SPECIAL REPORT: Excessive rainfall washing popular Nigerian rice variety off local menu

SPECIAL REPORT: Excessive rainfall washing popular Nigerian rice variety off local menu post thumbnail image

Mutiat Kilasho was 12 when she started to point out curiosity in her father’s rice farm.

After three years of apprenticeship with him, she started cultivating an area number of the crop named after her group – Ofada, in Obafemi Owode Native Authorities Space of Ogun State, south-west Nigeria.

In 2017, Mutiat secured 5 hectares of land within the space to start out her rice farm. The yields have been good within the first two years however then adopted a downturn. She persevered with the constant poor returns till final yr when she determined to stop.

Mutiat Kilasho
Mutiat Kilasho

Now 25, Mutiat recognized a change within the sample of rainfall because the supply of the change of fortunes for rice farmers within the space. She stated because the rains turned heavier, they washed away her crop and left her in debt season after season.


“Issues have been going easily after I began however the ofada rice began experiencing issues two years after. Within the first occasion, I believed I might be capable of management the issues however the flood continues to clean the crops away yearly.

“I had no different alternative than to cease the rice farming when the extent of indebtedness was an excessive amount of for me and insufferable,” she advised PREMIUM TIMES.

Over the past decade, the climate sample in Nigeria has modified considerably. There was a big surge in rainfall in some elements of the nation, which has affected the largely rain-fed farming actions.

Analysis by the Local weather Change portal of the World Financial institution signifies that the southern a part of Nigeria skilled heavy rainfall throughout wet seasons between 1991 and 2020, with annual rainfall normally above 2,000mm, and as much as 4,000 mm and extra within the Niger Delta.

Infographics of rainfall pattern in Nigeria

The analysis additionally confirmed that coastal areas skilled a brief drier season with most rain occurring from March to October.

Within the North, rain solely fell from June to September within the vary of 500 mm to 750 mm. The remainder of the yr was scorching and dry. Northern areas have a excessive diploma of annual variation of their rainfall regime, which leads to flooding and droughts.

Knowledge obtained from the Nigeria Meteorological Company (NiMet) by our reporter additionally confirmed a rise in rainfall within the vary of 1000mm to above 2000mm in numerous elements of the nation.

Extreme rainfall associated to local weather change considerably threatens pure assets, meals manufacturing and other people’s livelihoods around the globe. In Nigeria, farming is basically based mostly on pure situations. Crops and livestock have their very best climate and seasons.

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Ms Kilasho stated she constructed drainage across the farm to regulate flooding nevertheless it was ineffective as a result of heavy rainfall throughout that interval.

“I consulted skilled farmers and I used to be suggested to assemble a drainage on the farm to divert the flood however nothing modified,” she added.

Ofada rice is the commonest number of rice grown in Ogun State. It’s distinguished by its distinctive flavour and texture. It doesn’t comprise a lot starch and is often prescribed for people who find themselves diabetic. The crop is grown on free-draining soil the place the water desk is completely under the roots of the plant. The rice is well-liked throughout the South-west area however many farmers have stopped cultivating it.

The crop can not stand up to extended heavy rainfall, because it both washes it away or causes it to fail, leading to enormous losses for farmers.

Ms Kilasho’s father, Biliamin Kilasho, 65, stopped large-scale farming in 2021 after floods ravaged his farm. Mr Kilasho began rising Ofada rice in 1986 on a hectare of land, which he step by step expanded to twenty hectares. On the top of his prosperity, he employed 10 employees as farmhands.

“Once we began, the land was fertile, the rice grew sooner and I made some huge cash. However issues have modified now, the land is now not fertile and rice shouldn’t be rising the conventional means it used to,” he narrated.

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“Rice plantations can not stand up to heavy rainfall. I attempted to regulate the impact however all of the strategies have been nonetheless not proactive. As a result of I couldn’t management the impact and the loss was an excessive amount of for me to bear, I needed to cease the Ofada rice enterprise.”

Habibatu Olorunlogbon, a mom of 5, additionally stopped cultivating Ofada rice final yr after floods wreaked havoc on her farmland.

Habibatu Olorunlogbon
Habibatu Olorunlogbon

“I pulled out of the enterprise and began garri manufacturing. I can not quantify the loss I incurred on Ofada rice manufacturing. Typically we made positive factors however most instances we recorded losses particularly once we skilled excessive rainfall,’’ Mrs Olorunlogbon advised PREMIUM TIMES.

“If rain doesn’t fall, it’ll have an effect on the crop but when the rain is an excessive amount of, the plant will fall and it could even wash away.”

Where Habibatu Olorunlogbo produces garri
The place Habibatu Olorunlogbo produces garri

The Chairman of the Rice Farmers Affiliation of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter, Adeshina Arikoserere, additionally confirmed to our reporter that there are lots of cases the place floods ravaged farmlands the place Ofada rice is being cultivated in numerous elements of the state.

Adeshina Arikoserere, the chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter
Adeshina Arikoserere, the chairman of Rice Farmers Affiliation of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter

He stated many members of his affiliation deserted their farmlands because of the monetary loss they incurred from the flood scenario and different challenges.

“There is no such thing as a means the crop can survive if there may be heavy rainfall. There are a lot of cases the place floods ravaged our farms but when there isn’t any heavy rainfall, the Ofada rice will develop usually,” Mr Arikoserere stated.

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Shortfall in manufacturing of Ofada rice

A examine by Oxfam Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation working to affect coverage change in favour of the poor and most susceptible, exhibits that Nigeria wants to enhance native meals manufacturing to make sure meals safety.

Environmental and local weather change activists say if farmers proceed to drag out of manufacturing, it could result in meals insecurity in Nigeria.

The Govt Director of Youths in Agro-Ecology and Restoration Community, Opeyemi Elujulo, stated farmers stopping the cultivation of Ofada rice will have an effect on individuals within the South-west area.

“It is likely one of the main meals in Ogun State. In the event that they hold pulling out, in fact, that may have an effect on meals manufacturing,” Mr Elujulo stated.

The Meals and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) projected that about 2.5 million individuals in Nigeria would face acute meals insecurity throughout the June to August 2023 lean season. That determine is larger than the 19.45 million the worldwide organisation projected in 2022. The company is but to launch its projections for 2024.

However the scenario could worsen. Mr Kilasho advised our reporter that the manufacturing and circulation of the native Ofada rice has declined in Ogun State and different south-west states within the final 5 years.

The decline in manufacturing makes Ofada rice costly for the typical Nigerian. “About seven to 10 years in the past, we used to promote 20kg of Ofada rice for N5,000. However as of final yr, it was bought for N40,000. We don’t know what’s going to occur this yr,” he burdened.

The Chairman of the Rice Farmers Affiliation in Ogun State additionally advised our reporter that many farmers have left the native rice enterprise.

Mr Arikoserere stated most farmers don’t have the assets to regulate the challenges they encounter on the farm.

“The manufacturing and circulation of Ofada rice has actually depreciated as a result of most of the farmers have left for different companies. We’re nonetheless organising sensitisation for them to return to their farms and searching ahead to the wet season.

“The manufacturing and circulation of Ofada rice have diminished in comparison with what we had previously as a result of a lot of the farmers lack assets to regulate the issues they at all times encounter on their farms and the shortage of sponsored enter equivalent to chemical substances and fertiliser and different issues that may assist us on the farm,” he added.

When requested about members of his affiliation that had deserted manufacturing of the native rice within the state, Mr Arikoserere stated he couldn’t verify the quantity however famous that they’re ‘many.’

“The reality is that many have deserted their farms due to the challenges they confronted on the farms,” he stated.

Mutiat Kilasho's abandoned rice farm (2)
Mutiat Kilasho’s deserted rice farm

Abiola Kushoro, a resident of Lagos State, advised our reporter that she now not eats Ofada rice.

“We used to eat Ofada rice no less than 3 times per week earlier than however now we have stopped it as a result of our mother and father can now not afford it.

Mrs Kushoro stated her cousin additionally deserted his rice farm three years in the past.

“He used to provide us however he stopped the enterprise about three years in the past. I not often see Ofada rice in circulation in my space now,” Mrs Kushoro added.

Bukola Kasali, a rice vendor in Lafenwa market in Abeokuta, stated the circulation of the native rice has diminished in comparison with the previous.

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“I’ve stopped promoting Ofada rice, I’m now promoting international rice. I finished final yr. The individuals who used to ship the native rice to us available in the market stopped delivering and the little portion I used to be capable of get was very costly. The truth is, I ate my final inventory as a result of individuals didn’t purchase it as a result of it was too costly,” the rice vendor added.

Manner ahead

Mr Elujulo stated there must be fixed capacity-building programmes for farmers and implementation of the loss and damages fund agreed on the Convention of Events (COP) to compensate nations susceptible to local weather change.

Mr Elujulo additionally really helpful the adoption of agroecology to construct resilience within the affect of flooding and resettling of individuals displaced by flood and different pure results to assist farmers.

“A number of the methods ahead might be assist for the farmers and implementation of the loss and damages of the local weather system. Placing these measures in place to deal with the lingering affect of local weather change might be a great way to go about it. Additionally, constructing the capability of farmers on learn how to produce, in a means that will increase their resilience to flooding occasions and all that.

“We have now talked in regards to the idea of agroecology and the way it helps to deal with a few of these impacts and different finest practices that may assist to construct resilience within the affect of flooding.

“Flooding in most elements of Nigeria can also be traceable to the way in which we dump our refuse and handle our waste and waterways. That is likely one of the issues that must even be addressed to make sure that the overflow shouldn’t be coming to the farmlands.”

Accessibility of Ofada rice

Ofada rice is historically grown in Ogun State however can also be well-liked in different southwestern states equivalent to Osun, Ekiti and Lagos.

A market survey within the states confirmed that Ofada rice is now not as well-liked because it was 5 to 10 years in the past. In all of the markets our reporter visited, Ofada rice was solely out there in small portions in Lafenwa and Kuto markets in Abeokuta. Few supermarkets additionally had Ofada rice in inventory throughout the states.

Kuto Market, Abeokuta, Ogun State
Kuto Market, Abeokuta, Ogun State

Folake Oyebiyi, an Ofada rice vendor in Kuto market in Abeokuta, stated the rice has turn out to be too costly for a lot of of her clients.

“I order giant shares however the suppliers have stopped bringing in giant portions. Ofada rice is now scarce all over the place,” she added.

The farmers’ affiliation chairman additionally stated most of the producers of Ofada rice favor to export the little amount out there.

Ofada rice

“There’s not sufficient paddy rice and that’s the reason Ofada rice could be very costly. One other downside is that individuals are hoarding the little Ofada rice they’re producing to allow them to export it and earn more money,” Mr Arikoserere stated.

This report was sponsored by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Improvement, with funding assist from the Public Diplomacy Part of the U.S. Embassy, Abuja

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