USAID partners with Nigerian rice miller WACOT Rice Limited investing US$10m in out growers’ project

NIGERIA – WACOT Rice Limited, Nigerian subsidiary of Tropical General Investments Group has partnered with USAID through its West Africa Trade & Investment Hub to support its rice out grower scheme in Argungu, Kebbi State, Nigeria.

Under the partnership, the rice miller will invest US$8.6 million and the Trade Hub is issuing a grant of US$1.48 million aimed to directly support the Argungu Rice Outgrower Expansion Project, allowing WACOT to onboard an additional 5,143 rice farmers into its program over the next 2 years.

The initiative, according to USAID is designed to improve the livelihoods of smallholders in the region and respond to food security concerns raised due to the pandemic while maximizing every stage of the rice cultivation process.

Under this co-investment partnership, WACOT Rice will help farmers access financing, provide extension services, and ensure high-quality inputs are used to improve yields and quality.

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By establishing contracts with the farmers, the company will guarantee the purchase of rice at the end of the harvest from an additional 5,143 hectares of paddy, which will provide a sustainable market moving forward.

“We go down to the grassroots and ensure that smallholders are empowered for life,” says Habiba Suleiman, Strategy and Business Development Manager at WACOT.  “I’m so positive that this is a huge step in the right direction.”

The average smallholder farmer in Argungu of Kebbi state cultivates about half a hectare of land and earns less than US$200 net income annually, which is barely sufficient to cover the needs of a household.

With very little access to any form of finance, farmers are often unable to scale, cultivate more land, or harvest better yields.

This leads to a perpetual reliance on family labor and subsistence farming for food alone, with little or no savings.

“We are excited to partner on this, as it is in keeping with our commitment to supporting the attainment of food security in Nigeria.

“Also, the improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the region speaks to our desire to continually add value to our communities,” indicated Tropical General Investments Group in a LinkedIn post.

Being USAID West Africa Trade Hub’s first co-investment partnership, it is rooted in the tremendous economic potential of the rice value chain in Nigeria.

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“We go down to the grassroots and ensure that smallholders are empowered for life. I’m so positive that this is a huge step in the right direction.”

Habiba Suleiman – Strategy and Business Development Manager at WACOT

Rice is a major staple for its population of over 200 million people and, in partnership with USAID and its Feed the Future strategy, Nigerian government policy has pushed local production.

By supporting smallholder rice farmers to increase their yields by 50 – 100%, this co-investment will help farmers earn more and lift themselves out of poverty, create thousands of more jobs, and attract further private investments in the agriculture sector.

“The U.S. government is pleased to partner with the private sector in Nigeria to develop market-driven solutions and sustainably improve food security by supporting local rice production,” said USAID Mission Director Anne E. Patterson.  

“With this new co-investment partnership, smallholder farmers in Kebbi State can increase yields and improve the livelihoods of their families,” she added.

WACOT Rice will be placing a strong emphasis on women and youth, with at least 50% of the new farmers trained to be women and 70% under 30 years old.

The is in line with the Trade Hub’s focus which strongly promotes women and youth economic inclusion in all its co-investment partnerships to counter systematic exclusion in sectors like agriculture.

WACOT Rice Limited is a rice processing company that operates a state-of-the-art rice mill in Nigeria which is one of the largest mills in Africa.

The company produces two leading brands of parboiled rice i.e. Big Bull and Patriot.

Its parent company Tropical General Investments Group has diversified interests and investments in Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Morocco, U.A.E. India, China and several other emerging markets, cutting across Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Food & Agriculture, Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals and other business interests.

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