Farmer sees results in rice seed production

Ngozi Ebue, a 35-year- old farmer has been using knowledge she acquired from a training on rice seed production provided by the VCDP to establish seed enterprise as a means of livelihood.

The mother of one in Anaku, Anambra, also supports five other relatives in her home while trying to produce rice seeds that rice farmers could buy from her for planting.

Ngoze Ebue has become a known seed producer meeting demand for certified rice seeds for farmers and seed companies in Anambra.

Ngoze Ebue has become a known seed producer meeting demand for certified rice seeds for farmers and seed companies in anambra

Ngozi Ebue on her rice farm

“I produced seeds for two years. But this year is quite different. VCDP sent us on training by Africa Rice at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA). They gave us breeder seeds of the rice variety Faro 44,” she recalls.

The training introduced her to Faro 44, an improved rice variety, good agronomic practices, of transplanting to replace the broadcast practice she has done for years before. Similarly, she had access to seeds and fertilizer, with half of the cost paid for by the VCDP.

“They gave us inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and herbicides on a 50% matching grant. The programme also gave us power tillers, for which VCDP paid 70% of the cost.”  she said

The programme also ensured that an off-taker, Udoka Mills was on hand to buy off the rice produced by growers like Ngozi.

Now she has become a seeds entrepreneur that other farmers depend on for their seeds needs. She built a nursery, cultivated rice seedling and began transplanting them onto her farmland.

“I did my nursery on 18 March 2019, and transplanted on 30 March. I transplant one seedling at a spacing of 20cm by 20cm. Two days later, I applied NPK fertilizer”.

The good agronomic practice she learnt has also paid off on her farm. Her rice seedlings produce tillers far more than she ever anticipated.

“You can see the tillers. We count between 70 and 71 tillers per stand, Ngozi added: “That means the breeder seed is giving us the highest yield. Before we were cultivating grains. We didn’t know anything about the breeder. We came back and did what they taught us and you can see the result.”

Seed multiplication begins with breeder seeds, which produce foundation seeds and finally certified seeds. Ngozi sells the certified seeds to other rice farmers. It had been a practice for farmers from across Anambra to reserve a portion of their paddy harvest for the next planting season as seeds.

“After four to five cultivations, it turns to grain and we abandon it as paddy,” explains Ngozi.

In previous farming seasons, farmers used only grains and got yields as low as 2.5MT during harvest.

“But now we are getting up to 7 to 8MT. This breeder seed is really what we want,” says Ngozi.

“Nobody else did it for us except VCDP. They have shown us there is joy in farming. Before, everybody was running way. But now people are coming back. If you don’t start looking for land in time, you won’t see it. Even government workers are looking for where to farm.”

The demand for Faro 44 means Ngozi sells her seeds to farmers. “I am cultivating seeds. People are calling on phone to order. Since VCDP introduced us to breeder seeds, I and my family achieved many things,” she says.

She started with four hectares but has expanded to 15 hectares. “It is because of the money I am getting from my farm. From four hectares to 15 hectares is not a small thing. We are building a house and we bought a car that we use to get to the farm and see the work done and the workers. Before, we were using bicycle and wheel barrow. VCDP has transformed our lives’’ says Ngozi.

Ngozi is one of the 120 youth seed entrepreneurs trained by AfricaRice. Today, over 50 youth millionaires have emerged from the rice seed business. So far, the youth have produced 583.5MT of rice seeds and created 377 permanent jobs.

Credit: Vera Onyeaka-Onyilo