Alhaji Bala Dan Alhaji and other farmers in his village of Dorewer Salau in Nigeria’s Kano State used to farm about 10 hectares of land. They employed multi-crop cultivation, including rice, maize, tomatoes, sorghum, wheat, and onions. Rice yields averaged 3.75 tons per hectare, and farmer incomes were modest.
In 2010, USAID’s Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites (MARKETS) project
brought its private sector-led approach to rice farming from Nigeria’s middle belt to its northern states. Farmers were taught modern agronomic practices and linked directly to a guaranteed market. Alhaji Bala Dan Alhaji, along with 500 Kano-area farmers, formed 20 new rice producer associations. The associations received training on modern agricultural practices, including improved seeds, fertilizer, integrated pest management, and transplanting. The farmers were provided with extension services and were linked to financial institutions and input suppliers for credit and fertilizer.
Alhaji Bala and his association members applied what they had been taught. They used high-yielding seed varieties, properly spaced their crops, cautiously applied fertilizers and herbicides, and regularly weeded their farms. At the end of the first farming cycle, Alhaji Bala and his fellow farmers were pleased with results. “From an average of 3.75 tons, we now realize about 5.25 tons per hectare, thanks to USAID’s assistance,” he said.
The group supplied 166 tons of rice grains to MARKETS’ partner UMZA Rice Mills in Kano. The group was paid 58,000 to 60,000 naira per ton, compared to the market price of 42,500 naira. All told, the group earned more than 10 million naira.
“Previously, we took our produce to market and received any price. Now, we take it to Umza and receive a guaranteed premium price. Thank you MARKETS!” Alhaji Bala said.
With money in hand and confidence for the future, he said “Our members are planning to more than double their farms in 2011.” With USAID’s assistance, Alhaji Bala’s association and others in the Kano region have not only increased their rice production, but also gained access to a market and resources for continued growth. As a result, these farmer groups are transitioning from subsistence farming to commercial rice production.