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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Organic Farming in Nigeria: Training the Heartbeat of African Agriculture

Nigeria’s vast landscapes are a testament to its agricultural potential, a potential hindered at times by the high costs of synthetic fertilizers and the consequences of pesticide misuse. However, change is on the horizon.

Washington & Sherri Kabaou

One name stands out in this transformative narrative–Extension Africa (EXAF). This vibrant private agribusiness is rewriting the rules on how farming advisory services are delivered to farmers. Today, they have taken on a new mission, and with the help of Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer Mark Otto, they are pioneering the path to sustainable and organic farming.

EXAF’s mantra, ‘Strengthening Agribusiness Extension Service Delivery in Africa,’ is not just a tagline. They have onboarded 1,046 Farmer Business Advisors (FBAs), serving as the hands and feet on the ground. These FBAs touch the lives of over 177,800 smallholder farmers, providing them with farm inputs, expert advisory services, and a bridge to the markets.

It is not just about the numbers; it is about impact. To further drive this impact, EXAF requested training for their trainers, specifically in organic fertilizer blending and integrated pests and disease management, for two reasons: First, to adopt climate-smart agriculture from synthetic fertilizers to organic alternatives. Second, to boost farmers’ productivity using compost manure.

Mark’s workshop in Kano State attracted 66 FBAs from Kano and Jigawa. Mark ensured each day was packed with value – from the basics of ecology, climate, and plant health to a hands-on practical session on Biocomplete compost making using local materials. For many participants, this was their first deep dive into organic compost making, which promises healthier soil, reduced environmental impact, and enhanced food security.

“The training was enlightening. Most of our FBAs knew about compost materials but not about the precise measurements and compositions. Mark detailed it brilliantly. – Hadiza Bala Aliyu, Agronomist, EXAF

“We appreciate Mark’s ability to leverage local materials for composting. It will truly help us and our farmers increase productivity and reduce reliance on synthetic fertilizers. – Darma Nasiru, Operations Manager, EXAF

“The knowledge on bacteria, fungi, and plant biodiversity was invaluable. Grateful for this opportunity!” – Zainab Hassan, Participant

EXAF’s leadership team was beyond pleased with Mark’s training. Plans are to take his manuals and training materials online, expanding access to more staff, agricultural students, and the broader farming community. As for Mark, this assignment has furthered his professional insights and rekindled his passion for teaching and contributing positively to global agriculture. In essence, the partnership between EXAF and F2F, embodied by Mark Otto’s commitment, brings us hope. The collaboration reminds us that when individuals, communities, and organizations come together with a shared vision, the dream of a more sustainable and productive farming future in Africa is not just possible–it is inevitable.