History is being made in Emigi, a remote farming village in Katcha Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State, as farmers have begun the harvest of rice produced by using bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides, two critical inputs used in organic farming, only.
The over 30 hectares farmlands of rain-fed rice were tendered by 30 farmers drawn from 10 communities, including Emigi Village with bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides provided by Contec Global Agro Limited in a multi-stakeholders collaborative scheme involving the Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN) and the Niger State Fadama Coordination office.
The harvest which was officially flagged off last week in Emigi, is consequent upon the remarkable results obtained from using the purely organic inputs with guidance from reputable agronomists and other experts.
Niger State Coordinator of AGAN, Mr. Hussaini Iliyasu, who gave a testimonial of the success recorded from using the innovative bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides, said, “Going back to nature in food production as the alternative means in sustainable food security considering the benefit inherent in it are what motivated AGAN to demonstrate rice using organic/bio-fertilizer in collaboration with Contec Global Agro.”
He listed some of the benefits to include cost effectiveness, better health for the people and the soil, environmental sustenance, among others.
Citing some of the successes recorded from the use of the products, Iliyasu said, “The farmers field day is to bring into limelight the achievements of farmers whose crop was under demonstration plots for analysing the efficacy of Bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides.”
He added “there were 30 plots; one hectare each in five different villages. The results have been very impressive. Harvesting has started, and from the less than 3 tonnes per hectare, we are now getting more than 6 tonnes, as we have experienced on the average, 70 tillers per plant as compared to 35-40 tillers per plants we were getting while using the conventional chemical fertilizers.
“So we are assured of increased economic yields per hectare of 5-6 tonnes per hectare compared to 1.5 – 1.8 tonns per hectare that an average conventional farmer is getting presently.”
Buttressing this point, representative of the farmers who participated in the experimentation, Alhaji Mohammed Mahmoud, gave a more detailed insight on the benefits they have observed from using the organic products.
Mahmoud said, “The evidence is there in the field for all to see and feel. I have farming neighbours who use the conventional products. They get on the average, 40 tillers per plant, whereas I get up to 60-70 tillers per plant.
“You can see (pointing to his field) that there are no symptoms of insect infestation on my farmland. And very importantly, using the products has helped in cutting down the cost of production for us to as much as 60 per cent as against the past.”
He also disclosed that the duration between planting and harvest was significantly reduced to less than four months as against the six months for conventional farming.
Managing Director, Contec Global Agro, Mr. Thomas Chackunkal, who spoke on the project’s focus said it seeks to help make farming more healthy and lucrative, saying, “the use of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides would help to ultimately give life to the soil, give the farmers lesser financial stress and ensure that the people eat very healthy foods.”
Chackunkal also disclosed at the event that Contec Global Agro has acquired a research centre in Abuja, where various researches on organic farming and other cutting-edge agricultural procedures would be explored for the benefit of farmers in Nigeria and other parts of the world.”
This, he said would add to similar efforts on ground to make Nigeria an agriculture research hub for Africa.
Speaking on what plans the firm has ahead, he said, “We have started with rice, but we are also aware that many other crops are grown in Nigeria, which is why we have gone into partnerships with the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), and other stakeholders to ensure that every crop is covered.
“We are also working towards making our products available in the coming days for dry season farming, just as we have concluded plans to bring in small hand-held easy-to-use devices that could help farmers with irrigation farming.