Rahlia Michael likes to describe her life story as a typical grass-to-grace story, a story that cannot be told without calling to mind the misery that once attended her life. This 50-year-old mother of five produced maize for a living but fought hunger every day.
There was no food, no money, no fertilizer, and most importantly no good seed, she recalls. I would work, work and work only to make little profit, sometimes only breaking even, other times even running at a loss. Money was as scarce as anything you could think of. My husband was also poor and because I was also taking care of six orphans, we had 13 mouths to feed. We couldn’t talk about school fees when eating was a problem.
As a woman farmer, Rahlia’s access to key services was extremely challenging. To start with, her land was not of the best quality, requiring much work to realize decent yields. All that changed when Babban Gona came to her community. With a complete set of services – low-cost, quality seeds, fertilizer, and herbicides, credit, training in agronomy and business, and close supervision provided by trained agronomist and farm manager – Rahlia was set on the path to producing quality maize. She got the necessary land management training in order to help increase her yields. During the 2013 Harvest, Rahilia increased her yields. In addition to access to premium buyers through the Babban Gona partnership, Rahlia was able to get much better prices for her maize, and consequently earner a much higher income.
Today, Rahlia is all smiles. With the excess maize I produced and the money I gained from doing business with Nestle, I was able to feed my family. Now I can even send my children to school. And after so many years of sleeping on a mat, I was able to buy a mattress for myself for N30, 000, a luxury that I thought I would be able to afford. Thanks to Babban Gona, there are a lot of smiles in my household. I look forward to the next season, to getting good seeds and fertilizers like last year and seeing my income grow like grass as I continue to do business.