Moving towards the restoration of groundnut pyramids in northern Nigeria
Early adoption studies in Nigeria reveal promising adoption rates for improved groundnut varieties. In the five states targeted for USAID project implementation, groundnut varieties Samnut 24, Samnut 25, and Samnut 26 are being used by at least 36% of farmers, with most farmers planting more than one. About 82% of the farmers interviewed re-affirmed their preference for Samnut 24. In communities not targeted by the project, farmers have been using both local and improved varieties, with Samnut 24 being used by over half (55%) of the farmers.
This may be good news for Nigeria, which used to be a leading exporter of groundnut in the 1960s and early 1970s but saw rosette disease and drought destroy nearly one million hectares of cultivated groundnut in northern Nigeria. There is hope that the groundnut pyramids — sacks of groundnut stacked up in pyramid-like structures that signified prosperity and served as a tourist attraction — which once dotted the landscape could return, thanks to the Nigerian government’s efforts. Rosette-resistant groundnut varieties developed by ICRISAT’s scientists, in partnership with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) of the Ahmadu Bello University, are helping in the efforts.
In 2012, ICRISAT was contracted to provide technical support to the groundnut value chain of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria. In northern Nigeria, groundnut is grown mainly under rain-fed conditions by resource poor farmers. Cultivation received a boost with the release of early-maturing Samnut 24 (ICIAR 19BT) in January 2012 and the introduction of practices encouraging dry season groundnut cultivation for seed, grain and fodder. This also helped improve seed availability in the rainy season. In addition, farmers made appreciable profits selling fodder produced during the dry season. Two other varieties [Samnut 25 (ICGX-SM-00020/PS/P10) and Samnut 26 (ICGX-SM-00018/P5/P15/P2)] were released in December 2014.
Beginning in 2015, ICRISAT Nigeria facilitated the setting up of 31 hectares of community-based seed production plots with Samnut 24; seed multiplication plots have been doubling in subsequent cropping seasons in the five northern states targeted for project implementation. State-based initiatives for their promotion have increased. In Jigawa State, for example, while 1,735 hectares were planted with Samnut 24 during the 2016 cropping season, this grew to 3,528 hectares during the 2017 cropping season. Now, other project and non-project states have embarked on promoting these improved groundnut varieties.
In addition to the improved varieties, 1223 lead farmers improved their knowledge and skills in integrated crop management (ICM) through training between August 2015 and June 2017. This excluded farmer-to-farmer exchanges. Collaboration among donor-funded projects (USAID-Groundnut Upscaling, TL III and FAO) and civil society organizations has taken improved groundnut varieties to 12 additional states, as against the initial 6. Over 10 tons of Breeder seeds and 65 tons of Foundation seed were distributed to seed companies and community seed producers in Nigeria and partners in Ghana.