Kogi state trains smallholder farmers in deploying technology
The Agro-processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) is a project targeted at small and medium scale farmers. It was initiated by Nigerian government and implemented with the support of World Bank.
It is expected that 35 per cent of the beneficiaries of the project will be women and youths who will be empowered along Rice, Cocoa, Poultry, Cashew, Maize, Ginger, Diary, Wheat, Tomato, Cassava and Aquaculture value chains.
In Kogi State, A total of 159 Commodity Interest Groups (CIGs) comprising 61 CIGs for rice, 44 CIGs for cassava and 54 CIGS for cashew were mapped and geo-referenced across 23 clusters in the state. Seven (7) clusters, nine (9) clusters and seven (7) clusters were for rice, cassava and cashew respectively across the state.
The Communications Officer of Kogi APPEALS, Ocholi Ikani during a visit to some communities where they (Kogi APPEALS) are empowering farmers, and said APPEALS came on board in Kogi State in October 2018 and ever since then, they try to run with the Mandate of in increasing the agricultural productivity of farmers in kogi State in terms of rice, cashew and Cassava.
Ikani said Kogi APPEALS has a three-pronged approach which is facilitating and the provision of farm input and equipment to farmers, training and Market linkage.
“So, what we do is, we identify genuine farmers in the state along with the three value, chains of rice, cashew and cassava, and on that three segments of production, processing and marketing, and so we try to do what we call profiling and needs assessment to understand what is their capacity as it is towards a performance presently, and any other support that they may need from the APPEALS project to improve their productivity.
“And ones the needs assessment is done, we carry out what is called mapping and once the farmlands are mapped to verify the genuineness of their Farmland”, he noted.
Like other State APPEALS Project, Kogi State has 3 commodities (Rice, Cashew and Cassava) which it assisted farmers to increase yield over the years.
Cassava is one of the priority value of Kogi State APPEALS Project. In Ihima Oku Abanyi, farmers are being supported with farm inputs like fertilizers, herbicides, knapsack sprayers and many other things.
APPEALS also train the farmers on good agronomic practices which is expected to increase the cassava yield per hectare for the farmers.
John Omeiza Sariki, Cluster Chairman of Ihima Oku Abanyi said APPEALS started supporting them in 2020.
The cluster has two groups which cultivated 43 hectares of cassava farm with the support of APPEALS project.
“Before APPEALS came, we were cultivating about 4 to 5 hectares, and we were using local farm implement.
“APPEALS helped us with ploughing, harrowing and ridges for the 43 hectares and the supported us with farm inputs. They supplied us with herbicides, fertilizers and provided us tricycle, cutlass, wheelbarrow, knapsack sprayer and other things.
“They trained us on how to apply fertilizer, how to plant cassava stem and the management of farm. We are expecting from 25 tons to 30 tons per hectare, before were getting just 10 tons per hectare.
“Before the intervention from APPEAL, we were getting about N300,000 per hectare, but currently, the price of cassava has increased to about N50,000 per ton”, Sariki said.
Another cassava farmer, Alao Ojo said APPEALS has taken them through many trainings on security of our farm, keeping record, farm maintenance. He said the training helped them a lot because their eyes are open to so many things they didn’t know before.
“During the training, we were taught how to do spacing when planting, before we just platlnt anyhow, but now we are ble to know the maximum space to give during planting, how to apply fertilizer, how to apply herbicides”, he said.
A woman cassava farmer, Aminetu Shuaibu said she has been in cassava farming for over 5 years, she appreciated the Federal Government and the Kogi government for bringing APPEALS to them.
Shuaibu said her cassava farm is now bigger than what it used to be, and she is confident that the harvest would also be bigger than her previous harvest.
The Kogi State Coordinator of APPEALS Project Dr Sanni Ozomata said they are expecting 20 tons per hectare, and they supported cultivation of 1,044 hectares, in total, they are expecting 20,088 metric tons of cassava.
For the cassava stem, he said APPEALS is expecting 400 metric tons per hectare, and the supported the planting of 1,044 hectares, which will now give a total of 417,600 tons of cassava stem.
In Ochaja Community, Dekina Local government in Kogi State, farmers abandoned their cashew farms because of lack support.
The farmers in the community said bushes overgrow their cashew farms because they don’t have the money and energy to continue farming.
Chief Yahaya Ibrahim, the traditional ruler of the community who is also a cashew farmer said he has 12 hectares of cashew, but I ignored it farm for the past 10 years
He said between 2019 and 2020, APPEALS has been organising workshops and seminar for them on the importance of cashew, the agronomic aspect, packaging and others.
Ibrahim said last year, Kogi APPEALS facilitated the distribution of cashew farming implements that they can use in their farms, and like cutlass, slashers.
“The reason why I ignored my farm is because the work became tidious, and there were no materials to use, no financial support, but when we were given the slashers, a place that 5 labourers can cover in a day, just with one litre of fuel, you will clear the place in a day.
“After clearing the farm, APPEALS also supported us with herbicides and insecticide, they gave us manual sprayers and the motor-ride sprayer to use on our farm”, he noted.
He said before now, the middlemen buy tbeir products at ridiculous prices, but APPEALS connected them with off-takers who they sell directly to on a good price.
“Go the our community now, you will see people erecting modern houses as a result of the Kogi APPEALS intervention”, he said.
He lamented that the time frame given APPEALS in Nigeria is too short. “If APPEALS continue in Kogi till the 10 years, there would be massive poverty alleviation.
Another cashew farmer, and Chairman of Ochaja Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Noah Yusufu said he was discouraged about farming because he doesn’t have the money and the energy but since APPEALS came in, he returned to the farm after they were trained.
“Before APPEALS came in, I always encounter Bush burning in my farm, but after trainings by APPEALS, I now harvest double of what I used to harvest in the past.
“Formally, I rarely harvest 15 bags from my 7 hectares farm, but after training and provision of farm inputs by APPEALS, I got about 45 bags from the same farm and each bag costs about N40,000.
“APPEALS has changed our lives, some of us are erecting houses, I will buy my own car and build my house very soon.
“Whenever we harvest, we invite the off-takers who come to our farms or houses and buy up everything, but previously, those middlemen decide the prices of of our products without our knowledge”, he added.
Another woman farmer, Sarah Ameh and a member of Ajedama Group said before, her farm became bushy, and the cost of clearing it was too high, even if she pays labourers to clear it, they will collect the money do a half job and run away.
“But APPEALS gave me cutlass, rake, mougher and sprayer, so, I share the cutlass to the labourers and the do the job for me”, she added.
The Kogi State APPEALS Coordinator further said that for Cashew, they are expectin 0.7 metrin tons per hectare, they supported the planting of 2501 hectares and is expecting a total of 1,750,7 metric tons of cashew.
In Chakaruku, Kogi local government of Kogi State, rice farmers said their yield had increased drastically following the strict adherence to the best agronomic practice taught them by Kogi APPEALS.
Mohammed Zakari, one of the farmers, said before the intervention of APPEALS, they were farming manually and the yield was very small.
He said they used to farm one hectare of rice per person, but after the intervention of APPEALS, each person now cultivate 3 to 4 hectares of rice.
“Before, each hectare gives your 20 bags of rice paddy, but after taking us through best agronomic practices and providing us with farm inputs, we now harvest about 50 bags of rice paddy per hectare”, he said.
Zakari however, appealed for more assistance in the areas of chemicals, tractors and access road from farm to their houses so that they can transport their produce from the farms to their houses.
“When we sell our rice to off-takers, some use the money to build houses, buy motor and send our children to schools. We have 6 groups comprising of 10 persons per group, and each group cultivate an average of 20 hectares”, he noted
Dauda Musa, APPEALS Extensions agent attached to Chakaruku community, said his major work is to ensure that all farmers follow all the agronomic practices that they were taught so that there would be improvement in their yield compared to what they harvest before.
He appealed for the extension of the APPEALS project and Chakaruku be reconsidered in the next phase of the program.
One of the farmers in the community, Abdullahi Attahiru bought a car with money sold from his rice.
He said he harvested 70 bags of rice from his farm, then he sold some and purchased a car. He said before he gets about 35 bags from the same 2 hectares.
Kogi State Coordinator of APPEALS Dr Sanni Ozomata said he is “expecting an output of 4 tons per hectare on rice, while it is supporting the cultivation of 993 hectare and a total of 3,972 tons is expected.