural sector as some of the expected goals of the exercise.
More importantly, the knowledge acquired is expected to trickle down among copy-cat farmers, thus reaching majority of Nigeria’s farmers.
Umar and some 40 other farmers were again assembled recently for another round of simulation exercise organized for the third batch of 15 facilitators from Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states. Testifying to the benefits of previous training, many of them say they are now able to keep record of their agribusiness, have knowledge of the best time to sell their produce and make profit, the right time to purchase farm inputs, and time to obtain and repay their loans, as well as how to manage their family finances.
“I can now keep record of my farm activities, know when to buy fertilizers, when to sell my produce, and how to manage my family expenditure without incurring debts,” says Umar, who adds that his farm yield had improved from between 20 and 25 bags to more than 40 bags.