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BATNF's Agricultural Interventions Boost Revenues of Rural Farmers

Olatunde Ogunsanya, Project Supervisor, British American Tobacco Nigerian Foundation /International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (BATNF/IITA) Cassava Enterprise Value-chain Development Project, Otu Community; Mrs. Janet Ajao, beneficiary; Tajudeen Akinwande, BATNF Communications and Events Manager; Mrs. Kehinde Alawode, beneficiary; and Ajao Sunday, Chairman, BATNF/IITA Cassava Value Chain Enterprise Committee, during the tour of the project sites in Otu community, Itesiwaju Local Government of Oyo State recently.

The British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, (BATNF), has received further commendations for its efforts in enhancing farming practices among smallholder farmers in rural communities across Nigeria.

The Foundation's interventions have created unique opportunities for smallholder farmers, enabling them to better contend with farming challenges such as lack of capital even while empowering them with technical know-how, among others. Some of the beneficiary farmers now operate at commercial levels.

Olatunde Ogunsanya, Field Supervisor, BATNF-International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Oke-Ogun Cassava Enterprise Value-chain Development Projects said that BATNF’S agricultural interventions have had positive and wide impact on the lives and businesses of the beneficiaries of the BATNF Cassava Enterprise in Otu Community, in Itesiwaju Local Government Area of Oyo State. He stated that about 46 smallholder farmers, including women, who originally operated at the subsistence level, now own hectares of farmland, including having access to inputs such as improved varieties of cassava stems, pesticides and herbicides to preserve their crops.

“We are proud to say that BATNF's intervention has positively impacted scores of lives, especially those of women farmers who hitherto operated at subsistence level. Due to support from BATNF, they now work on a large scale, with established market links giving an average women farmer the growth opportunity to net over five hundred thousand naira annually,” said Ogunsanya. He noted further that “the beneficiaries, who now pay labourers to work on their farms, happily share the news of their successes, having triumphed over challenges ranging from limited farmlands, insufficient inputs, lack of resources to expand their farmlands, to encroachment on farmlands, which have drastically reduced."

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Victoria Ojumola, who started farming about 10 years ago, commended the Foundation for coming to the aid of farmers at a time when the community was confronted by a myriad of challenges. “Before BATNF's intervention, farming, though lucrative, was not encouraging as most farmers did not have the financial muscle to combat farming challenges. With the coming of the Foundation, farmers were given fully prepared hectares of land, together with sufficient cassava inputs, fertilizers and lots of chemicals to preserve our crops. Most importantly, BATNF supported us by erecting customised signposts to mark boundaries so as to protect our farmlands from further encroachment; said Mrs Ojumola."

Speaking further, she said that, "with the availability of hectares of land, among other support from the Foundation, about 46 of us now operate on a large scale in our community. The disposition to farming is fast-changing due to successes we have recorded through the support from BATNF. Some people, who previously abandoned farming due to inherent challenges, have now made a U-turn, indicating interest to embrace their choice vocation. Now I am able to train three of my children at the university level due to the expansion of my farmland.”

Mr. Ogunsanya stated that BATNF kicked off its three cycle cassava project in Otu Community area of Oyo State in 2014, starting with 30 smallholder farmers. The list has since grown to 46. Significantly, about 150 smallholders in Otu, Ogboro Igboho, and Ago-Are communities of Oyo State are currently benefiting from BATNF’s interventions through the technical partnership with IITA. This collaboration further underpins BATNF’s leading role as a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the lives and businesses of smallholder farmers in rural communities across Nigeria.

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