By Kehinde Ibrahim, Lagos
IN partnership with Value Seeds Limited, Mastercard Foundation has empowered 4000 women in Nigeria through a two-year agricultural intervention known as Support for Food and Job Creation. This intervention which aligns with Mastercard Foundation’s goal of enabling smallholder farmers in the agricultural sector to improve productivity and access new markets is a testament to this partnership’s forward-thinking strategies to support and grow small businesses in the agricultural value chain.
In 2021, the Support for Food and Job Creation project recruited and onboarded 4092 women and youth, an increase of 92 farmers from the previously anticipated 4,000 farmers slated for that year. These farmers were given farm inputs and agricultural supplements. They were trained on the latest agronomical practices, especially maize and rice farming, using 2510 maize and 887 rice hectares, respectively. Also, the project educated and exposed 3251 farmers to the uses and benefits of weather forecasting in farming.
The agricultural supplements distributed include fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, agrochemicals, Knapsack sprayers, sachet tomato seeds, farm inputs for maize and rice seedlings. This project also played a part in ensuring that these farmers adhered to the principles of financial inclusion by opening and accessing personal bank accounts and undergoing the training necessary to operate them. The farmers were also guaranteed access to structured markets to sell their produce at premium prices, and they had access to aggregation centres where their products were stored to help manage the cost of transportation to the markets and the logistics of storage.
Another noteworthy achievement is the deliberate inclusion of women into this project, as the 2021 project recorded that 3160 out of the 4092 farmers onboarded were female farmers. This is significant and strategic to this project because, in the future, women involved in this project will be charged to motivate other women in their communities to engage in farming and increase their participation in agricultural led businesses.
The Support for Food and Job Creation project has significantly increased the yield of premium maize and rice grains by 90% and has created 5,200 indirect jobs and 16,380 direct on-farm jobs. These jobs include input traders, farmworkers, transporters, logistic officers, marketers, feed mills and agro-processing workers. This project also allowed for increased access to new and hitherto unexplored markets enabling the farmers to market their increased yield in good time adequately.
Through this intervention, Mastercard Foundation and Value Seeds Limited have contributed to re-igniting the Nigerian economy and ensuring food security. This partnership has also improved the economic sustenance of smallholder farmers by opening up new markets and allowing for efficient sales of increased farm produce.