Katsina: Boosting rice farming the South Korean way
A partnership between the Katsina State Government and Saemaul Foundation (SF), from South Korea to boost rice farming in Nigeria is already yielding positive result, as farmers are beginning to experience bountiful harvests from the technology and training received from the Foundation.
Having trained the farmers in the Korean style of rice farming, an hectare of land that hitherto produced between one and 1.5 tonnes of rice is now turning out six tonnes or 120 bags (50 kilogram) of rice against previous 20 to 30 bags of the commodity.
The elated State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari at the recent commissioning of the Cooperative office and some equipment donated to the farmers by SF, said the country is on a right path to food security and better days for the rice farmers.
The two communities – Makera and Raddawa in Dutsinma and Matazu Local Councils respectively, where the programme commenced have seen many youths taking to farming because of the successes recorded.
The multiplied harvest yield translates to more money and better living condition for the farmers and their families, a development the state government is more than willing to promote.
Saemaul Undong means New Village Movement and was an initiative that was set up in 1970 by former President Park Chung-hee to modernise the rural South Korean economy that was down due to impact of the Korean War.
The foundation promotes self-help, diligence and cooperation as core values and necessities to have an improved society. The success in Korea has been replicated in over 16 nations, including African countries like Rwanda, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and very recently in Nigeria.
Introduced to Nigeria by the Dangote Industry in 2019, those successes are being replicated in rural communities with the aid of intensive trainings and field practicals.
Katsina farmers were introduced to the new method of rice farming and imported her first set of Korean agricultural machines into the country, including rice transplanter, nursery trays, seeding machines, along several other items and organised her first rice planting demonstration with some selected rural farmers.
In October last year, the foundation established irrigation projects in the chosen communities and with the approval of the state government, the project was authorised to begin.
Also in December, the irrigation project commenced operation in the two communities, with the project including 10 canals, 10 reservoirs and 10 boreholes sited on 60 hectares and 40 hectares farmland at Makera and Raddawa villages, respectively.
An additional seven boreholes were constructed at Makera, with cooperative offices and warehouses to store grains, also provided by the foundation in both communities while additional three boreholes were constructed in Raddawa.
The cooperative offices and warehouses were launched few weeks ago during a ceremony, which saw key officials of the foundation traveled to Katsina from Korea to witness the event and assess impact of the programme on the farmers.
Speaking at the launch, SF president, Mr Lee SeungJong said the strong bilateral relationship between his country and Nigeria, as well as Nigeria’s desire to emulate the transformation his country witnessed over the years, was what led to the foundation’s operation in the country.
According to SeungJong, “The diplomatic relationship between our two nations, South Korea and Nigeria began in 1980 and since then we have been cooperating and working hand in hand. Our relationship on the international stage such as at United Nations has helped us to forge strong bilateral relationship.
“Ten years ago, former President Goodluck Jonathan visited South Korea and last October, President Muhammadu Buhari attended the World Bio Summit 2022. Governor Masari was also in attendance at this summit and once again, we were able to reaffirm the relationship between our countries.
“In the year 1960, South Korea and Nigeria had similar economic levels. South Korea has since developed rapidly achieving a top 10 world best economy and we observe that Nigeria highly regards and wants to emulate how South Korea came to achieve this great economic success.
“Saemaul Foundation is tasked with sharing the core content of South Korea’s economic growth secret. The Saemaul movement is how we began our successful economic growth, which begins with the development of a global village by living well, happy and wealthy in all phases of life.
“In 2019, we found the opportunity to come to Nigeria through Dangote Group and made it a focus to develop Makera and Raddawa villages. During these past years, I have heard information that the engaged farmers have learnt new agricultural skills and operate Korean made agricultural machines in Katsina Rice Research and Development (R&D) Centre, which has also yielded in improved output and harvest yield.
“Moreover, Saemaul Foundation has also accomplished many outcomes, such as the construction of modern multipurpose warehouses, drilling and installation of boreholes, constructed canals and making of 100 hectares farmland in the state through the assistance of the state government.
“By these outcomes, we are gathered here for a commissioning ceremony to celebrate this accomplishment. To the participating villagers of this great movement, I will like to inform you that what you are doing here now, every single village in Korea went through the same process
“It was our stepping stone to become who we are today. Saemaul Undong doesn’t aim to convert or change any village; rather Saemaul Undong seeks to newly reform an entire nation with great projects. By this reason, South Korea was once the world’s poorest nation, not getting enough support for aid, yet became one of the most developed countries in the world.”
“South Korea took up the responsibility of helping other countries to attaining better status in the world. In South Korea, we work as one. Self-help, diligence and cooperation with each other as being taught by Saemaul Undong helped us, so we could overcome hunger and poverty and then go ahead to attain rapid development in villages, societies and entire nation.
“I am excited to witness the accomplishment of Saemaul Undong here and I am very sure that soon enough, Nigeria will surpass Korean statistics once again. I highly appreciate the governor and other state officials, villagers of Makera and Raddawa. I ask everyone involved in the projects to keep being hardworking and Saemaul Foundation will support them in every way you require assistance.”
Speaking, Governor Masari described as impressive the high yield recorded in rice farming in the two communities, even as he called for a radical shift in Nigeria in tackling food insecurity.
The governor said advanced nations of the world like Britain, the United States, and Russia, didn’t reach the status they occupied today till they had tackled the problem of food insecurity.
He said South Korea has about 50 million population as against Nigeria’s 200 million, and that if they were able to tackle poverty by first addressing food insecurity, Nigeria would be better for it when she takes similar steps like South Korea did.
He added that the soil and weather condition in Nigeria were favourable to tackling food insecurity, even as he commended the foundation for its effort at improving the lives of community farmers through its project.
Following the recorded high rice yield in the two communities, more villages have recently been included in the project. They are Turare, Unguwan Zakara, Marke and Fulani in Dutsinma council, and Sayaya, Keba, and Karachi in Matazu council. Farmers in these villages have also begun their training in rice farming.