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Benue: Farmers’ Field Day showcases tropical legume III

By - - [General ]


Smallholder farmers in Benue State are excited that they no longer have to contend with low quality cowpea seeds which often yield little or nothing nor do they have to travel far to get good seeds to plant.

The farmers would also never worry again over the choice of cowpea seeds to cultivate following the positive development made under the Tropical Legume III project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the improvement of cowpea seed system.

Our correspondent reports that tropical legume III is a sustainable and impact oriented legume seed delivery system for smallholders – Cowpea seed systems, which in Benue, it is managed by the commercial farm of the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Therefore, in this year’s field-work programme, entitled ‘Farmers Field Day’, the project showcased quality cowpea seeds for enhanced productivity and income at the cowpea village in FUAM, where scientists, policy makers, researchers and many others converged to witness the productivity of the different cowpea seed varieties produced by the commercial farm of the university.

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The Tropical Legume III Seed Systems’ Principal Investigator, Teryima Iorlamen, said at the event that the programme was organised to create awareness about cowpea seeds and to dismiss the negative impression that people have about its productivity in the state.

Iorlamen emphasised that the day was all about cowpea seeds, noting that the Farmers Field Day was meant to highlight the different high yield varieties to the people and the best agronomic practices to produce the crop even in commercial quantity.

He further explained that the tropical legume III has a section known as seed system which is handled by the commercial farm of the university and that two important people – the breeder and seed specialist – are involved in the processing of the seed before its formal release to the public.

According to him, while the breeder is the one who cross-breeds the seed and produces the trend required by the seed specialist when the new variety is released, the latter does the seed day to create awareness and to inform the farmers about the development.

Iorlamen also disclosed that it was his duty as a scientist and seed specialist to identify the farmers’ interest in a particular variety and inform the breeder who would make it available through a special programme and get it across to the farmers or by means of demonstration for farmers to know how to grow and produce the seed.

He added that farmers could also acquire the seed during a programme such as the field day where they are allowed to ask questions, procure the seed and plant it in their various farms as well as spreading the good news to other farmers.

The essence in his estimation is to allow the farmers choose a particular variety which suits their farm needs, then the seed specialist would ensure that the crop multiplied its seed for the next season for distribution to other farmers in the network.

Already, the scientist stated that the university has two varieties of seeds – FUAMPEA 1 and 2 – and that other varieties of the cowpea were underway and that soonest the university would release FUAMPEA 6.

“At the moment, the university has up to six varieties yielding up in different stages. While some are budding, flowering ready for harvest, others are not,” he posited.

Iorlamen maintained that all the available seeds in the university had been nominated by the national body known as SAMPEA and that in no distant time, the institution would release enough varieties of cowpea into the public domain.

He stressed that the prospects of the varieties would enable farmers to produce brown and white cowpeas with sweet taste in large quantities, and solicited for more land from the school authority to increase production.

A seed specialist and programme coordinator of Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), Malam Umar Garba, commended the project in Benue.

He stated that one of the projects of the tropical legume III was to improve plant material, pointing out that the seed they have in his state was different from those used in Benue which took longer to produce and yields poorly compared to the newly introduced seed by the university.

Also speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor of FUAM who was represented by his deputy (Administration), Prof. P.A. Anune, said after the termination of the project which is done in collocation with IITA, the College of Agronomy in the institution should be able to continue developing varieties on their own and not rely on the commercial farm alone.

On his part, the Programme Manger of Benue State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA), Celestine Pine, urged the university and IITA to keep the flag flying and also called on farmers to always seek clarification in the continuous collaborative efforts of key players in the fight against hunger, poverty and unemployment.

He said, “last year, the university launched and released two high yielding adaptive varieties of cowpea in the state. The occasion was followed by widespread sale and distribution of the varieties across the state and beyond.”

Pine, who regretted that the pledge made by five traditional rulers who attended last year’s event to provide land for large-scale production of cowpea in their domains could not materialise due to herders attack on their communities, noted that the purpose of a field day was to enable farmers to observe and ask about successful farming practices, and to create a situation where informal contact and learning can take place.

The BNARDA programme manager emphasised that the method (field day) helps to promote better farming by putting the best agricultural exhibition on display; transmitting research results and providing an opportunity for farmers to see and discuss the demonstration among themselves and with specialists.

He maintained that the project, organised by the university and IITA, had vindicated the university in standing by her mandate of continually bringing positive change to the agricultural landscape of the state. He stressed that “the field day provided farmers the opportunity to personally observed things necessary for the sustainability of the seed to Benue people”.

Meanwhile, the Director of Research in the institution, Prof. B. A. Kalu, has said that cowpea is highly recommendable and demanded extensional seed in BNARDA and the Ministry of Agriculture, adding that FUAM can be used to spread the seed through a lot of adopted villages in the state just as some of the school’s campuses and Guma LGA are already cowpea villages.

Kalu expressed optimism that if farmers in the state cooperated, Benue would soon become the leading producer of cowpea in the country, noting that the present prospect is a road map to the university and self sustenance after the commercial project is over.

Earlier, two farmers, Wilfred Adogo and Mrs. Veronica Iorsha in their separate responses, said they embraced the initiative of the modified seed and were able to follow agronomic practices taught by the specialist to achieve bumper harvest and that they encouraged other farmers to embrace the programme.

Another cowpea farmer, John Nbakyor, from Guma LGA, confirmed that the programme started five years ago in Guma and that he embraced it with commendable result to show that the process worked. He said plans to expand his production of cowpea next year.

Other speakers at the event, especially experts, harped on the choice of varieties which, they said, can give farmers cowpea seed and fodders to feed animals at the same time.

The university experts called on farmers across the state to embrace the programme so that the state can retain its slogan of the food basket of the nation, stressing that surplus seeds would be at the public domain next year if farmers properly participated and adhered to best practices.

https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/benue-farmers-field-day-showcases-tropical-legume-iii.html


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