Livestock production forms an important aspect of the livelihood of smallholders in Northern Nigeria. Over 80% of households in Northern Nigeria keep either small ruminants or poultry as assets they rely on especially during the lean farming seasons and as safety nets against shocks they face as small-scale producers. Despite the huge reliance of the poor rural households on livestock, climate change is a threat to their sustainability and resilience. As a result, farmers are adopting proven adaptation and mitigation strategies to build resilience to climate change. Ikore International is providing the right strategies and support to make this work.
Climate-smart agricultural practices are defined to address interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. Our work with smallholder livestock farmers in Northern Nigeria addresses these challenges with the three main climate-smart agricultural outcomes in view i.e., increased productivity, enhanced resilience, and reduced emission.
Using the Community animal health workers model, Ikore has worked alongside other actors in the animal health sector to increase productivity and income-generating capacity for the improved livelihood of smallholder farmers in Northern Nigeria. The role of the community animal health worker is to bridge the gap in animal health service delivery at the last mile, especially in hard-to-reach locations, providing disease surveillance and control services that save their flocks from the harms and hazards of inclement weather conditions and climate change. We have successfully provided capacity building for CAHWs on effective herd-health management services tailored to rural livestock farmers for increased productivity. An interesting entry point that helps us achieve this is the incorporation of awareness campaigns and education to these farmers on the effect of diseases on their livestock and the need to prioritize prevention using vaccination instead of reliance on antibiotics for treatment.
To build the resilience of the smallholder livestock farmers, we are promoting climate-smart techniques such as resilient breeds and improved housing systems for their livestock. Ikore through its in-kind financing initiative for smallholder livestock farmers has reached over 600 farmers in Northern Nigeria with the necessary support to grow a successful livestock production business through the provision of input and capacity for climate-smart breeding techniques. Apart from the direct investments we put in to build farmers’ resilience, we leverage the use of awareness campaigns, radio jingles, fliers, and posters to educate them on the right breed of livestock for their environment, especially breeds with the capacity to withstand heat stress and extreme weather conditions. For non-pastoralists, we encourage the construction of well-ventilated pens and cages.
A third and equally important focus of Ikore’s effort at improving the livelihood of smallholder livestock farmers through climate-smart practices is to reduce the emission of toxic gases into the atmosphere. The activities of livestock contribute to the emission of methane, CO2, and other greenhouse gases. However, we have successfully established systems of training entrepreneurs in feed formulation and finishing, soilless farming, and compost making as mitigation strategies to lower emissions. One of our soilless farming techniques currently employs growing grains (containing whole feed constituents) for a period of 7 – 10 days as feed for poultry and livestock. A method that is not just economical but holds higher feed conversion efficiency. Additionally, Ikore’s uses poultry and livestock wastes for compost-making, working with several distributors to provide crop farmers with improved farm yield by up to 60%. Our work with compost benefits over 600 farmers in Northeast Nigeria on an annual basis.
Over the years, Ikore has garnered huge expertise in generating proof of concepts and instituting climate-smart practices in its work with smallholder farmers, leveraging numerous channels to ensure that they earn meaningful income through increased productivity of their livestock while contributing to food security. In the next two years, we plan to continue to mobilize resources and leverage more institutional support to scale our various concepts on climate-smart agricultural practices to reach new areas in Northern Nigeria and expand to new locations in Sub-Saharan Africa.