Young farmers in Nasarawa State have praised a new irrigation technology which they said has made dry season farming easier.
The technology employed for rice production, the Water Enabler Compact (WEC), is a product of the Technologies for African Agricultural Transform (TAAT) Programme, an initiative sponsored by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
A part of AfDB’s Feed Africa Initiative, the TAAT Water Compact is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and implemented in Nigeria by the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Speaking on the project, the farmers said the TAAT-WEC, which includes a pressured sprinkler, has made wet and drying scheduling more efficient.
The farmers also pointed out that the technology would help ensure an all-year-round rice production and sufficiency after the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Ayuba Abimiku, a young rice farmer at Gidan Mai-Akuya Community in Nasarawa State, North-central Nigeria, expressed his excitement at witnessing the operation of a pressured plastic-piped sprinkler for the first time.
He said, “This system allows for proper water management and the farmer can determine the right amount of water needed in the field per time.
“With this, less water is required, unlike the old method which often floods our farms.”
Another farmer, Godiya Ovey from Madagba community, noted that the technology has made dry season rice farming attractive to the youths who hitherto did not want to get themselves dirty.
“This is a system that does not require much effort once you know how to set it up. You can combine it with other endeavours,” Ovey explained .
For Moses Tsaku, another youth farmer from Azuba-Bashayi Community, the technology “has completely changed my perception about farming.”
However, some of the farmers appealed to the Nigerian government and stakeholders to join efforts with the TAAT programme to scale-up the new irrigation technologies.
This, they said, was to help boost dry season rice production in the country in order to avert hunger after the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Coordinator of the project in Nigeria, Prof. Henry Igbadun, disclosed that the project began in the state in 2019 with the training of 40 youths and agriculture extension workers on the new irrigation technologies.
The main objective of the project, Igbadun explained, was to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks, and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas.
Igbadun added, “The farmers were trained and introduced to the technologies with field demonstration where the farmers, in groups of 10, applied the technologies in rice production from nursery and transplanting to near harvest.
“With sights on water management for increased rice production, the project is aimed at building the capacity of a cadre of trainers, including innovation platform facilitators, extension agents, champion farmers and youths in the proper use of irrigation and water management technologies as well as implementation of good irrigation management practice.”
The coordinator noted that the programme has helped to increase agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity value chains.
“These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness, and fall armyworm response,” he said.
On his part, chairman of the Bukan-Siidi Rice Innovation Platform, Jonathan Joshua, lauded the TAAT-WEC initiative, adding that it had engendered youth interest in agriculture.
Bukan- Sidi Rice Innovation Platform was established by the AfDB- sponsored SARD-SC project in Nasarawa state
Joshua also called on other farmers to consider going into dry season farming using the technology and not rely only on rain-fed farming for rice production.
“This is the only way we can ensure food sufficiency, especially with the looming food shortage occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.