Beating the odds: Agripreneurs make giant strides in rice seed production
The Rice Commodity Unit of the IITA Abuja Youth Agripreneurs have begun producing improved rice seeds of the preferred FARO 44 and FARO 52 varieties despite encountering challenges with the expanse of land they acquired.
Felicia Okotie, a graduate of Business Administration from the Polytechnic Ibadan and Head of the Rice Commodity Unit, narrated that their group were confronted with a series of challenges before production could begin.
“The Abuja Youth Agripreneurs leased a 5-hectare area of land in Koso village, Nasarawa State. However, only 2.5 hectares were cultivated because some locals laid claim to the remaining 2.5 hectares,” she said.
Undaunted by this encounter, the youth Agripreneurs proceeded to conquer every setback and deliver on their goals of producing rice seed to fill the demand for the crop by farmers in northern Nigeria.
Okotie attributed the success of the group to a combination of their belief in the profitability of agriculture and the mentorship, backstopping, and technical training they have received especially from the 2015 rice demonstration farming exercise organized by the Agricultural Transformation Support Program Phase One (ATASP-1) Outreach Program rice commodity value chain.
“Producing rice seed involves a lot of technicalities but is far more rewarding in terms of return on investment than rice grain production. Currently, the Agripreneurs are aiming to satisfy the huge gap in the rice seed market around the highly agriculturally active middle-belt region of Nigeria.
The improved varieties we produce are highly demanded by lowland rice farmers in northern Nigeria. Our achievement is proof that given the right support, such as we have received from IITA and ATASP-1, youth without prior knowledge of agriculture can be productively engaged in the agricultural sector,” Okotie said.
In addition to the 2.5-hectare rice farm in Koso village, the group also maintains a 4-hectare rice seed production farm in Agaie village in Niger State.