Smallholder Productivity Enhancement

Component 2- Smallholder Productivity Enhancement

The component objective is to enhance smallholder farmer productivity on an economically and environmentally sustainable basis to increase incomes and employment, improve food security and reduce poverty. The component has two subcomponents: (i) strengthening of FOs; and (ii) support to smallholder production.

Sub-component 2.1- Strengthening of farmers’ organizations

Expected outcome: FOs in programme areas effectively serve their members (facilitating access to inputs, improved technologies, credit and information).

Under this sub-component, VCDP will continue to support FOs in the preparation of Value Chain Action Plans and capacity building. Main programme activities are: (i) selection of FOs and support for VCAPs through participatory needs assessment and prioritization of activities; (ii) capacity-building of FOs in the areas of group dynamics, good governance, enterprise planning and management, participatory monitoring and evaluation and functional literacy; (iii) support for registration and development of by-laws for FOs, and (iv) support for apex organizations including women’s organizations. New groups will also be supported for formalization to ensure that all groups are registered. The programme will also continue its support for Apex Value Chain Groups (AVCG) in new states and enhance their capacity to deliver services to their members. Under AF2 about 1,750 FOs will be selected to reach 35,000 additional beneficiaries for rice or cassava. Out of these around 1,570 will be production FOs and 180 processors/ traders FOs.


Selection of FOs: To increase the participation of women, service providers will be asked to employ more women staff (at least 40 per cent) for the training of women, giving consideration to time and venue, and child-care spaces for nursing mothers. The programme will conduct advocacy with traditional rulers and religious leaders to ensure buy-in in the gender transformative approach of VCDP. VCDP will improve results in GALS through training of more staff and stakeholders.

Youth capacity building: Building on the findings of the youth grant, a more dynamic and differentiated approach to youth employment will be further explored, above all for those young people who are not participating in organized groups. Beyond the creation of self-employment opportunities through the provision of matching grants and start-ups – the wage-employment path will be pursued by strengthening the employability competencies and skills of youth using modernised tools and methods to provide them with technical, managerial and entrepreneurial skills to make them more attractive for the labour market and increase their placement opportunities.

Nutrition: VCDP will (i) deploy training manuals on Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) and Essential Hygiene Actions (EHA); and (ii) train select mothers/fathers on ENA/EHA/consumption of diversified diets/planning and budgeting for food and facilitate step-down training through the ToT approach.

Financial inclusion: For smallholder farmers to sustain and develop their enterprise beyond the matching grant support, VCDP will strengthen its financial inclusion strategy as follows:

  1. The programme will develop a comprehensive financial literacy programme for farmers to have a better understanding of financial concepts and services and empower them to make the right decisions on business and household budget management. This will be done in partnership with the GIZ funded AgFin programme and through existing service providers for the beneficiaries not targeted by AgFin, through a ToT approach (two members per FO – one man and one woman). The updated financial strategy will include the building of savings at group and individual levels for beneficiaries to self-finance their business, to reduce borrowing needs and lower financial costs. Specific savings strategies will be designed for women and youth. This will also allow beneficiaries to build a track record with the financial institutions and mobilize collateral.
  2. Provide (demand-led) technical assistance to selected financial institutions for the design of agricultural finance strategies and delivery of adapted financial services (savings, loans and payments), under performance-based MoUs. The programme will ensure that adapted products are designed for women and youth. This will be done through a partnership with AgFin.

Since the focus of the AF is now to increase the long-term enterprise development path beyond the matching grant support, the capacity building plan will include key training modules on post capacity development, such as post-mentoring coaching, follow-ups with the trainees, together with support services and an incentives/recognition system that complement the capacity development activities.

Activities are carried out by individual consultants or consulting firms/NGOs, in collaboration with relevant government ministries and agencies, under the overall coordination of the State Programme Management Unit (SPMU). Service providers are contracted to coordinate implementation and are responsible for organizing training sessions and registration of FOs, under the overall coordination of the SPMU.

Sub-component 2.2: Support to Smallholder Production

Expected outcome: Production and productivity of rice and cassava smallholder farmers in the programme areas increases.

Under this component, VCDP facilitates access of FOs to improved planting materials of cassava, quality seeds of rice, fertilizers and agro-chemicals, improved production techniques and mechanization for land preparation and harvesting.


Assessment of the cassava planting material supply chain. The assessment was carried out for the rice supply chain and guided the implementation of VCDP’s support in this area. The planned market analysis on the cassava value chain (component 1) will look into the chain for cassava planting material to bring information on the demand and supply need.

Strengthening quality control. VCDP provided Agriculture Development Programmes (ADPs) with six Small Seed Testing Laboratories, one in each of the first six states working with the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) which has the national mandate for quality assurance. AF 2018 will finance the set-up of seed laboratories for the three new States of Enugu, Nasarawa and Kogi. AF 2019 will provide capacity building support to the programme team to enable the participating states to expand outreach beyond VCDP commodities.

Production and dissemination of improved planting material of cassava and certified seeds of rice. VCDP has largely focussed on supporting youth entrepreneurs for the provision of improved rice seeds and improved varieties of cassava stems to farmers. Evidence shows that their enterprises are very profitable and attract youth into agriculture. Under AF 2018, VCDP plans to train an additional 45 rice seed and 30 cassava stem youth entrepreneurs to cover the three new states. An additional 60 youth will be supported in the new states under AF 2019 with emphasis on young women.

Promotion and dissemination of sustainable and climate resilient agricultural practices. Through VCDP support on GAP, baseline yields of rice of 2MT/ha increased to 4.5 MT/ha on average. Cassava yield increased from 10 MT/ha to 25 MT/ha on average. The aim is to increase yields to 30MT/ha for cassava by the end of the programme to inject competitiveness in the value chain, and to maintain yields achieved for rice. In the area of production, VCDP’s support will be stepped up as follows:

  • Farmers Field Business School (FFBS): This will continue especially for proven cassava business models. In this context, VCDP will support exchange visits to the Delta State to learn from the Cassava Processing for Export (CP4E) model of the state.
  • GAP and adaptation to Climate Change: VCDP is recruiting environment and climate change specialists for each state to support training of farmers on climate smart agricultural practices and environmental sustainability and climate change. VCDP will support the Nigerian Meteorological Agency to improve seasonal weather prediction and forecasts for agriculture. The programme will continue linking farmers with NAIC, but for sustainability it will now be promoted under a matching grant mechanism, rather than fully subsidized as done during the pilot.
  • Extension services: VCDP will continue contracting private service providers on performance-based contracts. To ensure an increase in participation of women and efficiency of the training, service providers will be expected to work with at least 40 per cent women staff to provide extension services to women. ToT and training schedules will be adapted to women’s specific constraints.

Land development. To address the issue of access to land by women and lack of equipment, the new financing programme will support the development of 2,000 ha targeting women as a key measure to improve women’s participation in commercially oriented agricultural production.

Access to fertilizer and agro-chemicals as well as to improved cuttings and certified seeds. To date, VCDP has supported farmers with seeds, stem cuttings, fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides on a matching grant basis. The main challenge is the difficulty of many farmers, especially women, to mobilize their contribution for the matching grants. AF 2019 will revise the matching grant modalities for inputs as follows, for men and women: 30 per cent contribution by the farmer in year one and 70 per cent in year two for men; 20 per cent contribution in year one and 60 per cent in year two for women. Additional equipment will also be considered to increase labour saving options, namely, transplanters and harvesters for rice and planters for cassava based on the existing matching grant modality. With regard to access to farming equipment for FOs engaged in the provision of services to others, the matching grant contribution will be reduced to 20 per cent for women, as a specific support measure. Additional equipment will also be considered to increase labour saving options for women, namely, transplanters and harvesters for rice and planters for cassava, as well as personal protective equipment for spraying certifications.

Irrigation and water control. The programme has supported irrigation sites totalling 6,761 ha of land for dry season irrigation including the construction of flood protection dykes. This has enabled double and, in some cases, triple cycles of production, with improved productivity. VCDP will extend 3,000 additional hectares under AF 2018. A provision is made to add 2,000 ha under AF 2019 specifically targeting women.

Nutrition and conflict management: VCDP will support women to establish mixed home gardens for homestead food production, as part of the training by extension service providers. It will also support mechanisms to compensate farmers and processing centres for conflict related damages, which are significantly affecting the programme beneficiaries, who have had in many cases to abandon their farms. It will explore the option of supporting NAIC to develop insurance products (with state subsidy) or for states to allocate a specific budget to offset losses arising from conflict. CAF will be supported to provide dedicated services to members in conflict mitigation measures especially as it affects farmers/herders.

The programme will retain its implementation modalities of VCDP as per initial design. To ensure sustainability, it will build more synergy between the private sector extension providers and the ADP system in order to strengthen the public sector in its provision of effective extension support to farmers.