Boost For Rice Output At UNDP Forum


How to improve rice production, among others, topped discussions at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) rice value forum held in Minna, the Niger State capital. DANIEL ESSIET reports.

How to enhance rice production dominated discussions at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) forum held in Minna, the Niger State capital.

Held under UNDP’s Agribusiness Supplier Development Programme’s (ASDP’s) Rice Supply Chain, the roundtable was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, UNDP and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

Rice farmers, processors, marketers and researchers, representatives of some stakeholders proffered solutions to problems.

They listed weaknesses in the value chain as fragmented and small- scale production, poor application of advanced science and technology and low level of mechanisation of production stages, adding that post-harvest technology was not being given proper attention.

They said rice seeds used by farmers were left overs from the previous season; and the ratio of farmers using certified rice seeds has remained low. These problems, the participants said, led to high cost of production, low quality and poor competitiveness.

UNDP Inclusive Growth Unit Team Leader Dr Robert Asogwa said the forum aimed to provide solutions to the problems to ensure a secure future for the rice sector.

Asogwa said UNDP would continue to contribute to rice farming with enhanced agronomic practices and technologies for smallholder farmers.

He said UNDP was ready to work with the government and the private sector to boost rice production through crop improvement, disease and pest management, sustainable and profitable farming, and capacity building for farmers.

According to him, the organisation had made some headway in cassava and had started getting positive results from the projects farmers were undertaking.

He expressed the hope that the joint effort would improve the productivity and practices of thousands of smallholder rice farmers.

Participants at the event.
Participants at the event.

NIRSAL Executive Director Awoshafe Babatunde said the organisation facilitated the N65 billion loans to farmers.

To address the problem of agricultural finance, he said NIRSAL was working with banks and microfinance institutions to make long-term commitments of capital for developing agricultural markets.

For him, credit alone is not enough, but that an holistic approach is needed, including a range of financial and non-financial services.

He added that NIRSAL supports value chain finance (VCF) approach and that efforts have been made through creative financing and partnerships to facilitate investments in agricultural finance.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Chief Audu Ogbeh said implementation of government programmes would help reduce post-harvest losses.

Represented by the Director of Planning in the Ministry, Musa Alhassan, Ogbeh said: “The Federal Government has banned the importation of rice and there is surplus across the country. This means there is result and it shows that the farmers and all government’s policies are aiding agriculture produce.

“We are rice sufficient in the country by 2017. Nigeria will be self-sufficient in rice production. We are getting close as there is improvement on what we have been getting before. This will boost our economy,” he added.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Nigeria Office Programme Officer Dr Umar Halilu said a significant increase in rice productivity and production could only be achieved through improvements in production systems, so, the techniques farmers use must be enhanced.

He urged farmers to adopt affordable processing technologies provided by the agency to enhance the rice value chain, reiterating JICA ’s commitment to providing technical support and advice to rice farmers.

Niger State Agricultural and Mechanisation Development Authority Acting Managing Director Abubuka Sadeeq said rice was the key crop grown by mostly smallholder farmers in Niger.

He said the state was ready to collaborate with UNDP and other agencies to enhance capacity building and efficiency in rice production, ensure farmers adopted technologies and innovations in rice farming.

ASDP has three-fold objectives: first, to improve the quantity and quality supply of agricultural products by farmers and SMEs to markets; second, to provide smallholder farmers and SMEs with support in accessing the agricultural supply chains of lead firms; third, to contribute to national economies by developing agricultural products that meet market quality standards, ASDP Agribusiness Specialist, Dr Nelson Abila said.

The approach for a rice multi-stakeholder platform recognises that producers, processors and retailers should not compete as individual entities, rather, they should collaborate as strategic value-chains competing with others in the market place.

Senior Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Economics, Dr Opeyemi Ayinde, maintained that with increasing challenges in rice farming, including limited arable land, impact of climate change, labour shortage and limited resources, there was the need to harness innovative solutions and farming technologies.


The majority of successful mills are large scale located away from most rice farming areas.

Adding value

According to the participants, adding value to rice would increase income and encourage more farmers to add value to the produce.


Farmers often lack access to independent credit, both for farming as well as after harvesting. The forces them to sell immediately after harvesting, when supply is abundant and prices low.


Rice Farm

Women Rice Co-operative Union Co-ordinator, Kogi State, Mrs Esther Audu, said farmers cultivated rice/cotton on plots ranging from an hectare to a few.

To grow rice, she noted, many farmers relied on family or hired labour. Some farms are mechanised, using the latest technology to optimise fertiliser application and minimise superfluous irrigation.

She emphasised the need for the government to make tractors available for farmers and also distributed seedlings, fertiliser and other inputs to improve their productivity.

Mrs. Audu identified lack of mechanisation, low quality inputs and poor funding as hindrances to rice production.

According to her, peasant women play a key role: planting, weeding, transplanting and harvesting.

With the deluge of cheap imported rice in the market, rice farming is slowly becoming non-viable, and with the loss of it various farm jobs women do.

According to her, many farmers are not benefiting from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers programme.

Other farmers of the scheme decried the late disbursement of input, which they said, affect their harvest during the rains.

For agriculture to improve and for the nation to attain inclusive growth, participants noted that banks should lend to agriculture.

External Relations Director, Nigeria Markets11, Mr Godson Ononiwu, said the country has agricultural potential, though the price, quality, and supply of its rice were yet to meet international standards. The main problems facing the industry, he said, were a lack of adequate warehouses and seeds, as well as an inefficient market system.


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