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Increasing the yields and quality of Environmentally Smart Rice Farming Practices in Kogi State, Nigeria.

Reducing the contribution of rice to the emission of green house gases and subsequent global warming while increasing yield and quality.

Photo of Mujidah Ajibola
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

The Sustainability Hub Limited

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Vertex Rice (Vertex Jabdu Olad Limited) Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Abuja, Nigeria.

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Kogi is a state in the North Central region of Nigeria and is popularly called the Confluence State.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Created in 1991, Kogi state has a total size of 29,833km^2, and is the only state in Nigeria which shares a boundary with ten other states.

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Kogi is a predominantly agrarian state, agriculture is the main stay of the economy and the oil well of Kogi State. Making agriculture a business concern and not just farming for farming sake is one of the most important priorities of the Kogi state government. With over 4 million, a large proportion of the population are involved in fishing and rice farming activities including but not limited to rice farming, paddy aggregation, paddy parboiling and processing; rice milling and sales in the riverine areas like Lokoja, Idah, Ibaji, Ogugu, Ajaokuta and others. It also hosts the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority, a public institution which has among its core mandates the development of irrigation agronomy. It is also a potential partner for the project.

The state also has coal, petroleum, limestone, steel and other mineral industries. 

The topography of the state, with a lot of water bodies make it suitable to both dry and wet season rice farming; enabling rice farming all year long. In fact, it is  called the Confluence state  because the two major rivers separating Southern and Northern Nigeria; Rivers Niger and Benue meet in Kogi state.

However, rice farming in Kogi state is done purely using the conventional, chemical-based agricultural system which raises a lot of environmental concerns given the dangers of the adopted farming practice.

The project aims at reducing the contribution of rice to the emission of green house gases and subsequent global warming by working with the farmers to educate them on the economic and environmental benefits of environmentally smart rice farming activities.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Kogi state was created in 1991 from parts of Kwara and Benue States. There are three main ethnic groups and languages in Kogi: Igala, Ebira and Okun with other such as Bassa-Nge, a people of Nupe extraction in Lokoja and Bassa Local Government Area, Gwari, Kakanda, Oworo, Ogori, Magongo, Idoma and the Nupe people of Eggan community under Lokoja Local Government.

Being a 2-hour drive from Abuja, Kogi State consists of twenty-one (21) local government areas. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. There are many farm produce cultivated in the state notably rice, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, cashew, groundnut, maize, cassava, yam, rice and melon.

Mineral resources include coal, limestone, iron, and tin. The state is home to the largest iron and steel industry in Nigeria known as Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and one of the largest cement factories in Africa, the Obajana Cement Factory.

Tourist attractions in Kogi State include the colonial relics (such as the Lord Lugard House), the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue, Ogidi (An African town with formations of Igneous rocks and mountains and a traditional art & craft industry) and natural land features hills and terrains that serve as hiking trails .

Kogi state is home to the Federal University (Lokoja), Kogi State Univesity, Anyigba, Federal Polytechnic Idah, Kogi State Polytechnic (Lokoja), Federal College of Education (Okene), College of Education (Ankpa), College of Agriculture Kabba, Kogi state college of education, technical (Kabba) and the Private Salem University, Lokoja. There are a college of nursing and midwifery in Anyigba and Obangede, School of health tech in Idah and ECWA School of Nursing in Egbe.`

In sports, Kogi State has produced sprinters such as Sunday Bada and other sportsmen, who have contributed to the growth of sports worldwide. Kogi United and Babanawa FC are football teams based in the state. Other sports, such as swimming, handball and table tennis are actively promoted in the state. The Kogi state Sports Council had a track record of Directors and great personnel team who at one time or the other had worked with the vision of putting the State fully on the world map.

In terms of diversity, Kogi state is one of the most multi-ethnic state in Nigeria. There are over 200 languages spoken in Kogi, the most prominent among them being Yoruba, Nupe, Ebira, Hausa and Fulani. There are three main ethnic groups and languages in Kogi: Igala, Ebira, and Okun with other minorities like Bassa, a small friction of Nupe mainly in Lokoja, the Ogugu subgroup of the Igala, Gwari, Kakanda, Oworo people, ogori magongo and the Eggan community under Lokoja Local Government.  

A study of the diet of the population showed inadequate meal patterns and predominantly cereal meal products with high sugar and fat compared to other healthier choices. The general notion in the location is that the heavier the food is, the better nourished it is.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

An analysis of the trend of climatic factors (rainfall, minimum and maximum temperature and humidity) in Kogi state reveals that there is variation in the trend of the climatic factors which causes variation in rice output. The finding also shows that humidity and minimum temperature are the climatic factors that affect the rice production such that 1% increase in humidity caused 17% reduction in rice production while 1% increase in minimum temperature caused 52.3% increase in rice production. Therefore, humidity has a negative effect and minimum temperature has a positive effect. Reducing the effect of climate change will improve the outpit of rice cultivation in the state.

Irrigation-based rice paddy fields are a major source of methane (CH4) emissions as well as other greenhouse gases (GHG) resulting in climate change and global warming as they consume between a quarter and a third of the world’s freshwater resources currently utilized, amounting to about half of the agriculture sector’s annual irrigation use. Just as the over-extraction of groundwater for pumped irrigation to support rice and other production is lowering water tables, the use of inorganic N-P-K fertilizers and other agrochemicals such as pesticides and herbicides for rice production contribute to soil and water contamination

The major source of energy used to power the water pumping machines used in the irrigation of rice is diesel; Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) which is a huge contributor to carbon emissions. 

Waste management: Rice straw or paddy rice is the vegetative part of the rice plant, cut after harvest. It is usually burned or ploughed under, which may cause air pollution or generate leachate.

Chemical treatments such as Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), Ammonia(NH3) and urea sometimes used to improve the quality of the rice straw may be hazardous to humans and animals. Rice fields produce methane that is a powerful greenhouse gas. 

Rice husk, the residue got after dehusking rice  is mostly incorporated back into the soil or burned, producing methane and soot which contribute to climate change.

Government policy: Currently, government policies support the use of chemical fertilizers. In fact, the government as part of it support to farmers, give huge subsidies on chemical  fertilizers to farmers. This poses a huge danger to water bodies and contributes to the emission if methane, a potent green house gas.

In an interview our team had with the farmers, most of them prefer the use of chemical inouts for farming, saying environmental pollution is a hoax and they have been drinking the water since they were born.

The average yield per hectare of rice in Kogi is about 5 metric tonnes, which leaves the farmers with minimal profit. The rice millers, aggregators and others within the value chain earn more than the actual cultivators of rice.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Adopting an agro-ecological, climate-smart farming practice aimed at increasing the yield and quality of rice produced in farming will use the following methods:

Water management: Rice is often grown in flooded rice fields which release methane, a greenhouse gas about 25 times more potent than C02 when organic matter decomposes within the soil. Globally, methane accounts for about 20% of the enhanced greenhouse effect and rice production contributes about half of this volume.

Employing water-saving technologies can reduce emissions while maintaining crop yield, reducing costs and conserving valuable inputs.

Nutrient management: In order to improve the soil for rice production, most farmers use chemical fertilizers known for their nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is another GHG that is 3oo times more potent than C02 (IRRI). To mitigate the production of nitrous oxide, efficient and site-specific nutrient management practices should be adopted. This includes the use of natural systems of soil fertility enhancement (e.g., crop rotation and intercropping),  fertilizer application  based on results from soil analysis or crop nutrition assessments (e.g., leaf color chart),  fertilizer application based on a documented nutrient plan following recommendations from public or private extension services and the optimal or split application of nitrogen fertilizers or use of slow- or controlled-release fertilizers (deep placement). These help to reduce fertilizer wastage and consequently, GHG emissions which contribute to climate change.


Organic fertilizers: The soil is enriched with organic matter to improve soil structure, nutrient and water holding capacity, and favor soil microbial development. If available, on-farm organic material is better used as fertilizer (e.g., animal manure, green manure, mulch) provided that there are non-flooded fields where it can be applied, and - it is well decomposed. To help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice farming, it is recommended that organic fertilizer be used instead of chemical fertilizer. 

The application of organic fertilizer rice production would lessen its contribution to climate change through reduced N20 emissions.


Organic waste management techniques:  Problems related to dumping of hazardous waste in rice production majorly revolve around rice straw and rice husk.

Instead of being ploughed back into the soil or burnt, producing methane and soot which contribute to climate change, it is advisable to allow the rice straw to be grazed upon by animals or ploughed under the soil only when the soil is dry. Rice straw can also be used as compost or as biochar, a byproduct of energy production. 

Although biochar, obtained by partly burning rice residues produces some amount of carbon, the volume released is about 20% of the quantity of GHG released if the residue  is left ungrazed or ploughed into the irrigated land. Biochar has also been proven to improve the fertility of degraded soils. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Environmentally sound farming practices have been found to save inputs substantially and to increase returns. From our pilot project carried out at Emiworo farm in partnership with Lower Niger  River Basin Development Authority, higher returns has been attributed to increase in rice production as well as substantial reduction in cost of cultivation with water savings between 22 and 39%. The organic supplementation due to green manuring and weed incorporation, enhanced soil microbial activities and aeration, use of solar energy and time saving due to early transplantation, are some of the positivities of our vision. The inclusion of women would be increased by up to 30% in less energy-demanding operations, enhancing women's economic empowerment and gender equity. Higher output will also improve national as well as household food-security. 

Waste from rice production would be managed in a sustainable way to mitigate emissions and minimize environmental impacts of rice production. 

Rice straw can be used alone or mixed with other bio mass material in direct combustion to produce electricity and heat; for packaging goods and paper/board making; and as an insulating material for filling and spreads while transporting delicate and fragile objects due to their high surface area and light weight. Waste ash got from gasifying rice husks can still be sold as an ingredient for cement.

Alternative energy sources: The installation of a solar- powered water pump will  create no emissions unlike diesel plants. Solar power produces clean, renewable energy whereas diesel, a product of fossil fuels contributes to climate change at the point of extraction by degrading the ground and polluting the water bodies close to the source of extraction; releasing a huge amount of GHGs when burning them to produce the different byproducts of which diesel is one of; and at the point of use on the rice farm. 

Solar power replenishes itself and does not deplete as it is being used. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

In our one year work with the farmers, we identified the factors that affected the output of rice farmers as land fertility, capital, inadequate fertilizers, pest and diseases, lack of storage and processing facilities among others. Low capital for investment and poor access to credit were the major factors that affect rice production in Kogi State. Other factors include a decline in arable land, increasing water scarcity, global climate change effects as evidenced by unpredictable rainfall patterns, labor shortages, and increasing consumer demand for high-quality rice as against the low-yielding varieties they get.

The benefits of our proposed vision includes increased yields of 20-50% or more, a reduction in seed use of 80-90%, and up to 50% water savings.

By reducing inputs of seed, water, chemical fertilizers, and in some cases of labor, environmentally smart rice cultivation gives greater returns to farmers' available resources of land, water, labor and capital, and can lower their production costs. This increases farmers' incomes and increases the profitability of rice farming.

Use of fungicides can be eliminated because the rice grown in the proposed system are stronger and healthier; making them more resistant to diseases. Disease pressure is also reduced when plants are widely spaced because humidity levels in the plant canopy are lower than in more densely planted conventional fields.

Use of chemical fertilizer can be reduced significantly as fertilizer use efficiency increases in soils enriched with organic matter. As soils improve in structure and become more fertile through periodic organic matter amendments, less fertilizer is needed to achieve a targeted production level. If the soil is sufficiently fertile, use of chemical fertilizer can be eliminated.

Because plants are stronger and more deeply rooted, environmentally sound rice plants show greater resilience towards drought, strong winds and floods;  hazards that are becoming more frequent and more extreme with climate change.

In addition, we noticed that environmentally smart rice cultivation shortens rice cultivation cycle by 1-2 weeks. This frees up their land for re-manuring, and reduces crops' exposure to climatic stresses and pest and disease risks.

The quality of environmentally smart paddy rice usually produces about 10% higher output of polished rice when milled, because of fewer unfilled grains and less chaff. Fuller grains and reduced breakage of grains during milling, further improves grain quality, which translates often in a higher price and return for the farmer.

Other positive results of the system include increased water availability at the landscape level or for other consumption needs, as irrigation water use can be reduced by up to 50%.

Improved soil and water quality, through the reduction of agrochemical use, increase in soil carbon pools through the additions of organic matter to soils and residues from larger root systems.

Reduction in methane emissions from rice paddies through non-flooded rice paddy conditions; thus far, although more research is needed, evaluations have not shown any offsetting increase in nitrous oxide emissions.

Maintaining the biodiversity of rice cultivars can be enhanced, as local varieties become more productive and thus more attractive for farmers to grow.

Socio-Economic benefits: At the Household level, poor households usually have very limited access to land and capital, so raising yield per unit area with reduced outside inputs is of great importance. The first objective for poor farmers is usually to feed their own families. Higher yields of 20-50% or more have a significant impact on farm families' food security. When food security is assured, households can diversify their economic activities, either on-farm or off-farm. With this new method, poor farmers would be less dependent on outside inputs and can improve their agricultural crop production with locally available resources

Once this new method is adopted by a large segment of the farmers, more local rice available to markets in greater abundance, the urban poor will also benefit from lower rice prices and good-quality local rice, and being less exposed to fluctuating prices of imported rice.

It is a poverty-reduction strategy, with positive environmental benefits, particularly water-saving.

Soil management: As soils are improved through organic matter (cow dung as manure) additions, many nutrients become available to the plant from the organic matter. The soils are able to hold more nutrients in the rooting zone and release them when the plants need them. The majority of farmers complement the organic matter amendment with nitrogen only fertilizers in order to achieve a balanced fertilization of the crop. This reduces the dependence of small holder farmers on chemical fertilizers, enabling them to produce higher rice yields and helps them minimize the cost of farming inputs.

Environmentally smart rice cultivation method presents a new direction of regaining agricultural productivity through ecological and natural processes.

Policy legislations: Policies that favour circular economy and resource efficiency, sustainable waste management and consumption would be formulated and effectively implemented. Government would subsidize nitrogen only fertilizer while removing subsidies on chemical fertilizer, pesticide and weedicides to encourage the use of nitrogen only fertilizer.

Rice would be labelled as conventional or organic for consumers to buy. The government will commit to buying environmentally smart rice from farmers as a way of boosting supply and commodity exchange

The food culture would be green and organic. There would be campaigns to educate people about the advantages of environmentally smart rice and the need to consume it. Youth activities would centre around the new vision to promote the culture among young people who will continue to be the torch bearers of environmentally smart rice.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook

Attachments (1)

Module 3 Coursework _Ajibola Oladejo.doc

My Coursework during my masters degree in sustainability introduced me to sustainable food systems and that was the springboard for my interest in sustainable systems of rice production.


Join the conversation:

Photo of tosin olonijolu

I can see we share similar concept and focusing on the agric revolution in kogi state. i like us to combine innovations together. i like us to combine our network

Photo of Mujidah Ajibola

Hello tosin olonijolu it's great to know we have ideas that can work together. I will add you shortly. Thanks for reaching out

Photo of Mujidah Ajibola

Unfortunately, I don't think I can add you up as the application can't be modified. Do you know any other way? And please help me with the name of your project. I would like to know about it too

Photo of tosin olonijolu

OK. My entry is beyond credit and food security: act fast big to food sovereignty. I tried to add u as well to my team and got similar reply. Guess because evaluation is going on. The way out may be to send mail to the organizer or probably ask for collaborating our concepts together.
Thanks for your interest in Emi woro as well. Am familiar with the place as well.

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