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Nigeria: Improved rice varieties in high demand, fetch better prices

It’s about 10 o’clock in the morning and the rice mills are clanking so loudly that it’s hard to hear what people are saying. The mill is a beehive of noise and activity. The clanking sounds of the milling machines, the trucks loaded with rice to be milled, the buyers trooping into the arena, and the voices of millers beckoning buyers fill the air.

Rose Mbapin Kov has already arrived and the 48-year-old is busy inviting customers to buy her milled rice at the top of her voice.

Mrs. Mbapin Kov displays her milled rice in open sacks for customers to appreciate before they buy. She is optimistic that today she might make good business. She says: “I have different improved varieties of locally-produced rice. A lot of people come to buy from me because they prefer local improved rice varieties over foreign rice. For instance, buyers prefer sipi because it is not sticky when cooked and its grains are long.”

Mrs. Mbapin Kov hails from Akpehe, a suburb of Makurdi town in north central Nigeria. She is a member of a rice traders association and buys rice from farmers and re-sells at a margin. Her goal is to sell enough rice to buy her own milling machine, which will allow her to make more money and complete building the family house.

She prefers to buy rice from farmers who produce improved varieties. She urges rice farmers to plant and grow improved rice seeds because they sell quickly with good prices. Faro 44, also known as sipi, is popular.

Abubakar Ismaila Dantala is the chairperson of Wurukum Millers Association in Makurdi town. He agrees that consumers prefer improved rice varieties. He says, “Currently, the demand for sipi is more than any other variety of rice we mill. Customers say sipi contains less starch.”

Moses Ejeh owns a restaurant in Makurdi town. He buys sipi exclusively because his customers enjoy it more than any other variety. He explains, “As a caterer, you must meet the taste and demand of your customers.”

Chinta Tahav grows improved rice varieties near Gboko road in Annune Tarka Local Government Area. He planted the sipi variety over the last three weeks and is very happy and impressed with the steady growth of his rice.

Mr. Tahav explains: “I’m expecting nothing less than 40 bags from these two and half hectares of land. I decided to only plant sipi this year because of the location of my farmland. Sipi doesn’t require much water to germinate, and it has high demand on the market among other improved varieties.”

Although sipi seeds are more expensive to purchase, Mr. Tahav says their yield is much better than other varieties. He adds, “The income I generate after my sales is good. Last year, I harvested 70 bags and sold them at 25,000 Nigerian naira ($60.71 US) per 50 kilogram bag.”

Juliana Ikyegh is another rice farmer who grows improved varieties, including sipi and OC. But she grows more sipi because the return of her investment is good. She says, “It takes three to four months to harvest sipi and this enables me to sell and pay my children’s school fees quickly.”

She adds: “Last year, I harvested 37 bags from two hectares and sold them at 27,000 naira ($65.56 US) per 50-kg bag. Sipi is easy to sell and because the demand for it is very high, I don’t go to the market to look for people to buy my rice. Instead, buyers come to my house.”

This resource was supported with the aid of a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and its project “Green Innovation Center for the Agriculture and Food Sector” in Nigeria.

Photo: Ayesiya Akangki and his brother, Ayiba Adaaja, on Ayesiya’s rice farm, Korania, Upper East Region, Ghana, November 2016. Credit: Anais Lynn Voski.