Here his story:
Born in the fifties to poor parents who were subsistent farmers in Kukar Rabo, a remote village in Katsina State, Ashafa did not have the privilege of a western education and therefore took to farming early in life. Now in his fifties, he recollects “in over 25 years of farming, I have never received advice from any extension worker and all I have been able to do is feed my family”.
Ashafa grows maize and sorghum during the main planting season and vegetables near a riverbed during dry season. He has experienced several total crop failures over the years. According to him, “when there is enough rain (fall), I harvest between 25 and 35 bags of grains during the harvest season” most of which he uses to feed his household which comprises 2 wives and 12 children. For more than 10 years, Ashafa has learnt to use fertiliser from fellow farmers in the village which has led to little or no increase in his production. To obtain farm inputs, Ashafa was forced to travel to Batsari town (20Km away from his village) in an open market were adulteration is common. “I usually buy between 3–5 Tiyas of fertiliser each time I am preparing my land for planting” he explained. A “Tiya” refers to local measuring system used by retailers who sell from open bags of fertiliser in the market.
The significant change in Ashafa’s status began when he was visited on his farm by Alhaji. Audu Mobe. Audu Mobe is a trained Village Promoter of Notore and its partners. Mobe was trained to educate small-scale farmers in Batsari local government area on best practices in fertiliser application as well as improve their access to premium quality Notore fertiliser to apply on their farms. During the visit, Mobe gathered about 25 farmers on Ashafa’s plot where he explained the appropriate fertiliser application method, and set up a pepper demonstration plot to help the farmers compare their traditional farming practices to Notore’s recommended practice. “We argued that he was wasting his time and energy as the process of application was too strenuous”, Ashafa recalled. It took a passionate plea from Mobe for the farmers to agree to wait for the outcome of both practices before deciding which practice will give better results. Four weeks later, Ashafa observed that Mobe’s recommended practice was far better than other parts of his farm and was already showing signs of flowering. ‘I did not wait for Mobe before I decided to tend to the remaining part of my farm the way Mobe had done. ‘Thank God I did. Now my yields are better than I have ever had since I started growing vegetables’ Ashafa concluded. Other things the farmers learnt from the Village promoter include using improved seeds, proper spacing as well as correct fertiliser dosage.
Today, Alhaji Ashafa doesn’t apply fertilisers six times in a season as he learnt from his parents, he doesn’t travel far to buy fertilisers and does not throw away his money simply by throwing fertiliser on top of the soil. When asked what he has gained from the Notore training, the wide smiling Ashafa said, ‘with the Notore approach I spend less than half of what I used to spend on fertilisers and I am getting more than 300% increase in yield’. I watch my crops growing very healthy with deep greener leaves and bigger fruits said Ashafa. ‘With the extra money I will make this year, I will register my children in school and buy a motorbike’, Ashafa added. I am no longer a poor farmer, thanks to Notore, he concluded.