|dc.description.abstract||The MicroVeg Project is a set of agronomic recommendations to increase indigenous vegetable production in Nigeria and Benin Republic. The aim of the project is to increase food security through increased production as well as targeting women farmers, incorporation of vegetables in food processing, improved marketing channels, advocating for policy change, limiting soil degradation processes, and scaling up the model into local, national, and regional food security programs in West Africa. The project has successfully completed the experimentation phase and has disseminated the information to local farmers using the recommendations. The objective of this research focuses on the agronomic and economic benefits rural farmers reported from MicroVeg compared to local practices as a means to confirm the results found at research sites. The study also examined the effect MicroVeg had on soil properties including pH, soil organic carbon, cation exchange capacity, available and total nitrogen and phosphorus, and analyzed carbon and nitrogen cycling using X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure spectroscopy. In addition to soil sampling, interviews were conducted with each farmer and with Extension Agents working with the project to determine yields, revenues, and expenses. The same process occurred with farmers who grew the same vegetables using traditional or local farming methods. Soil and economic data were analyzed and compared between the two farming systems to determine whether MicroVeg was an improvement over local farming practices.
The soil chemical analysis reported farmers using MicroVeg recommendations displayed lower soil nutrient levels. While these levels varied between eco-region, the general trend was persistent across the Savanna and Sudano Savanna regions. These results were most pronounced in the Savanna eco-region, where soil pH, CEC, SOC, total N, and available and total P were significantly lower in MicroVeg soils. This was likely a result of differences in soil texture, as MicroVeg soils in the Savanna were much sandier compared to the local practice soils. Conflicting results were observed from XANES analysis that were consistent with MicroVeg soils being more abundant in labile forms of nitrogen like amide-N, while soils using traditional/local practices had higher levels of decomposed nitrogen forms like pyrrolic-N species, indicating supplemental N may be more available under MicroVeg practices. Differences between C species in MicroVeg and traditional soils were less pronounced, and species clustered based on their eco-region. The economic analysis indicated that MicroVeg farms produced higher yields and gross profits in all three eco-regions and reported acceptable returns for farmers in the Rainforest and Savanna eco-regions. For MicroVeg farmers in the Sudano Savanna region, gross profits were only slightly higher than local practices and a negative return on investment was reported for MicroVeg recommendations. These findings suggest that MicroVeg practices are a suitable option for farmers in the Rainforest and Savanna eco-regions to increase income.||