Seeds for life: improving farmers’ yields in Niger
Hama Soumana, aged 48, is a farmer from the village of Deytegui, one of the communities where our project supported DfID is hosted . As his fellow farmers know, the decrease in the rainfall he and his grandparents used to rely on is now the main cause of the drop in his income and livelihood.
Hama’s perseverance is keeping him in the village. He tries to make a living out of the farmland but it is regularly hit by severe droughts, leaving the whole community facing food shortages for lengthy periods of time. Most of his peers have left the village to search for a better life in the capital city, Niamey, or in the main towns of West Africa.
In the area, a farmer produces barely 600kg of cereals per hectare. As a result, an average rural household has less than 6 months of cereal stock. As a coping strategy, many families are sending their youth abroad to join the unskilled labour force. But they are facing tough competition and the job market is weak for daily labourers. The money they manage to send back home is used to buy food. Their families still have livestock such as goats, and tend to sell them for cash so that they can fulfil their needs.
This year Hama Soumana has chosen to stay in his village and the yield turned out to be a good one.
“I have been a farmer for more than 35 years, but I have never seen a variety of millet so well adapted to our areas, known for its rainfall scarcity. It took only 38 days the millet to be ready for harvesting, instead of the usual 3 months. I am grateful to Islamic Relief and its donors for providing us with these improved seeds that are making a difference in my life.”
Hama is one of 1,100 beneficiaries who have also received fertilisers and technical support from Islamic Relief and government local partners.
“I learned my lesson. Count on me, because from now on, I will no longer use the regular seeds,” said Hama. He will be using the improved seeds he produced, and he will also sell them to his peers who have seen the spectacular yield capacity of this millet variety. It has yielded just less than a ton, which is 40% more than the local farmers are used to harvesting. Life can be improved thanks to simple seeds.