Prof. Henry Igbadun, Programme Leader for Irrigation, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) says the institute in collaboration with International Water Management Institute is targeting 1,000 farmers in the newly introduced water conservation technologies.
Igbadun made the disclosure in an interview with Journalists on the sideline of a field visit to TAAT-WEC In-situ water harvesting in sorghum demonstration farms at Janfalan and Sabon-Gari, Daji villages in Ikara and Makarfi Local Government Areas of Kaduna State respectively.
According to him, the field visit was meant to sensitise farmers on the need to embrace the new technologies tagged: Technologies Africa Agricultural Transformation-Water Enabler Compact (TAAT-WEC).
Igbadun added that the introduction of the in-situ water harvesting techniques was being funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and implemented by IAR.
He explained that, “What we have done so far, we selected farmers that we aided with seeds, fertilizers and to have their own fields.
We are demonstrating these technologies for them to see hoping that from next year we will increase their number and then they too will begin to practice the same technology.
“So, we are aiming at 1000 farmers this first year and that we have already achieved because we started doing is with selected farmers and their families and the entire communities, so we are here in Sabon-Gari Daji and we are also in Ikara.
“If you put the number of farmers, we are reaching out to a thousand farmers and we are going to multiply that next season,” he assured.
The Don urged Nigerian farmers to take advantage of the new farming technologies to improve their yields towards actualising the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government.
Igbadun said: “This institute, IWMI based in Sirilanka with West Africa Regional office in Ghana owned this project being funded by AfDB and they sought for collaboration with IAR to execute the project in Nigeria.
“We are here on sorghum fields, there are two other crops that the TAAT-WEC project has worked on with respect to water management and they include; water management for wheat and water management for rice.
“Those two crops were done under irrigation in Kano and Nasarawa States, but here, it is about in-situ water-harvesting technique to increase sorghum production, sorghum is produce this area.
“And one challenge that sometimes leads to low yield is that by the month of September into October while the sorghum is still heading, the rain would have ceases. “Early cessation of rainfall during the grain filling stage leads to poor yields.”
According to him, the TAAT-WEC had introduced two technologies that had to do with tied ridging and double density planting with mulching of the furrow.
This, he said, would help to reduce evaporation and also help to conserve moisture of the soil which would enable sorghum filing stage deliver good seed head during harvest.
On the benefits of the technologies, the Don said conservation of moisture was the main thing, assuring that when water was sustained moisture would be conserved in the soil especially during the grain filling stage.
He said at that period the head that comes out with h sorghum would have full seeds and the grains would be full that would certainly lead to good yield.
On how to encourage the dissemination of the new technologies, the Don said before they started the field work, they conducted a pre-season workshop in which they brought together farmers from three Local Government Areas of Makarfi, Kubau and Ikara.
“They came together and we explained these techniques to theme, we have put the techniques on ground and today we are doing field visit together with the people from other six TAAT-WEC countries along with Nigeria.
“Before the end of the season we are going to have a Field Day and in that field day we will bring more farmers and by next year we will get to extension activities with this, the extension agents will be used to reach out to ,ore farmers.
“We are doing this same thing in Gumel Jigawa State, so the TAAT-WEC sorghum activity is both in Kaduna State and Jigawa States.
“This is a field visit particularly targeted for the visitors we have from Mali, Bukina Faso, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi who came into Nigeria for the TAAT-WEC Mid-Term review and planning meeting for TAAT-WEC.
“We also felt that they should come to the field and see what is on ground and also meet some of the farmers that we are working with.”
Also in an interview, the Coordinator, TAT-WEC, Dr Sander Zwart of IWMI, expressed appreciation to meet the passant farmers in Nigeria who embraced the new technologies.
He said: “Today we are in Nigeria for the project we are operating in seven different countries across Africa, what we try to introduce is to provide new water management technologies that had not been applied before.
“So, what you are seeing here today is, we are demonstrating new methodologies to safe water, as you know we have climate change and farmers are suffering from shortage of rain in this area.
“Just as we heard that almost two weeks without rains, the plants are suffering, but what you can see here due to our technologies the plants have still good performance.”
Zwart said they were in Nigeria with the mission of coordinating different African countries, adding the institute had applied the same techniques in Burkina Faso and Mali and it yielded positive results.
He noted that both Bokinafaso and Mali had similar climate with Nigeria, assuring that the project had actually increased their yields.
The Coordinator identified rain as the most important aspect for the farmers, adding that there was no farmer that doesn’t depend on rainfall, hence the need for them to make optimal use of the rains they receive.
“Unfortunately, not every year you know in advance how much rains you will receive, and due to climate change we have more variability in the rainfall and also be in a total less rainfall in the season.
“But we are also in an era here where there is still sufficient rainfall during the year but may be in future 10, 20 years, you will see that the rain levels drop, actually there is no sufficient water anymore.
“So, we prepare farmers to mitigate this problem, we introduced these technologies so that they will be prepared in future if there is a dry year they also have a good harvest,” he said.