MAKING FARMERS ICT-COMPLAINT
There are efforts by the government at all levels to train farmers on the use of appropriate technologies for the production and processing of produce to make them better
One dream of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, is to help farmers explore opportunities in domestic and international markets.This requires teaching them how to use high-yielding seeds, irrigation, harvest, packaging and storage.
To this end, the Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) were set up to share best practices and train farmers. While the ADPs are driving this, the government said modern agricultural extension services are about designing and communicating better technology packages to farmers, and encouraging innovation and creativity.
Consequently, the federal and state governments are creating platforms to put farmers in touch with other actors in the agri-food system, and facilitating learning and innovation. To further this cause, the government is enhancing the public-private partnership in agricultural extension and advisory services.
This has opened the door to a deal between the Kwara State Government and Bayer Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, Germany, which emphasises the importance of using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in agricultural extension.
This year, the state government has unveiled a 10-year agricultural plan to make the state self-sufficient by 2030. The plan will address the agricultural value chain, create job opportunities, and alleviate poverty.
The government has prioritised mechanisation and the adoption of innovative technologies.
On the other hand, Bayer has underlined the sector’s important role in reducing food imports and increasing self-sufficiency, which are necessary for food security.
For several decades, the company has funded research and innovation initiatives in teaching the next generation of farmers and sector officials modernised methods, with the hope that these technologies will in time trickle down to the small-scale farmers.
Kwara State Agricultural Development Project (Kwara ADP) and Bayer have trained 75 agric extension officers and 75 neutral farms in the state.
The training was on rice, maize, cassava and pesticide use. Although many farmers use agric chemicals to control pest and diseases, these days, many haven’t been properly trained on application practices. As a result, these chemicals have a high chance of contaminating water supplies.
Yahaya Bello, a smallholder farmer from Oke-Oyi in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State was one of those benefited from the ADP programme in Ilorin. He said he cultivates maize, guinea corn and rice on his farm at Gamiki, Zango area in Ilorin.
Like other farmers, Bello had looked forward to learning a new technology that will help him prepare and cultivate the soil, and increase yields at the same time.
Bello, who got money for his business from his cooperative, added that his farming is carried out manually as he does not have a machine or have the technical know-how to do it. “This training has helped me a lot in my farming business,” he said.
Ahmed Idowu, an extension officer, Kwara ADP, who was part of the training, said the use of various products of Bayer was demonstrated to them and the compatibility of the product on each crop. He said: “We were shown pictures where Bayer’s products have been used and actually, the result was very good.”
He said they had gone on outreach and had visited many farmers on their farms.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hajia Maryam Nurudeen; representative of Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), directors of Agriculture and Rural Development ministry attended.
Southwest Sales Manager, Bayer, Mr Adeyemi Adeyemo, said the training,, which held in various electoral districts, has been divided into two batches because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On whether there is a further action to embark, he said a contract would be considered to enable them to become the sole distributor of Bayer products in the state.
“We are going to do a contract with them so they will become a distributor in Kwara State for Bayer Nigeria.”