In its first season, starting in November 2012, farmers in ten leading rice-producing states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Niger and Kogi were empowered to go into dry season paddy production. Each received free 50kg of seeds, two bags of 15-15-15 NPK and one bag of Urea. Clusters were also assisted with water pumps to bring water to the fields.
The farmers’ response is massive. The northwest zone is leading the drive for rice production in the dry season, with Kebbi working on 45,688 ha and expected production of 182,952 metric tons of rice. Jigawa is second, with 41,209 ha with expected production of 164,836 MT. Third is Zamfara with 24,644 ha and expected rice production of 98,576 MT. Others include Kano with 13,000 ha with expected production of 51,000 MT, and Sokoto with 1,125 ha and expected production of 4,500 MT. Northeast is led by Gombe, with 9,666 ha and expected production of 38,664 MT. With Bauchi doing 4374 ha, a production of 17,496 MT is expected. Kogi State leads North-central with 734 ha and expected production of 2,936 MT, and Niger State, doing 734 ha, is expected to produce 2936 MT.
By March 30, 2013, a total of 170,000 farmers were expected to have got seeds to plant one hectare each, translating into 170,000 ha of rice. Average yield of cereal crops, especially rice, is higher in the dry season and is expected to be 4 MT of paddy per hectare. This dry season scheme will generate 680,000 MT of paddy between now and June 2013, enough to keep 20 integrated mills running till the main season of 2013 crop harvest. Total paddy production in 2012 is estimated at 1,670,000 MT.
With 31,000 MT of improved seeds now ready for distribution to farmers to plant 620,000 hectares of land for 2013 wet and dry season rice cultivation, at an average yield of 3.5 MT per hectare, about 2,170,000 MT of paddy is expected, which, considered in isolation, is close to narrowing the perennial supply gap. Expanding the 2013/2014 dry season paddy production scheme to other agro-ecological zones and putting at least another 300,000 hectares into production to double, at least to 300,000, we will produce additional 1,200,000 MT of paddy. This will raise the estimated paddy production for both dry and wet seasons in 2013 to 3.37 million metric tons.
Arrangements for collection, marketing and sale of rice are bringing encouraging responses. USAID MARKETS has been involved in rice development project in Nigeria for some years and its experience will be useful under the government’s intervention on rice. In its collaboration with USAID MARKETS, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is working to set up paddy-buying arrangement in various rice-growing ecologies. This will facilitate purchase of paddy from smallholders and sale to large mills to enhance their performance.
Munir Baba Dan, deputy chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, who has been monitoring things on the ground in the north, was full of praises for the minister of agriculture. “This is the first time ever the federal government will support dry season agriculture. We have never seen anything like this before. The dry season rice production in the north is massive and there will be bumper paddy harvest,” the lawmaker observed.
According to him, “This minister has radically changed the face of agriculture. The results are not on paper; they are visible for all to see. Farmers are coming out in large numbers in response to his policy initiatives. I have no doubt that, with the approach of the federal government working so closely with states and local governments, Nigeria will soon become self-sufficient in rice.”
Oyeleye is special assistant, Media and Strategy, to the minister of agriculture and rural development.
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