• Friday, May 24, 2024
businessday logo


AfDB, Sasakawa Africa train rice farmers on improve rice yield, soil fertility

Quality of locally produced rice has improved – RIFAN
An African Development Bank (AfDB) funded project, implemented by the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) in Nigeria and Benin Republic, has trained farmers in Nasarawa State on new technologies to improve rice production and maintain soil fertility.
The project, which is been implemented under AfDB’s Policy and Human Resource Development Grant (PHRDG 1), became imperative due to the impact of climate change on food production.
Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) is an international non-profit organisation.
Godwin Atser, the Country Director of SAA, on Thursday said, during the Field Days training exercise for farmers in Lafia and Doma Local Government Areas of the state.
Atser explained that the project aimed to expose the farmers to new technologies and best agronomic practices in rice production that would increase their yield and also maintain the soil health, thereby preserving its nutrients sustainably for a very long period.

He noted that climate change had made it a bit difficult for farmers to predict rain patterns, which impacts negatively on their production.

“What we are doing with the project is to showcase to farmers how they can have good yield from their rice farms and secondly, how to improve the soil nutrients and sustain it beyond their generation.

“If we are not careful, a time will come when the soil will lose its fertility, so we need to see how we can maintain the soil fertility,” he said.

He said that the technology and best agronomic practices if adequately maintained, would help farmers to minimize input in the farm, maximise profit and as well reduce the impact of climate change.

Also, Ibrahim Fagge, Coordinator, Regenerative Agriculture, SAA, said that the technologies introduced to the farmers included improved rice seed (faro 66), production of organic fertiliser from rice husk known as “Biochar,” and “Bokashi” from decomposed food waste.

Fagge explained that the Biochar is made from burning rice husk in heat without oxygen and when mixed with the soil during land preparation, improves its texture, nutrients and water retention capacity.

He said that the farmers were taught how to make the Biochar, how to prepare their fields and how as apply fertiliser.
According to Fagge, the farmers are discouraged from broadcasting fertiliser in their farms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their attendant impact on climate change.

“Fertilisers, when exposed through broadcasting in the farm emit harmful chemical substances that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.

“Therefore, under this project, the farmers were taught on Urea Deep Placement (UDP), where they bury the fertiliser in-between the rice planted in lines on the field,” he said.

Also, Idris Garko, Facilitator of the PHRDG 1 said, the project is being implemented in seven communities across Doma and Lafia Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State.

According to Garko, the farmers were taught how to prepare nursery beds for the rice, and transplant to their prepared fields after 15 days in rolls with a 20cm gap between the plants.

He added that the process of nurseries and transplanting reduces the wastage of rice seeds compared to the usual practice of broadcasting.

Garko also said the UDP application of fertiliser makes for precision rather than broadcasting which could also contribute to fertilising the weeds in the farm.

The facilitator also said that SAA introduced a technological device known as “e-kakashi” placed in the rice field and linked to Android devices to monitor the temperature, humidity and water level in the field.

“This will guide the farmers on how to moderate the flow of water into the field as well as carryout other activities in the farm,” he said.
Garko explained that with the application of the technologies and improved seed, the farmer could grow rice in 100 days from nursery to harvesting.

Some of the beneficiaries, Yusuf Kuje in Alagye, Doma, Abdullahi Otsonu in Assakio, Lafia and Bitrus Angbetun in Angwan Gambo, Lafia, all appreciated SAA for the intervention.

They said the project had broadened their perspective on rice production as they were looking forward to bumper harvest from their farms.

Kuje said that a lot of farmers have approached him to learn and adopt the technologies given the results they have seen so far from his farm.