Two years ago, Abdullahi Umar was a frustrated farmer. His farm in a rural community in Kaduna was doing poorly. This frustration was fuelled by the fact that Abdullahi was in his 40s, had spent his entire life farming, and was very hardworking and dedicated to his practice. Yet, at the end of every harvest season, his yields remained low. Furthermore, because Abdullahi’s access to storage facilities and good markets was sorely limited, he sold his produce to middlemen who bought them for very modest sums, sold them in large markets for the highest possible price, and enjoyed almost exclusive access to the profits. Success, it seemed, had eluded Abdullahi on all fronts.
Abdullahi’s search for solutions to his predicament led him to Babban Gona, which promised improved yields and better markets for his maize. “When the news of this company reached [my community]”, he recalls, “it came with mixed reactions. Some individuals said that, as far as they were concerned, this company was the best thing that has ever happened to them. Others who were not members were not very trusting. Having thought well about it, I said to myself, ‘I will join and see for myself’.”
Having registered his interest in Babban Gona and followed the necessary procedures, Abdullahi began his journey as a Babban Gona member. In addition to the support he got from his group, Abdullahi benefitted immensely from the strategic guidance of a Babban Gona’s training services. Abdullahi’s access to training and development ensured that he not only had access to the credit and high-quality, low-cost inputs that Babban Gona provided, but also learned superior farming practices and effective risk-mitigation strategies to employ on his farm in order to produce high quality maize.
All these events augured a different harvest year for Abdullahi. And indeed it turned out to be a great year for him as he gained a yield of 6.9 MT on his 0.8ha farm, five times the average maize yield in Nigeria and the highest seen in Babban Gona. What made Abdullahi really happy was knowing that his efforts would no longer be undermined by the exploitative practices of the middlemen with whom he once had traded. Instead, Babban Gona would market his produce directly in premium markets, ensuring that he got a good bargain for his maize. As a result, a great increase in his income was guaranteed. At last, Abdullahi, the highest performing farmer in an organization of over 650 members, had achieved the success he had desperately sought. “On my soil of 0.8Ha, the best I have ever gotten was 38bags, and today on that same piece of land I have harvested 48bags”, a content Abdullahi testified. “This to me, I say it is wonderful!”
Abdullahi, who regards his decision to join Babban Gona as the best decision he ever made for his maize farm, also marveled at the range of services and professionalism he enjoyed as a member of Babban Gona. “All our dealings were documented and I was given my own copy”, he added, grateful that he had not being deterred from joining Babban Gona by the rumors in the village. “I can assure you that, to date, there is no company that can be as transparent as Babban Gona.”
At the time of this study, a proud and satisfied Abdullahi Umar could be heard entreating the Babban Gona staff:
“Since you have come with full determination to pull us out of poverty, please, I beg you, don’t relent… Allah (SWT) will continue to be with you.”
It is this same determination that is Abdullahi’s primary arsenal as he gears up to reap an even more bountiful harvest in the coming season.