The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture through the Feed the Future, Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity funded by USAID has conducted a Brown Field Day for no fewer than 410 smallholder farmers and beneficiaries in Gombe State.
The three-day event which started on Monday November 6, 2023 was conducted in cowpea demonstration field in Angwan Dan Kwali-Shabbal community in Kumo, Akko LGA; cowpea seed farm at Baganje in Billiri LGA and soyabeans seed farm in Ture Okwaldi in Kaltungo LGA.
During the field day, farmers in the three LGAs were shown improved seeds that are part of the four crops being promoted in the state which are maize, rice, soya beans and cowpea.
Some of the things showcased to the farmers were the early maturity of the crops, their tolerance to disease, high-yielding and how effective the crops are in helping to address farmer-herder clash especially for cowpea.
Farmers were excited about the output of the soya beans field because they could see the positive difference in yield between what USAID Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity through IITA is promoting and their farmers’ practice.
During the field day also, farmers in the three LGAs expressed satisfaction with the intervention from USAID and IITA, noting that the intervention had helped in promoting seed business in their community, adding that such would also help other farmers access genuine seeds in their communities.
Other farmers who spoke to our correspondent after the field day recounted how they were not affected by the dry spell that occurred for three weeks as a result of lack of rains for the period and how their cowpea weren’t affected compared to their old varieties they were used to.
Some of the beneficiaries while speaking to our correspondent expressed satisfaction with USAID and IITA’s intervention, adding that the support through improved seeds, technologies, innovations and the Good Agricultural Practices had helped in boosting their productivity and changed the unpleasant narratives with regard to farming in their communities.
Malam Isa Saidu, a farmer from Angwan Dan Kwali community said he was supported with improved maize seeds which he cultivated after many farmers in his community had planted theirs for about three weeks.
Saidu said his decision to embrace the new innovation by USAID and IITA was the best decision he had taken since he started the vocation several years ago.
“Imagine the harvest I got, it was huge and I am so surprised by the early maturing nature of the seeds; I planted three weeks late but harvested before others even with better yields.
“Farmers who are still using the old grains were surprised with the bumper harvest and how my maize farmer turned out good.”
Mrs Lois Adamu, another farmer said the difference between using the seeds they had been planting and the improved seeds from USAID and IITA could not be compared in terms of productivity per hectares.
Adamu said: “what I received (seeds) from USAID and IITA has given me bumper harvest and hope of escaping poverty because I recorded far more than I use to get.
“My maize farm was better than those of others; the maize plant was even taller and far out-grew other maize plants cultivated in my community.”
Mrs Doris Musa, the Extension Officer in Ture community said the intervention had created a good platform for farmers in her community to access genuine and improved seeds which had hitherto been a challenge in view of the several fake seeds vendors that often flood local markets.
Also, Umar Bappah Usman, Area Extension Officer, Akko LG said USAID’s intervention in agriculture sector had become a model that should be adopted by other stakeholders towards addressing food insecurity in the state and country.
Usman appealed to USAID to increase funding to enable more farmers in the state benefit, adding that many farmers had indicated interests ahead of next cropping season.
Speaking during the exercise, Mr. Habibullah Ibrahim, the Senior Technical Field Officer for USAID, IITA activity in Gombe State commended the farmers and community stakeholders for embracing the technology and knowledge introduced to them, urging them to see the technology as farmer-friendly.
Ibrahim appealed to the benefitting farmers to make good use of the opportunity and ensure sustainability of the activity even after the end by adopting the agricultural practices and technologies being promoted to them.