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Policy Brief: The impact of mechanization in smallholder rice production in Nigeria: Promising business cases for rice smallholders for income increasing and climate smart interventions

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Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of rice. In 2019, Nigeria produced 8.435.000 tons of rice (FAO, 2020), over 90% of which is grown by smallholder farmers on averagely less than two hectares of farmland (Kok & Snel, 2019; Ricepedia, 2012). From 2015 to 2019 the yield per hectare has decreased from 2,0 tons per hectare to 1,6 tons per hectare. Losses in rice producing in developing countries occur predominantly before the farmgate (Affognon et al., 2015; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2018). Reducing these losses is essential to improve food security, farmer livelihoods, and to reduce resource losses and associated greenhouse gas emissions – losses in the rice chain account for some 10% of global food loss and waste-induced Greenhouse Gas emissions (Guo et al., 2020). Frequently, mechanization is mentioned as a potentially loss-reducing intervention, but has so far not taken hold to any great extent in Sub-Saharan Africa (Sims & Kienzle, 2016). However, there is insufficient proof so far regarding the effectiveness, economic and environmental sustainability, and socioeconomic acceptability of mechanization on Sub-Saharan African smallholder farms (Daum & Birner, 2020).

Wageningen University and Research (WUR), in cooperation with Olam Rice Nigeria, conducted a controlled experiment in Nasarawa State (North Central Nigeria) in which mechanized rice harvesting and threshing were introduced on smallholder farms, part of Olam’s Rice Outgrowers Initiative. Local youth was trained by Olam to work with the machinery, and the yield from mechanically harvested and threshed sample plots of rice was compared with the yield from sample plots harvested and threshed manually. We use these experimental findings to evaluate the yields and losses under different technologies, calculate greenhouse gas emissions for these scenarios, and evaluate the economic feasibility of various options for mechanization of smallholder farms. Last, we reflect on socioeconomic impacts of mechanization (division of labor, role of women and youth) as observed by the field experts conducting the experiment, based on a food system perspective.

Keywords: Food loss and waste (FLW), rice

Citation

Axman H. 2021. Policy Brief: The impact of mechanization in smallholder rice production in Nigeria: Promising business cases for rice smallholders for income increasing and climate smart interventions. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen University & Research, Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group.

Authors

Axmann
Heike