In the second part of this blog series, we highlight the role of the youth who are a key link between farmers and VD &S and Royal Blue Contractors. While some youth are engaged in tomato production, more have actively taken up the role of input distribution and service provision along the vegetable value chain.
You can read the first part of this blog series here: https://www.2scale.org/en/updates/building-partnerships-to-enhance-the-adoption-of-hybrid-tomato-seed-in-nigeria-en
In the continuous bid to improve and empower these farmers, Royal Blue contractors with the support of 2SCALE just concluded training for village inputs agents (selected members of the established agribusiness cluster (ABC). The training was organized to help them improve their view of farming as a viable business, in addition to training on the right application of fertilizer and pesticide and their importance to vegetable production. These agents are now tasked with collating input orders from their various individual clusters and send to Royal Blue contractors for input supplies and deliveries at a profit. They will serve both Kaduna and Kano states.
Initially, the adoption of Hybrid seeds and seedlings to plant during the dry season was an uphill task. However, after the clusterization of farmers, brought about by the introduction of 2SCALE’s ABC (Agribusiness Cluster) concept, and the appointment of village input agents (promoters) that aggregate demand for inputs in the specific cluster (village input agents), it became easier to train, reach out and implements innovations. Even though sales haven't been good regarding seeds, Royal Blue Contractors has been able to facilitate and supply seeds during the establishment of learning plots in the four ABCs located in Kano and Kaduna states as well as conducted Good Agricultural Practices Training.
According to Royal Blue contractors, the highlight of this exercise has been the adoption of hybrid seeds and the farmers' enthusiasm to adopt more beneficial technologies that will give them a better life.
Muhammed Ahmed Liman, the Director of Royal blue contractors added that with the provision of hybrid seeds, a new era has evolved for tomato farmers where farmers are now able to plant without fear of disease or low germination rates. They are now assured of a 100% return on investment and increased productivity which in turn, make them enviable among their peers.
So far, farmers have bought N1,000,000 ($2,296) worth of seeds and N35,200,000 ($80,826) worth of chemicals from Royal Blue contractors.
For Royal Blue contractors, the success of this intervention has been in the increase in the adoption of hybrid seeds, especially during the wet season as well as farmers' mindset shift from their regular practices to the adoption of new technologies. It’s a win-win situation that they plan on sustaining by the continuous monitoring of their interactions with the farmers and educating them whenever the need arises.
Testimonials from the youth
20-year-old Hussein Haruna, who owns two plots of land in Danganawa, Bunkure local government area, in Kano state, was one of the participants during the training. According to him, the knowledge he gained has helped him grow his tomato business. He narrates,
The use of hybrid seedlings and the adoption of good agronomy practices has increased yield and has reduced the constant disease affecting my crops. Loses are now reduced as the seeds withstand most weather conditions and have a longer shelf life.
Before this intervention, he would only farm tomatoes during the dry season and would produce an average of half a basket from his two plots of land which he used mainly for consumption. Gaining knowledge on hybrid seed seeds made him venture into commercial tomato production.
With the hybrid seedlings (PADMA from East West Seeds) he gets up to 180kg and sometimes even more per plot, and makes an average monthly profit of N30,000 ($69) to N60,000 ($139). He raised the funds to purchase these seedlings from his savings. Being a youth, his participation in the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) Life and Business skills training where he was taught on financial planning and basic record-keeping skills has also helped in financial management. The increased income has helped him buy more seeds. With this, he hopes to produce on a larger scale. His main worry is that given that vegetables are highly perishable, what would happen if most farmers opted to produce during the wet season, leading to low purchases due to the high availability of tomatoes all year round?
The answer to this lies in value addition in the future.
Another youth, 33-year-old Alkasim Abdulkadir also attests to the usefulness of the GAP training he was a part of, and the high acceptability of the adopted hybrid seeds (Padma) by him and smallholder farmers in Daganawa cluster in Kano state.
He owns three plots of land and
has been a farmer for five years. According to him, tomato farming was not very
lucrative when he was using the local seed variety. He narrates,
Most time, I had very little produce from my farm to sell. A major challenge I experienced was convincing buyers to purchase my tomato produce as they were usually too small and had blemishes. Due to the lack of sufficient profits before, I had considered venturing into other businesses or even moving to another state in Nigeria in search of greener pastures. This has now changed as I can now see that tomato production is a lucrative business. I purchased the first batch of seeds using my savings and the implementation of all that was taught in the training has generated more profit than I ever experienced! My tomatoes are now in high demand and as opposed to before, buyers approach me to buy due to the quality and longer shelf life. With the old variety of seeds, I would harvest about 60-65kg per plot while the new variety produces up to 195-260kg on the same plot. This is very encouraging, and I am currently saving part of the profits I get with plans to buy more land and expand my tomato farming business.
The community is not left behind. Job opportunities have been created even for those not directly involved at the production level. These include, village input agents, spray service providers, labor during harvesting, and transporters of these vegetables from farmers to the market or other aggregation centers. For Alkasim, the highlight of this intervention is that tomato farming is now more lucrative for him and other farmers in his region.