OCP Africa, a global fertilizer company, has launched Agribooster programme in Kebbi State to boost the cultivation of rice and to support 4,000 smallholder farmers.
In a release sent to The Guardian, OCP Africa, Country Manager, Mr. Caleb Usoh, said Agribooster is part of his company’s ongoing efforts to facilitate the provision of all necessary resources, training, extension service and market access for smallholder farmers across Nigeria.
He stated that the initiative works across the supply chain to connect African farmers with quality inputs, financing and insurance, aside providing comprehensive training on proper input use that would increase crop yields and farmers’ income.
Usoh disclosed that 5,000 smallholder maize farmers participated in the trial phase of the programme in Kaduna State and their productivity increased by 41 per cent, adding that this success made his company to extend the project to rice farmers in Kebbi State, where it is supporting 4,000 smallholder farmers in Suru, Argungu and Birnin Kebbi regions of the state.
He revealed that the project is a collaborative effort of OCP Africa, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Syngenta, OXFAM and LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited (LAPO).
Speaking at the launch, Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, represented by Muhammed Umar Illo, noted that the state has attained self-sufficiency in rice production, and now supplies it in large quantities to other states. He added that, from December 2015 till date, the output of the average rice farmer in the state has risen from 2.5 metric tons per hectare to 11 metric tons per hectare.
According to President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, Nigerians consumed 7.9 million tons of rice in 2017, with the country’s local farmers producing 5.8 million tons, of which Kebbi State produced one million metric tons.
He noted that with greater investment, especially from the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), and better access to farm inputs, the state plans to raise its production to 2.5 million metric tons in 2018.