Several years ago, Naomi Michael was an unhappy farmer. Because of the manure and fertilizer costs involved in maize cultivation and the relatively small profits, due to limited markets/buyers, Naomi was deterred from producing maize. Instead, she chose a safer path and only cultivated sorghum on her 0.8 ha farm. But with a convalescing husband and 7 children to take care of, Naomi found that she could never really meet her family’s needs. She consoled herself with a popular saying in her community – “a farmer’s reward is heaven”.
This was before Babban Gona came on the scene. Babban Gona offered farmers like herself the resources they needed to increase their yield such as low-cost quality inputs, training, credit, farm supervision, as well as marketing support at harvest. As a woman farmer, Na’omi faced additional challenges which further marginalized her and trapped her in a cycle of poverty.
Through her membership in Babban Gona, Na’omi had access to the same set of services similar to her male counter parts. For the first time, Na’omi was able to sell her maize directly to a company as oppose to a middleman who often time took advantage of her and her fellow farmers. The quality of her maize and that produced by other Babban Gona members attracts off-takers that are willing to pay a premium In light of this, 50-year-old Naomi was able to pursue her dream of cultivating quality maize. “Babban Gona gave me quality fertilizer and good seeds at an appropriate time without delay”, she recalls, a move that changed the fate of her farm. This season, she gained an unprecedented yield and saw her income increase threefold when the maize was sold to Nestle, one of Babban Gona’s partner off-takers. With a change in her financial situation, Naomi was able to send some of her children to school.
Today, Naomi is a very happy and content farmer who looks forward to greater yields in the 2014 season. Joining Babban Gona has caused poverty to flee and thanks to Babban Gona, I can now reap my reward here on earth, she says.