Nigeria in the scorching sun and feet
Nigeria has an estimated agricultural land of mass 74,5000 square kilometers 81% and 17,877 square kilometers non-arable 19%. Rice; “Has its head in the scorching sun and feet in Water.” Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat supplies 19% and maize corn 5%. Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in West Africa. Rice production in Nigeria has reached 15 million metric tonnes annually. Kano alone produced 1.2 million metric tonnes in 2016. Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa Asian rice or Oryza glaberrima African rice. As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia.The rice plant can grow to 1–1.8 m (3.3–5.9 ft.) tall, occasionally more depending on the variety.Rice can grow in all the geographical zones of Nigeria depending on the variety and soil fertility, the area of land used for rice cultivation is relatively about 2 million hectares, and the survey has it that Nigeria potential for cultivation is about 5 million hectares. This is a plus for Nigeria.Nigeria is the largest producer of rice in West Africa and the 3rd in Africa after Egypt and Madagascar producing about 3 million metric tons on the average annually.Rice production in Nigeria has taken a quantum leap since the coming of the present administration which has focused mainly on Agriculture, especially agricultural vain chain services to a farmer. Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending NIRSAL founded on a deep understanding of agricultural and financial value chains as they currently operate within. De-Risking Agriculture and Facilitating AgriBusiness. NIRSAL creates models of commercial relationships among sectors within and between segments of agricultural value chains, it also collaborates with lenders and creates bespoke financing products to cater to all needs of all commercially relating entities within the models. In the context of the above preamble Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism PTCIJ where “Innovation and Knowledge Lead” take a more deeper and cursory look at Rice Production In Nigeria and narrowing it down to Northern Nigeria for a comparative analysis:A Rice Cultivation.B Processing.A Rice Cultivation:Kebbi State, Zaria, Kaduna State, and Kano State tops the list of rice cultivation in Northern Nigeria, closely followed by Shinkafi, Zamfara, Nassarawa, Kano, Gombe, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Lagos, Edo, Niger, Katsina States. Cluster and small rice farms can be found in Aileron, Argungu all Kebbi State. Most rice farmers in Kebbi State prefer dry season rice farming because they can control the volume of water needed for their paddy rice farms through irrigation.But in the wet season paddy rice farming, they are the mercy of rain, as most of their farms are flooded as witnessed by the reporter in Bagudu.The Kebbi State Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP Secretary, Alhaji Yusuf Mamman, who is also a director in Kebbi State Ministry of Agriculture and a rice farmer complained of duplicity of duty between The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending NIRSAL and Sterling Bank who is saddled with the loan disbursement to the Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP members.He said, “Sterling Bank has refused to release the much-needed funds earmarked for the Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP Participants.”He also noted the challenges faced by the farmers which include:1 Lack of Seeds.2 Fertilizer.3 Power.4 Climate Change & Flooding.”But in all these; it is indeed a new-dawn in Kebbi, as they are now referred to as ‘Autocrat of the Paddy Green Field’, Rice Revolutionaries! Alhaji Yusuf boasted, “Kebbi rice farmers can adequately feed the entire country with rice with the much-needed government assistance, encouragement and & tools.” The Kebbi State Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP Secretary called on Central Bank of Nigeria CBN to decentralize the Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP by involving participating states to have an input as this will ease the bureaucratic bottleneck currently between Sterling Bank the distributing bank and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending NIRSAL to the detriment of the by rice farmers for a more positive Agriculture Value Chain and Agricultural Financing Value Chain results.Also contrary to federal government claim that it had provided 47 Solar Power Irrigation Panel to the rice farmers, the reporter discovered only one was at The National Cereal Research Institute NCRI, Birnin Kebbi Outstation Demonstration farm which was installed by a private individual looking for a favour from the government, the other one in Argungu which was installed personally by a farmer has since been vandalized.Kebbi State rice farmers got N15.137 billion for 73,941 registered farmers with N7.119 billion representing 47 percent repaid and returned to Central Bank of Nigeria CBN under the Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP of the federal government that releases N33.34 billion to 146,557 farmers in the 21 states to cultivate over 180,018 hectares of land.The Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu whose state pioneer the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN said; “Kebbi Rice project success was due to the commitment and enthusiasm of the farmer and the favorable climate and whether that was witnessed last year.”The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has said; “Presently, about 88,000 millionaires have been created from the farming sector in Kebbi State and that by the end of 2017, at least, 250,000 millionaires would have been created from rice farming business in Kebbi State.”The rice farms in Argungu are of FADAMA III Project in Shuwa village in Suru LGA, Yola in Augie LGA, Argungu LGA, Aileron LGA, and Jega LGA all in Kebbi State, Shinkafi, Zamfara State, Zaria, Kaduna State, Kano, and Sokoto State for milling. Apart from the famous Argungu International Fishing Festival, rice farming in Argungu, Is a way of Life! Mallam Yahaya Mohammed who has a rice farm across River Argungu with a water pumping machine, laments that; “the problem most of the farmers are facing is primarily power, seeds, and fertilizer, and with given government support, the sky is indeed the beginning as the farmers can feed the country with rice.”It is Rice Revolution and farmers in Argungu are now millionaires, the once thatched roof and mud houses that dotted surrounding hamlets and villages are now covered with modern houses courtesy of ‘Kebbi Rice Revolutionaries’! A bag of paddy rice is sold at N15,000. It is indeed a booming business in Argungu! A farmer that cultivates a hectare of a rice is expected to harvest 100 bags of paddy rice and with the current price of N15,000, the farmer is expected to net an estimated N1.5 million in a farming season dry and wet season.The Head Of NCRI, Birnin Kebbi Outstation, Dr. Philip Musa Bello who time out to conduct me round the about 500 Hectares of NCRI, Birnin Kebbi Outstation Demonstration farm, explained that NCRI, Birnin Kebbi Outstation was established in 1963 to cater for research and improved varieties of rice seedlings. Dr. Philip Musa Bello said; “Kebbi State is indeed producing more millionaires.” With the abundant rice sales, Kebbi State rice farmers were able to perform this year hajj in large numbers, built new and modern houses, and live the good life!The farmers have the zeal, they are determined, they are desperate and they are good to go!The Birnin Kebbi Rice farm water is supplied by River Rima from Sokoto State which flows through Bagudu and empties into River Niger. The challenges the farmers are facing are quite enormous as listed below:1 Sterling Bank Refuse to Release Funds.2 Climate Change.3 Flooding.4 Duplication of duties by government agencies NIARSAL5 Lack of seedlings.6 Lack of Fertilizer.7 Power The farmers make use of pumping machines The only Solar power pumping machine at NCRI, Birnin Kebbi was installed by a lobbyist hoping to get a favor from government.HARVESTING:Farmers after harvesting the paddy load it on top of a cart drawn cows that swam across the River Rima in Birnin Kebbi, it is a pathetic situation watching these farmers in the flooded river swimming alongside their mules with loads of paddy rice coming to Birnin Kebbi. Some farmers at Birnin Kebbi who could not access their farms by the road made it on dug-out canoes with their pumping machines across the flooded River Rima, from Sokoto State at Birnin Kebbi. A bag of harvested paddy rice sells at N10,000 per bag and the farmers are hoping to increase the price to N15,000 per bag any time from now. The farmers do not engage any middle-man to get his paddy rice to the milling companies Wacot Rice Mill, Argungu, Labana Rice Mill, Birnin Kebbi and the propose Dangote Rice Mill, Gasha, Saminaka LGA., Kebbi State.In Argungu, where the irrigated rice is watered by River Argungu, the farmers are expecting to start harvesting by November. In the villages of; Ambursa, Dabire, Asahara, Alwasa, Umra, Gotomo, Bachaka, Tunga Marina and Tunga Rafi; indeed Rice farming is a way of life, living, and future!According to Mallam Abubakar, a rice farmer at Tunga-Rafi, “I have not had it so good in my life prior to the Anchor Borrowers Programme. Though Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN that was flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 was like an impetus, the farmers already had the zeal to cultivate and grow rice. And with Anchor Borrowers Programme and the ready market, we hit the farm.” There are two types of rice seeds been demonstrated at National Cereal Research Institute NCRI, Birnin Kebbi Outstation.Nigeria Cereal Research Institute NCRI, Birnin Kebbi Outstation, has provided farmers with improved seedlings according to the Head of Station, Dr. Philip Bello Usman. And the institute also recommended paddy that should and can be bought to LABANA Rice Mill and WACOT Rice Mill.The Head of Station disclosed that on several occasions he has to take the governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu round the demonstration rice farm with the governor promising to look into the various problems the institute is facing which is considered as one of the biggest in the Sub-Saharan African.1 Lowland – Watered. The lowland type of rice seeds can withstand the flood, but are not of high quality and produce fewer yields and not grown for consumption.2 Upland – Irrigated by the River Rima with channels. This type of rice is what the people refer to as ‘Kebbi Rice Revolution Millionaires’, this type of seed has brought a ray of hope to the peasant farmers’ in Kebbi. Most benefits of the ‘Kebbi Rice Revolution Millionaires’ are the Influence/Political Appointees/Top Government Officials; 70%, The Peasants; 30%.Solar Power Panel Irrigation.It is a solar power panel that pumps water into an over-head tank from where water is pump to the paddy rice field, but with a low pumping, capacity output compares with the fuel power irrigation pumping machine. The Solar Power Panel Irrigation system is quite expensive, but the cost and energy efficiency. It makes use of solar. All the farmers complained of mechanized pumping machine which they have to fuel and this still eats deep into their pockets.Welcome to Bagudu; The Rice Hacienda of the affluent. The view is greenish, with paddies head in the scorching sun and their feet in the water. This is where the real ‘Rice Revolutionaries” are, watered by River Rima that empties into River Niger at Bagudu and with the propose Dangote Rice Mill, Bagudu is indeed the future of Rice in Africa!Like Bagudu, Aliero is also a vast rice cultivating community in Kebbi State and even boasts of a dilapidated rice mill installed by the Kebbi State former governor Alhaji Adamu Aileron who also hails from the community.CLIMATE: The weather was favorable, but with some few flooding’s and this was an added advantage to the farmers. B Processing and Improved Varieties:1. National Cereals Research Institute, Badeggi, Niger State.The National Cereals Research Institute NCR Badeggi, Niger State is one of the fifteen 15 commodities Agricultural Research Institute in Nigeria under the aegis of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Institute was established by an Agricultural Research order of 1975 but has a long history dating back to 1898 when the first precursor of Department of Agriculture was established by the then British Colonial Administration as an observatory Botanical Garden in Lagos. The Department letter metamorphosed into the Federal Department of Agricultural Research, Moor plantation in 1954 charged with the responsibility of conducting research on all agricultural crops and farming practices through the Country.The 1975 Agricultural Research Institutes order limited the research mandate of the Institute to the problems of rice, maize, grain legumes, and sugarcane as well as those of farming systems throughout Nigeria.The Headquarters of the institute remained at moor plantation, Ibadan until December 1984 when it was moved to the Institute Rice Research Station, Badeggi, Niger State which is now the Headquarters.The re-organization of the Nigeria Research Institute in 1987 further changed the mandate of the Institute as well as its areas of coverage consequently, National Cereals Research Institute NCRI was charged with national mandate for the genetic improvement of Rice, Sugarcane, Soybean, Acha, Beniseed, and Castor throughout the country as well as Farming Systems Research and Extension in all ramifications of Agriculture within the Central Zone consisting of Nassarawa, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Plateau, Taraba, Benue States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.National Cereal Research Institute NCRI research activities are carried out both in the Headquarters and the ten 10 Outstations located in different parts of the country viz: Ibadan Oyo State, Warri Delta State, Amakama-Olokoro Abia State, Uyo Akwa-Ibom State, Bacita Kwara State, Mokwa Niger State, Birnin-Kebbi Kebbi State, Numan Adamawa State, Yandev Benue State and Riyom Plateau State in close collaboration with both National and International Agricultural Research Institutes, Non-governmental Organization and Private Organizations.On-farm Adaptive trials are conducted multi-locations to ensure that results are adaptable to the different ecologists in the country. It is also the Zonal Coordinating Research Institute for Research Extension –Farmer-Input-Linkage- System REFILS of the North Central Zone.2. WACOT Rice Mill, Argungu, Kebbi State.WACOT Rice Mill is a subsidiary company of West African Cotton Company Limited a company incorporated in Nigeria and is engaged in cotton ginning, selling of cotton lint to textile mills, export of cotton lint, gin motes and textile mill wastes. The company also imports cotton from other neighboring West African countries for onward sales to local textile mills. West African Cotton Company Limited, has its ginnery Continental Eagle 3×141 Sawains in Funtua, Katsina State in the heart of cotton growing area of Nigeria and has a capacity to gin over 50,000 metric tons of seed cotton per season. The company is also having cotton Out Grower Scheme and Farmer Assistance Scheme through which quality inputs are distributed to local farmers on credit for over 12,000 hectares. The purpose of the scheme is to enhance the yield and quality of the cotton lint and to ensure that the cotton reaches the ginnery without contamination. The company has been exporting substantial quantities of cotton from Nigeria.The subsidiary of West African Cotton Company has another Roller Ginning factory in Gombe, a state capital in North Eastern Nigeria. The plant with 36 Double Roller Gins and a High-Density Bale press has a Capacity to gin about 25000mt of seed cotton.WACOT Rice Mill is located on the Argungu – Sokoto road, about 55 kilometers from Birnin Kebbi and 90 kilometers from Sokoto. Built on 10 hectares of land and construction of the factory by Vita Construction Limited.Tropical General Investments Limited TGI’s Group Managing Director, Mr. Rahul Savara, said; “The current phase of the WACOT Rice Mill has a production capacity of 120,000 metric tons per annum and an estimated production of 500,000 metric tonnes of rice after expansion and with a fully automated silos that have the capacity of 18,000 tonnes paddy and a warehouse to store additional 12,000 tonnes raw materials for up to six months. He added that the state-of-the-art rice mill with a capital outlay of over N10 billion is also expected to generate direct and indirect employment for 3,500 people and that its procurement of rice paddy will reach out to at least 50,000 local farmers to provide paddy for WACOT Rice Mill, as the capacity grows.And would train 5,000 smallholder rice farmers on good farming practices, financial management, production costs optimization and yield demonstration. The rice mill has a captive power co-generation facility. It will generate electricity from rice husks, thereby ensuring that all by-products and waste products are fully consumed and the environment is protected. It will also generate one megawatt of electricity via turbines to reduce dependence on the grid.”WACOT Rice Mill, Argungu, Kebbi State has automated silos and is Africa’s largest parboiled rice mill and the first rice plant in Nigeria. Rice is brought to WACOT Mill from Argungu and other participating farmers across the country, which draw its supply from ‘The Kebbi Anchor Borrowers Programme ABP ‘Home of Rice’ which was flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari on 22nd of April 2016′, with about 73,941 rice farmers in Kebbi State.The management said they could not issue any press statement now taking into cognizance that the company commences operation barely two months ago, though the company said their projection for producing 120,000 metric tonnes of parboiling rice could be surpassed if the current tempo is sustained.The WACOT Rice Mill company technical department staffs are mostly expatriates. With others as casuals and a few Nigerians holding management positions with a lot of casual and indirect laborers’ hanging at the company premises.3 Labana Rice Mill, Birnin Kebbi.Located in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State Labana Rice Mill is capable of producing 320 metric tonnes of rice per day. No fewer than 7,000 rice farmers cultivate and provide Labana Rice Processing Mill with paddy rice raw materials.C Lagos – Kebbi Rice Project LAKE Rice:Lagos State Government and Kebbi State Government signed a memorandum of Understanding MoU, the partnership which culminated into the launch was not only designed to ensure food security but showcase the ability of Nigeria to become a producing nation to produce 70% Nigeria’s rice requirements. Speaking at the launching ceremony that was held at Lagos House in Ikeja, Governor Ambode said the development was a great and historic moment for both states and Nigeria, as the rice would not only be sold at highly reduced price, compared to what obtains in the market but is also very fresh and safe for consumption.”Today is a historic day for Lagos and Kebbi States. In March 2016, we signed an MOU with an understanding that we, being proudly Nigeria, we want to come out with what is made in Nigeria and what is good in Nigeria. We took all that President Muhammadu Buhari said that we need to grow our food and we decided that we will prove a point and that is what today is all about.”LAKE RICE is of good quality. The major difference between LAKE RICE and the ones imported is that the imported has a minimum storage of five to six years storage lifespan, but ‘LAKE RICE’ is fresh,” the Governor said.He said the partnership would in the nearest future lead to an expansion of production of the rice, saying that Lagos has the largest consumption market.Giving a breakdown of the prices, Governor Ambode said that while the 50kg will sell for N12,000, 25kg would go for N6,000 and 10kg for N2,500.He also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting the collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi, as he disclosed that the Federal Government has donated two rice mills to the State Government to increase production of rice next year.Governor Bagudu, who went down memory lane of how the collaboration started with a discussion between him and Governor Ambode during a meeting in Abuja, said the partnership was a confirmation of both State Governments’ commitment to the agenda of making Nigeria a big market in Africa.He said while Kebbi State has a comparative advantage in the area of rice production, Lagos boasts of the largest consumption market, saying that the ‘LAKE RICE’ can stand any integrity test in Nigeria.”3 Rice the Producing States and Tonnage Per Annum:The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO said, ” Nigeria imported an estimated 3 million metric tonnes of rice into the country in 2016.”Kebbi and Kano states are the leading states in rice production; Kebbi produces 2.05 million metric tons in the wet season and 1.51 million metric tons in the dry season while Kano produces 1.86 and 0.96 million metric tons during the wet and dry seasons.There are 13 states in Nigeria that are leading in rice production:1 Kebbi – 2.05 million Metric Tonnes.2 Kano – 732.42 Metric tonnes.2 Kaduna State – 636.67 Metric Tonnes.3 Ogun State – 422.05 Metric Tonnes.4 Taraba State – 401.99 Metric Tonnes.5 Benue State – 341.48 Metric Tonnes.Twenty-nine 29 states planted rice with the total cultivated areas amounting to 2,432,63 thousand hectares of land. An average of 4,472,52 metric tonnes was produced by all the states. Kebbi, Kaduna, Ogun, Kano, Taraba, and Benue are topmost of Nigeria’s rice producing states.Largest Rice Producing Regions:1.North West – 32%.2.North East – 25%.3.North Central – 17%.4.South West – 16%.5.South East – 9%.6.South-South – 1%.Indeed, Rice Revolution in Kebbi has changed the people’s lives! But a lot of challenges still lies ahead of the growing number of farmers wanting to go into rice farming. People are relocating to Kebbi and mostly big-time rice farmers prefer Bagudu, where they come in on Friday by flight and heads straight to their rice farms in Bagudu and by Monday morning they are back to Abuja by flight.Rice is a way of life in Kebbi! And this has been their life since time immemorial. With the harvesting time approaches, Kebbi State will definitely become the beautiful investor’s haven bride in Nigeria. A peace-loving and agrarian community. I Couldn’t, but say, ‘Yes, I have come, I have Seen, I believed!’ The future of Rice Is Kebbi State!