The Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise (LIFE) is a programme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nigeria designed in response to the limited readily available options for the “disadvantaged” (youth and women) in the rural and suburban communities to improve their means of livelihood help them to live decent lives. LIFE promotes community-based on-farm and off-farm business activities along key agricultural value chain as a mechanism for job and wealth creation amongst unemployed youth and women in aforementioned households.
The LIFE Programme adopts a Cluster model (LIFE Clusters) at the ward level of the Local Government Areas, targeting core commodities of comparative advantage in such communities. LIFE Cluster members are identified, trained and supported in different segments of Agriculture along the entire value chain. This support includes access to affordable agricultural inputs for sustainable production, agro-processing & packaging, transportation and link to competitive financing and markets. Through the LIFE Programme, a robust production to marketing system that reduces food wastage and increase farm earnings for rural families is ensured.
The LIFE Value Chains are selected based on the ecological advantages of our different communities to practice market oriented agriculture. This gives key priority to the commodities that the ecological zones support most thereby moving away from the era of producing all kinds of commodities in intangible quantities and being best at nothing. On the other hand, the selected LIFE Commodities for communities and states do not prevent farmers from producing other commodities of their interest.
The overall goal of the programme is to contribute to the attainment of food security and economic growth of Nigeria through job creation, value addition, and promotion of business enterprises in agriculture, increasing rural income generation and improved livelihoods for youths and women.
The Specific target is to directly empower approximately 3,000,000 rural youths and women in on-farm and off-farm value chain, produce about 14,000,000 metric tons of food across the 774 Local Government Areas nationwide from 2016 to 2019 focusing on key national commodities while reducing rural food wastage by 20% through the establishment of rural cottage industries and organized link to competitive markets.
LIFE Programme is targeted at rural/sub-urban communities with special focus on:
- Youths between the ages of 18-40 years
- Women with priority attention on female led households
LIFE Strategic Objectives
The Strategic objectives are to:
- Promote Community-based Farming as a business to create on-farm and off-farm jobs for unemployed youth and women.
- Promote import substitution through enhancing production and productivity of competitive crops focusing on communities with ecological advantage.
- Promote value addition through the setup of Private sector operated cottage industries processing and packaging of produce with an organized link to market at competitive prices.
- Improve family livelihood through the development of agricultural enterprises and to reduce rural-urban migration among the youth.
Expected Specific Outcomes
- To establish at least 150,000 LIFE cooperatives nationwide under Crops, Live Stock and Fishery Value Chain groups using a cooperative and cluster model, focusing in the areas of production, agro processing/value addition, and services.
- To reach out to about 85% of the 150,000 LIFE cooperatives identified nationwide within three years. (2016-2019)
- Approximately 1,995,500 youth and 997,500 women will be directly reached with agricultural resources for enhanced productivity.
- Establish and operate up to 1,500 cottage industries in the country within the program life span to reduce product wastage, improve shelf life and value while enhancing profitability (minimum of 1 per Local Government Area) through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Platform.
- An estimated 14,000,000 Metric tons of foods will be added to national production through the LIFE program.
A full programme on sensitization and awareness creation has been developed and operational. Using the instrument, field visits were carried out in the rural communities of Niger, Benue, Nassarawa, Kogi, Kano, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Lagos, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa states and the FCT among the political leadership of the states, technocrats, youth, women and farmers and processors to sensitize them on the program. Sensitization materials such as brochures, flyers, brief notes, and factsheets were prepared and used for this exercise.
It is important to report that the programme received community participation and enthusiasm in all the places visited. Also, community loyalty to the programme in most of the states has been secured.
The sensitization was followed by a rapid rural assessment to develop a participatory document. This document covers the economic activities of the selected states; performance of those economic activities; factors facilitating and limiting their performance; including the infrastructure dearth; level and quality of market patronage; private sector involvements and options, considering that LIFE is a national programme covering the 36 States of Nigeria and FCT-Abuja.
During this period, the team identified and confirmed some lands which some communities are willing to commit to the program. We employed the instrument of a market intelligence survey to determine gaps in rural agriculture as well as from the reports of the community people when asked. However, areas that will need urgent attention based on preliminary analysis of community needs for the expansion of their rural economy are small and medium scale cassava, rice, palm-oil, palm kernel oil and groundnut oil mills and various trainings that would come along with the installation of mills.
At the instance of streamlining implementation and for better coordination, IFAD after studying the approved Blue Print and initial concept note of the programme, has agreed to harmonize their programme (RAISE) with LIFE, focusing on the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Negotiations have been concluded between IFAD and the Federal Government and are waiting for the project to take off, pending the completion of the processing from the Federal Ministries of Finance and Justice.