This agricultural enterprise is helping Nigerian farmers expand their business

Babban Gona provides agricultural services to smallholder maize farmers in Nigeria.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)In 2015, farmer Sule Yohana joined Babban Gona, a social enterprise organization with a focus on providing expansion services to smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

Babban Gona which means 'Great farm' in Hausa language, spoken in West Africa, provides services such as loans, agribusiness training, and provision of storage facilities for subsistence farmers in rural communities.
Yohana, whose farm is in Kaduna state in northern Nigeria, told CNN that since he joined the enterprise as a member he has been able to grow his maize farm from two hectares of land to four.
    A hectare of farmland is about the size of the average football field.
    "They (Babban Gona) taught me how to farm better, they taught me the best way to store my maize and they supplied me with fertilizers and pesticides," he said.

    Promoting Agriculture

    Farmers like Yohana make up one of the largest sectors of the Nigerian economy as agriculture contributes 21.9% of the country's overall gross domestic product, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
    Founder of Babban Gona, Kola Masha says the enterprise was established in 2012 to promote agriculture and reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.
    Out of a population of 202 million people, 39 million in Nigeria were unemployed, according to a 2018 report by the NBS.
    Masha told CNN that Babban Gona's objective is to bring down the unemployment numbers by expanding crop production in rural communities, thereby creating room for more jobs in the country.
    "We set a goal for ourselves that we will create around 10 million jobs by 2030 ... We firmly believe that agriculture is Nigeria's job-creation engine because it is massive, labor-intensive, and has tremendous growth potential," he said.
    Babban Gona has 100,000 farmer members who harvest maize every season.
    Babban Gona, which specializes in supporting maize farming is present in six Nigerian states and has so far provided its 100,000 farmer members with different farming-related services to improve their business.
    One of the services offered is the provision of storage facilities for farmers during harvest season. Due to insufficient storage facilities for community-level farmers, a lot of farm produce is often wasted.
    Investing in spaces to store maize ensures that farmers don't lose their produce and by extension, their income.
    "We invested in over 60,000 tonnes of storage where the farmers can store their harvest," Masha said.

    Farmer training

    Babban Gona also trains all its farmer members on some of the best farming techniques to improve their production of maize.
    The company has a large number of field agents across small communities in northern Nigeria. These agents specialize in teaching water retention, soil analysis, seed planting, and sustainable farming.
    Once a farmer joins Babban Gona, he automatically becomes eligible for this training.
    Masha says anybody can join as a farmer member and that some people apply to become a part of Babban Gona on their own.