Seeds of Renaissance: Changing lives in Borno

21 March 2018

Reports of a positive impact are being received from recipients of the seeds donated exactly 1 year ago, in 2017, to help alleviate the food crisis in northern Nigeria as a result of the conflict between the Nigerian army and armed opposition groups. The rebuilding and restoration initiative, which was dubbed “Seeds of Renaissance” was organized by IITA and kick-started with a donation of about 35,930 kilograms of seed to the Borno State government.

Picture of Maryam Muh’d at a soybean warehouse
Maryam Muh’d at a soybean warehouse

The seeds were provided by IITA, AfricaRice, and ICRISAT and included improved varieties of cowpea, soybean, maize, millet, sorghum, and rice that were adapted to the climate of the region.

Farmers from different parts of Borno, who had benefited from the donations, have spoken of their experiences in cultivating and harvesting these seeds.

“Truly, I am very happy with the seeds that I received because when I planted them, they gave no problems. I had a bountiful harvest of fine seeds in return,” said Maryam Muh’d from Hawul Local Government Area.

She received soybean seed and was full of praise for the quality which was much better than that of the other seed she had planted previously. “The seeds I used before yielded small seeds but seeds from IITA yielded a much bigger harvest…For instance, where I got exactly two bags before, I now reap between three to three and a half bags,” she added.

Most of the recipients talked about the economic impact and better quality of living that planting these improved seeds had brought to their lives.

Commenting on the seed yield, Zachari Yusuf Kwaya, a farmer from Kwaya village said, “There is this neighbor and friend of mine whose farm is very close to my own farm who also farms soybean and planted more than myself. But for me, as God would have it, I got better seeds from IITA and reaped twice as much as he had farmed.”

Another farmer, Lammi Lawan, also highlighted the economic benefits of these high-yielding seeds, “After I harvested them, I used my earnings to send my children to school… I also sold part of it and used the money to buy another small plot of land.”

When asked about getting more of these seeds in future, all the respondents were enthusiastic. “I like the seed very well. If only I would be able to get it again… I have reserved a small amount of it but I will not mind getting other seeds, because the new seeds would yield better,” Usaman Madu answered.

Madu received both soybean and maize seeds. “These two seeds I have received from IITA have contributed to improving the quality of my life. Thank you to those that initiated this program. It has helped to bring development to our land especially Borno State, and we will never forget them.”

Also underscoring the socioeconomic gains of the initiative, Lawan added, “I have no husband, and I have no mother and father. Again, I had loved ones who were killed by Boko Haram. That’s why I am thanking IITA a lot because it has really helped me to ‘wipe away my shame’.”

The future looks brighter as the hope of these farmers is being restored, one seed at a time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *