…as Kebbi attains self-sufficiency in rice production, supply
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA– RICE farmers numbering 4,000 in Kebbi State have received agricultural support called ‘Agriboost’ from a firm, OCP Africa, a leading global fertilizer company.
The Country Manager, OCP Africa, Mr Caleb Usoh, at the launch of OCP Africa ‘Agribooster’ for rice farmers held in Kalgo, Kebbi State, explained that the ‘Agribooster’ programme was part of the company’s ongoing efforts to facilitate the provision of all necessary resources, training, extension service and market access for smallholder farmers across the country.
According to Usoh the launch serves as signaling the company’s commitment to the development of long term, sustainable agriculture particularly in Nigeria, and Africa in general.
OCP Africa initiated the project in collaboration with AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Syngenta, OXFAM and LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited (LAPO), enabling expertise sharing among the different partners according to their area of specialization.
Nigeria is one of the first of 12 African countries in which OCP Africa currently operates. The Nigerian operation serves as fully integrated subsidiary dedicated to transform the country’s smallholder farms into modern, productive and sustainable operations.
He said: “The ‘Agribooster’ programme is a unique initiative that works across the supply chain to connect African farmers with quality inputs, financing and insurance and provides comprehensive training on proper input use, thereby increasing farmers’ crop yields and incomes.
“The programme also supports the strengthening of the farmers’ commercial ties and enables them to benefit from training and extension/propagation services based on agricultural best practices.”
He further stated that the trial phase of the programme was first deployed in Kaduna State, where nearly 5,000 smallholder maize farmers were reached, which led to an increase in their productivity by up to 41 per cent.
This success allowed the project to be extended to rice farmers during the dry season in Kebbi State, where OCP Africa currently supports 4,000 smallholder farmers in the Suru, Argungu and Birnin Kebbi regions of the State.
In this arrangement, OCP Africa takes responsibility for the supply of high quality fertilizer, training and extension services support to these farmers that AFEX and Oxfam have enumerated and registered within Suru, Argungu and Birnin Kebbi communities of Kebbi State.
Syngenta provides the farmers with high quality hybrid seeds and crop protection products. AFEX, guarantees storage and off-take market to farmers after harvest. LAPO Microfinance Bank provides input loans to the registered farmers to facilitate supply of the input packages.
On training of the farmers OCP Africa has contracted Global Fertile Fields Limited (GFFL) to train farmers using the Training of Trainers (ToT) approach as well as provide continuous extension services to monitor the farmers, from pre-season to post-harvest.
In his remarks the Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, who was represented by Muhammed Umar Illo, disclosed that the State has attained self-sufficiency in rice production, and now supplies the food item in large quantities to other states of the federation.
According to him from December 2015 till date, the output of the average rice farmer in the Kebbi State has risen from 2.5 metric tons per hectare to 11 metric tons per hectare.
Expressing gratitude for the gesture by OCP Africa, the President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, said rice farmers in Kebbi State in 2017 produced 1 million metric tonnes of rice of the consumed 7.9 million metric tonnes of rice Nigerians consumed in 2017, with the country’s local farmers producing 5.8 million tonnes of rice put together in 2017.
According to Goronyo with greater investment, especially from the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP, and better access to farm inputs, Kebbi State plans to raise its rice production to 2.5 million metric tonnes in 2018, in order to maintain its lead as largest rice producer in the country.
Rice is grown mainly in 16, out of the 21 Local Government Areas of Kebbi State, which it projects a production of about 50 per cent of all the locally grown rice in Nigeria for few years to come.