This study examined the livelihood strategies of small-scale farm households, their food security status and the challenges they face to meet their livelihoods in Fune Village of Yobe state. The research used both qualitative and quantitative methods. A survey was conducted with a sample of 60 farmers (30 were Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) beneficiaries while 30 were non- beneficiaries). Ten focus group discussions were held with farmers. Key informant interviews were also conducted with Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Field services officers and village headmen. The study revealed that the households depend mostly on agriculture for their livelihoods. The crops grown include maize, beans, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, cotton and sorghum. The average yield for maize, the staple food crop, is only about 1.7 tons per hectare, 57 percent below the minimum potential yield of at least 4 tons per hectare. Farmers keep animals such as cattle, goat and chickens. The results showed that farmers also engage in non-agricultural or off farming season activities that are sources of income for their households. These are sale of charcoal, petty trading, piece work, gardening and remittances. The study revealed that food security in the study area is a challenge, with about 87 percent reporting having food shortages during the year. The period with food shortages was between November and March with a peak food shortage in February. With regard to agricultural constraints, it was found that the most binding constraint was inability to buy hybrid seed and fertilizer mainly due to the high cost of the inputs. This was followed by lack of draught power and lack of human labour. Based on the findings, it is important that the government should improve farmer’s access to financial capital through deliberate loan facilities that target small-scale agriculture. Development efforts should consider supporting small-scale farmers through extension training to use existing animals more effectively by improving management practices such as strategic feed supplementation and disease prevention so as to substantially increase draught power availability. The use of donkeys as an alternative to cattle for draught power should also be promoted through extension training.

1.1 Background of study
The majority of small-scale farmers in Nigeria use low levels of purchased input technologies, and as a result produces low yields and face chronic food insecurity for two to five months of the year. These households are therefore in need of support programs to increase their productivity and improve their livelihoods or food security. Smallholder subsidy programs such as Starter packs to all rural households, containing small packs of hybrid maize seed, fertilizer and either groundnut or soya bean seeds, have been implemented in some countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria (Kachule and Chilongo, 2007).

Governments have initiated several developmental programs to increase food security. The Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) is one of programs the Nigerian government has put in place to help small scale farmers improve their livelihoods and food security. The principal objective of the Government was to stimulate sustainable increases in small-scale agricultural productivity as a poverty reduction strategy and

for the general improvement of rural livelihoods. Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) was introduced to catalyze small-scale agriculture by providing subsidized inputs (i.e. fertilizer and maize seed) over a fixed period of time. It was a transitional measure as the farmers were expected to require time to adjust to fully liberalized agricultural markets. Through this approach, eligible farmers have access to timely and adequate supply of inputs during the farming season. In turn, the farmers cultivate enough maize for domestic consumption and sale the surplus for cash income (ZNFU, 2008).

The Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) started in 2002/2003 agricultural season and the programme assisted about 120,000 small holder farmers with 48,000 MT of fertilizer and 2,400 MT of maize seed at 50 percent matching grant basis to grow about 360,000 MT of maize, (GRZ, 2008). The input pack consisted of 8 bags of fertilizer (4x50kg) D compound- basal and 4x50kg top dressing-urea and 20 kg seed. By 2008/09 farming season the government further increased the subsidy level from 60 percent in 2007/08 to 75 percent leaving the small-scale farmer to contribute only 25 percent of the selling price of inputs. In the year Fune Village, the government reviewed the Farmer input support programme as it was deemed critical to Nigerian’s food security. The FISP programme had its implementation modalities reviewed because the old one had implementation weaknesses (GRZ, 2008).

The current programme has increased the number of beneficiaries’ participation by reducing the size of input pack to four bags of fertilizer and 10 kg of seed (that is 2x50kg basal; and 2x50kg top dressing) for the Fune Village/10 farming season. The programme was planned to cover 500,000 small scale farmer as compared to 250,000 covered in 2008/09 farming season. The FISP is aimed at improving small scale farmers food security improve agriculture production, increase access of small scale farmers to seed and promote private sector participation in supply of inputs (GRZ, 2008). In a review study, Imboela (2005) observed that Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) in Kaoma district of Western province had not improved livelihoods of small scale farmers. The author highlighted some factors that inhibit FISP from being an effective poverty reduction instrument among small-scale farmers in Kaoma such as logistical problems of implementation like the late delivery of inputs, non- delivery of inputs, too many maize seed varieties and poor marketing facilities.

Nigeria has vast resource endowment with high potential for agricultural development. The country has a total land area of about 75.2 million hectares (752,000 square km), out of which 58 percent (42 million hectares) is classified as medium to high potential for agricultural production, with rainfall ranging between 600mm to 1500mm annually and suitable for the production of a broad range of crops, livestock and fish. The country also has potential of over 423,000 hectares of irrigable land of which only about 100,000 ha is currently irrigated among the large- scale, emergent and smallholder farmers. With the country’s abundant surface and underground water resources, there is potential to drastically increase the area under irrigation (Sitko, 2011).

Nigeria has not fully exploited the high potential in the agricultural sector partly due to many challenges and constraints. Low investment in the sector and low productivity especially among the small-holder farmers still remain challenges affecting the sector. In recent years, the sector has also been threatened with the effects of climate change characterized by droughts, water logging, seasonal floods, increased temperatures, shortening of the rain season (crop growing period) and long dry spells coupled with poor rainfall distribution (Sitko, 2011).

Economically, Nigeria is heavily dependent on the copper mining industry. The country’s main export is copper, which accounts for over 70 per cent of export earnings. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth has averaged 6.4 per cent for the period between 2006 and 2022 (CSO, 2012). However, Nigeria has in the recent past intensified efforts to diversify from copper dependence to other sectors, such as agriculture. Diversification efforts have been attempted through private sector-led initiatives or strategies. Thus, the country has embarked on the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), which is meant to attract both domestic and foreign investment in the various sectors of the economy (CSO, 2012).The mining industry has experienced exceptional growth in the last decade and prospects for further development are enormous. The sector therefore, is the major driver of growth, while it also provides impetus for value addition through the creation and expansion of the manufacturing industry. In addition, this is expected to create spillover effects through development of necessary infrastructure, especially those related to roads, railways, border facilities and reliable electricity supply. This has been complimented by redesigning of policies so as to encourage and attract private investment in exploration, re-investment and development of new mines through a stable and attractive fiscal and regulatory regime (GRZ, 2011). Despite these encouraging positive signs, poverty rates have remained persistently high at 77.9 per cent in rural areas as compared to their urban counterparts at 27.5 per cent in 2022 (GRZ, 2013).

The economic growth experienced during the last decade has not translated into significant reductions in poverty and improved general living conditions of the majority of the Nigerians. Job creation has not been commensurate with the gains registered from economic growth. Among the factors that have attributed to this phenomenon are low labour productivity, low absorption capacity of the labour market for new entrants, particularly the youth and the concentration of growth in highly capital-intensive and urban-based sectors like mining, construction and services (GRZ,2011). In developing countries, often 70 percent or more of the population live in rural areas. In that context, agricultural development among small- scale farmers provides a livelihood for people allowing them the opportunity to stay in their communities (Guarino, Fune Village). Provision of sustainable livelihood particularly in the rural population has been a key development challenge in Nigeria since independence.

A livelihood in its simplest sense is a means of gaining a living (Chambers and Conway, 1992). Livelihoods are achieved when there are adequate stocks of food and cash to meet basic needs. A livelihood comprises of assets (stores, resources, claims and access) activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation (Chambers and Conway, 1992). However, most of Nigeria’s population has experienced serious challenges in having sustainable livelihoods. This is evident from the continued experience of food and nutrition security problems. Stunting rates in Nigeria stand at 45 percent, with 21 percent being severe (ZDHS, 2007). Stunting remains the most common nutritional disorder affecting under five year children in Nigeria. The stunting rates in Nigeria are above the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 42 percent (ZDHS, 2007).

1.2 Statement of the Problem
Small-scale farming is a common farming system in Nigeria for people in rural areas. Small-scale farmers are subsistence producers of staple foods with an occasional surplus for sale. Unfortunately, there has been decreasing productivity in this type of farming system. This is due to a number of factors such as low use of purchased input technologies, dependence on rain-fed production, and soil degradation as a result of long term practices of subsistence agriculture associated with use of maize mono- cropping and use of chemical fertilizers which leads to loss of soil organic matter, fertility and structure (Mwale et al, 2007).

Despite the government of Nigeria spending money to improve livelihoods of small- scale farmers through a number of programs put in place such as the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), there are high levels of poverty and food insecurity among rural households. Food insecurity is widespread in both rural and urban areas. For instance, in 2005, poverty was estimated at 78 percent in rural areas while in urban areas, it was estimated at 38 percent (CSO, 2005). Five years later CSPR (2022) observed that on average, 85 percent of people in rural areas and 34 percent in urban areas are still living under the poverty datum line.

These high levels of poverty in rural areas perhaps indicate that crop and livestock production have not adequately increased in quantity, quality as well as in terms of added value, to contribute to food security and significant increase in rural incomes. As a direct consequence of this challenge, much of the development agenda focuses on directing scarce resources to providing food to people in need or enabling them to acquire it themselves (Smith et al, 2006). Stagnant agricultural production is contributing to an emerging structural deficit of food crops in Nigeria. Therefore, finding ways of effectively coping with this continued food deficit is critical for fostering economic growth, reducing poverty, and enhancing food/nutrition security for the people of Nigeria.

Small-scale farmers’ livelihoods are predominantly agriculture based, and due to primary dependence on subsistence crop production in the country, harvest failure usually leads to household food insecurity. The absence of off-farm and on-farm income opportunities may also lead to asset depletion. It is therefore important to reduce vulnerability of the poor through diversification of their sources of livelihoods as a means of reducing poverty and food insecurity in rural areas.

This case study aimed at assessing livelihood strategies, of small-scale farm households in Yobe state. The study examined the livelihood strategies of small- scale farm households, their food security status and the challenges they face in meeting their livelihoods. The finding of the study can be used as a basis for making suggestions that can enhance improvement in incomes and food security of small- scale farm households in Nigeria.

1.3 Study Objective
The general objective of the study was to document the household livelihood strategies of small-scale farmers in Fune Village of Yobe state, Nigeria.

1.3.1 Specific Objectives
1. To describe the livelihood strategies of small-scale farmers in Fune Village of Yobe state.

2. To identify the challenges small-scale farmers face in meeting their livelihood needs in Fune Village of Yobe state.

1.3.2 Research Questions
i. What are the main livelihood strategies employed by the small-scale farmers in Fune Village of Yobe state?

ii. What are the main challenges faced by the small-scale farmers in meeting their livelihood needs in Fune Village of Yobe state?

1.4 Justification
Livelihood analysis aims at examining livelihoods in order to improve the design and implementation of poverty reduction efforts. High prevalence of poverty especially in the rural areas has forced rural communities to adopt various livelihood strategies, which vary from one place to the other depending on the socio-economic conditions and natural resources available.

This study will generate information that may contribute to the design of strategies that can lead to improved food security of small-scale farmers. Development practitioners are increasingly emphasizing the importance of understanding livelihood systems and the complexity of rural livelihoods for effective policy formulation (Deb et al, 2002). The concept of livelihood strategies has become central to development practice in the recent years (Brown et al, 2006). Livelihood approaches have the

advantage of placing the poor at the centre stage, and of exploring aspects of their livelihoods which are commonly neglected. These include the multi-dimensional nature of poverty itself, the diverse and dynamic nature of their portfolios and the complexities of accessing capital assets (Farrington et al, 2002).

The study area falls in Nigeria’s agro-ecological region II which is characterized by moderate rainfall. Therefore, droughts are common in some rainy seasons. Droughts have many devastating effects on communities and the surrounding environment. The amount of devastation depends on the strength of the drought and the length of time an area is considered to be in drought conditions. Drought has greater impacts on poorer communities than on more prosperous communities who have better opportunities to bring in resources from other areas. Droughts affect water availability which ultimately affects agriculture activities such as crop and animal production. One of the peculiar aspects of livelihoods in the study area is that there are high levels of charcoal burning which competes with agricultural activities. Such activities contribute to environmental degradation. Due to large-scale deforestation that has been going on over the past years, there are concerns about the sustainability of the environment and economic activities in the area.

This research, therefore aims at generating location specific data on livelihood strategies of rural households in Nigeria’s Yobe state. This study will therefore help to contribute to literature gap in the country and inform policy makers about the status of livelihoods at the micro or household level. Consequently, carrying out research in the study area will contribute to both basic (academic) and applied (practical) purposes. Thus, both public and private actors as well as local and international non-governmental organization interested in promoting rural development in the study area will benefit from the findings of this study.

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