Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe
The United Nations Development Programmes, UNDP/Global Environment Facility, GEF, has scored Gombe State high on the scale of implementing the project on Climate Smart Agriculture to enhance food security in the savannah zone of Northern Nigeria.
A team of experts and consultants from the implanting ministries of Agriculture and Environment, and the UNDP and GEF, went round some of the ten selected communities in the two local government areas of Gombe State and gave their verdict, that the project objectives of Land and Water Management was being implemented in the state.
The GEF Desk Officer at the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr. David Kushimoh said after he lead a team from the project office in Abuja to the demonstration farms in Balanga Local Government Area of Gombe State, that they had seen remarkable progress and success of the project in the state.
“We are seeing remarkable progress of what the project is all about and the project objective is being realised, as far as the farms I visited were concerned,” Mr. Kushimoh said.
He said they had gone to some of the demonstration farms and seeing the progress made there, the project was now stepping up with training programmes in Climate Smart Agriculture for the farmers so that they could imbibe the needed practices learned on the demonstration plots.
He said there would also be trainings on livelihood support, so that the farmers would be able to engage in order businesses other than farming for them to be able to make more money to support their farms and families.
Mr. Kushimoh called the beneficiary farmers to own the programme, so that the project would be sustained after its expiration in five years.
The UNDP/GEF Project Consultant in Gombe State, a Chief Lecturer with the Department of Agriculture, Federal College of Technology, Technical, Dr. Ayuba Mohammed Musa, said five different high yielding, early maturing and pest, climate resistant crops were being planted on the demonstration farms.
The crops includes maize, rice, groundnuts, soya beans and sorghum.
“A new variety of sorghum was being planted in the project and its target is high yielding, the grains contain more flour and more nutrients. It is specialised sorghum that flour companies are in high demand for it. This particular sorghum was requested to be introduced by Honey-Well Flour Company, because they use it as a major component in producing their semolina and also malt. One of the certain things about this one also is that, it is early maturing, within 65-70 days, this special sorghum is ready for harvest. It equally tillers, even when you reduce it to one, you will discover that at the end of the day you have more than one around the place.
He said the seeds had to be planted in July, because early planting would have made it mature in time, of which the rains rain would destroy the grains and reduce its quality, by making it non-marketable for the farmer.
Dr. Musa said because of that, the farmers were instructed to delay planting the special variety till July, so that by the end of September, the Sorghum would have been ready for harvest and won’t have to worry further destructions by rain.
He commended the farmers for showing their willingness to adopt the new technology introduced to replace the local ones that last for 120 days before maturity and it grows very tall.
“And you know in September every year around here, the rains come here with a lot of storms, wind that cause a lot of lodging. This one will not be affected by it because of the height has been so moderated in such a manner and it resists that the high wind that has become associated with the rain. So, we won’t experience lodging and one dangerous thing about lodging is that, any crop that lodges, except you lodge it back, as you leave it there, this crop will not produce anything,” Dr. Musa said.
He said the project was also promoting the use of organic fertilizer on the farms, which was healthier and environment friendly.
We use organic poultry manure, pallets, we applied here and we spread liquid fertilizer, which has now promoted the growth of this particular sorghum and as you can see, what we are waiting for here is harvest, because already, the growth dynamics is looking very fine and can be sure of getting very much high yield from what you can see here. The yield here is going to be remarkable,” Dr. Musa said.
Aside from the demonstration farms, the UNDP/GEF Project has also constructed Agriculture Service Centres in both Balanga and Kaltungo Local Government Areas, a place reserved for the beneficiary corporative Societies to get the needed support and assistance from and add value to their farm produce.
According to the team leader and consultants at the Cham Farm Centre, the place will be used to keep all the farm implements that would soon be brought and kept for the beneficiaries farmers and those in need for hire.
They say the place will readily provide genuine products like fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and all other requirements for farm on time and all year round.