23 April 2014

Nigeria: Improved Agriculture Can Lift Nigerians Out of Poverty

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN
Small scale farmer.

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Through a program called MARKETS II, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gives farmers in Nigeria who live on less than $1.25 a day the tools they need to improve their harvests and connect with buyers.

Through a program called MARKETS II, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gives farmers in Nigeria who live on less than $1.25 a day the tools they need to improve their harvests and connect with buyers. That helps them earn the best prices, which is essential to lifting their families out of poverty.

Thai Farms exemplifies the MARKETS II model of connecting local farmers to new markets and technologies, according to Alex Thier, USAID's assistant to the administrator for policy, planning and learning.

At the Thai Farms cassava processing plant, farmers weigh their crops and test them for starch content (shown above). Cassava, a local staple, takes up to 24 months to mature but begins to rot after only 48 hours out of the ground. Being able to transport and quickly sell a crop is essential for a farmer to get a good price.

In a March posting on USAID's Impact blog, Thier said there are several other local agribusinesses boosting the economy in Nigeria.

Timmod Farms is a MARKETS II example of "a Nigerian success story," he said. Established in November 2004 with just four fish ponds, it now is one of Nigeria's leading fish processors, producing a smoked catfish that is well-known in the country. The farm has been recognized by the Nigerian Federal Department of Fisheries.

"The extremely entrepreneurial owner, Rotimi Omodehin, keeps adding new parts to the business, but is also concerned about the potential for further growth," Thier wrote. Among the challenges is getting reliable, affordable access to energy and credit.

"To really enable small farmers and small enterprises to drive inclusive economic growth, these problems will have to be addressed," Thier said.

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