Nudging nurseries to new success
Continued training is essential in agriculture. Our Foundation invests considerable efforts in such capacity-building. A recent session in Nigeria concentrated on the challenging but lucrative business of vegetable seedlings.
“Zero Hunger” is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2. The world is a long way from getting there; success requires a huge range of different contributions. Capacity-building is one of them – in other words, continued training and empowerment. In Nigeria as elsewhere, our Foundation works hard to train smallholders and rural entrepreneurs. A recent session in Kaduna State, northwestern Nigeria, focused on the greenhouse management of vegetable seedlings.
“Smallholders are often trapped in low-intensity farming, low yields, limited market access, and insufficient profits”, says our national program manager, Isaiah Gabriel. “It’s a vicious circle that breeds hunger and poverty.”
The training event centered on sustainable practices for establishing and raising healthy vegetable seedlings, improving productivity, and linking up to markets. The participants were managers of nearby Farmers’ Hubs. Nursery seedling production is a valuable source of income for Hubs, and an important service to their smallholder customers. “But it’s not an easy task”, emphasizes Isaiah, “so there was a real need for this training.” Three female and three male managers participated.
Greenhouse technology enables producers to raise vigorous seedlings of high uniform quality. But several challenges can threaten production, including nursery pest invasions. The training went through the best practices required across an entire season, from planting and growth through to harvest, post-harvest handling, and sale.
Our Nigerian Monitoring & Evaluation Officer Blessing Michael carefully track practices and profits. “Proper preparation and use of compost provide a cost-effective way to support high greenhouse germination rates”, she says. “We also know from experience at Farmers’ Hubs that the investment in seedling production brings good returns. We’ve seen people invest less than 100,000 Naira and make a clean profit of 50,000.”
Demand for good vegetable seedlings is strong. But as trainer Haj Rabi Kabiru noted, some smallholders may shy away from making an initial investment of that size. This is simply because they are not aware of the excellent income potential.
Participants greatly appreciated the training. And there will be more: “Capacity-building is a continuous process”, Isaiah Gabriel knows. “We will keep improving our training offer.”