KKM project spurs demand for improved seeds

By Godwin Atser
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As the cropping season draws near, resource-poor farmers in northern Nigeria have put forward a demand for more improved seed varieties from scientists working on the Sudan Savannah taskforce project, thanks to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and partners.

The Sudan Savannah taskforce comprise a team of researchers working on Kano-Katsina-Maradi Pilot initiative which aims to carry out integrated agricultural research-for-development to address the several constraints facing farmers in that region.

The leader of Aminchi multipurpose group at Tabbani village, Musawa LGA, Katsina State, Hajiya Murja Abass, made the demand on behalf of the farmers during the 2009 stakeholders mobilization exercise which also witnessed the launching of innovation platforms in Katsina state in the presence of the Chairman of Safana Local Government Area, Alhaji Abdulkadir A. Zakka and the Chairman of Musawa LGA, Dr. Aliyu Musawa.

Abass, a seed producer in the 2008 cropping exercise, pleaded that more improved seeds should be provided by the taskforce in order to meet up demand from farmers.

Farmers love the seeds because of the good results they got last year. The improved seed yield thrice the normal harvest they get using the same hectare of land and the same quantity of seeds, she said.

Nigeria s north is home to grain crops such as cowpea, soybeans, groundnut, sorghum and maize among others but constraints such as lack of improved seed varieties, declining soil fertility and poor marketing have limited grain production.

The KKM Pilot initiative which is funded by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), through its recently inaugurated innovation platforms aims to tackle the problems in a holistic manner.

Partners in the project include the Katsina State ADP, Kano State ADP, Institute of Agricultural Research, Zaria, National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services, National Animal Production Research Institute, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IRNS, two LGAs, input and output dealers.

The Sudan Savannah taskforce leader, Dr. Alpha Y. Kamara, said the project would help in finding solutions to the numerous constraints faced by the farmers.

We would also want the local government authorities to fully support the innovation platforms in the implementation of the project activities, Kamara who is also IITA agronomist said.

He also urged farmers to adopt modern farming methods as a way out of poverty and as a panacea for food insecurity.

Dr. Musawa said his administration would support the project in all possible ways to ensure improvement in the livelihoods of farmers.

He appealed to the Sudan Savannah taskforce to expand the program to other communities beyond the 5 communities originally selected in each of the local governments.

As a mark of support to the project, the participating local governments made available the services of agric extension agents in their LGAs and provided them with motorbikes to enhance their mobility in the supervision of farmers.

They also promised to subsidize farm inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides and improved seeds.

Currently the Sudan savanna taskforce has over 150 participating lead farmers in the project who are expected to teach fellow farmers innovations acquired during the course of the project Apart from deploying farm inputs, resource-poor farmers are taught modern farming techniques in order to boost productivity.