By AGRA Content Hub

Rice farming has been an age-long practice in communities across Niger, a largely agrarian state in Northern Nigeria. For years, they have clung to traditional rice planting, harvesting and processing methods as well as market distribution, which all resulted in low profit.

In addition, they are being plagued routinely with inadequate aggregation centres, high-interest rate loans and price instability due to poor processing methods.

The lack of aggregation center meant that farmers had to travel far to different locations in other to sell their products, spending more money in the process.

Being a major source of income for majority of the people in the community, poor profits from rice sales meant that families could barely take care of their basic household needs.

However in 2019, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) changed the narrative when it began working with rice farmers across the state to help improve cultivation, production and sales, believing that progress in Africa’s agricultural transformation agenda would only come with great harvest.

With huge support, a number of female rice producers organized themselves into a group called the Lemu Women Rice Processors for the project in Gbako Local Government Area of the state.

AGRA organized trainings for these women and youths on agro-input and output market distribution, including rice processing which has greatly helped the Lemu Women Rice Processors Group to be sufficient and maximize their profit.

With this, new agro-input dealers emerged from the training such as Tecni Seed, Da-All Green and more.  AGRA also established successfully linkages to source finance from the Lemu Microfinance Bankwith agreements brokered by SG 2000 and NAMDA.

Now, the Lemu Women Rice Processors group can acquire finance through aggregation, securing N200, 000 to N400, 000 per person. with the support of AGRA project. The group started recycling rice through processing, marketing while making up to N400 profit per bag.

There is now a bigger market oppurtunity based on how clean the rice is which has more value. The Faro 44 and 52 variety of rice is cleaner than the traditional variety grown

Through its actions of strategic value chain partners, AGRA has increased the capacities of youth and women, with lessons built around entrepreneurship focused on the rice value chain. It has also successfully contributed in eliminating the need for food importation narrowing the country’s demand gap of over two million tons of rice, specifically in Gbako LGA of Niger state, where there are a lot of women entrepreneurs involved in formal and informal agribusinesses.

The Nigerian Rice Consortium with the help of Partnership for Inclusisive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) program continue to build the capacity of youth and women for employment  in the Rice value chain which presents a lot of business and enterprise development opportunities from input marketing,  production, processing and marketing of finished rice.

The training provided by AGRA has not only helped the Lemu processors to set up fully equipped community resource centres, but has also provided them with the opportunity to expand their trade.

In the words of Mariam, one of the women beneficiaries, “the benefits of AGRA teaching us how to properly process rice without stones and chaff has increased profitability of how much we sell a mudu of rice; previously unprocessed rice sold for three hundred to three hundred and fifty naira only (N300-350) now processed rice sells for between four hundred and fifty and five hundred naira (N450-500).”

With the extra profit, Mariam is now able to take care of the basic needs in her family, which includes provision of food and clothes for her kids as well as payment of other bill.