Transforming Lives Through Agricultural Growth in Nigeria

Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS

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Kulu Asarara, 47 years old, has been working on her farm every day for decades. Usually, the harvest is just large enough to provide two meals a day for her family of eight.

With support from the Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project, Kulu Asarara has expanded her farm and her projects. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS
With support from the Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project, Kulu Asarara has expanded her farm and her projects. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS
“We could only farm to feed ourselves,” says Kulu.

Her dreams – having plenty of food for her family and building a new home – were out of reach until she could produce enough food to sell and earn income. 

Even with the right tools and plenty of land, that’s a big leap. 

Catholic Relief Services has been there to help Kulu make that leap less daunting. 

The Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project, which includes a group of development partners led by CRS, is helping very poor households increase their agriculture production, raise incomes and improve nutrition.

Thanks to a cash grant, Kula is expanding her farm and beginning a second job selling spices and herbs in Asarara, her village in Northwest Nigeria. With new profits from her farm and her business, Kulu’s dream is becoming a reality.

A Comprehensive Approach

Kulu Asarara sells herbs and spices at her home in Kebbi State, Nigeria. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS
Kulu Asarara sells herbs and spices at her home in Kebbi State, Nigeria. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS
In Nigeria, agriculture provides a livelihood for about 90% of the rural population. However, one bad harvest can spell disaster. 

“That is a very serious situation,” says Aminu Farouk Sarkinrima, senior program manager for the Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project.

By growing food for personal consumption and selling surplus in local markets, farmers can earn money to invest in fertilizer, disease resistant crop varieties, and other products that can reduce the risk of a bad harvest.

“Before we were not applying fertilizer, because we did not know anything about fertilizer,” says Adamu Seth, a farmer in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.

“Now that this program started, they introduced us to new soya beans. Before, when planting the local one, we’d get like 50 kilos of soya bean per hectare. Now we’re getting 750 kilos per hectare,” he says.

There’s no silver bullet. Farmers need a range of support to achieve a balance between subsistence and commercial farming. The Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods project, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing comprehensive support to 42,000 households, introducing improved varieties of seeds, new technologies that increase farmer productivity, vocational training, cash grants, and more.

The impact is clear, according to Dayo Ogundijo, acting technical program director.

“They are able to feed their family. They are able to send their children to school.  They are able to do a lot of things they don’t even think that they can achieve,” he says.

A Budding Business

With a cash grant, Kula bought supplies for her business, which has already turning a profit. For the first time in her life, she and her family were eating three meals a day.

“The money I have received was what helped me change the tradition of how we eat in this house,” says Kula. “I can now afford to prepare lunch for my family.”

Kula’s hard work is paying off, and her dream of building a house is taking shape, bit by bit. She’s resilient enough to help others when necessary by selling her produce while accepting payment at a later date.

“Everyday people come here in the evening to buy my commodities. My customers are always happy, because I can be able to give them what they need on loan for a certain period. And their numbers are increasing,” says Kula.

“My hope is to complete the project of constructing this house,” says Kula, looking towards the unfinished cement walls.

“I hope one day this piece of land would be a complete house where all my family will live conveniently and eat in a healthy condition. That is my hope.”

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