Gombe gets bumper harvest from food security programme

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Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

Beneficiaries of the Global Environment Facility GEF, and the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP on food security and climate smart Agriculture in Gombe have thanked the organisations for yielding bumper harvest this cropping season.   

For beneficiary farmer in Pakwangli Community of Kaltungo Local Government Area, Mr. Audu Burga, the project has given the community bumper harvest of maize, rice, Soya Beans, Guinea Corn and Ground Nuts in the community, because other farmers learned from them too.

“We are saying this programme that the UNDP has brought to us here is good and even the rest of the people that have been passing through the area, the way they see the thing, they admire it. They say this is a good way to get more crops that will help us. We will get more produce than any previous year. Next year, we will increase the production ad give more seeds to the people, so that they too can practice the new technique that UNDP brought to us,” said Mr. Burga.

Another female beneficiary, Miss Jochebed Iliya of Patwana Community of Kaltungo Local Government Area, said the project had been of great help because of the ease of doing farm activities.

“We have been taught o how to use improved seeds more than the traditional one and how to use land spacing in a way that we get more product I a farm. We have harvested the maize ad it has been good, because it gave us more yield than the ones we have done in the past. My call to the people is that they should consider this UNDP programme ad take it seriously, because it will help us a lot even in our community,” said Miss Iliya.

The training on the modern farming techniques to the farmers in the ten communities were stepped down by UNDP/GEF trained extension workers, with specifications for each of the five crops, maize, Guinea Corn, Soya Beans, rice and Ground Nuts.

One of those Extension Workers trained for the programme is Kelvin Haziel, of Jessu Community Balanga Local Government Area, who praised the outcome of the programme so far.

“In fact the farmers were happy, interested and committed in the activities. They really used the method that we taught them and cooperated with us in all the activities. At the end of the day, everybody appreciated the new technologies and even implemented the new technologies in their own individual farms. They even came and appreciated that they had bumper harvest on their personal farms. As you can see, this is a demonstration farm, so the variety or the input is much better than the previous one. And we are really happy, we are happy, we appreciate the UNDP programme. We are still trusting that God will use them to bring more,” Mr. Haziel said.

The UNDP/GEF Project says it will procure the produce from the demonstration farms on climate smart agriculture ad redistribute them to many more beneficiaries to reproduce in larger quantity in the next cropping season.

Speaking with Voice of Nigeria at the end of a field visit to the some farms in Gombe, the Desk Office of the Climate Smart Agriculture of the UDP/GEF Project in Gombe, Mr. Maina Jonathan, said the practice would produce community seed and also serve as community seed for more farmers.

Mr. Jonathan said by 2020, beneficiary farmers should expect a boost of various technologies, like even to pack the maize stuck, where maize farmers would pack the maize stuck up-side-down, so that when it rains, not up as they are doing here, because this one will store water, but when you do it up-side-down, it will drain and go.

He said all simple technologies, which are appropriate to the environmental conditions in Gombe, would be taught to the farmers for greater benefits.

Mr. Jonathan commended the first phase of the project by volunteer beneficiaries in the demonstration farms in ten communities of Balanga and Kaltungo Local Government Areas, where five climate resistant crops were sown and planted.

The Project Desk Office in Gombe said this year’s cropping season had been very encouraging, which is being reflected on the faces of the beneficiaries, which he said showed happiness with what they were taught within the cropping season.

“The maize field had been very successful and wonderfully conducted. And the rice field that we have demonstrated the use of organic fertilizer and high yielding rice variety. Honestly speaking, the farmers’ practice and our own practice have one hundred percent difference. In the 50/50 plot we have measured, we are not going to get something less than 20 bags, that is 200kg of paddy rice. But the farmers’ practice here, they are not getting something like 10 bags. They are getting less than 10 bags. So, you can see a clear difference between our own practice and their farmers’ practice. If you translate that to a hectare, we are getting 80 bags of 100kg bag, while the farmer is getting 30. You can see that huge difference, because of the spacing of 15/15 cm inter-row,” Mr. Jonathan said.

The UNDP/GEF project however, did not focused only on cropping, but also on training the beneficiary farmers on value chain and how they could protect their environment, using simple technologies.

According to Mr. Jonathan, the project has exposed the beneficiary farmers to techniques like compressing of rice brand, sugarcane peels, you compress it and use it as fuel, and again, you can use that as animal feed after crushing them, mix it with other ingredients and then feed to animals as livestock feed.

“The environment too, anything that is left on the farm, is it trash, is it corn stuck, is it anything, we pack them and do compose manure, which is actually the way to go as against the synthetic fertilizer, which is harmful to our health.”

Overall, the Project’s Desk Officer in Gombe has rated the cropping season on the demonstration farms as getting the maximum cooperation from the farmers, because of expression of happiness on their farms.

He however, said the project was not without the challenge of close monitoring and supervision, which was due to inadequate funds.

Consequently, Mr. Jonathan said since the farmers were having the techniques as new, they needed capacity training, hence the plan to teach them on group dynamics, on the changes that are related to dealing with different classes of people.

One other benefit of the project to the farmers in the ten communities are the distribution of treadle pumps, which can be used for irrigation and during flooding. 

Lateefah Ibrahim