On August 3, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) marked the successful conclusion of the 5 year, $65 million Nigeria Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites II (MARKETS II) Project. In doing so, it transitions support and activities to local, state and federal partners. This Feed the Future initiative brought together farmers, processors, local service providers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and private and public sector entities to enhance Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
MARKETS II supported the Government of Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda/Green Alternative by addressing critical issues hindering the agricultural sector in addition to strengthening agricultural competitiveness and food security. MARKETS II was based on proven private sector interventions to help improve the performance of Nigeria’s small-scale farmers by identifying and alleviating constraints to well-functioning markets.
“Because of MARKETS II interventions, the private sector has invested more than 4.9 billion Naira ($27.2 M) into the agricultural sector since 2012,” said Stephen M. Haykin, USAID Nigeria Mission Director at the event. “By diversifying resources, increasing income generating opportunities and improving the nutritional values project participants are now able to send more of their children to school, improve their homes and increase the overall health of their families and communities.”
MARKETS II focused on seven commodities– rice, sorghum, soya bean, maize, cassava, cocoa, and aquaculture. It covered 15 states benefitting more than 1.4 million households. Hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers saw their productivity and incomes improve significantly. Rice production rose from 1.7 to 5 metric tons per hectare, not only increasing farmer profits but supplies to millers. MARKETS II not only stimulated production, but also linked producers to processors, suppliers and financial institutions.
MARKETS II also engaged extension agents to educate lead farmers in improved methods and techniques. These lead farmers then served as role models and trainers for the surrounding community. Finally, the project engaged international and local partners to improve fertilizer and soil fertility; developed agronomic and agricultural small business approaches; and provided technical support for aquaculture and agronomic training.