IITA conducts farmers’ Green Field Day in Gombe
By Bitrus Osagie
As part of its effort at reinforcing learning and exposing farmers to new technologies and practical aspects of good agricultural practices (GAP), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) through the Feed the Future, Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity funded by USAID has conducted a Green Field Day for smallholder farmers and beneficiaries in Gombe State.
The three-day event which started on Wednesday was conducted in maize and rice seed farms at Kumo; cowpea seed farm at Baganje and maize seed farm at Ture Okwaldi in Akko, Billiri, and Kaltungo LGAs of Gombe State respectively.
The exercise was conducted in the target four crops of maize, rice, cowpea, and soybean that the activity is promoting in the state.
The event was conducted for the registered beneficiaries and other smallholder farmers in the communities of intervention.
The Green Field Day provided an avenue for the 450 beneficiary farmers to be exposed to all the technologies, pro-practices, and innovations in other to increase their production.
The knowledge of the beneficiary farmers was also enhanced in terms of using the right inputs and the practices that have to do with planting, using the right seeds, type of fertilizers to apply, time, and method of fertilizers application.
The beneficiary farmers who had been grouped into cooperatives, and trained on Cooperative Management, Group Dynamics, and Group Strengthening are expected to use the knowledge being acquired for sustainability as the Activity wants to make the cooperative become a seed cooperative group so that they can continue to source the foundation seeds even after the end of the project.
Speaking during the exercise, Mr. Habibullah Ibrahim, the Senior Technical Field Officer for USAID, IITA activity in Gombe State reiterated the technologies, innovations, and GAP practices that the activity is trying to promote in the state.
Ibrahim said: “All these are part of the practices we are showing to farmers in the community and those we are working with to come and see and then go back and practice the innovations that they have been shown.”
While advising the beneficiaries, IITA officials urged them to “hold this support from USAID with goodwill, put in your best, and also be kind enough to teach other farmers the new practices you have learned through the USAID Feed the Future Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity.”
Ibrahim hinted that the IITA would soon conduct another field day known as the Brown Field Day which comes up before harvest and would be conducted in October.
While explaining why the beneficiary farmers are called Community Based Seed Producers, IITA technical officer told our correspondent in an interview that the farmers had been trained in collaboration with the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) and were given foundation seeds which they planted.
“After harvest, what they get is going to be certified. Before the seeds can be declared certified, there are lots of regulations that must have been put in place before what they harvested can be called certified seeds.
“This collaboration has to be certified by NASC through inspection. First inspection has been done. By October, we will be going for the second inspection before harvest.
“After harvest, the samples of those seeds are going to be sent to the NASC lab here in Gombe. After the testing has been done and it has been certified, the farmers would be informed subsequently that the harvest from the foundation seeds can now be sold as seeds.”
He said that the major importance of this was to ensure that people in the community have access to genuine and certified seeds which are readily available and it will be cheaper with no transportation cost attached to it.
Mrs Doris Musa, the Extension Officer in the Ture community said the intervention from USAID and IITA would empower the farmers in their communities, boost crop yields, and reduce poverty amongst the vulnerable who are mainly women and youths.
Also, Umar Bappah Usman, Area Extension Officer, Akko LG said the evidence of what USAID had done through its activity has been witnessed by beneficiary farmers during the Green Field Day, and “we thank the USAID and IITA.”
Usman appealed to USAID to increase funding for the activity to enable more farmers to participate in the activity, because “more farmers are willing and have indicated interest ahead of next cropping season,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that 450 farmers drawn from three LGAs are benefitting from the USAID agriculture activity intervention in Gombe State.