Project to increase food sustainability in Nigeria earns Fast Company recognition

Rahila Sama’ila in field.

Rahila Sama’ila

When measuring the impact of Rayuwa on Nigeria's farm families, you must look beyond the impressive numbers and appreciate the level of trust the project has built in these rural communities.

"I feel safe with the Rayuwa team, even in these challenging times," said Rahila Sama'ila, who has been farming for 40 years. "They are honest people and keep their promises."

But that trust wasn't there initially. Rayuwa, which means "life" and "livelihood" in Hausa, is the name of John Deere's project with PYXERA Global to unlock the world-changing potential of Nigeria's smallholder farmers.

Rayuwa combines two interventions critical to immediate and long-term farmer success: agricultural training to increase food security and profitability, and youth education to inspire opportunity and equity.

"When Rayuwa first came to our village, my neighbors and I doubted their intentions because of all the disappointments we had suffered in the past from the other projects and organizations that have offered to help," Sama'ila said.

After Sama’ila participated in Rayuwa's trainings in plant spacing, seed sowing, fertilizer application and more, she saw impressive results.

"My yields increased 20 percent," she said.

Nate Clark, president of the John Deere Foundation, which helps fund Rayuwa, explained that farmers with more education are more productive, profitable and adaptable.

"By combining agricultural training and youth education, Rayuwa does something unique — it invests simultaneously in the farmers of today and tomorrow," Clark said.

The numbers

In December 2020, Rayuwa celebrated the results of its inaugural year of working with 2,500 smallholder farmers and 4,000 youth in 11 villages in northern Nigeria.

"In the face of enormous challenges posed by COVID-19 and its harrowing impact on many in Nigeria and throughout Africa, Rayuwa's farmers and youth thrived" Clark said.

  • Rayuwa farmers reduced their rate of food insecurity during the "hunger season" from 63% to 53%, compared to the doubling of food insecurity in Africa.
  • Rayuwa farmers increased total earnings by USD $1.3 million due to improved yields, despite growing poverty in Nigeria.
  • Rayuwa youth earning top scores in letter and number recognition have increased by 60% and 77% respectively, with a projected increase in lifetime earnings through better education topping USD $1.9 million.
  • Rayuwa’s success in agriculture and education inspired 300 youth to return from the cities to farm and learn, breaking long-term trends in urban migration.

Thanks to the success of Rayuwa, John Deere was named a winner in Fast Company magazine's 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards in the category of Corporate Social Responsibility. The project was selected from thousands of nominations.

"In every measure, this award is a testament to the skill, ingenuity and resilience of Rayuwa's farm families and the exceptional Rayuwa staff," Clark said. "They have changed the world, and we at John Deere are privileged to serve them."