Ibrahim Shuaibu who recently participated in the 2018 media field tour organised by Sasakawa Global 2000 writes that an agricultural revolution is taking place across communities in Kano, Jigawa and Gombe States
Led by its Country Director, Professor Sani Miko, Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG2000), an international agricultural development NGO, recently met with local farmers and other beneficiaries of its various intervention programmes in three states- Kano, Jigawa and Gombe. The tour was necessary so as to give the organisation the opportunity to feel the pulse of its various intervention programmes.
The team from SG2000 were in various communities of Kano, Jigawa and Gombe to witness the achievements recorded during the post-harvest exercise. The team gave the media representatives the access to have a free day with beneficiaries and get the testimonials they derived from the Sasakawa initiatives. Miko, who was ably supported by Regional Admin Manager of Sasakawa, Mrs. Shushan Negussie, and head of communication for Sasakawa Mr. Abel Haliu, participated actively during the four-day exercise.
The organisation has focused its attention on the hidden potentials to be gained from the food production experience of Southeast Asia and elsewhere given that small-holder farms dominate African agriculture, and most of them continue to employ traditional cultivation techniques.
Their approach to the problem of food security is by looking at the full length of the value chain. That means supporting producers by improving productivity and processing, and increasing market access as a means of enhancing added value and fostering farmers’ income.
Given that the Sasakawa Global program is tasked with realizing these goals, it’s strategic approach is broken down into five different themes, allowing agricultural specialists to focus on coming up with solutions to diverse problems.
Expansion in Kano
In the agrarian local government areas of Kura, Bunkure and other bordering villages in Kano State, the coming of SG2000 has broadened their awareness and involvement in the expansion of profitable agricultural development, which is the modern means of agri-business activities generally recognised worldwide.
The boost to agriculture in the state by the company was necessitated by it’s effort to ensure the commercialisation of agricultural production, processing and marketing outputs among small and media-scale commercial farmers and agro-processors.
At Bunkure Local Government Area of Kano State, Rice farmers in the area have commended SG2000 for its various intervention programmes meant to improve rice production in the area. Bunkure is one of the rice producing local government areas in Kano State.
The Chairman of Bubbugawa Rice Farmers Association in the area, Aliyu Mohammed told the Sasakawa team at Rice Milling plant in Bunkure during the media field day programme to meet with small holder farmers and assess the various intervention programmes of the organisation, that following the establishment of the rice milling plant, many people who were hitherto not interested in rice farming, had embraced the business.
According to him, the association had this year cultivated over 300 hectares of rice with an expected output of about five tonnes, adding that, “we will produce between 4.5 tonnes and five tonnes of the commodity after harvest”.
The association also disclosed that the organisation deserves commendation for training its members on proper method of applying fertiliser.
However, one of the women rice farmers in the area, Hajia Aisha Ibrahim, called on the Hadeja-Jama’are River Basin Development Authority (HJRBDA) to ensure adequate water supply to irrigation farms in the area as the dry season farming draws nearer.
Collaboration in Jigawa to Ameliorate Flooding Disaster
In Jigawa State, the government told the SG 2000 team that this year’s flood disaster has ravaged 120,000 hectares of farmlands while a number of villages were also submerged by water. The State Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Alhaji Kabiru Ali said 140, 000 farmers in Jigawa state were affected.
He said: “A lot of villages were submerged, schools were closed and in some areas you see classrooms half full with water. Most of the crops along the river banks including rice, sorghum, cowpea, groundnut and millet were destroyed by the flood.”
The commissioner also explained that the state government had already procured improved seeds worth N500 million for immediate distribution to farmers to enable them plant them during the dry season farming.
Ali said the seeds are expected to produce early maturing crops to cushion the effect of the flood disaster suffered by the farmers in the state. He called on the SG2000 to come to the aid of farmers in the state, especially in the area of granting credit facility to farmers, as well as capacity building for extension workers to enhance their performance.
According to him, most of the local farmers are poor and they need support to enable them remain in the farming business.
In response, Miko expressed the readiness of the organisation to expand the area of collaboration between it and Jigawa government to boost agricultural production in the state. He said the organisation would introduce ‘climate smart agriculture’ to overcome some of the challenges being faced by the state in view of the fact that the state is prone to desertification.
Stating that, “we will intervene through the introduction of early maturing crops to cushion the effect of the flood disaster suffered by the farmers in the state”, he also commended the Jigawa government for its continuous support to the organisation within the last 28 years of collaboration.
However, when he visited Auyo local government area of Jigawa state, he said by venturing into farming, the youths would generate income that would lift their socio-economic status, instead of sitting idle and relying on government. He stressed that it was important for unemployed youths to extricate themselves from ‘dependency syndrome’ so as to contribute meaningfully to their communities and national economic growth.
Miko, who stated that youth engagement in agriculture would boost food production and ensure food security in the country, urged those who benefited from the intervention programmes of the agency to ensure that they distribute the improved seeds to other farmers around them to ensure massive production.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of Auyo Apex Rice Farmers Association, Malam Garba Muhammad, said the association has over 500 members who benefited from the SG2000 intervention. He also decried the destruction of rice farms by Quelea birds, which is seriously affecting the farmers’ inputs and called on international donor agencies to come to the aid of farmers over the invasion of farms by the birds.
The rice farmers called on the state government to also take urgent action to check the menace of a rice pest popularly known as ‘blast’, destroying rice farms in the area. He disclosed that the pest and Quelea birds coming from Baturiya wetland in Guri had destroyed a number of rice farms in the area. He stressed the need for both the state and federal governments to address the problem in view of their devastating effect on rice production.
He said: “We are calling on the government to do something urgently in addressing the problem before the commencement of dry season farming activities. This year has been a challenging one to farmers especially rice growers in the area due to the devastation caused by flood, blast and quela birds. The pest destroys rice seed by making the pod to shrink thereby preventing it from growing fully.”
In his remarks, an official of the SG2000, Malam Idris Garko, advised the farmers to stop buying seeds from unregistered seed dealers and companies, and to use variety of seeds every year to avoid possible infection by the pest.
“If you find out that the seed is infected with the disease, change seed next year and destroy the stock to prevent the spread of the pest,” he said.
Also speaking, Miko advised the farmers to embrace new farming technologies to boost their agricultural production. THISDAY learnt that the team also visited Kafin Gana Women Roce Processors Association in Birnin Kudu Local Government of Jigawa.
The team also proceeded to Gombe State and the government told the team its readiness to recruit 750 extension workers as part of effort to boost the capacity of farmers in the state. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Dahiru Buba-Biri said: “We have plans to recruit a total of 750 extension workers in the next five years, as our plan is to recruit 150 extension workers every year. The state government found it necessary to recruit more extension workers as the existing number of 200 extension staff was grossly inadequate to cater for the number of farmers in the state.”
The commissioner said the extension workers when recruited would be given the necessary training to enable them discharge their duties effectively, said the state government had already paid 200,000 dollars as support to the SG2000 in appreciation of the tremendous works it is doing in the state.
He said: “Gombe Government will continue to support Sasakawa because it has changed the face of farming in the state especially the new farming technologies that improved the capacity of farmers.”
He called on farmers in the state to fully embrace the new farming technologies introduced by the organisation to enhance their productivity. He also advised farmers in the state to form cooperative societies to enable them access loan facility from government and other financial institutions.
“Farmers who operate under cooperative societies stand a better chance of getting loan facility. So it is better for farmers to form such cooperatives, “he said.
On fertiliser, the commissioner commended the Federal Government for its intervention programmes and the Presidential Initiative on Fertilisers.
At Kaltungo Local Government, SG2000 promised to provide milling and threshing machines to women farmers in Pokwangli II village. This promise was made by Miko when he visited the Pokwangli II Multi-purpose Cooperative Society.
Miko who was reacting to a request made by women farmers, said the organisation would provide them with the two machines to enable them improve their generate income to improve their social and economic status. “With good arrangement, we will provide you with the two machines. But the machines will not be provided at a time but one after the other, “he said.
He commended the women farmers in the area for their commitment for self-reliance as well as to be economically independent
Earlier, one of the women farmers, Mrs Hauwa Laumai, called on the SG2000 Country Director to support the group with the milling and threshing machines to enable them go into processing business. According to her, the people in the area have to travel to Kaltungo, the local government headquarters before they could thresh or mill their maize or any other commodity.
“We produce maize, rice, soya beans and other commodities but our major challenge is lack of threshing and milling machines. If Sasakawa Global 2000 can support us with the two machines, we will be very happy as they will be of great assistance to us,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Audu Burga in charge of Public Private Partnership (Market Access), advised the women farmers in the area to form cooperative groups for easy access to bank facilities.
Assessment of Tour
However, in a roundup of the tour in Kano with a press conference and dinner, Miko said Nigeria is the only country in Africa where they got financial support to run their businesses, noting that about N280 million has been donated to the company between the state and federal government in Nigeria.
Miko who said four states which redeemed their pledge of support to the firm, were able to provide financial grant to the tune of N173million.
He said there was agreement between Sasakawa and eight states of the federation to donate money to the firm, but only four of them, Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa and Gombe States have fulfilled their pledges.
“Other four states, Kaduna, Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau failed to fulfill their promises. That is why the services of Sasakawa were not seen there. We are calling on the government to continue to do that because whatever came to us is judiciously utilised and you can go out and see the value for such money.
“The rule is also there, anytime we see a donor agencies with resources to carryout activities anywhere in Nigeria, Sasakawa has the technical competency to write the proposal to attract those donor funds, for instance, we are now in Niger and Kaduna States courtesy of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa. They provided us with money to run this program and none of Sasakawa money spent on this project. We have capacity to attract any donor agencies,” he said.