United States Ambassador James F. Entwistle visited the UMZA Rice Mill outside Kano city on Tuesday, July 8. He toured the mill and interacted with paddy rice growers.
UMZA rice mill is supported through MARKETS II (Second Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites), a USAID funded rice value chain activity. The project links farmers with agro-processors to provide inputs; promote adoption of improved technology, improve post-harvest handling, and increase sales of crops in guaranteed markets. MARKETS II works with farmers to improve grain quality and increase their yield. It also creates linkages for buyback between networked farmers and partner rice processing firms.
By giving farmers the tools to improve their harvests and connecting them with buyers, USAID is helping earn higher market prices, which is essential to increasing their household income and lifting their families out of extreme poverty.
Commenting on the future of Nigeria’s economy, the Ambassador said: “The future of Nigeria’s economy lies in processed agricultural goods, not oil.” He explained that with what he had observed in agricultural developments in Kano and other areas of the country, it is clear Nigeria is producing what it needs and could be the bread basket for West Africa.
The Ambassador said “when Nigerians have these great ideas and want to move them forward, we always want to find ways to help.”
Chairman of the company, Alhaji Abubakar Maifata expressed appreciation for the visit and told the Ambassador, the mill has made great progress in the training of rice farmers. However, the paddies still need improvement, in both quality and quantity, he added.