Helping farmers increase paddy rice yields

Peter Okonkwo displays multi-tillered rice stand randomly sampled on his farm

The IFAD assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Anambra State has helped teach rice farmers improved agricultural practices to double their yields and enable them improve their income and livelihood.

The (VCDP) works to improve the income and food security of poor rural households with particular attention to women and youth engaged in production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava.

Since June 2015, rice farmers have been trained on improved rice production practices. The project ran demonstration plots with participating farmers introduced to new agricultural technologies such as use of improved rice seeds, row transplanting spacing 20cm square, urea deep placement technology, agrochemical application and weed control.

Peter Okonkwo, a 33-year-old rice farmer, in Omor, Anambra State used to struggle to increase yields of his rice farm where he records on the average 3 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha). Peter was one of over 5,000 farmers in Anambra who received training to learn new agricultural technologies that promised to double his yield. They attended special training classes as well as hands-on field demonstrations to learn latest best practices in advanced rice growing.

To make sure the new knowledge is put into practice, VCDP and farmers shared the costs of new high-quality certified rice seeds of Faro 42 and Faro 52, fertilizers and agrochemicals. The farmers also received grants on mechanized services including soil preparation, harrowing, spraying, cultivation and harvesting to demonstrate the effectiveness of machinery. In addition, the farmers received advisory services through private extension service providers engaged by VCDP.

Peter stopped using traditional methods of growing rice such as broadcasting during planting, which he learned from his father and peers in his community. He planted rice in July 2016 during the main cropping season using the rice growing best practices he learned.

Four months later, to his surprise, Peter did double his yield to 7 MT/ha, achieving a feat above the country’s national average for rice yields. The national average for rice yields in Nigeria ranges from 3 MT/ha to 4.5 MT/ha. In 2017 main season, Peter recorded another feat – 8.4 tons MT/ha!

“I feel so proud to have achieved a better-quality yield. I never thought it could be possible until I took part in VCDP training. Before we couldn’t even get to four tons of rice” he says. “Now we produce six or seven tons as other farmers I attended training with from the project also doubled their yields”

But he seems even more excited that using improved agricultural technologies has helped him increase his profit. “In 2016, after harvesting, I sold the paddy rice and made a profit of N700,000 naira, against N350,000 naira profit I used to get before I adopted the new technologies.” added Peter.

“I expanded my farm from one hectare to 12 hectares. I had a bumper harvest in 2017 and made a profit of N2 million naira. I opened a provision shop, bought a motor cycle, bought a plot of land to build my personal house. VCDP has transformed my life. God bless them”

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