Realizing Sorghum and Millet Agricultural Productivity Gains
in the Sahel/Nigeria


Boosting Farmer Profitability

This project (2016-2018) seeks to establish a practical understanding of how the production of sorghum and pearl millet features in Sahelian farming households’ overall livelihoods, and what that means for the investment choices farmers make regarding the production of these crops. Context Global Development (Context) received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to manage a pilot program in Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria that tests different intervention hypotheses through action-research with farming households.

Context selected the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) as a sub-grantee to implement a two-year pilot project in Northern Nigeria. The purpose of the pilot project is to support sorghum smallholder farmers in Northern Nigeria to realize agricultural productivity gains by accessing structured demand channels. Building on the approach set by its 2SCALE program (, IFDC will partner with Nestlé to source high-quality sorghum from Nigerian smallholder farmers, empower 1,000 of them to develop farming as a business, and facilitate the strengthening of business relationships among value chain actors and supporters. Through this pilot, we will deepen our understanding of how partnerships, built with grassroots actors (farmers and their local networks, called agribusiness clusters) and the companies and entrepreneurs driving the value chain, achieve impact; and what the business models are that support both competitiveness and inclusiveness. This learning agenda will help identify incentives for smallholders to invest (or not) in sorghum productivity, and possible scaling pathways for the post-pilot phase.