By Mustapha Yauri
Zaria(Kaduna state) Oct. 22, 2020 The National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS) Zaria has urged the Kaduna State Government to sustain the Africa Green Revolution (AGRA) Maize-Rice-Soya Beans Consortium Project in the state.
Prof. Mohammed Othman, Executive Director of NAERLS made the request during stakeholders meeting and field visits to AGRA Consortium Project sites in Zaria on Thursday.
He said that the project would enhance smallholder farmers’ productivity and reduce poverty.
Othman said in 2018 the institute had won a grant of $1.37m to run AGRA project in Kaduna with focus on rice, maize and soya beans production.
The executive director said that 270, 000 smallholder farmers have so far benefited from the project.
He explained that the project was aimed at increasing the productivity of farmers and help to reduce poverty and increase their income.
Othman, however, said that the project would come to an end by March 2021.
“We don’t want the gains of the project to be eroded when it ends in 2021, hence we have to meet with key stakeholders to find ways of sustaining and upscaling the project.”
He explained that the stakeholders include the Kaduna state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the 23 Local Government Chairmen.
Othman said the institute showcased the gains of the project to the participants with a view to ensure sustainability of the programme by the end of the project in March 2021.
“ We had a field day for the Chairmen of the local governments and Kaduna State Ministry of local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to see the technology that has actually been demonstrated to the farmers.
“Many farmers have already adopted the technology and it was increasing their output.
“The request was for the state to sustain the capacity building for the farmers, as well as Community Based Awareness.
“We also appeal to the local government chairmen to support the establishment of maize and rice mills and enhance linkage to inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and agro-chemicals and other yield enhancing inputs among others,’’ Othman said.
Mr Jafaru Sani, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs said the state would sustain the project when AGRA ends in March 2021.
Sani, represented by his Special Adviser, Ado-Musa Umar, said the ministry was a partner to AGRA project, which has achieved a lot.
Dr Isaac Eni, Senior Coordinator Business and Partnership Sasakawa Africa Association and Project Coordination AGRA Consortium Project, Kaduna State said the impact of the project was felt in 19 local governments of Kaduna state.
Eni said that the productivity of maize farming has increased to an average of about five tons per hectare.
He added that the beneficiaries were making about four tons of rice in a hectare while in soya beans beneficiaries make two tons in a hectare.
He said the NAERLS had forwarded 12 areas of support to the ministry which were hinged on the sustainability of the programme after it might have ended by March 2021.
Earlier, Mr George Zangir, President Value Seed Limited said that the company has commenced discussions with the state government on ways to enhance access to farm inputs and qualitative agricultural extension services at local levels.
Zangir said the company in collaboration with the state government is targeting 20,000 farmers across the state to produce rice, wheat and maize during the dry season farming.
He added that under the 2021 wet season farming the company targets more than 50, 000 farmers in the state.