The Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program – Phase 1 (ATASP-1) contributes to the agricultural transformation objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria by addressing the constraints in rice, sorghum, and cassava value chains in the country’s four Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) of Adani–Omor, Bida–Badeggi, Kano–Jigawa, and Kebbi–Sokoto. Specifically, the program aims to enhance food and nutrition security, generate employment, and create wealth along the three priority commodity value chains to benefit more than 45,000 economically active smallholders, mostly women and youth.
Under the program, three CGIAR Centers each lead a commodity value chain: IITA for cassava, AfricaRice for rice, and ICRISAT for sorghum; with IITA as the Executing Agency. Each center works with a national partner: IITA with NRCRI-Umudike; AfricaRice with NCRI-Badeggi; and ICRISAT with IAR-Samaru. The program has three components: (1) technology verification and extension; (2) skills development activities on agribusiness; and (3) effective program management.
Technology adaptation and diffusion
The program conducted several training of trainers (TOTs) involving extension agents from the national agricultural and extension systems (NARES) in the SCPZs on how to establish and manage cassava, rice, and sorghum farms in a sustainable manner. Under the Cassava Value Chain, IITA and NRCRI-Umudike conducted TOTs in Bida–Badeggi and Adani–Omor. Similarly, the Rice and Sorghum Value Chains have conducted TOTs in over half of the target SPCZs. This has resulted in increased availability of high quality planting materials, and foundation, and certified seed to target beneficiaries.
As part of the contribution to purifying the national rice seed stock and strengthening the capacity of the primary actors in the seed value chain, the Rice Value Chain produced and disseminated 10 and 15 tons of breeder and foundation seed, respectively, to 10 Nigerian seed companies for multiplication into the next classes of seeds. Feedback gathered from four of these 10 seed companies show that they harvested about 787.780 tons of certified rice seed that is available for uptake by rice farmers in 2017. Also, about 4.6 tons of breeder and foundation seeds have been handed over to communitybased youth seed entrepreneurs, including members of the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA), who had been trained on rice seed production technology. Of the 23 youth groups trained, 15 succeeded in cultivating about 71 ha of seed farms in 2016. These youth are being linked to seeds off-takers. To further expose farmers to improved technologies, the program organized farmer field days in 29 locations across the SPCZs, with a total of 2,217 producers participating (25.7% female and 74.3% male).
The Cassava Value Chain distributed 3,600 bundles of improved cassava stems to farmers and expects to produce an additional 12,512 bundles in 2017 and 2018. The Sorghum Value Chain, on the other hand, distributed 110 tons of improved sorghum seed to farmers, while 26 tons of foundation seed have also been given to seed companies and youth seed entrepreneurs.
Many program beneficiaries were also trained on good agricultural practices (GAP) to improve productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce drudgery. In 2016, the Rice Value Chain trained more than 5,000 farmers on rice GAP during the wet and dry seasons and closely monitored adoption of promoted practices in about 891 farmers’ fields. Preliminary comparative findings show that GAP plots recorded average yields of 5.7 t/ha while non-GAP plots produced some 3.5 t/ha. The commonly adopted rice GAP included improved varieties, early transplanting, optimum plant density, early weeding, and optimum timing of nitrogen fertilizer application. Women were more prominent in the training in the Adani–Omor Zone than in other parts of the country, giving credence to the observation that women’s participation in rice value chain activities decreases northwards.
On the other hand, the Sorghum Value Chain trained 2,236 farmers in 2016, with 1,727 males and 964 females. Training covered production, processing, and dissemination of technologies.
The program also organized a three-day Input Fair in Kano that brought seed companies and other agro-input dealers to display and sell their products directly to farmers. Seed companies sold 4,518 kg of seeds of different crops including sorghum, rice, maize, cowpea, and groundnut. In addition, 105 liters of herbicides were sold. A total of 1804 farmers, comprising 918 males and 208 females (678 youth) attended the fair.
Skills acquisition and enhancement
Intervention under this component has been carried out at both group and individual levels. The IITA-led Cassava Value Chain has done selection and formation of youth/farmer groups. So far, 24 groups out of the target 32 have been reached. Women and youth were key foci. Consequently, training workshops were organized in the three SCPZs of cassava in crop utilization.
The target of eight units by 2015–2016 had been achieved (100% accomplishment rate). The target total number of training beneficiaries for the same period is 5000, out of which 3981 had been reached (78.62% accomplishment). These beneficiaries comprised 1,861 males and 1,510 females.
The Rice Value Chain outreach has also trained 181 youth seed entrepreneurs in 23 groups and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of eight thresher-cleaners. These labor-saving, quality improving, and loss-reducing machines will be deployed to target communities once completed.
The Sorghum Value Chain outreach also made giant strides in market development and linkages through the Innovation Platform (IP) approach, in which it brought together aggregators, commercial banks, off-takers, and farmers. As a result, it signed MoUs with leading off-takers Honeywell Flour Mill Plc and Northern Nigeria Flour Mill Plc. Under this agreement, the off-takers will provide farmers with high-quality seeds of desired varieties, after which, they will buy the produce from the farmers at the prevailing market price.
Effective program management
The ATASP-1 Outreach Program is managed by the Project Coordination Office. In 2016, the Office oversaw the successful completion of the Youth Agribusiness Training Centers and auxiliary processing plants in Abuja while a second one in Kano is nearing completion as well. The upgrading of infrastructure at Onne under the program’s Outreach Component has also reached advanced stages of completion. In the ENABLE Youth Program currently supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and led by IITA in partnership with FMARD, five incubation/training centers like the ones in Abuja and Kano will be established in each of the 36 states plus the FCT (making 37) to benefit 37,000 youth (1000 per state) in five years.
The Outreach Coordination Office also intensified its communication strategies for interaction between people, structures, technologies and social systems. It engaged many youth on social media platforms, providing them with the right information on how they can tap into the vast wealth potentials inherent across the agricultural value chains and the agribusiness sector of the Nigerian economy