Nigeria’s agricultural rebirth has received a major boost with the successful trial of inputs that breathe life into depleted soils, shorten the period between breeding and harvest of crops and livestock, as well as resist the incursion of pests.
This is part of an ambitious N20 billion worth project launched by by CONTEC Global Agro Limited to develop and deploy bio-fertilizers, bio-stimulants, soil biological conditioners and similar innovations intended to reinvent farming cultures through improved soil fertility and improved production of crops and livestock.
The products developed by globally spread experts in agricultural innovations are currently being used at pilots farms across the country.
Chairman/President, CONTEC Global, the parent body of CONTEC Global Agro Limited, Dr. Benoy Berry, who disclosed this in an interview in Lagos, said the project has reached advanced stage with remarkable results from farms in Lagos, Kaduna, Niger, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja).
“We are commencing a comprehensive agricultural programme for Africa that would be executed through series of innovative strategies. Of course, Nigeria is priority. So we are starting here (Nigeria).
“One of such is the bio-fertilizer project, which basically aims to increase the fertility of the soils, shorten crop production timeline and improve on quality of harvests and produce.”
Speaking further, Dr. Berry said the bio-fertilizer project provides Nigeria an opportunity to leap-frog its food security status, filling up the gap caused by poor input and soil quality, which have been identified as some of the critical challenges facing the Nigerian farmer, as well as create employment.
He said, “We have trial farms in Niger State, Zaria, Makurdi, Sagamu, Lagos and a few other locations where the prowess of the fertilizer and other inputs have been proven beyond doubt, with the first set of harvests of crops grown using some of the inputs from farms in Niger State occurring on Saturday, December 5, 2015.”
Giving details on some of the products, Dr. Berry said, We have the Siri GA, a biological granular formulation (bio-fertilizer) that is developed to enhance root growth in density and spread, enhance nutrient and water uptake, build resistance against insects, pests and diseases, helps the crop withstand stress from temperature and physiological changes. The ultimate being improved quality and yield volume.”
He also spoke on the bio-stimulants and organic soil conditioners.
“Sweed GA is an organic liquid preparation formulated to help the plant enhace its growth and floral initiation, induce resistance against pests and diseases, promote new roots and leaves development and growth.
Dr. Berry disclosed that Growmore is a biological water soluble formulation that helps the plant to stimulate enzymes and metabolites, resists pests and diseases by inducing systemic resistance, maintain high level of chlorophyll for better growth and increases the uptake of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Iron and Magnesium.
“All these are designed to adapt to be crop-specific in their actions,” he said.
Dr. Berry said they have been approached by big farms like Chi Farms, Dangote and others on how they could partner on this.
He also disclosed that similar plans are at advance stages for fish farming and the dairy sub-sector in Nigeria.
“I have a dream. That dream is to put a glass of high quality fresh milk in the hand of every Nigerian child every day,” Dr. Berry said, while disclosing CONTEC Agro’s plan for setting up high quality dairy farms across Nigeria.
Experts from the United Kingdom are already in the country to map out and commence this leg of investment.
On fish farming, he said, “Our concentration will be on production of fingerlings, which we have planned to give to villagers, especially women, at next to zero cost. By this we are also helping to empower the people, in which case the issue of unemployment is being addressed.”
He also disclosed that the large farm campuses are going to also serve as research bases that would offer experts assistance to Nigerians and others on plant and animal sciences. This, he said would help to make Nigeria an agricultural research hub for Africa.
Meanwhile, the CONTEC boss has said government cooperation is key to the success of the programme, which he said has already caught the attention of partners and the governments in Burundi, Zimbabwe,Togo, Mali among others in Africa.
“The Malawai government is already talking with us on how to help it achieve the one-cow per family policy,” Dr. Berry Disclose.
“We want to use the Saudi Model, which currently ensures that 250,000 cows are being milked every day, and 300 calves are born everyday per farm,” he added.