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Nigeria: Rice farmers benefit from keeping records

Luka Akolo smiles and joy spreads across his face. He is busy adding and subtracting different amounts so that he knows the exact amount of money he spent on labour, chemicals, and fertilizer for his farm.

Mr. Akolo is making these calculations to see whether he made a profit or a loss. He explains, “I have a record book in the form of an exercise book which I use to write the number of bags of rice, maize, and cassava sold on a monthly basis.”

He adds, “Knowing how to record sales and expenses in the record book has helped me make more profits because I always have a clear idea of expenditure and income at any point.”

Mr. Akolo lives in Lafia local government area, in the capital of Nasarawa state, north central Nigeria. He has two hectares of land where he grows rice and crops like maize and cassava.

He learned about the importance of record keeping and financial literacy from his father. Understanding the principles of calculating profit and loss has helped him reduce or avoid losses. He says: “Record keeping is the game changer in my farming business. Any farmer who doesn’t have a proper book for recording transactions will surely run into bankruptcy because he or she will not be in control of farming finances.”

Mr. Akolo says that, since he started recording his farming expenditure and income, he has been more prudent with his finances. His productivity has also improved and he plans to grow his business.

He explains, “Currently I harvest 10 to 15 bags of rice annually. I now save money which I want to use to buy more land for farming, which will in turn increase production and profit.”

Mr. Akolo can now break down his annual income and expenditure. He explains his expenditures: “I buy chemicals to treat the seedlings at 21,000 Nigerian naira ($51 US) and four bags of amino sulphate fertilizer at 10,000 Nigerian naira ($24 US). I pay 26,000 Nigerian naira ($63 US) for labour.”

On revenue, Mr. Akolo’s records indicate that he sells an average of 10 bags of un-milled rice at 33,000 Nigerian naira ($80 US) per bag.

Other farmers are now relying on him to learn how to keep farming records. Mr. Akolo says, “Other farmers in my area come for assistance on record keeping. In return, they pay me through labour by assisting with work on my farm.”

Ruth Yakubu is a rice farmer who lives in Farin Kasa village, about four kilometres from Lafia local government area. She says that record keeping is very useful in rice farming and has helped her save over 25,000 Nigerian naira ($61 US) in her co-operative.

Mrs. Yakubu explains: “I am optimistic that I can save more money because I keep records of what I sell and spend. I don’t live an extravagant life because my farm records guide me on how I should spend.”

John Benjamin is an extension officer at the German international development agency, or GIZ, in Lafia local government area. He says that recordkeeping is an important aspect of farming that small-scale farmers should fully embrace.

Mr. Benjamin explains: “It is the easiest way for a farmer to know their achievements, expenses, profits, and losses. I train farmers on good farming practices and on efficient record keeping. So far, the past three years I have trained over 100 farmers.”

Before he learned about record keeping, Mr. Akolo says it was difficult to reconcile his expenditure and income. He was unable to manage expenses and as a result was losing money.

But now, he explains, “My monthly profit on average is over 22,500 Nigerian naira ($55 US). I am now able to support my siblings and my mother.”

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: Emanuela Campanela, a rice farmer, in his field in Ndanda, Tanzania in 2014.