Scientist seeks fertilizer training for extension workers

Principal Investigator for Optimising Fertilizer Recommendation in Africa project (OFRA), Prof. Bitrus Tarfa, has appealed to governments to train Extension Service workers on proper application of fertilizers.

Tarfa said in Kaduna on Friday that proper application of fertilizers will enhance mass production of food for local consumption and export.

He said that most smallholder farmers lacked knowledge of soil ecology and chemical fertilizer application, explaining that such poor knowledge affect the amount of crop harvest per hectare.

The fertilizer expert said that for better yield, farmers must be enlightened on the application of assorted fertilizers based on soil, crop type and weather.

This, he said, would not be achieved without proper training of the extension service workers supervising smallholder farmers.

Tarfa noted that extension workers were important in crop production among smallholder farmers, but lamented that their ratio to farmers had declined.

He advised the Federal Government to strengthen its policies on the use of chemical fertilizer materials to optimise production and crop yield.

“Chemical fertilizer remains the only tool for mass production to ensure food security in the country and Africa at large,” he said.

Tarfa of the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, said that OFRA had developed a tool to assist farmers achieve faster and better yield with shorter time.

According to him, OFRA is ready to support the government and farmers in increasing crop productivity, profitability, and food security in smallholder farming systems.

“OFRA developed a tool for fertilizer optimisation over a year ago and now we are engaged in training the trainers on its application.

“Currently, we are creating awareness to ensure that farmers use the tool to optimise production, because fertilizer is crucial in production value chain,” he said.

OFRA is a project being executed in 13 Sub-Saharan African countries.

The project is a partnership between CABI, the University of Nebraska Lincoln and National and Agricultural Research and Extension Systems in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.