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How John Deere is Fighting Hunger in Nigeria

John Deere

John Deere is being recognized for the success of its farming education program in Nigeria. Last year, Deere partnered with a non-profit and local farmers on the Rayuwa project, which aims to teach Nigerian farmers better agricultural techniques. Now, Fast Company business magazine has named Deere a winner of its 2021 award for World Changing Ideas.   

Rayuwa means “life” or “livelihood” in the Hausa language. And according to data from its inaugural year, the Rayuwa project is living up to its name. Nigeria experienced a 10% decrease in food scarcity during the summer of 2020—a time of the year known as “hunger season.”   

Three months before harvest season, farmers in the region run low on food, and a lack of steady income depletes their savings. But despite a global pandemic and growing poverty in Nigeria, these farmers produced more and earned more—about $1.3 million more.   

Lekan Tobe is a member of PYXERA Global who oversees the Rayuwa project. He says the program weathered the pandemic because they hired team members from the 11 target villages.   

“Most of the guys are actually in the village, some right in the community, some 5-10 minutes from the village.”   

While the program started with 2,500 veteran farmers and 4,000 newcomers, Tobe says the total number of participating farmers in the region now tops 8,000.   

John Deere is mainly a sponsor for the project, although employees are encouraged to volunteer. Nate Clark, President of the John Deere Foundation, says Deere was one of 4,000 applicants for Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.   

“We’re still pinching ourselves about it. It’s powerful confirmation that when people look at opportunities or activities that can change the world, that they realize that farmers play an important part in making the world a better place.”   

This year, the Rayuwa project hopes to expand from 11 villages to 21. 

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