Kano- Nigeria- The story of Lawal Ibrahim and his journey as a farmer is a familiar one to many. The toiling in the fields, the loss of crops due to pests and insects, and the struggle to provide for his family. But Lawal's story has a different ending, thanks to the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and its Lives and Livelihood Fund (LLF).
Through a partnership with Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) and Sasakawa Africa, IsDB's funding enabled 1,025 young men in Kano, including Lawal, to be trained as contract spray men. These men are now equipped with the knowledge and tools to practice integrated pest management that includes organic sources of pests and diseases control products and approaches. This not only saves human lives, but also makes the trainees self-employed in their respective localities.
"I grew up around this area as a farmer and our major farm problem before was pests, insects, and worms. We found it difficult to deal with since those days, our parents only had chemicals to spray their crops. Our parents and our elder brothers taught us how to apply the substance to our farms but the method was rudimentary. We used our bare hands or plastic containers to apply pesticides and insecticides. That was hazardous to the crops and to human health, but we never knew.", Ibrahim said.
With the training, Lawal and his colleagues have moved from crude methods to holistic and environmentally friendly methods of controlling pests in their farms. They were taught how to deal with pests using organic practices, insect growth regulators, and many other things. They were also given gadgets and protective gear to ensure their safety.
Today, farmers in the communities hire these trained contract spray men for a fee to spray their farms. This not only provides a source of income for the men, but also ensures that the crops are protected from pests and diseases. Lawal says, "Since some of us finished school, we do not have jobs. Now with integrated pests management strategies, we have jobs and we can feed our families. This work really pays back and we will always remain grateful to IsDB, LLF, and its donors."
Lawal and his colleagues are an inspiration to their peers and communities. It is a story of hope, perseverance, and the power of partnerships. IsDB and its partners have shown that with the right investment and support, communities can thrive and prosper.