NIGERIA – The German government, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has provided US$2.25 million for the implementation of the second phase of the Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) in Nigeria.

Mr Jean-Bernard Lalannehe, The Programme Director of CARI, said that the second phase of the project, dubbed CARI-2, would be implemented in Kebbi, Kaduna and Jigawa states.

He said the aim was to help smallholder farmers increase their income and provide their families and the country with high-quality rice, report News Agency of Nigeria.

The second phase of the project is being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which started in June 2018, and is expected to last till June 2021.

Lalannehe said that the project will be focused on business linkages in the rice sector to ensure that the producers are well connected with the markets, processors, rice millers, aggravators and input dealers.

“The first phase of the project ended in 2015, and CARI 2 is being implemented in the three Nigerian states to achieve its objective through the use of the Multi-Action Partnership.

“MAP is a concept that allows for regional initiative and policies to be harmonised while enforcing coordination among other actors in the rice value chain in different countries,” he said.

He added that various strategies had been adopted to improve rice prices and production of rice across the country.

“MAP, which is one of the strategies, will bring together active participants in the rice value chain to identify important cross-cutting issues to be addressed in the rice sector.

“This will result in possible solutions to problem areas, and what role the establishment of a MAP would play in achieving them,” he said.

CARI was launched in four African countries namely, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania in 2013 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development with financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As one of the most important commodities in the country’s food basket, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Anchor Borrowers Programme has also disbursed US$111.13 million (N40bn) to boost production.

Nigeria’s annual rice production has increased to 8 million metric tonnes emerging as the leading rice producing country in Africa.