Farmers’ Hubs generate jobs, income and status
Nigerian interviews highlight progress since 2020
How are our Farmers’ Hubs advancing in Nigeria? Our local team has already studied that question twice. The most recent survey suggests good progress. Female interviewees seem very pleased with how business is going.
One of the arts of local impact assessment is to get helpful insights while keeping research costs low. In a recent small survey, our Nigerian team interviewed 22 Farmers’ Hub Managers from five federal states. They all had at least two years’ experience in this role. “22 interviewees aren’t many”, notes our Country Manager, Isaiah Gabriel. “But each Farmers’ Hub serves an average of more than 1100 smallholders. In total the managers were therefore talking about their work with roughly 25,000 customers.”
The survey focused on six topics: income, jobs, climate-smart agriculture, capacity-building, gender, and future needs. Almost everybody running a Farmers’ Hub (FH) reported a rise in income. FH employment has sharply increased. All the Hubs successfully promote at least one climate-smart practice and technology. They also pay a frequent role in capacity-building. This mainly runs via personal extension advice, field demos and IT tools. On gender aspects, the FH are making good progress. The main additional priority in future, survey respondents say, should be their access to finance.
“Interviewing FH Managers allowed some interesting comparisons with three years ago”, comments our Program Development Manager Frank Olajuwon. “When we asked in 2020, FHs were providing an average of three jobs each. Our survey now shows that a typical FH employs about 11 people. One interviewee in Kano said his income had risen ten-fold since 2020. Annual revenue per Hub is around $56,000 at current exchange rates. In rural areas, this kind of enterprise can make a big difference to livelihoods.”
In the area of climate-smart agriculture, the interviews indicate that FH Managers promote a wide range of practices and technologies. “Some have proved particularly popular”, Frank continues. “Top of the list are drought-tolerant varieties and leguminous crops that fix nitrogen. But FHs are also good at promoting use of modern seedlings more generally, as well as cultivation patterns that strengthen farm resilience.” Mixed cropping, intercropping and well-chosen rotations all contribute.
Judging by the survey, a typical FH Manager is male and has enjoyed some form of tertiary education. However, about one-third of FH are run by women. Of the thousands of farmers served, roughly a quarter are female. They tend to prefer women-led businesses, meaning that at other FHs, the figure is much lower. “Religious and cultural habits in much of our operating area can be a gender challenge”, Isaiah Gabriel knows. “But despite the weight of tradition, three-quarters of the FH Managers train women farmers.”
The numbers may suggest that men still benefit more often, but some female interviewees are very pleased with their own results. A 48-year-old widow in Kano State, for example, said: “The FH model has increased my knowledge of modern seedling production. The benefits have extended to several women in my community through capacity-building in horticulture and arable crops. FH income helps me to pay my children’s school fees and buy them books. My prestige in the community has also risen.” A counterpart near Abuja declared: “For me, agriculture is the bedrock of everything. I am a happy lady because I can now raise seedlings and nurture them into plants to satisfy farmers’ needs.”