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IITA Establishes 136 Cassava Weed Demonstration Farms

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The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has signed an agreement with 136 farmers to set up cassava weed demonstration plots for weed control in four states.
The Communication and Knowledge Exchange Expert, IITA, Mr Godwin Atser, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja last Monday.
Atser explained that IITA led the Cassava Weed Management Project (IITA-CWMP) team to sign the agreement with Abia, Benue, Ogun and Oyo states.
He quoted Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader for the IITA-CWMP, as saying that the acceptance of the project by farmers would be a welcome development, which would address the weed control problem.
”Under the agreements, participating farmers will make available plots of land for on-farm demonstrations.
”They will also ensure that adequate security is provided on the land during the research duration to prevent theft and cattle invasion.
”Hence the demonstrations are farmer-led; farmers will keep records of the farm activities and share these records with the nominated authorized representative of IITA-CWMP.
”They will ensure application of all inputs such as fertiliser, herbicides, and planting materials provided by IITA-CWMP and in the prescribed manner.
”Farmers will be responsible for all the cost of the farm operations like the slashing, burning, ploughing, fertiliser application, herbicides application and harvesting of the plot.
”They will notify IITA-CWMP when the harvesting period is due and both parties will carry out harvesting of the crops.
”We see high enthusiasm from the farmers, meaning that we are addressing development needs,” he said.
Atser said the IITA-CWMP partnership will provide fertilisers, herbicides, and planting materials to be used on the on-farm demonstration plots at no cost to the farmers.
He said that the project staff will carry out harvesting on the land in conjunction with farmers and will be responsible for collating all necessary data on the on-farm demonstrations.
A farmer-participant, Mrs Afusatu Akinware, said the on-farm demonstrations would help the community to learn better and improve weed management practices for cassava production.
”I am glad this project selected our community to gain from the knowledge on improved weed control,” she added.
The Tide source reports that in 2016, the project established 58 on-farm trials across the cassava producing zones of Nigeria.

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Agriculture

FG Charges Agric Colleges On Vocational Trainings, Skills Acquisition

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The Federal Government has directed Federal Colleges of Agriculture to devote more time and resources to vocational and skills acquisition training programmes to boost food production and ensure food security in the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, gave the charge in Abuja at the meeting of the Executive Directors of the National Agricultural Research Institutes, Provosts of Federal Colleges of Agriculture, and Directors of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria.
The Minister, who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Dr Aliyu Sabi Abduallahi, charged them to focus more on practicals and less on theories to enable the beneficiaries of such trainings to have practical and working knowledge of agricultural businesses.
Furthermore, Kyari directed the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) to work with key stakeholders in the agricultural education sub-sector to actualise the directive.
The Minister further charged them to use the available lands within the various agricultural research and training institutions for agricultural production.
He said, “You will recall my earlier directive that available lands within the various agricultural research and training institutions should be channelled toward agricultural production.
“I therefore wish to reiterate that all of you should key into this initiative of the ministry aimed at promoting food production in the country”.
The Minister, who underscored the importance of agricultural research, noted that to “drive agricultural transformation, research and training plays a pivotal role.
“Agriculture is the singular most important sector that can transform the economy of our great country to meet the growing demands for food, nutrition, industry and jobs.
“Accordingly, increase in agricultural productivity is the key determinant for socioeconomic transformation and thus livelihood improvements in Nigeria.
“Improvement in agricultural productivity has been proven to take millions of people out of food insecurity and low-income status to food security and improved living standards.
“It is the engine room for agricultural development and our priority as a Ministry is, therefore, to reposition the National Agricultural Research system for greater productivity”.
Kyari, while revealing the reason for the Federal Government’s insistence on the implementation of ARCN Act, said the amendment of the Act has made provisions for “efficient management of research and training, including the establishment of spin-off companies to commercialise research products and innovations generated by our institutions”.
He, therefore, urged them to strengthen the platform as a means of increasing the internally generated revenue of their institutions to augment the available fund for research, training and extension activities.
In his welcome remarks, Professor Garba Sharubutu, Executive Secretary of ARCN, commended the Minister for his contributions to the development of the council, recalling that the minister was one of those who initiated the amendment of ARCN Act 2021.
Sharubutu noted that the meeting was convened for various stakeholders to deliberate on the content of the amended ARCN Act as well as consider the issues of revenue generation, performance based evaluation system and the restructuring of ARCN.

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Don Advocates Tech-Driven Approach To Agric, Food Production

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The Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Professor Yakubu Ochefu, has called for a technology-driven approach to modern agriculture and food production in Nigeria.
He stated this while delivering the 31st convocation lecture of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) titled, “From Baby Boomers to Generation Alpha: Interrogating Generational Dynamics and Agricultural Education in Nigeria”, held recently in Abeokuta.
The former Vice Chancellor of Kwararafa University, Taraba State, outlined the transformative potential of precision agriculture, drones, robots, driverless tractors, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, soilless farming and vertical farming (urban agriculture).
The lecture delved into generational dynamics, tracing cycles from the silent generation (great-grandparents) through the Baby Boomers (grandparents), Generation X (parents), Millennials (young adults), to Generation Alpha (teenagers).
Ochefu highlighted the 25-year generational cycle in African societies, emphasising three generations co-exist with distinct experiences and pre-occupations.
Describing the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) as the architects of the current technology-driven world, Professor Ochefu stressed the need for Nigerian universities, particularly higher institutions, to embrace the virtual reality of Generation Z.
He urged them to shed conservative traditions, acknowledging that universities play a dual role—offering ideas that shape society, while also holding onto traditions that may no longer align with current realities.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Professor Saka Adelola Matemilola, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, had commended the relevance of the lecture, noting the significant shift from crude agricultural practices to a technology-intensive era.
The traditional ruler stressed the importance of encouraging technology-savvy individuals born in the age of digitalisation to take interest in agriculture.

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Agriculture

Potato Harvesters Applaud Agric End Point, Production

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The harvesters of a local Potatoe farm in Rumuepirikom Community, Port Harcourt, have described the joy associated with harvest as commendable, compared to the stress put in during the farming processes.
The harvesters, who spoke to The Tide in a chat in their farms, said the only thing that cushions the stress and challenges of farming is good harvest.
One of the farmers, Mrs Oluchi Sunday, said potato yields well if it is planted on a good soil where there is enough sand.
She noted that the problem with farming and agriculture is lack of funds to purchase good seed and vast farm lands.
“Farmers need grants and not loans. We cannot meet up with loans which would be required back even before the crops mature for sales.
“This is why the loan applications are embarrassing most farmers who borrowed money from them to put in their farm businesses”, she said.
Another harvester, Mrs. Chimereodo James, said potato is very easy to plant and harvest, adding that one cannot compare it with vegetables that die at the touch of little flood.
Responding to the issue of mechanised digital farming, she said the State is lagging behind in agriculture, compared to other States, especially the Northern part of the country where government takes agriculture very seriously and even provides lands, tractors, seeds and funds to lure youths into mechanised farming.
She called on the Governor of Rivers State to execute the agricultural programmes as promised, adding, “his moves towards alleviating the plight of the people so far has been very encouraging”.
Another farmer who pleaded anonymity said the State is capable of diversifying her economy through agriculture, noting, “Etche alone if empowered can produce what can feed the State and also exports”.
He also called on agricultural associations to emulate what their counterparts in other States are doing to help their States and the nation at large.

Lilian Peters

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