How Wacot’s 6-year rice scheme aids CBN food security quest | Dailytrust

How Wacot’s 6-year rice scheme aids CBN food security quest

  WACOT rice company in Kebbi State
WACOT rice company in Kebbi State

The quest for self-sufficiency in rice, a staple food in Nigeria, has created innovations among government agencies and private sector drivers, thereby increasing annual production since 2010 to nine million tons last year towards boosting food security. Daily Trust on Sunday in this piece assesses one of such interventions by Wacot Limited, a rice manufacturing firm, supporting the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers programme (ABP), deliberately tailored to raise rice production.

According to Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, local rice production in Nigeria rose to 9million tons in 2021 from about 5.4million tons in 2015, making local rice farmers even more integral to sustaining food security.

Further backing these figures, Statista.com, a global data site, notes that the quantity of milled rice produced in Nigeria in 2021 was estimated at five million metric tons (MT) with the grain production increasing significantly from 2.818million ton in 2010 to 5m ton last year, and the highest yearly figure was recorded in 2019 at 5.040million ton.

On its part, between April and May 2022, CBN released N57. 91bn under the programme to farmers of rice and other commodities, making it a total of N1.01trn the apex bank has doled to 4.2million smallholder farmers since 2014.

Whichever way you like your rice prepared, the journey to a satisfying dish can be long and winding, beginning from the rice farm!

In the last six years, documents obtained from Wacot, producer of Big Bull Rice brand, at the weekend, showed it has also been at the fore of alleviating challenges of rice farmers which include poor land tenure system, low level of irrigation farming, poor distribution of inputs, limited training and financing, high post-harvest losses and poor access to markets.

On a mission to solve the myriad of challenges local rice farmers encounter, Wacot said it developed beneficial partnerships with some local rice farmers across several states in Nigeria. The partnerships involve identifying the specific needs of the local rice farmer wherever they may reside and empowering them to increase productivity, improve their economic wellbeing and guarantee food security.

The firm said it is supporting local rice farmers by providing training in several communities to enable them gain hands-on experience in modern and improved rice farming techniques. This is in addition to providing credit and exposing them to efficient harvesting methods using the most up-to-date agricultural practices to ensure maximum output, improve yield as well as derive high return on investment.

A rice farmer, Bello Musa, in Rafin Malam, a rural community in Kano, highlighted his challenges which include low yield per hectare, lack of access to credit facilities and low exposure to modern rice farming practices.

However, he explained that with the Wacot initiative in the last six years, he has been equipped along with other farmers, with knowledge through training on modern rice farming techniques as well as access to credit. 

Musa said: “The training offered by Wacot Limited has dramatically transformed my farming practice thus resulting in a boost in my yield.

“By also providing access to credit, WACOT Limited has solved over 50 per cent of our problems because this has enabled us to secure viable inputs such as seeds and equipment needed to run a successful farm. My business is more profitable because of this partnership,” the farmer stated.

Another rice farmer, Dan Tonka Buga, also said before the intervention, access to credit to enable her to expand her rice farm was a major problem. But the five-year partnership with Wacot has been rewarding as the initiative has enabled her to expand from one-hectare farmland to 2.5 hectares.

“In only the first year, after harvest, I paid back a loan and was left with enough to feed my family, expand my trade, increase productivity, and move up the economic ladder,” Buga noted.

There are more hopes as the June/July wet season begins this year. More local rice farmers are preparing for yet another harvest season and would need to have some of the seasonal challenges off loaded. But as interest in rice farming continues to rise, officials at Wacot Limited, producers of Big Bull rice, assured that they are doing their part to provide an enabling environment for rice farmers across the country to increase their annual yield and profitability, while contributing to national food security.

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