APRA Nigeria team shares research findings in Kaduna State

To disseminate their research results and the policy implications that arise from the APRA Nigeria Work Stream 1 (WS1) research, project team gathered community members in two areas of Kaduna State on the 15th-16th November 2021. These events were the first in a series of community-level workshops, which will be followed by a national dissemination workshop in December 2021.

The first Kaduna engagement event, was held in Soba Local Government Authority (LGA) on 15th November, 2021 , while the second was held in Chikun LGA on 16th November 2021. Workshop participants included medium-scale farmers, small-scale farmers, women farmers, community leaders, local government officials, extension agents, and other community stakeholders.

Opening remarks

Prof. Adebayo Aromolaran opened the events with a welcome address and an introduction was provided to the APRA research programme, its importance and the WS1 team. Prof Aromolaran explained that APRA is focused on working with key Nigerian stakeholders in agricultural and rural development to identify strategies for positive change in Nigeria. The APRA programme is interested in helping to improve the livelihoods of farm families, women, and youths across Nigeria by providing  research-based evidence to support the need for concrete changes in the food and agricultural systems of Nigeria. The WS1 team fits into this vision by examining the role of land policy and related strategies in promoting sustainable, equitable and productive agricultural commercialisation and rural transformation in the country.

Prof. Aromolaran also highlighted the event’s objective, emphasising that, “from the start of this research project, community leaders, extensions agents and farm households continually expressed frustration at the countless numbers of data gathering exercises they have been involved with in time past, but which have provided little or no feedback, nor directly resulted in any visible changes in government policy aimed at improving the livelihoods of farm households.”

The objective

This was the event’s context, as Prof. Aromolaran reminded the audience that, “we assured you all that this APRA project is not designed to only gather evidence but to advocate for the translation of the evidence into actionable policy measures that would improve the livelihood of farm households. A step in achieving this objective is to provide feedback on research findings and harvest contributions from the community level stakeholders on how best to address the observed gaps and challenges through policy.”

The meeting, therefore, served as a precursor to a forthcoming national level meeting in December, where the opinions of community-level stakeholders will be shared with national level actors. Aromolaran concluded, “In short, our objective is to make the voice of stakeholders at the community level to be heard clearly by national level actors. You are specially invited to be a voice for this community, and we look forward to harvesting your thoughts on how to improve the livelihoods of our farm households in Nigeria.”

Presenting the research

The research findings, presented by WS1 team members Dr. Milu Muyanga, Prof. Thomas Jayne, Dr. Lenis Saweda O. Liverpool-Tasie, Prof. Titus Awokuse, Prof. Adesoji Adelaja, and Prof. Adebayo Aromolaran, focused on agricultural commercialisation and medium-scale farming in Nigeria. The researchers explained that recent evidence documents changing structure of land ownership in sub-Saharan Africa as one of the major trends affecting agri-food systems. Studies in several other African countries, such as Ghana, Kenya and Zambia suggest a rapid rise in medium-scale farming, and these trends, though not formally documented have also been observed in Nigeria. It is believed that these emerging medium-scale farms might be a veritable policy tool to promote equitable agricultural commercialisation, empowerment of women and youth in agriculture, poverty reduction, and agricultural transformation objectives.

As such, over the last 5-6 years, the WS1 team set out to investigate the potential opportunities and challenges associated with medium-scale farming as a pathway into agricultural commercialisation, including the characteristics of the emerging medium-scale farms, their productivity compared to small-scale farms, the implications for livelihood outcomes, the potential drivers for agricultural commercialisation among medium-scale farms, and how these medium-scale farmers influence the behaviour and welfare of the small-scale farm households around them.

Encouraging feedback

The participants were encouraged to share their thoughts and responses to the research during focus group discussions following the presentations.

Key findings and policy implications

The presentations highlighted four key findings:

  1. Small-scale farms are transitioning into medium-scale farms, but at a very slow rate.
  2. Potential drivers of increasing agricultural commercialisation include increased access to land, labour, agro-service and agro-input markets, road infrastructure, and extension services.
  3. Medium-scale farms are more productive than small-scale farms.
  4. Economically beneficial interactions exist between small- and medium-scale farmers.

Following on from these findings, the researchers presented four corresponding policy implications:

  1. A substantial increase in the per cent of small-scale farms that transition to medium-scale farms could be a major pathway to increasing agricultural productivity, employment generation and poverty reduction among rural farm households.
  2. Improvements in agricultural inputs markets, extension services and road infrastructure could contribute substantially to increasing farm households’ capacity to cultivate crops primarily for sale in the market.
  3. As demand for labour is a derived demand, the observed higher productivity translates into a greater potential to employ more farm hands, and thus substantially increase rural employment if growth in medium-scale farming is encouraged.
  4. Increasing opportunities for business interaction between small- and medium-scale farms in their neighbourhoods can contribute substantially to improving small-scale farm household commercialisation and livelihood outcomes, such as employment generation (through productivity increases), income increases and poverty reduction.

Plans for the future

The events ended with focus group discussions designed to provide participants with an opportunity to share feedback and make their voices heard in the research and subsequent policy influencing moving forward. The national workshop will be held via zoom on Thursday 16th December 2021, for which further details will be available shortly. This national workshop will be preceded by a similar set of community-level dissemination workshops in Imeko Afon LGA and Ijebu East LGA in Ogun State.