By Bitrus Osagie
Some farmers in Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State have commended the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for its intervention in agriculture to boost food security in the state.
Our correspondent reports that the USAID programme under the “Feed The Future, Nigeria Integrated Agriculture Activity” is being implemented by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
The programme which is promoting maize, rice, cowpea and Soya beans in Gombe State is being implemented in Akko, Billiri and Kaltungo LGAs of the state with 450 benefitting farmers known as Community-Based Seed Producers.
The beneficiaries who are part of the Community Based Seed Producers in Akko LGA gave the commendations while sharing their experiences of the activity during the on-going Green Field Day exercise held in Kumo community on Wednesday.
They said USAID’s intervention had improved their yields and would increase their incomes which according to them will result to poverty reduction amongst farmers in their community.
Malam Usman Umaru, a beneficiary from Kumo community said the intervention from USAID, IITA in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Programme at the Local Government had helped improved his yield “tremendously.”
Umaru said he was excited to be one of the beneficiaries because of the modern farming practices he had been exposed to and the improved seeds he was able to access through such intervention.
“In my many years of farming, I have never been this excited at harvest like now; you need to see how well my yields came out.
“I am extremely grateful to USAID, IITA and Akko LG ADP officials for the knowledge and seeds intervention.”
On her part, Mrs. Aisha Jibril, a member of women community-based seed producers in Akko LGA said the intervention by USAID and IITA to boost yields through use of quality seeds remained one of the best route to escaping poverty as a farmer.
Jibril said women farmers were more vulnerable to losses in agriculture because they usually cultivated small piece of land, using grains.
“But with the new initiative we had been exposed to, women farmers in my community will now get good returns on their investment in agriculture.”
Mr Yohanna Sarkomi, another beneficiary said the USAID programme was the way to go in view of the growing population of the country and the threat of hunger in the future.
Sarkomi said using improved seeds and good agricultural practices remained key to increasing productivity and “what USAID and IITA has done, have helped us in boosting productivity per hectare.
“The growing rate of our population is higher than our agricultural productivity and that’s why USAID’s intervention is key and we appreciate them.”
The beneficiaries, however, appealed to USAID to also assist them with fertilisers, adding that the high cost of the commodity had made farming expensive and beyond the reach of poor farmers in their community.
Our correspondent reports that the Green Field Day which was held in Kumo community demonstrated best practices and encouraged the adoption of good agricultural practices (GAP).
The Day also created avenue for the beneficiaries in Kumo to observe and compare the performance of different varieties and improve their farming skills as well as share knowledge and experiences among themselves.
Our correspondent also reports that the beneficiaries were supported with foundation seeds and trained on seed production from the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).