Farmers in Nigeria improve their incomes and national food security by learning how to cultivate rice during the dry season.
Maimuna Abdullahi was accustomed to cultivating rice only during the wet season, when frequent rains and low temperatures create an ideal climate for the crop. Like most Nigerian rice farmers, this mother and rice farmer of seven years thought that tending her paddies in the dry season, under the rainless harmattan (a dry, dusty air mass that originates in the Sahara desert and blankets Nigeria from October to March), would be too difficult and expensive to be profitable for her family.
Maimuna changed her mind in January 2013, after participating in one of several dry-season rice farming demonstrations led by USAID and Chemonics in rural areas of Kano, Kebbi, and Jigawa under the MARKETS II project.
At the demonstration, she learned about the factors that can make dry-season farming lucrative despite its higher production costs, such as greater water control, sufficient sunlight, and low humidity, which minimizes pest infestation. She also learned current agronomic techniques, including when to transplant seedlings from the nursery to the field, deep placement (i.e., applying fertilizer at a depth of 7-10 centimeters to prevent it from washing away), and surface flooding irrigation.