• May 12, 2021

How out-grower scheme is boosting farmers’ fortunes

…as Olam’s model spurs massive rice production in states Perhaps what is at present boosting women and rural participation in rice production in some states is the Nigeria Rice Outgrower Value Chain Development Programme put in place to spur more interest in rice farming across the country.  The United Nations/International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and Olam Nigeria Limited, developed the programme in 2015.

The programme (VCDP) is a value chain in rice production with rural farmers formed into cooperatives. The farmers are supplied quality inputs, granted access to financing, storage and logistics for transporting their produce to the buying centres; trained in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and guaranteed buyback of their produce. Similar arrangements are also done for tomato farmers in Kano by Dangote Tomato Processing Company in the state. How the rice out-grower scheme works The Rice Outgrower Value Chain Development Programme is being implemented by Olam Nigeria Limited, which supplies farmers with quality inputs, grants them access to financing, storage and logistics for transporting their produce to the buying centres. The buyback transaction happens at designated buying centres at prevailing market prices with payments made into farmers’ accounts within 48 hours of the transactions.

The paddy purchased is thereafter processed into high quality rice for domestic consumption. According to Mr. Reji George, Vice President, Olam Farming Initiatives, the decentralised procurement model is managed by Olam Farm coordinators at remote villages, covering a cluster of cooperatives. “These 30 farm coordinators open bank accounts for each farmer, facilitate storage and logistics access, deliver inputs and the training module to farmer cooperatives. “They help to avoid the diversion of the produce as well as middlemen who usually exploit the farmers on weights and prices,” he said. George said the programme sets up pricing committees and commodity alliance fora comprising all stakeholders, including the farmers’ representatives charged with the responsibility of deciding the prevailing market prices. In addition, he said, the participating farmers enjoyed infrastructural support with access to mechanisation tools provided by the programme through a grant by the Japanese Embassy’s GGP Scheme.   Economic/societal impact of the programme Mr Reji George said the VCDP started in 2015 with 475 farmers but is currently working with 22,734 and looking to scale up to 35,000 farmers in year 2020. In 2015, he said the programme registered 106 female farmers, adding that the number has increased to 5,336 in 2019. The number of participating farmers’ cooperatives has also increased to 1,164 from 30 in 2015. Mr George said the operations of the VCDP have seen rice production increase to 3.68MT/Ha as against the baseline of 2MT in 2015.

Income generation and net profitability per hectare have also increased to $1,115/Ha and $673/Ha respectively to rural farmers. According to him, the programme generates employment at the level of 60 Mds/Ha. In 2018, he said it generated 47,418MT of quality rice paddy for Olam’s Rice mill. “The increase in crop yields has bettered the livelihoods of the participating farmer groups. They can now nead healthier lifestyles, they are now able to afford decent education for their children, better housing and transportation for their everyday life. They actively contribute to the nation’s food security drive and employment generation for rural people, especially youths and women,’’ he said. The celebrations for participating farmers At present, around 22,734 rural farmers from Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Kebbi states are participating in the programme. Representatives of these farmers were gathered in Makurdi, the Benue State capital last week to appreciate their commitments and contributions to the success of the programme. Outstanding individuals as well as cooperatives were presented with certificates of recognition and cash awards. Addressing the farmers, the Vice President, Olam Farming Initiatives, Reji George, said the company would continue to support any policy that would contribute to the country’s food sufficient drives, adding that the multinational company had spent a lot to sustain the programme since 2015. Benue State Commissioner for Agriculture, Igirgi Nyiazungwe, while commending Olam for its investments on the local farmers, pleaded with the company to consider establishing a commercial farm or processing plant in the state, which he said has all the natural resources for such investment to thrive. Mr. Ekojo James, the Agric Production Officer, Benue IFAD-VCDP, said in 2017 alone, Olam provided inputs for 3455 hectares of land, amounting to over N200million. Leader of the farmers in Benue State, Comrade Aondongu Saaku, corroborated Olam’s claim on the programme, saying many rice farmers in the state benefitted from the programme.  Farmers’ experience Laadi Ngbegha, is Olam’s star rice farmer. She is from Iye community, Guma LGA of Benue State and according to her, she joined with her cooperative in 2016 with 8HA and supplied 15MT of paddy. “In 2017, my group increased our land to 16HA and the overall paddy we supplied to Olam was 37MT. The programme supports a farmer only for two years, so in 2018, I registered my group with Olam for off-taking with 20HA and we supplied 62MT of paddy. This accounted for 70% of the production supplied as part of the MOU between VCDP, Olam and various farmer groups. Mine and my group’s success story has inspired other women to participate and take up rice production as a business,’’ she narrated. Laadi said the profits from her paddy production and association with VCDP afforded her the opportunity to pay for the education of her children and venture into other businesses like livestock and transport. “I bought a Nissan wagon which I use for my personal requirements and also for local transport for profit. I have also invested in some cows with plans to expand that line of business in the near future,’’ she said. Felicia Mbaidoove Gbuuka won the programme’s best female farmer in Benue State for 2018.

Felicia, who is from Guma LGA of the state has supplied about 4 tons of rice to Olam during the year. She said the programme has boosted her source of livelihood and increase her social ranking in her community.

SOURCE: DAILY TRUST

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