Rice is the third most consumed food in Nigeria after maize and cassava, making it an important food crop (KPMG, 2019). It is also an important cash crop for smallscale, rural farmers who produce over 80% of rice consumed in Nigeria (PWC, 2018). However, obsolete mills and low capacity of small-scale rice processors, limited mechanisation, inadequacy of agrochemicals and fertilisers, and insufficiency of extension services are some constraints to rice production in Nigeria (PWC, 2018).
Working with select partners, Propcom Mai-karfi (PM) provides Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to small scale farmers in rural communities to bridge the extension service gap. In this way, farmers have up-to-date information to aid their farming activities and ultimately improve their productivity and income.
Salamatu Ahmed is a 45-year old mother of 8 from Ganuwarkuka community in Auyo LGA of Jigawa State. She farms predominantly rice and some vegetables on 2 hectares of inherited farmland and uses income from selling her produce to support her household.
She is one of many beneficiaries of PM’s rice intervention through which the Programme’s partner, Atafi Agro, furnishes farmers in rural communities with GAP on rice farming. Atafi deploys trained agents to communities who register rice farmers using the AfricaRice App and periodically provide tailored information to suit individual farmers’ needs. Information provided range from type of seed to plant, time to plant, soil type, fertiliser application, time to harvest and postharvest handling. Atafi also links registered farmers to off-takers to enable them to sell their produce faster. Through the App a database of farmers was created, and this made tracking farmers’ progress and providing support easier and efficient.
Interacting with the agents made Salamatu realise she had been doing many things wrong on her farm. For instance, she would spread fertiliser on top of the soil, which made it prone to being washed off whenever it rained or during floods.
Prior to receiving GAP information, Salamatu was only able to harvest 35 bags of rice (1 bag is 75kg) per hectare, which she sold in the open market; she, thus, had limited options to sell her produce. However, having put to practice knowledge received, Salamatu’s productivity greatly improved. She says she now harvests about 75 bags of rice per hectare of farmland.
“I did not realise I was doing a lot of things wrong. Fertilisers and other inputs are very expensive and for years I’ve been wasting my fertilisers. With knowledge gained, I have gone from harvesting 35 bags of rice per hectare to about 75 bags per hectare.”
With Atafi’s support, Salamatu and some of the other registered women rice farmers came together and started a cooperative. Through this cooperative they sell their aggregated produce to offtakers Atafi had linked to them, such as Three Brothers.
The cooperative has been such great help as the women support each other with activities on their farms and as a group are able to negotiate the right price for their produce. Additionally, as a cooperative, they transfer knowledge and experience to other women in their community and support them to improve their farming techniques, which leads to more yield and income.
“Before we formed the cooperative, I did everything on my farm with my children helping, except for harvest season when I hired male labourers to do the harvesting. Today, we support one another on our farms. Often, when other women farmers see how well our farms are doing, they ask us what we did, and we teach them so they too can do well on their farms. We have also helped other women farmers form groups like ours in our community.”
According to Salamatu, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, her income has increased by about 70% since she started implementing GAP provided by Atafi’s agents. She said she uses her income to support her household and to buy inputs for her farm. She has also invested some of her income into rearing ruminants and has begun to see returns.
“Today, I am able to financially support my household more. We eat better and I am happier. I have even used some of the money from selling my rice to start rearing ruminants; I recently sold 2 goats at N30,000 each!”
For the near future, Salamatu hopes to expand her rice farm by leasing additional land from the government. Even though she is aware that it is getting harder for farmers to lease land from the government, she remains hopeful.
“My status has gone up in my community and I am respected and recognised. Everywhere I go people wave at me and shout ‘Hajiya!’ ‘Hajiya!”
— Salamatu Ahmed, Rice farmer from Jigawa