Ahead of the 2018 raining season, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Nigeria has opened up new market frontiers for rice farmers linking them with off-takers and aggregators.

This effort is geared towards ensuring increase in rice production as well as making it more attractive and profitable to Nigerian farmers.

In the same vein, the Ministry recently put together a business forum in Kano that gathered rice farmers, off-takers and other value chain actors to a table discussion on how to do business together under the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Project, supported by the World Bank.

The TRIMING Project is a five-year collaboration with the Federal government through the Ministry of Water Resources to improve access to irrigation services, increase crop yield and improve access to finance for Nigerian farmers.

During the opening of the forum, the National Project Coordinator and Head of the Project Management Unit, Peter Yakubu Manjuk, explained that the main objective of the forum was to make rice profitable for all value chain actors.

Speaking on behalf of Mr. Manjuk (in absentee), Mr. Olaf Kula, the Country Representative of ACDI/VOCA, the Project Contractor implementing component 3 of the TRIMING Project said: “This forum is about adding value to rice production by creating the right linkages and getting the right deal for the farmer and everyone else.”

Mr. Kula added that the Kano Business Forum, is expected to produce deals and contracts between farmers and stakeholders ahead of the 2018 rainy season which is about commence.

“We have brought all the value chain actors to the table to initiate business deals for 2018 rainy season rice. Here, we have rice farmers from public irrigation schemes in Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara States. There are also input suppliers, financial services providers, extension service providers, mechanisation providers and off-takers from around the country.

“The aim of the Federal government and this project is to link all these actors together to open up markets for rice farmers, make rice production more competitive and turn the farmers’ agribusinesses into multi-million naira ventures,” he explained.

He also disclosed that the TRIMING Project would support rice as the main crop during the rainy and dry seasons while also supporting other crops like wheat, potato, maize and tomato during the dry season throughout the five-year duration of the project.

In expression of adequate satisfaction to the TRIMING Initiative, Ms. Hajia Talatu Idris, a female rice farmer from Bunkure Local Government Area of Kano State, expressed her delight at being able to meet and discuss directly with off-takers and input suppliers through the forum.

She said: “I am very happy that I took part in this forum. This is the first time I am meeting off-takers who are willing to buy most of my paddy even before I have planted. And, they are all willing to help me with inputs and technical advice. I think this is the best thing that has happened in my life since I started farming more than 20 years ago. We have agreed to continue discussions with these off-takers and input suppliers and I am already feeling that this year will be my best as a rice farmer.”