Permagarden Training in Nigeria Cultivates Hope Among Rural Farmer Families
Permagarden training, a program Nuru Nigeria offers their farmer association members to increase household nutrition in northeast Nigeria, is launching for the second year in a row, led by the Nuru Nigeria team. The first year’s experience with tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers was extremely important from many points, including that the Nigeria team was able to take on a tangible project and deliver value to our first farmer associations (FAs) in northern Adamawa State. This year, we replaced the peppers with pumpkin and continued with tomatoes and eggplant with an estimated 500+ participants taking part in this year’s programming. Last year’s success–42% increase in household income and 100% repayment rate of loans by the 38 farmer associations enrolled in 2019–created a strong desire from the farmer associations for implementation once again. The impact of the program has been critical for many of the participating members beyond merely increasing household nutrition.
Though the data demonstrates notable transformation happening, the blooming hope and personal resilience cannot be fully conveyed in numbers; rather, these types of progress are best understood through the individual stories of farmer families. In fact, we would like to share a few short stories from our farmers to help capture the changes taking place in northeast Nigeria.
Food as Medicine
Naomi Pembi, received medical advice and a prescription from the hospital that required her to purchase leaves of fluted pumpkins and/or liquid peak milk to increase her blood pressure.
Naomi said that the fluted pumpkins given to her household because of her membership in one Nuru Nigeria FA means a lot to them; they will no longer have to spend precious amounts of their savings to buy leaves of fluted pumpkins since the Nuru permagarden program allows her to grow them herself. They can retain that savings and still have the necessary medicine her household requires.
It is gratifying to see the impact of the permagarden program, as it is exceeding the basic program goals and improving the lives of participating FA members. Nuru Nigeria is pleased to help Naomi and many others like her.
Medicine is not the only tangible benefit our participating FA members have experienced. In capable hands, permagarden programming functions as business training as well.
A Good Business Opportunity
Murna, a mother of three, demonstrated excitement about the potential nutrition benefits and business opportunity of the nutrition package distributed to her group:
“I will be able to raise enough ugu vegetables (fluted pumpkins) for my household to cook jollof rice and even sell surplus in the local market, and my husband and children don’t need to travel to Michika Central Market to buy fluted pumpkin leaves and tomatoes again, which is even not readily available.”
Permagardens might seem to be a small undertaking, but its impact reaches the needs at the household level, offering both relief and opportunity. Far more than just offering seeds to farmers, Nuru Nigeria is interrupting the status quo by offering highly improved seeds whose quality is third party verified, and these seeds are coupled with agricultural, financial, and business training. This ensures that the permagarden program is truly impactful in alleviating the many stresses this community has experienced from the shocks of the insurgency and ongoing stressors of life adjacent to a conflict zone.
Shifting from Distrust to Hope
Maryamu has a profound sense of hope and trusts Nuru’s intervention programs to impact her life. Though Maryamu joined a Nuru farmer association over a year ago, she and her household had a distrust and skepticism about Nuru’s programs, but after participating in the recent permagarden training, Maryamu and her household are optimistic and have hope in Nuru and what Nuru stands to achieve in their community.
“It was access to certified and improved seeds, then access to capital to restart up my business and now seedlings of vegetables that we pay transport fare to markets to buy. I am convinced Nuru has really come to support and lift us out of hardship and poverty by providing access to these rare opportunities.”
While increased income, higher crop yield, and money in savings to fall back on are all important to Nuru farmers having resiliency, it’s the intangibles like hope for the future that are a true measure of farmer resilience in the face of uncertainty. As the Nuru Nigeria programming is still in its infancy, we look forward to watching farmers continue to see positive change and expectantly look forward to their futures. We look forward to sharing many more stories of transformation and hope in the months and years ahead.
Team Leader, Nigeria — Scott is an entrepreneur and executive leader with experience in security, healthcare and finance, beginning his career as a US Army officer, and continuing through roles as a US State Department contractor, and principle owner in multiple startup companies. Scott has been engaged in work on the African continent since the early 1990’s, focused on ways to increase the impact of various development and security initiatives. He brings that wealth of experience to his work at Nuru, serving vulnerable and marginalized farming communities in northeast Nigeria. Scott graduated with a BA in History from The Citadel and an MA in Diplomacy from Norwich University. Scott and his wife Kristy reside in South Carolina, and have three children and one grandchild.Read More Stories of Hope