As part of efforts to boost rice production in the country, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Côte d’Ivoire based Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) have commenced the training of 300 farmers across Nigeria in paddy production technology.
The exercise involves strengthening the capacities of community based rice farmers and rice seed producers for production of quality rice seed of improved variety. The trainees include youths and women
According to the FAO Deputy Representative to Nigeria, Nourou Macki, “Seed mixtures and lack of good quality rice seeds are common phenomena and major constraints to rice production in Nigeria. The quality of breeder seed is poor and the quantity available is inadequate to support foundation and certified seed production.
“FAO is therefore partnering with AfricaRice to train seed producers in rice seed and paddy production technology, produce and distribute training manuals on rice seed production technology, and set up demonstration plots to showcase seed production technologies including land preparation”.
The training is being conducted under the Partnership for Sustainable Rice Systems Development in Sub-Saharan Africa agreement between FAO and AfricaRice. It will build national capacity, enhance sustainable development of the rice food chain among smallholder farmers and contribute to increase food security in the country.
It will facilitate the emergence of efficient rice production systems for Nigeria supported through the promotion of adoption of best practices and up-scaling of proven and tested technologies.
Six states of Ekiti, Edo, Anambra, Abia, Nassarawa and Jigawa have been selected for the project. 50 participants will benefit from the training in each state, along with establishment of demonstration plots and backstopping mission.
Macki reiterated that “The goal is to ensure that Nigeria attains self-sufficiency in rice production through access and availability of good quality seed of released rice varieties.”
Speaking at one of the training sessions in Anamabra, representative of Africa Rice, Oyetunji Olumoye, observed that many seed producers lack basic knowledge on production of quality rice seeds.
“Food insecurity is a big challenge in Nigeria. Seed mixtures and lack of good quality rice seeds is a common phenomenon and major constraint to rice production in Nigeria. Farmers do not have enough quantity of rice seed for production. The little they have contain impurity and mixtures,” he explained.
“The overall objective of the training program is to enhance farmers’ access to quality rice seed and also make quality paddy available to millers and processors in the selected states. The trainees will continue to be monitored throughout the period of planting to crop maturity, says Andrew Ikhadeunu, National Coordinator of the project.