Hajiya Hajara Balarabe is a small-scale processor in Tunpapi village, Dawakin-Tofa Council, Kano. She specialises in the processing of maize, groundnut and soya beans – a business she manages with little profits daily. Yet, the mother of six has remained steadfast with her small business to support her husband and keep the home front strong.

Today, Balarabe’s story has changed for good with the support received through the Kano State Agro-Pastoral Development Project (KSADP), a multifaceted agricultural value chain programme, with technical support from Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA).

The female processor, who joined a 25-woman corporate group, Tunpapi Groundnut Oil Women Association, to access basic business orientation, has now scaled up her production. Full of gratitude for the intervention, she can now boost of better livelihood, even in her locality.

Hajiya Amina Abukakar, a resident of Makoda Council, is another beneficiary of the intervention who shared her testimony. Unlike Balarabe, Abukakar is into rice processing and packaging value chain. Despite her age-long engagement in paddy production and processing, her income and savings through the traditional method of parboiling, is hardly enough to meet her basic needs.

Before accessing SAA/KSADP training and support, Amina and hundreds of women rice processors in Makoda carry out their businesses in a rather tedious and time consuming traditional manner – parboil of paddy. No doubt, the old method could not guarantee quality and well-packaged produce that met market standard.

Revealing her success story to journalists, Abukakar said knowledge gained through the SAA/KSADP programme empowered her to upscale her produces and meet market expectation. She is overwhelmed with joy that her finished products now reach consumers outside her community.

“After the training from Sasakawa, my colleagues and I can transform soya beans to many other delicacies. Besides, we were trained on financial literacy and management, maximising profits and how to better our lives. Now we produce oil from groundnut and Kulikuli. We can’t thank them enough,” Abukakar said.

As for Balarabe, SAA/KSADP intervention had not only transformed her business orientation, but significantly exposed her and many other beneficiaries to hidden opportunities in the value chain.

“We were trained how to parboil our paddy to get maximum quality and eliminate waste. After training, KSADP gave us pots and leather bags to dry the rice. They also gave us machines to package our rice and link us with the market. It is a life changing experience.”

Besides the impact on processing value chain, SAA/KSADP provides technology to boost and enhance productivity, essentially in the area of storage. This area of interest is designed significantly to reduce the cost of post harvest losses farmers incurred during off session.

Malam Haruna Isiyaku is a vegetable farmer who cultivates large quantities of Onions in Badume village in Bichi Council, Kano State. Despite the huge profit margin in onion production, lack of storage facilities is a critical challenge of Haruna and other farmers in that business.

Haruna’s story eventually changed after the introduction of new storage technology facilitated by SAA under the KSADP intervention. “Before the intervention, our major challenge was the lack of storage facilities. It is so terrible that we would end up losing all the profits on post harvest damage because there is no technology to assist us.

“Now that we have the storage facility, the story has changed. Presently, farmers are now guaranteed 100 per cent gain on produce. If we harvest 50 bags, it is certain you are not getting anything less unlike when there was no storage facility,” Isiyaku stated

Khalid Mohammad Tudun-Wada, a physically challenged farmer and head of association of farmers with physical disability in the Tudun-Wada Council narrated how SAA/KSADP rediscovered his innate ability in agriculture and rescued him and other members of the association from street begging.

Tundun-Wada, who confessed he never dreamt of returning to begging on the street simply to earn a living, despite his physical challenge, has proved beyond reasonable doubt that, there is indeed ability in disability; if only people in that condition could be provided with an enabling environment to showcase their abilities.

“I am physically challenged as you can see, I can’t work with my two legs. Before now, my preoccupation was street begging. That is what I do for several years to feed my wife and children. That is the same situation many of us found ourselves until I was introduced to the SAA/KSADP programme.

“I was asked if I would be interested in farming and I told them I would be willing if the opportunity comes. Eventually, the opportunity came from KSADP. We were trained on modern farming and introduced to new technologies, improved seeds and new methods of transplanting. After harvest, SAA/KSADP also linked us to the market. It is a huge opportunity and we want to appreciate that in all honesty.”

The success stories were the highlights during a recent media field tour organised by SAA/KSADP to showcase projects being executed in some councils which include Danbatta, Bichi, Bagwai, Makoda, Dawakin-Tofa, Kura, Garun-Mallam and Tudun-Wada. The tour also enabled journalists to interact with beneficiaries with a view to share their experiences, success stories and challenges that would require intervention of the implementing agencies.

Apart from these accounts, other benefits include contract sprayers, input stockists, Community Based Seed Multiplier and demonstration plots of crops like rice, maize and sorghum showcased.

The US$90m intervention on agricultural and infrastructural projects being funded by Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), supported by Life and Livelihood Fund (LLF) with counterpart funding from Kano State government, is targeted at enhancing food security policy and promote better livelihood in the country.

With US$22m specifically dedicated to SAA/KSADP, projected for implementation of the crop and vegetable component of the entire value chain target would impact 450,000 farmers in the areas of production, processing, market linkages and capacity building.

The five years project, which began in 2021, is expected to improve food security, market viability and nutritional security in the country.

SAA/KSADP Project Coordinator, Abdulrasheed Hamisu disclosed that the project has so far empowered 270,000 farmers across the value chain in less than two years of execution.

Hamisu said the steady progress recorded was not unconnected with the quick expansion of the project to cover the entire 44 councils in the state.

Acting Country Director, SAA, Nigeria, Dr. Abdulhamid Gambo, emphasised the involvement of the international agricultural commodity value chain providers, stressing that SAA is collaborating with partners including IITA, ICRISAT and others, to provide technical expertise on the implementation of the project.

“The focus of Sasakawa in the KSADP agricultural intervention hinges on ensuring provision of technologies and capacity building to beneficiaries. Essentially, the focus is to improve high yield and sustainability of nutritional food and security.

“We are introducing regeneration of soil health to attain maximum production. The beneficiaries are equipped with requisite knowledge on how to add value to the production line in accordance with global best practices. We equally promote nutrient based crops to enhance consumers’ healthy living with the introduction of micro nutrient technologies with bio-fortified to produce a balanced diet.

Another major component of our intervention comes in the area of market linkages. Beneficiaries are educated on how to inculcate financial literacy and prudency as part of business orientation. Again, farmers are encouraged to focus production on market wants. That will enable easy market driven produce as against produce that are not moveable in the market,” Gambo said.