Lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty


Statistics show that about 45% of the world’s population live in rural areas, with roughly 26.7% deriving their livelihoods from agriculture (FAO, 2018). In Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 215.7 million people were officially employed in the agricultural sector (ILO, 2018), many of whom own small portions of land (<2 Ha), rely on family labour, but account for an estimated 80% of the world’s food supply (FAO, 2014).

Babban Gona’s transformative approach to empowering smallholder farmers who are typically at the bottom of the pyramid is giving many rural dwellers an opportunity to escape poverty and become profitable on their small-scale farms.

Elisha Garba, one of our member farmers is an example. Elisha was born and raised in Kaduna state some 30 years ago. Because the nearest schools were far from where he lived, Elisha was unable to complete his schooling. His father was a farmer, so he was introduced to farming at a young age- he even started a little farm in his backyard. He remembers his father’s biggest challenge was an inability to access quality agricultural inputs, mainly due to financial constraints at the beginning of the farming season.  And as a famer himself, Elisha faced the same issues.

For farmers like Elisha, the cycle is a continuous one with each farming season presenting the same problems. Despite their best efforts, they are perpetually at a scale-disadvantage and unable to operate profitably.

A friend who works as a Babban Gona MIK (Caretaker of a Trust Group of smallholder farmers) introduced Babban Gona to Elisha.  When he joined Babban Gona, he had timely access to the agricultural inputs he needed, was trained on best practice in maize agronomy, and had support from his MIK and his Trust Group throughout the season. It was no surprise that his yield greatly improved, increasing from 27 to 45 bags! From the proceeds of the last farming season, Elisha has been able to buy a motorbike, support his family, and buy additional farmland. Elisha is optimistic about the future, an important part of which is his daughter, who he hopes to send to good schools for a brighter future.

Elisha’s advice to someone who he would encourage to become a Babban Gona member is this:

“Babban Gona can change your life and take you out of the well of poverty. Look at me now!!!”