Author Archives: Bola-ade

Sabina Nyahuye declared the best female wheat farmer in Zimbabwe

When Sabina Nyahuye, a wheat farmer from the Hwedza Innovation Platform of the SARD-SC Wheat project, started wheat farming twenty years ago, she says wheat harvests and market were just okay. However, after years of farming the crop on her two hectare piece of land, yields began to drop. “I almost gave up wheat farming in 2009 when challenges became too many,” says Sabina. Access to seed, and other inputs and poor agronomic practices were some of the main challenges she was facing. “I reduced my wheat farm from 2.0 ha to just 0.2 ha and in fact I know of many people from my village who gave up entirely,” she adds.  Sabina’s farm is in Hwedza district, in the province of Mashonaland, 130 kilometers south of Harare, Zimbabwe.

Three years ago (in 2013) the SARD-SC Wheat team in Zimbabwe, working with the country’s Department of Research and Specialist Services DR&SS in the ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development visited Sabina’s home area and shared with the local leaders their vision on how they could revive wheat farming. Once the local leadership accepted their proposal, they established demonstration sites for various wheat varieties and farming practices in schemes across the district.  Sabina and several farmers in the area were trained on best practices of wheat production techniques.  They were taught proper watering, soil nutrient management by rotation with legumes, proper land preparation (combining tractor with oxen plough) and proper seed spacing.

The farmers were given an opportunity to evaluate for themselves the performance of varieties in the demonstration farms and after that got farm inputs to try the varieties and practices on their farms.  With this knowledge, new varieties and inputs, Sabina’s wheat production has increased dramatically.  “By 2014 my output had doubled from 2 t/ha to 4.2 t/ha and by 2016 had risen further to 8.0 tons and that is why I was declared the best female wheat farmer in Zimbabwe,” explains Sabina.  As a result, Sabina was one of the smallholder wheat farmers given fertilizers and other farm inputs by the country’s Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, Hon. Ringson J.  Chitsiko, for their achievement. Sabina sells her wheat produce for USD 15 for a 20 kilogram bag.  She sells wheat to her neighbours and in the local market. Sabina plans to expand production of wheat. Her success is slowly influencing other farmers in Hwedza to return to wheat farming.

Installation of GEM rice parboiling technology improves local rice production in Lafia

The SARD-SC rice commodity value chain, executed by AfricaRice, in collaboration with NCRI, has installed energy efficient GEM rice parboiling technologies and innovations in the Lafia Innovation Platform, Nassarawa state, Nigeria. In addition, a total of 1,215 rice parboilers, including 915 women and 300 men, were trained on processing and value addition of locally produced rice and the efficient use and management of the GEM rice parboiling technologies.

The formal launch of the Lafia IP took place recently and was attended by the IITA/SARD-SC project Coordinator, Dr Chrys Akem and AfricaRice representative in Nigeria, Dr Francis Nwilene.

Dr Akem remarked that the SARD-SC project has faced challenges in effectively addressing gender equity on active involvement of women in project activities. He noted that the deployment of the GEM rice parboiler in the Lafia IP has fully demonstrated that pairing  gender sensitive technologies with a positive institutional change, can significantly bring about gender mainstreaming into agricultural projects.

The representative of the Emir of Lafia, Hassan Ahmed pledged support and commitment from the local authorities for the progress of the IP. As part of the IP process, the capacity of 37 youth groups has been developed in rice processing and value addition as well as operation of equipment and farming tools. The Lafia IP also received a milling machine and other farming equipment from AfricaRice through the Japan Emergency Rice Initiative.

To date, over 1,200 women households have been reached through the GEM technology and innovations in the IPs in Nigeria. The GEM is being rolled out in combination with enhanced packaging and branding of locally produced rice to attract urban market rice consuming households and contribute to raising incomes of women and employment opportunities for youth in the rural economy. Significant changes have been observed in Nasarawa as a result of the GEM installation and training; improved quality of parboiled local rice, increased incomes, job creation, positive mind-set towards collective action, and improved well-being of rice parboilers who are members of the IPs.

The quality of the parboiled rice is already attracting consumers within and outside the community of Lafia. A total of 249 customers bought IP rice for consumption while 50 bought for trading. The chairman of the Lafia IP, Mr. Jonathan expressed his satisfaction thus: “We like the efficiency of the GEM facility and the new methods to process rice. With the installation of the GEM facility combined with the training on its use, our members have changed their mindset in rice processing and they have adopted good processing practices.”

Furthermore, other rice farmers outside the IP have started reaping the benefits of their training on the use of the GEM technology at the individual household levels. One of such people is Madam Martha Shagar, a member of the Women parboiler group, Ayimon, based in the Lambaga village, Lafia. She said:  I found the new methods and practices to process rice very useful and efficient than our traditional processing activities. The quality of my rice is better than before and the profit also increased. With the new technology, I got a profit of 20,000 Naira on a bag of 120 kg. Thanks to SARD-SC project and AfricaRice.

Maize value chain holds gender mainstreaming workshop for partners

A three-day workshop on gender mainstreaming in SARD-SC maize value chain was conducted at the Kaduna State Agricultural Development Project (KADP) Headquarters, Kaduna, Nigeria, during the last quarter of 2016 with key stakeholders in attendance. The aim of the workshop was to enhance gender sensitive technology development and dissemination in order to boost productivity and income of a broad segment of targeted maize farmers, particularly women.

The workshop was organized in four sessions, with the opening ceremony attended by the state Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Manzo Daniel Maigari‎ who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. M. Kassim. Also present at the opening ceremony were the Program Manager, Kaduna State Agricultural Development Programme (KADP), Mal Ashafa Dauda, the President of Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Mr. Tunji Adenola; the President of Seed Entrepreneurs Development Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), Mr. Richard Olafare, and Professor John Onyisi Onyibe, maize value chain coordinator in Nigeria and the Managing Director of Goldagric Nigeria Limited, Kaduna.

Dr Amare Tegbaru, SARD-SC Gender Specialist, assisted by Dr. Halidy Gaya, gave the lecture on how to mainstream gender into the maize value chain activities during the interactive workshop. This was followed by a brainstorming group session during which a tool was developed to conduct focus group discussions (FGD) on gender norms within various communities. Later, all the participants were organized into three groups, and each group developed and presented the tool they intended to use for their FGDs. One group was to work on a women’s group, another group would work on a men’s group and the third would work on a mixed group.

Field practical/analytical exercise on day 2 using the tools earlier developed to interact with the three stratified gender focused groups, formed the third session.  The field work was held some 250 km away from Kaduna, within the SARD-SC IP located in Taure, Samaru Kataf in Zango Kataf Local Government Area Council of Kaduna State covering the Kaduna-Nasarawa States. The visit enabled the participants to understand and identify the prevailing gender dynamics within the community. The results from each of the three FGDs were later analyzed to tease out the gender norms influencing both male and female decisions on what to grow. Special focus was on the dynamics within the community that female farmers faced when accessing the three factors of production: land, labour and capital.‎

After the presentation of group reports, an action plan was developed to support the efforts of women in the community to produce more green maize, an enterprise that had been identified as the focus of the female farmers. The lecture and discussion guide presentations used by the lead resource person were circulated among the workshop participants. The workshop ended with a range of feedback comments from participants during a wrap up session.

The SARD-SC Maize value chain is executed in over 60 communities across 6 States of Nigeria as well as in five (Cameroon, DR Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Mali) other countries.


Kigoma Regional Commissioner applauds project for improved cassava productivity

The newly appointed executives of Tanzanian Kigoma region, Brigadier General Emmanuel Maganga and Mr. Charles Pallangyo, visited one of the SARD-SC project sites in the Kibondo. About 105 officials from five districts of Kigoma Region were on the entourage of the executives who visited the Kibondo Big Power Group, a cassava farmers’ and processors’ group involved in SARD-SC project activities in the district.

The chairperson of Kibondo Big Power Group, Mr. Kennedy Salundari welcomed the visitors to the Group’s processing centre, where they saw various processing equipment at work. In his remarks, Salundari commended the project for improving the group’s processing facility as an initiative to reduce cassava post-harvest losses. He said: “Apart from support in post-harvest management, IITA/SARD-SC has also brought about a significant change in our cassava farming method by training us on good agronomic practices.” Salundari added that other farmers around the vicinity who were not the target beneficiaries have also benefited from their improved capacity as a result of the project. “Things have not remained the same but have changed for the better, he added on behalf of fellow group members.”

Thereafter, the Regional Commissioner, Brigadier Maganga and his delegation visited the project’s demo plots as well as cassava farm owned by Kibondo Big Power Group.  In a discussion with the SARD-SC project representative, Hon. Maganga bemoaned the past incidents of food shortages in the region as against the current high cassava productivity. Dr. Veronica Uzokwe, who represented the project at the event, explained to the RC that farmers used to plant local varieties which are low yielding and succumb easily to major cassava pests and diseases. She further explained that the advent of SARD-SC project has helped to address this challenge by promoting the use of improved varieties in collaboration with Lake Zone Agricultural Research and Development Institute (LZARDI) as these varieties have high yield potential and are resistant to diseases.

The Regional Commissioner in his response said: “I am very impressed with what SARD-SC has done in Kigoma Region. This is what is expected from all other projects. The beneficiaries/farmers should be guided on how to sustain their activities even when the project ends’’ He also instructed the Regional Agricultural Officer to find out how the local farmers in the region could have access to planting material of improved cassava varieties.

‘’I am really impressed that the farmers have learnt to manage the fields very well as we all see in this farm. It should be noted that the aim of all this is to improve the living standards of the people of Kigoma and you SARD-SC people have my full support and I welcome you in my office at any time.’’