For several decades, youths in Makarfi Local Government, Kaduna State in the Northern parts of Nigeria were involved in spraying activities of pesticides and herbicides on farms. It is their only source of income due to the high employment rate in their community, they earned meager amounts that was barely enough for them to feed their households and provide other basic family needs.
This was largely due to lack of awareness on proper and modern spraying techniques. They were unaware that different crops required different pesticides and herbicides. The lack of knowledge subsequently created huge crop losses on different parts of the farms, which didn’t guarantee their payment. In addition, the youths were at risk exposing their selves without wearing personal protective equipment while spraying.
The story changed in 2019, when the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) partnered with Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural transformation in Africa (PIATA) to train three corpertives groups on proper spraying techniques while scaling up spraying activities in Markarfi.
Mustapha Shuaibu, a community-based facilitator said the selection process involved a lot of research, the youths in the cooperatives were also interviewed about their challenges and spraying techniques to ensure they required training.
A total of 50 youth were chosen, they were trained on how to better handle pesticides; use of the appropraite persticides for specific crops, spray effectively as well as the use of personal protective equipment to protect themselves. They were also provided with some equipment at the end of the training to ensure they continue to have an opportunity to work because smallholder farmers largely dominate Markarfi community creating a profitable market for sprayers.
The youths became experts and highly knowledgeable in the act of spraying, now they get contracted by farmers to spray their farms, tend to their crops and their payments are guaranteed. Spraying activities in Gimi community have completely changed the narrative for numerous of youths and households who can now adequately take care of themselves.
With more youths acquiring skill sets and gaining strength, there has been an opportunity to collaborate between government and businesses while keeping up with the rapidly evolving demand within the agricultural sector. With the help of AGRA, one of the beneficiary sprayer Mohammed said “I used the money we get from working on people’s farms to take my Jamb examinations for University adimission. Luckily I scored 250, I want to study medicine at the Kaduna State University, I’m just waiting for the admission. This is good improvement for me. I can’t express what I have gained from the program; we thank God.”