𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗧𝗮𝗥 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗕𝘂𝗶𝗹𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗰𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗬𝗮𝗵𝘆𝗮 𝗔𝗯𝗯𝗮 𝘁𝗼 𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗮 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗦𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗕𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗲𝗿

Yahya Abba is one of the Field Agents (FAs) currently reaping the gains of the STaR Project’s initiative of addressing the challenges of seed production and distribution by building the capacity of FAs to be community-based seed producers for their respective communities. His seed production business started with cowpea in the 2020 farming season.
He purchased 2kg of foundation seed of an improved cowpea variety (sampea 11) suitable for his agroecology for N 800. With the training he received under the project, he adopted scientifically standardized and recommended production practices for the production of cowpea and got 90kg at the end of the season. His seed farm, having fulfilled all requirements, was certified by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC). He sold the seed at N 540/kg which gave him N 48, 600 for his 90kg. In 2021, Yahya increased his production from 2kg to 10kg of sampea 11 for N 5000.
At the end of the season, he got 970kg. Again, his farm was certified by NASC and he was able to sell the whole seed for N 388,000 at the rate of N 400/kg.


The yield of cultivated cereals and legume crops by smallholder farmers in Nigeria remains low, compared to what is obtainable in many other African countries. The reasons are not hard to find, as many factors are responsible for this. But out of all, of primary importance and huge significance is the use of saved local seed varieties. Smallholder farmers in Nigeria, to cut production costs, cultivate the habit of saving seed from their harvests for production during the following farming season. Such seeds are naturally of poor yield potential as a result of their genetic composition which cannot be practically altered on the field during production. In addition to poor genetical potential, such seeds were never preserved under standard storage conditions that can ensure their optimum performance during another production season. In addition to field performance and yield potential, local seed varieties are highly vulnerable to climatic fluctuation, diseases and pests, drought and heat. Therefore, whenever such local seed varieties are used for production, the only expected outcome is a comparatively low yield, even if the best cultural practices were adopted!

An effective solution to the low yield of cereals and legumes is, to replace local varieties of seed with scientifically standardized improved varieties from research institutes and licensed seed companies. However, owing to a huge gap in agricultural extension service provision and other factors that pose a challenge to seed distribution in Nigeria, smallholder farmers (SHFs) are not able to access improved seeds from research institutes and seed companies, improved varieties that have been bred to adapt to such unfavourable circumstantial production conditions.

To ensure access to improved seeds, the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) – the only institution that is saddled with the responsibility of seed production and distribution in Nigeria – enacted a policy of community-based seed production (CBSP). However, the policy has not been effective, due to challenges in the provision of extension services in Nigeria. Hence, many smallholder farmers are not aware of improved seed varieties or CBSP policy.

It is against this backdrop of addressing the challenges of seed production and distribution that the STaR Project, in collaboration with NASC, built the capacity of Field Agents (FAs) to be community-based seed producers for their respective communities. The FAs were trained to be community mobilizers and to provide extension services to project participants in their respective communities. Each FA is expected to provide extension services to 10 farmer groups (with each group consisting of an average of 25 SHFs/vulnerable households), and this is expected to have a multiplier effect on the community at large.

In expressing his appreciation, Yahya says: “I’m very grateful to this STaR Project for opening my eyes to the seed production business, something I have never given a thought to in his entire life,” with a commitment to extending his seed production business to other crops beginning with maize