In Nigeria, about 65% of the people, most of whom living under the poverty line, work in the agriculture sector. Even though Nigeria is the largest rice producer in Africa, it relies on imports for 40% of all rice consumption because domestic supply cannot meet the heightened demand. The bottleneck to increasing domestic rice production is the lack of quality in post-harvest processing technologies. Small stones and broken grains are often found in the rice, which contributes to the lack of uniformity and consistency. The general inferior technology of rice processing contributes to low price of rice compared to that of imports. Farmers and processors are unable to improve their livelihoods because they do not earn enough income to invest in better machinery and processing techniques.
Against this backdrop, the Government of Nigeria and the Government of Japan (GOJ) started the Rice Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Pilot Project in Nasarawa and Niger States. The project aims to improve the quality and reduce the post-harvest loss of domestic rice in the target states of Nasarawa and Niger. To achieve these goals, the project is to:
1. Identify measures to promote distribution of high-quality domestic rice;
2. Develop and improve rice grading standards for domestic rice;
3. Enhance the capacity of the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP); and
4. Enhance the capacity of small-scale rice millers, parboilers and rice farmers.
The main activities of the project include the following: 1) studying distribution channels, quantity, and price trends of rice; 2) examining market demands including potentials for high quality domestic rice; 3) designing collection, processing, and marketing measures to distribute high quality domestic rice and reduce post-harvest loss; 4) selecting technology and machinery, and introducing agricultural cooperatives and places to install machinery; 5) studying grading standards used by large-scale rice millers; 6) developing and testing grading standards for paddy and cleaned rice suitable for small-scale rice milling; 7) improving grading standards; and 8) developing and implementing training plans for staff of non-targeted ADPs. The project employs training of the trainers (TOT) methodology, in which the Department of Agro-Processing and Marketing personnel provide technical guidance to the ADP personnel, who will subsequently provide training to small-scale rice millers, parboilers and rice farmers. These activities are expected to enhance rice production and processing capacity of the stakeholders, thereby strengthening sustainably the rice value chain in the target areas.