N2Africa has been granted an extra US$5 million supplementary grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its activities to Borno State, North-Eastern Nigeria. The request that N2Africa start activities in Borno came from the State Governor, another signal that the N2Africa story is reaching its potential clients! This initiative is aligned to a polio vaccination campaign, supported by the foundation, and will operate in a set of Local Government Areas in the south of the State, where security is less problematic (see map).
Interestingly, this part of Borno State is a major producer of groundnut and cowpea, even nowadays when the only news one gets from that part of Nigeria is usually quite depressing. This new project has adapted the overall N2Africa Results Framework but adapted this to the situation in Borno State where most of the activities will be led by partners, already operating in the region, and where activities that require direct engagement from NARS and IITA scientists will be limited.
One new component has been added to the project ‘Providing opportunities for youth to engage in agri-business (input supply, value addition, etc)’. Experiences gained with such initiatives in the West of Nigeria will be transferred to Borno State where this theme is very relevant, especially in view of the vulnerability of unemployed young people to join in terrorist activities.
N2Africa will build sustainable, long-term partnerships to enable African smallholder farmers in Borno State to benefit from symbiotic N2-fixation by grain legumes through effective production technologies including inoculants and fertilizers. Activities will focus on cowpea, groundnut and soybean. Within four years, building on local expertise, legume production will be enhanced in the target areas of Borno State, providing opportunities for the poor and addressing gender disparities. New value chains will be established and the food and nutritional security of the poor will be enhanced. N2Africa will reach more than 40,000 farming families and increase biological nitrogen fixation and productivity of grain legumes contributing to enhanced soil fertility, improved household nutrition and increased cash income. N2Africa will also provide job opportunities in agri-business for at least 200 youth living in the target area.