Improving farmers access to land for rice and cassava production

Spurred by the need to create more arable land to produce more food, VCDP is helping farmers in Ogun to develop land for rice and cassava cultivation.

“There has been increase in the number of people having access to land, especially women and youth,” says Samuel Adeogun, VCDP Ogun state programme coordinator.

“Land development has also provided room for farm mechanisation. We believe the use of farm mechanisation increases efficiency, reduces cost of production and improves on the yield of the farm.”

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Folashade Arijogbade (2nd left) with some members of her group on their 30 hectares cassava farm

Across Ogun, farmers usually open up virgin land by slashing and burning the vegetation. The density of rainforest vegetation limits the area of land they can farm. And at the end of the planting season, they move on to fresh land, leaving the former to fallow.

“Opening up land involves a lot of physical labour, and hiring tractors is too expensive for farmers to bear. The intervention of the programme on land development came as a result of the fact that a lot of the farmers are not having access to land, and when they do, most of this land is not tractorable.” adds Adeogun

Mrs Folashade Arijogbade, a cassava farmer in Aiyetoro community in Yewa north local government area, has every reason to smile. She used to farm on 0.5 hectares but thanks VCDP intervention on land development, she and her group now farm on 30 hectares on lease.

The land development support from VCDP requires land owners or communities to sign a leasing agreement for a minimum of 10 years. The lands are sourced from either the communities or government. “By this, they will be able to recoup the cost of investment on the land, because land development is a huge investment beyond the capacity of the average smallholder farmer,” says Adeogun.

For Folashade it’s a dream come true. “I never imagined that we could have access to vast land like this but VCDP made it possible for us. I am amazed each time I look at the 30 hectares. The programme aside from providing us with land, gave us cassava stems, fertilisers and herbicides. We have planted cassava stems and are looking forward to a bumper harvest”. She said

Land development under VCDP has created a culture of increased mechanisation among farmers working with the programme—creating services for farmers and jobs for mechanisation service providers.
“Those farms were planted using mechanical planters, which would have been very difficult in a normal farmer’s work. There has also been a kind of demonstration that when you are able to open up land, you are able to bring in tractor and mechanise farming to increase profit and enhance efficiency.”

“By the time you see farms cleared, developed and planted, you see the plant population are doing very well and we expect to get a higher yield,” says Adeogun.

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Land clearing in Aiyetoro Community, Ogun State

So far, VCDP has developed 1,292 hectares in its six participating states and provided mechanisation and paid half the cost to enable the farmers to afford them.

The programme targets to increase agricultural income by at least 25% for 45,000 smallholder farmers and indirectly benefit up to 320,800 people from the production of rice and cassava along the two value chains.

Credit: Vera Onyeaka-Onyilo