The RFS Nigeria project, implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the Government of Nigeria, is focused on scaling up Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM) practices in northern Nigeria to protect the environment, restore degraded land, and improve food security. After introducing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in select communities and conducting training for agricultural extension workers, the country project team held a series of Farmer Field Days on demonstration plots that had successfully adopted the new practices. Farmer Field Days are gatherings that bring together smallholder farmers, NGOs, and local government on demonstration plots to showcase success stories, new technologies, and practices. The platform is intended to be participatory space, one where farmers share experiences and knowledge with each other and key stakeholders.
Between August and November 2019, the Farmer Field Days showcased the viability and benefits of Good Agricultural Practices with focus on Sustainable Land and Water Management and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as tools for improved production and environmental sustainability. In demonstration plots across all 70 project communities, over 7,000 smallholder farmers participated within the workshops—56 percent of which were female.
The demonstration plots focused on rice, groundnuts, maize, soya beans, sorghum, and cassava, which are the staple foods of the savanna zones of Nigeria. The plots showcased a number of successful new techniques and practices, including using cover crops for erosion control, introducing climate-resilient seeds, using organic manure for soil conditioning, and planting crops across the slops to reduce land degradation.
Each of the Field Day farmers demonstrated a marked improvement in output as a result of adopting the Good Agricultural Practices introduced by the RFS Nigeria country project team. Rice farmers in the Harbo Sabuwa community in Taraba State stated that, despite the occurrence of flood in their area, the quality of the seed that was introduced to them by the RFS Nigeria team ensured that the rice was not affected by the flood.
“We have been taught how to use improved seeds and how to use land spacing in a way that we get more product per farm. We have harvested the maize and it has been good, because it gave us more yield than the ones we have done in the past’’.
Miss Jochebed Iliya
Rice farmer, Harbo Sabuwa
The demonstration plot farmers commended the RFS Nigeria project for introducing their community to more sustainable, productive farming practices and providing improved inputs. As a result of the new techniques, this year, they enjoyed a bumper harvest, which, according to the farmers, would go a long way in improving incomes and encouraging more young people to go into farming. Mr. Audu Burga, a farmer from Kaltungo, expressed his joy over this year’s bumper harvest maize, rice, soya Beans, guinea corn and groundnuts:
“This programme that the UNDP has brought to us is good. Even the rest of the people that have been passing through the area, the way they see the thing, they admire it. They say this is a good way to get more crops that will help us. We will get more produce than any previous year. Next year, we will increase the production and give more seeds to the people, so that they too can practice the new technique that UNDP brought to us.”
Mr. Audu Burga
Maize farmer, Kaltungo
After seeing first-hand the improvement in crop yield, several farmers showed a keen interest in the new tools and techniques used on the demonstration plots and expressed an enthusiastic commitment to the new ideas introduced to them by the RFS country project team. Kelvin Haziel, an extension worker trained by the RFS Nigeria programme, praised the outcome of the Farmer Field Days: “the farmers are happy, interested and committed in the activities. They really used the method that we taught them and cooperated with us in all the activities. At the end of the day, everybody appreciated the new technologies and even implemented the new technologies in their own individual farms.”