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A Northern Nigerian Woman Cultivating Opportunities Through EWS-KT

Posted On: November 25, 2022
Farmer Aisha Yusuf with okra seed packets from East-West Seed
Aisha Yusuf holds up her East-West Seed okra seed packets.

By Blessing Terhemen, Digital Media Coordinator, Nigeria, and Aisha Yusuf, a farmer in Gabashin, Nigeria

KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA – In northern Nigeria, gender norms often limit a woman’s control of resources and her ability to earn an income.

EWS-KT’s involvement in the region is helping women to increase their income opportunities through improved farming methods. Through digital outreach and hands-on training, women like 37-year-old Aisha Yusuf are learning modern agronomic practices for vegetable cultivation.

Aisha, a key farmer in Gabashin village, Zaria LGA, first came into contact with EWS-KT through the EWS-KT Nigeria Facebook Group, Noman Lambu (“Vegetable Farming”), and then connected in person with an EWS-KT staff member.

This is her story.

My name is Aisha Yusuf. I am 37 years old and married with three children. Before I became a farmer, I was a housewife with daily domestic routines to take care of my family, and I was completely dependent on what my husband was able to provide.

I wanted to start a farming business a long time ago, to earn some money and help support my family, but my husband and my in-laws didn’t approve of this idea. They felt that farming was not for women. Instead, they suggested that I enroll in school and become a classroom teacher.

Teaching is a good and noble profession, but it wasn’t my passion. I wanted to be a farmer, like my father. My greatest ambition was to achieve this dream.

I found a Facebook page called Noman Lambu, which is run by East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation, and I began to read their posts on vegetable farming techniques.

Soon after, one of their Technical Field Officers—a woman named Zainab Donald Iyorchir—came to Fangano, a neighboring community. She was introducing farmers to effective farming methods as part of the Transforming Nigeria’s Vegetable Market project. I went to the event, and when I excitedly asked her if I could join her to learn more about vegetable growing, she gladly agreed.

As soon as I got home, I went to my husband to ask for his approval. Though he was reluctant, he gave me his approval to attend the trainings. I participated in all the trainings and became a member of the group formed by the Technical Field Officer.

We were trained on good agronomic practices (GAP), which included things like integrated pest management, spacing, fertilizer schedules, and field layout practices. I found the GAP techniques to be very useful, and the topics were well timed for the growing cycle. Eventually, I started encouraging my husband to attend the trainings as well. Because of my dedication, I was made a key farmer.

My husband saw my commitment and gave me a 250-square-meter plot of land, where I began to set up an okra demonstration.

Following all the EWS-KT recommendations, we realized higher yields than with our traditional farming methods. On my first okra demonstration plot, I earned a total income of 27,000 naira ($61). The cost of production was 9,259 naira (US$21), so my profit was 17,740 naira ($40).

I used the profit to pay my debts and bought two packages of Basanti and Maha F1 okra seeds, the East-West Seed variety, to continue my production in the dry season. It is not always easy to grow crops during the dry season, but EWS-KT has taught me what to do.

I also organize trainings for women in my community, with the active support of my husband, whenever the need arises.

I feel fulfilled owning my own farm, earning my own income, and also helping in the development of women in my community. In all, I say a big thanks to EWS-KT for giving me a voice and for changing my livelihood.

Transforming Nigeria’s Vegetable Markets 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. This project is led by EWS-KT in collaboration with our partners Wageningen University & Research, Solidaridad Network West Africa, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry Kaduna State, and Ahmadu Bello University.