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PERL-ARC Development Watch: Edition 11, September 2018
Revised Edition
Matured maize cobs and maize farms photographed at Rahama Community in Igabi LGA. The Farms belong to 28 women farmers clustered in a location.

The Inclusive Rural Economy Programme is a partnership involving the government, private sector, UKAID, and citizens of Kaduna State. The intervention is led by the Kaduna State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the DFID Business Innovation Facility (BIF), supported by PERL-ARC. It seeks to facilitate access of 5000 women and youths to opportunities in agriculture, to increase farmers’ income, and to demonstrate how government can work with the private sector to stimulate the rural economy. It also facilitates institutional reforms and builds partnerships to enhance inclusion for poverty reduction. For the scheme, youths are considered to be persons aged between 18 to 40 years old.

The Kaduna State Inclusive Rural Economy Programme was first piloted by the Kaduna State Ministry of Rural and Community Development (MRCD) to facilitate access to agricultural inputs including land, seeds and technical know-how, as well as to guarantee access to markets for beneficiaries. The ministry, through the Kaduna State Millennium Village Project, demonstrated an improvement in maize production from the baseline average of 0.7 to 3 tons per hectare among 2700 'poor' farmers from three villages. PERL-ARC supported the institutional development of the Ministry.

In 2018, the programme was scaled up from 3 LGAs to 14 LGAs and its implementation built around the structures created by the MRCD, through its Cooperative Department. The State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was co-opted into the partnership to better align functions and ensure sustainability of the programme. The ministry provides the enabling environment for the programme by identifying women (including women above 40 years) and male youths, providing extension services for farmers, supervising the project and also providing logistics, such as warehouses. The Director, Agricultural Services is responsible for supervising the programme and reporting to the Permanent Secretary, who reports to the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

BIF is a DFID-funded programme that facilitates change through the delivery of technical assistance to beneficiaries who demonstrate an interest in market-changing business innovations. BIF adopts a Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach. BIF provides technical support to the Kaduna State Inclusive Rural Economy Programme through Value Seeds, a private sector company.

The partnership aims to reduce poverty among women and youths by improving the way market systems function for the poor. The programme is designed to be sustained through revolving of funds, capacity building and provision of agricultural extension services, and provision of a readily available market for sale of farm produce. 
Value kits to farmers
The agricultural inputs (value kits) are provided by Value Seeds. Value Seeds were contracted to provide support to farmers, helping them to test their soil, distribute value-kits, and provide agricultural extension services. 
As of 28 August 2018, 4,867 Value Kits (agricultural inputs) had been distributed to beneficiaries from 14 LGAs; 60% of the kits were distributed to women while 40% were distributed to male youth farmers.
The maize value kit is a package containing improved maize seeds and agro-chemical inputs required to produce optimum maize yields per 1⁄4 hectare sized fields. The kit consists of 1 litre of realsate, 5 kg of maize seeds, 1 litre of post-emergence herbicide, 2kg of cover crop, 60kg of granular fertilizer, 2.5kg of aflasafe, 1 litre of insecticide and a technology guide leaflet. For the current season, the cost of each maize kit is N27,000, or N108,000 per hectare. Value Seeds, through the Inclusive Rural Economy Programme, is providing the kits to farmers participating in the programme in their first year, financed by PERL-ARC. The farmers are expected to harvest a minimum of 10 bags of maize, which is five times more than the 1.5 to 2 bags of maize harvested without the value kit.

After the first harvest, each farmer is expected to return 3 bags of farm produce to Value Seeds, one bag to cover the cost of extension services received and two bags to fund the revolving fund, which will be managed by BIF. The revolving fund will be used to bring onboard new farmers in subsequent cycles, so that the whole programme is self-sustaining. Every farmer will have at least seven bags of maize available for sale at an approximate value of N48,000 per bag, which is nearly three times higher earning power than farming without improved inputs and training.
Beneficiaries hail distribution of value kits

On 23rd May 2018, identification and mapping of farmers, soil testing, and distribution of the value kit inputs to farmers in Bomo district was conducted. Farmers had much to say
While receiving the value kit, Zainab Ahmed, who had limited access to farm inputs in the past said, “This will be my first opportunity to use improved inputs which I expect will increase my yield. One of my major challenges has been the availability of improved inputs and knowledge of how to apply it. My hope is to improve my income through this support.”
Another female farmer, a pregnant woman from Bomo District, Sabon Gari, Zainab Haruna hopes that the intervention will set her farming business on a sustainable path. “We are here for an opportunity to improve our farming business through this support. I take farming as a serious business and reliable means of livelihood,” she said.
Laure Abubakar, who had the challenge of low yield in the past said, “I need improved agricultural inputs and knowledge of good agricultural practices because I learned that it will give me higher yield that can be used to improve the wellbeing of my family.”
Muhammad Ibrahim, who has two wives and eight children, farms on two hectares of land. He said, “I usually cultivate two hectares annually and the yield is not encouraging and it’s not commensurate to the total expenses incurred. With the improved input, I am optimistic that I can have a better yield that will provide more food for my family.”
Mr. George Zangir, the president and founder of Value Seeds, commended the State Government for creating the enabling environment for the programme (providing access to farmers); and the BIF, which provides technical support through Value Seeds. George pointed out that access to quality agricultural inputs has been a major challenge facing farmers until recently. He also said the farmers would have access to the right inputs for their farming activities through the programme as well as have access to the best agronomy support. According to George, the intervention has been well planned and aligned with the planting calendar for maize in Kaduna State.
On the role of the State Government, Mr Dauda Ashafa Abubakar, Director of Agricultural Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Kaduna State, said the State Government was providing the enabling environment for the partnership to thrive, while identifying and selecting farmers, providing warehouses, and complementing the extension team that would provide necessary information and training for farmers.
"To ensure that farmers do not have difficulty in selling their farm produce, Nestle and OLAM have indicated interest in purchasing the maize harvested by the farmers under the Kaduna Inclusive Rural Economy Programme. This is a result of safe farming practices which the partnership is encouraging," he said.
Read about the Challenges faced by Women Farmers
About PERL
The Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) is a five-year governance programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The programme focuses support on governments, citizens, and evidence-based advocacy. PERL provides assistance to governments in the core areas of policy development and implementation. 
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The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department for International Development.
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