PROSAB: demonstrating the effectiveness of our R4D approach

Some members of a women farmers' group organized under PROSAB are all smiles, proud of what they have achieved under the project. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.
Some members of a women farmers' group organized under PROSAB are all smiles, proud of what they have achieved under the project. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.

The successes recorded by the five-year run of the “Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno State” (PROSAB) project that we coordinated proved the effectiveness of our research-for-development (R4D) approach in tackling not only livelihoods and food security but also social empowerment and gender equality. PROSAB started in 2004 and ended this year.

Farmers in the project area who adopted the technologies and management practices espoused by the project experienced increased food availability and incomes. Considerable progress was also made in addressing the problems of declining soil fertility and Striga infestation.

Our socioeconomic analysis involving about 17,000 households, or more than 100,000 farmers, that participated in the project showed that poverty levels dropped by an average of 14 percent, while food security improved by 17 percent.

Farmers who participated in the project increased their average incomes by an average of 81 percent compared to what they were earning before PROSAB started. They attributed this mainly to the project’s interventions.

More importantly, the knock-on effect on other non-participating farmers in the region has been tremendous.

PROSAB seed producer Marcus Dawi Mbaye. He was able to put his four children through university from the income he earned from the various agro-projects under PROSAB. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.
PROSAB seed producer Marcus Dawi Mbaye. He was able to put his four children through university from the income he earned from the various agro-projects under PROSAB. Photo by Amare Tegbaru, IITA.

PROSAB introduced improved crop varieties, trained farmers on improved agronomic practices and promoted gender equality in agricultural development.

Apart from reducing poverty in households from 63 percent to 49 percent, the project also made significant inroads in enhancing women’s roles in agricultural activities.

Ruth Dasika Mshelia, a mother of five and a participant of the project, attested, “PROSAB has helped us freely interact with our male counterparts in development projects. We are not ashamed anymore,”

Borno state, where the project was centered, is predominantly Islamic, with social interaction between men and women largely restricted by religious norms.

Farmers, policy makers, nongovernment organizations, and other local partners hailed it as a major success story in northern Nigeria where climatic and cultural factors are major challenges to development.

Some local governments have signified interest in out-scaling PROSAB’s approach to other states. It has also been touted as a model that could be adopted in agriculture-based communities in other African countries.

The CA$ 7 million (about US$6.33 million) project was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. Our implementing partners included the International Livestock Research Institute, Borno State Agricultural Development Program, Community Research for Empowerment and Development, the Institute of Agricultural Research – Zaria, and the University of Maiduguri.