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Discovering a Profitable Career in Agriculture: Sani Umar’s Story

Posted On: September 15, 2023


Sani Umar stands at the counter in his agro-input shop.
Sani Umar, now a farmer and agricultural-input dealer, talks with a customer in his shop.

KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA – Sani Umar was an underpaid civil servant with the Nigerian state government when he began vegetable farming with East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation. Little did he know how much his participation in the Transforming Nigeria’s Vegetable Markets project would change his life.

Struggling with a Low Salary

With a large family and a low income, Sani Umar had a difficult life. His meager government salary did not cover his family’s daily expenses, and he was unable to get ahead of his debts. 

“My life was full of hardship before meeting EWS-KT,” he said. “There was a vicious cycle of indebtedness . . . after receiving my monthly salary, I found myself running into debt in the subsequent weeks.”

A New Life Through Farming—for the Whole Family

Learning about vegetable farming gave Sani Umar the opportunity to turn his life around. With guidance from EWS-KT Technical Field Officer Abubakar Isyaku Doka, Sani Umar grew his first crops using simple but effective techniques like raised beds. 

“My turning point was meeting with KT,” said Sani Umar. “We started with seven beds as a demonstration plot, and it yielded 10 times more than what we used to harvest on our farm.” 

Vegetable farming soon became the family business. After witnessing the huge success her husband was having with EWS-KT farming techniques, Sani Umar’s wife Maimuna also adopted these modern farming practices. 

Sani Umar in his house with his large family.
Sani Umar with Maimuna and other family members.

“We faced a lot of challenges,” Maimuna said. “We were unable to do anything until he comes home. I urged him to give me the opportunity to also start my own farming around the house.”

Seeing Maimuna’s success with her vegetable crops, Sani Umar’s second wife and other women in the community were also inspired to take up farming using EWS-KT techniques.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

While Sani Umar continues to farm, he now has another new profession—as an agricultural-input dealer. Impressed with the performance of vegetable seeds from East-West Seed, he sells East-West Seed varieties and agricultural inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, and other supplies to his fellow farmers. 

“Today, my life and that of my family has changed,” he said. “I look back and count my numerous blessings. The impact of KT is astounding!”

The Transforming Nigeria’s Vegetable Markets project contributes to more resilient and more efficient vegetable production by introducing new varieties, adapted technologies, and evidence-based knowledge and skills. Making vegetables more widely available on the market at affordable prices will lead to improved nutrition among local, low-income households in Kaduna and Kano states. This project is co-funded by SDG Partnership Facility, a grant program of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs managed by RVO. The project is led by EWS-KT in collaboration with partners Wageningen University & Research, Solidaridad Network West Africa, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry Kaduna State, and Ahmadu Bello University.