By Rabiu Sani-Ali
Bagwai (Kano), Dec. 6, 2020 (NAN) Some rice farmers in Bagwai, Kano State, have commended the Sasakawa Association Africa (SAA) for Coronavirus (COVID-19) farm support initiatives, aimed at mitigating the effects of the lockdown on agricultural activities.
The farmers gave the commendation in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday at Sector 1, Watari Irrigation Scheme in Bagwai Local Government Area of the state.
They said the intervention had assisted them to cultivate their farmlands and recorded higher yields at harvest.
Malam Nura Sabiu, a farmer, said he received fertiliser, seeds and chemicals from the association to cultivate his farmland this cropping season.
Sabiu said he and 24 other members of the Unguwar Ba’awa Farmer Cooperative Society benefited from the gesture and cultivated 30 hectares farmland.
He said the gesture made him to record higher yields and now preparing to cultivate his crops.
“I initially experienced difficulties in accessing farm inputs during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“The association distributed fertiliser, seeds, chemicals to farmers, it also trained farmers on planting and preservation techniques as well as livelihood support.
“We commend the association for the support,” he said.
A female farmer, Mrs Ai Garba, said the extension services implemented by the association had exposed them to new farming techniques to enable them increase yields per hectare.
Garba said she had so far harvested her crops and achieved higher yields.
“The yield increased to 36 as against 18 bags of paddy per hectare before the intervention.
“I am happy and made good saving from proceed of the sale of the produce,” Garba said.
Alhaji Danladi Yahaya, Chairman, Farmers Association in the area, urged farmers to utilise what they learnt from the programme to improve their production output.
Yahaya also advocated for entrepreneurship programme to develop farmer enterprising skills, value addition and provide market for the produce.
He listed rice, wheat, maize, to tomatoes and vegetables as some produce cultivated by farmers in the area.
Also commenting, Mr Benjamin Shamaki, Crop Production Manager of SAA, said the association had distributed seeds, fertilisers and chemicals to about 1,000 farmers under its COVID-19 Agriculture Intervention.
Shamaki said the beneficiaries were drawn from 20 farmer clusters in the Watari Irrigation Scheme, Bagwai.
He said the gesture was to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on agriculture and enhance farmer access to inputs.
The manager said the association was also providing extension services in collaboration with the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (KNARDA), to encourage agricultural activities and promote specialisation.
According to him, the association is training farmers under the Community Demonstration Plot (COP), Technology Adaptation Plot (TAP) and Model Adaptation Plot (MAP).
Shamaki said the association had set up Rice Aggregation Centre for 13 farmer clusters and 107 production groups, to add value and create market for the produce.