From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Bauchi State Governor Abdullahi Abubakar has flagged off the OCP School Lab innovative programme to increase agro yield and income of 10,000 smallholder maize farmers in 70 communities across the state.
The pilot scheme was launched in Nabordo, Toro Local Government Area as a drive to boost the agricultural sector in Bauchi State.
The school lab, which operates in a caravan of trucks, provides mobile interactive training sessions on the best agricultural practices for rural farmers.
It makes use of live demos, animated videos and is manned by trained personnel that offer farmers on-site soil testing to determine the peculiar needs of the soil and fertiliser recommendations.
Through the programme, farmers are advised on the rate of fertiliser use and the best time for its application.
The Nabordo initiative was the first of its kind launched by a fertiliser producer in Africa, to bring the latest soil testing innovations and effective agronomical training to serve the needs of farmers across the continent.
Abubakar expressed his appreciation to the company for choosing Bauchi State as its centre of operation to implement the school lab across the four states including Bauchi, Kano, Katsina and Kaduna.
â€œThis extensive agricultural soil testing is not only happening for the first time in the state, but it also promises to significantly lift up the productivity of rural smallholder farmers. Bauchi is mainly an agrarian state, and one of the major developmental agenda of our government is to transform the fortunes of farmers in the state,â€ Abubakar said.
Speaking on behalf of Karim Lotfi Senhadji, the CEO of OCP Group, the Country Manager of the company in Nigeria, Caleb Usoh, said the biggest reception and encouragement his company had benefitted in the country had come from the government of Bauchi State.
Usoh explained that the OCP School Lab is one of the technological methods that the fertiliser company has put in place to help small holder farmers to drastically improve their productivity.
“The caravan goes round to take soil samples in the locations where the farmers are based, analyze them, and then produce specific fertilizers for the crop type and soil type. We seek to feed the soil in the right manner. The soil then feeds the crop. And finally, the crop feeds the people,â€ Usoh said.
OCP School Lab is being implemented in partnership with Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP), which is responsible for the farmersâ€™ mobilisation, training, and logistics for the caravan.