Extension workers are backbone of agricultural development – AATF

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Dr Issoufou Kollo, the Regional Director, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), West Africa says extension workers remain the hub on which the agricultural development revolves.

Kollo said this in a statement  in Abuja by Alex Abutu, West Africa Communication Officer of AATF.

”As long as the extension workers are in the dark, you don’t have agricultural development, extension is very important for agricultural development.

”It is not only about research but how the research enhances the lives of the people. Agricultural development has two legs – research and extension.

”When researchers finish their work in the laboratory and conduct their on-station and on-farm trials, extension worker or agents will now take over and take the new variety or technology to farmers.

”These agents understand the language of the farmers and are in a better position to introduce them to new varieties of crops,’’ he said.

Kollo said that AATF and the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), Ahmadu Bello University had entered into a strategic partnership that would ensure Nigerian farmers take advantages of the PBR Cowpea.

According him, NAERLS can reach all the extension workers in Nigeria and millions of farmers, so it is very good to have collaboration with them.

Public education is very important as you know. Scientists cannot explain everything to the public, there are other people who have such knowledge.

”So, we choose NAERLS because of their very good network to reach thousands of people at the same time, especially farmers and extension workers,” he added.

Kollo said it was important that smallholder farmers in the country have unhindered access to the PBR Cowpea considering its potential.

He made reference to an ex-ante study conducted by the U. S.-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on the PBR Cowpea which showed that Nigeria would record a revenue increase of more than N48 billion (132 million dollars) annually from the planting of the PBR cowpea.

The study added that PBR cowpea will benefit Nigerian farmers and consumers, PBR can generate annual benefits equivalent to N26.2 billion for producers N9.2 billion for consumers. PBR cowpea will have an impact on the overall economy.

“We have the data, we didn’t fabricate these data, the data came from farmers managed trials during the National Variety Performance Trials, many farmers have been able to test on their own and compared it to other varieties.

”We have two sets of trials, one is on-station across Nigeria and across different local governments which has been selected by the extension people.

”When you look at the trials, the yield difference between the PBR cowpea and the other varieties of cowpea was about 70 per cent.

”The PBR cowpea yielded about 70 per cent higher, then when you look at the farmers managed trials, the yield of PBR cowpea is about 154 per cent superior compared to the yield of the other cowpea varieties,” he said.

Kollo said that Nigeria had about three million hectares of land under cowpea cultivation, adding that if one has 20 per cent yield increase on the three million hectares, imagine the amount of money it could give.

It is even underestimated on our side of what PBR cowpea can produce in a year.

”Annually, about 12 to 15 million hectares of land is cultivated with cowpea worldwide with the Sub Saharan Africa accounting for the bulk of the total area of production (about 12 million hectares).

“And Nigeria responsible for about four to five million hectares of total world production area,” she said.