Five years ago, Talatu Idrissa and her neighbors each received a small, five-kilogram pack of groundnut seeds. Together, they are now producing up to 3.5 tons of groundnuts a year, and are using the interest from their savings to support their community.
Talatu leads a group of 25 women who are making the most of a new high-yielding variety of groundnut in the village of Bunkure in Kano, Nigeria.
The women keep most of the groundnuts to feed their families, but there is now enough to process into products like oil and cakes to sell at the market. Their earnings are gathered in a communal savings box and deposited in the bank, where they can earn interest.
With the interest from the money saved, the women have been able to support one another through childbirth, send their children to school or even university, and restore the local health center and elementary school – earning them recognition from the Kano state governor in 2015 for their contributions to the community.
We process the farm produce together and we share the profits. Talatu Idrissa - group leader
“When we make groundnut cake [or oil], one or more of us will take it to the market and sell it,” Talatu says.
“We use the profit to lease a plot of land. We process the farm produce together and we share the profits.”
In a country where women struggle to gain access to land, Talatu and the women in her group have found that they are stronger together, using their collective resources to access land and bulls for farming.
They haven’t kept all the benefits to themselves. The group have used their resources to repair the doors and windows of the local school building, and to fix beds and provide supplies for the health center.
This has resulted in better services for the whole community.
“Earlier, people avoided visiting the hospital when they were sick, because the hospital was in such bad condition. Nurses refused to stay overnight,” Talatu says.
“Now that we have cleaned up the premises, they are no longer afraid to stay long hours in the hospital. In fact, the health center now offers 24-hour service and nurses are ready to attend to patients at any time of the day or night.”
The improved groundnut variety seed they use is known as SAMNUT 24, which contains more oil and provides higher pod and fodder yields compared to local varieties.
The original improved variety seeds were distributed as part of the Tropical Legumes III project led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) through the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC).
Talatu’s group says that they now produce 25 bags of groundnuts on one hectare of farmland, which is nearly double of the 13 bags they got on the same farmland. They also make extra income from the haulms, or stalks, sold as animal feed. Profits from haulm sales were used to start dry season groundnut production in 2018.
Dr Hakeem Ajeigbe, ICRISAT’s Country Representative in Nigeria, says it is important to keep innovating, not only with seeds but with farming practices as well.
“We need to keep innovating because, for example, the rainy season – or rather, the planting season – is becoming shorter, but the rain sometimes gets even higher, so we have to adapt varieties that will be tolerant,” he says. “We get the new, improved varieties, but at the same time we need improved agronomic practices to eliminate [the] challenges.”
Talatu and her group are ready to keep learning new skills to adapt their practices to a changing climate.
As with their crops, their community is bound to reap more than they sow.
Work under the Tropical Legumes III project is now being carried forward under the AVISA project, focusing on Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa, both funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This research is also made possible thanks to contributors to the CGIAR Trust Fund, and other partners who provide invaluable support to CGIAR Research Programs through targeted projects and bilateral investments in CGIAR Research Centers. Please consult our Funders page for more details.
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