Great achievements start small: Harnessing the power of women to grow crops

Nigerian women at community event

The No Retreat No Surrender (NRNS) group is a women’s cooperative of small traders and small- scale farmers that cultivate and market their produce. This group, which was created in 2003 with 12 women, grew in 10 years to 60 members and eventually registered as a cooperative. Yet, in the early days, its president, Hajiya Hafsat Ibrahim expressed some doubt at being able to cultivate and manage large plots of land.

“As women we had never dreamed we would be able to collectively cultivate and manage a farm as big as 50 hectares (123 acres). Nobody in our community even believed we could handle such a task,” Hafsat said.

Eventually, the group learned about MEDA’s WAY project. During the Fall of 2018, they met with MEDA staff and joined the Nigeria WAY pilot project where they received training on how to cultivate 50 hectares of groundnut. The group also received training from Madaki Agro Services on best agronomic practices in the production of the Aflasafe groundnut. The training sessions were very useful and as a result, the NRNS women successfully harvested a 50-hectare groundnut field.

The group’s business success led to big changes: the women became more respected within their community and this also played a significant role at countering traditional gender expectations of businesswomen in the region. Their leader, Hafsat, was elected as the president of all women cooperatives in Bauchi City. The landowner that had rented land to the group was so impressed by their achievements that he offered to lease any of his lands in the future for a fair price. As news of the success of the NRNS spread through Bauchi City, more women became interested in joining the NRNS cooperative.

After the group’s successful management of the 50 hectares, they gained greater confidence in themselves. In 2019, they took on another challenge and farmed more than 150 hectares.

Nigerian women at community event

“We got a loan and invested into rice, groundnut and soybeans. Some members even went as far as Nasarawa State to farm. We applied the same methods we had learned with the Aflasafe and Nodumax. I can tell you for a fact that none of us had any loss, there have been no [complaints]. Each member has been confident to farm at least 20 hectares,” Hafsat proudly stated.

For the future, Hafsat plans to register with the Soybeans Association of Nigeria and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria as well as train youth in exchange for their work on her farms. Hafsat says she sees her organization growing to teach more independent women to successfully grow and sell their products.

NRNS is grateful to MEDA for providing the linkages that has improved the group’s access to capital, agronomic training sessions, Aflasafe, land and farm inputs, while also improving their negotiation skills. The group’s reputation in the community has been strengthened through their business ventures and their ability to reach and help more women like themselves.



  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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