HOW GIZ–GIAE GAP TRAINING IS REVAMPING MAIZE FARMING IN KADUNA
Nigeria is the largest maize producer in Africa. Annually, Nigeria produces about eight million tons of this food crop. Maize is grown all over the country and the leaders in this crop production include Niger, Taraba, Kaduna, Adamawa, and Plateau states. They have the biggest plantations of maize and in previous years they sold the crop with profit.
Maize farmers in Nigeria suffer low yield per hectare as a result of attacks from pests and diseases, and majorly by not adopting best practices in maize production which helps to increase yield.
This setback has lingered for years resulting in disappointments of farmers and discouragement from embarking in maize production, thereby leading to a shortage of maize across the country.
In recent time, the Green Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food sector (GIAE) has embarked on training in Kaduna on the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) for maize farmers.
According to the GAP trainer, Zacharia Sabo, “Good agricultural practice is all about the timing of planting, knowing the variety of seed you are supposed to plant and timing fertilizer application so, we are really adopting that at a higher rate, most of their lives have been improved, especially the 14 groups I have trained.
“We do the training module by module, we have five modules to train the whole cooperative societies. The first module is the site selection, to know the unit of the farm, to tell them how to measure the farm, using either GPS, walks or tapes, we taught them different methods of farm measurement.”
This GAP training has assisted maize farmers in Kaduna to understand the best practices in maize production, which has helped to increase their yield, make money from sales of their produce.
Mrs. Veronica Turaki from Kakau, Chikun LGA, Kaduna State who participated in the GAP training said, “maize farming was never profitable until I started adopting the best practices I learned during the training, now I have doubled my yield per hectare.
“The training taught us how to choose the best soil for the crop, I know how to choose the farm suitable for maize, they taught me how to clear the land before I will make up my mind to farm. At first, I have to know how to arrange how I will cultivate maize, which starts from choosing the farm, clearing the land, then I must have had my seeds, that is certified seeds.
“Before now, I had little knowledge of how to measure my farm, but now, GAP training has taught me how to measure it without using any machine, I learned how to measure with my feet, I know when it’s one hectare if I walk and count it, then I know how many ridges I will have in that field, then after clearing, I will cultivate, all my inputs are ready, I make the ridges measuring them in centimeters.
“Then when I plant my maize, I know the spacing I observe to guarantee good yield, then I was taught how and when to spray chemical after planting on the farm. Then when the maize germinates, from eight to 10 days, I will do my first application of fertilizer, that is NPK 15/15 or 20/10/10, and I will know how many bags to apply per hectare. They taught us that we require six to eight bags per hectare, then after three weeks, we learned that we will apply the urea fertilizer, for one hectare, two to three bags are needed.
“They told us to always observe our farms, when I go to the farm, if I observe any disease, I will contact the agro dealers to get chemicals and eliminate the disease. Before we didn’t know all these things, right from childhood, farming has been my work.
“During harvest, I won’t leave the maize to dry in the farm, they taught me the appropriate time to harvest. In the past, after harvesting our crops, we wouldn’t know how to preserve them, but now, GAP has taught us how to use tarpaulin, but if there is no money to buy the tarpaulin, we use the cement sack, we make the tarpaulin with it, put the crops there, then dry under the sun.