In Nigeria, Women in Agribusiness are Growing Profits Through Peanut Processing
In northern Nigeria, access to markets, financial services, and relevant business training is crucial for women in agribusiness. Peanut processing offers women an opportunity to gain greater control of their resources, grow their income, and invest in their families and businesses.
When her husband passed away two years ago, Kantime Umar Sarina was left to care for her 11 children on her own.
It’s a huge responsibility, honestly. Catering to our feeding, clothing, and welfare in general with my meager resources is the most difficult aspect of looking after the family.”
— Kantime Umar Sarina
But improving her peanut enterprise has provided a lifeline. For Kantime and many women like her, learning how to improve their agribusinesses has enabled them to support themselves and their families through even the most challenging times.
Growing Incomes and Opportunities with Peanut Processing
Nigeria is the largest peanut-producing country in West Africa, accounting for 51% of production in the region.
In the northern Kano state, peanuts are a major income source for many rural communities and for women in particular. They are also an important source of oil, fat, and protein — essential nutrients for people in a country that struggles with high levels of malnutrition.
For over 15 years, Kantime has supported her large family by growing and processing peanuts. But when her husband died, it became more important than ever that she earn a good income from this business.
Kantime served as one of the leaders of the Burudawa Women Farmers’ Group, which processes peanuts into peanut oil and peanut-based snacks through a traditional, manual method used by 75% of rural women. However, this method is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and inefficient — yielding low outputs of only 8-10 liters of oil per week.
This inefficient process limited Kantime’s ability to earn a living and meant she had less time to spend with her children. “I worried about how to meet our daily needs, especially feeding [my kids],” she says.
Support for Women in Agribusiness
In northern Nigeria, access to land, markets, financial services, and relevant business training is crucial for women in agribusiness to gain greater control of their resources, grow their income, and invest in their families and businesses.
In 2019, Kantime and other women in the Burudawa Women Farmers’ Group heard about TechnoServe’s Business Women Connect (BWC) program, funded by the ExxonMobil Foundation. In Nigeria, the BWC program helps women grow their incomes through training in financial literacy, business management, and decision-making.
The program has helped 40 women from Burudawa, including Kantime, acquire a peanut oil kneading machine capable of extracting 4-6 liters of oil (depending on the peanut variety) per day. The group contributed 30% of the machine cost, while the program contributed the remaining 70%. Women in the community now own the machine, and it has allowed them to increase their processing efficiency significantly.
“I am able to process more quantities of [peanuts] efficiently, with ease, and in less time using the TechnoServe machine than our former local method,” Kantime says. “Also, I save weekly, unlike before.”
Through the program, Kantime and other women in the group also learned how to further process the leftover peanut residue into various peanut-based snacks, such as peanut crackers (commonly called kuli-kuli), butter, and candy. Each week, the group produces at least 23 kilograms of snacks and 35 liters of oil.
“[Before], we didn’t have access to new technology,” Kantime recalls. “We couldn’t afford new equipment, even if we understood the improvement and benefits it would bring to our business.”
Given the new machine’s efficiency, Kantime and the rest of the group have quadrupled their weekly earnings. As a result, many of these women have gained a new level of economic independence. They are now better equipped to contribute monetarily to their families’ wellbeing by purchasing food and other household essentials and sending their children to school.
COVID-19 Threatens Women in Agribusiness
In Nigeria, the onset of COVID-19 early last year brought new challenges for peanut producers. Many of the usual markets where producers would sell their products temporarily closed, leaving them with few options but to accept the losses. To make matters worse, farm supplies and other necessary equipment became scarce or extremely expensive.
As the situation persisted and the group’s working capital dwindled, they were forced to stop processing temporarily. However, with the lockdown over and peanut production back, the women have gradually resumed operation. TechnoServe’s training on savings and financial management helped processors like Kantime weather the crisis.
Before, we spent our earnings without saving. The financial management training and the weekly savings scheme helped us to save from our earnings. These savings came in handy to help cushion the effects of the pandemic on our livelihood.”
— Kantime Umar Sarina
Although COVID-19 has made life more challenging for Kantime and her family, she is still optimistic about the future. “I hope to grow my business to become a major supplier of [peanut] oil in my local government, thereby improving my family’s standard of living.”
Support women in agribusiness like Kantime.