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avatar for Susan Godwin

Susan Godwin

Nigeria
Smallholder Farmer

Married and the mother of two boys and three girls, Godwin was recognized earlier this year as the 2012 Female Food Hero in Nigeria. Oxfam and three other organizations launched the Female Food Hero competition as a way to recognize women for their essential contribution to food security and nutrition in their families, communities and country. After a panel of five judges representing the public, private, and nonprofit sectors reviewed the nominations, only three contestants made it to the final round, and Susan Godwin won first prize. She was honored for her entrepreneurial spirit in striving against poverty and for using her resources to establish and expand a scalable enterprise.

The daughter of farmers, Susan lives in the village of Tunduadabu in the Nasarawa State of central Nigeria. There, she grows groundnuts, cassava, millet, maize and yams. Along with other farmers in her community, Susan faces challenges such as changing market demand for products, low prices offered by middlemen buyers, and weak institutional support for smallholder farmers.

After participating in an Oxfam agricultural program that taught community members new farming techniques, how to form saving and lending groups, and how to manage group dynamics as a leader, Susan increased the value of her groundnut production by purchasing equipment to shell and process them into oil and groundnut cake. These activities bring increased profits at local markets and enabled Susan to employ three other women in her groundnut processing business. Some of the women who worked for her have been able to use their earnings to start businesses of their own.

When Susan Godwin first participated in this program, her neighbors thought she was wasting her time. Now, four years later, Susan has adapted her production to meet market demand, established a growing groundnut processing business, and knows how to facilitate village-level savings and lending groups. Now that she is an established community leader and successful farmer, her neighbors ask her for advice on how to improve their livelihoods.