By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The Nigerian Association of Women In Agriculture, NAWIA has rounded off the training of 150 rural farmers from the three senatorial zones of Benue state on Seasonal Rainfall Predictions and use of Crop-Weather calendar to boost their farm produce and improve their sources of livelihood.
The programme was also aimed at building the capacity of the benefitting small holder farmers from the 23 Local Government Areas, LGAs of the state in the use of Seasonal Rainfall Prediction data from NiMet to plan better in the implementation of their farming activities.
Addressing the final batch of participants from the Benue North West senatorial district held in Makurdi, the President of NAWIA, Mrs. Nigizan Chahul said the training session was a step-down training for the farmers.
She noted that the training was the maiden edition assuring that the project would run continuously on annual basis, providing Seasonal Rainfall Prediction data to farmers as early as January every year to help them plan better.
Mrs. Chahul said “it is the vision, mission and objective of NAWIA to do everything within its powers to create a better farming environment for small holder farmers.
“So we are here again to implement this activity which has an objective of building the capacity of small holder farmers in the area of climate smart agriculture.
“This workshop is aimed at training the farmers in Seasonal Rainfall Prediction and the use of Crop-Weather calendars to improve their farming in these days of growing climate change challenges.
“With funding from Oxfam and partnership with Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, and Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, we are here with the current rainfall prediction data for the year 2020 to train the farmers on how to use the data which will henceforth be made available to them on yearly basis to better their farming activities.
“We hope and believe that information which has the capacity to improve your farming as well as income generation through agriculture will be properly put to use.
“Haven trained a total of 150 participants in the three senatorial districts of the state, (Otukpo, Ugba in Logo LGA and finally Makurdi) we hope to see these beneficiaries cascade the training and knowledge acquired to other members of their communities.
“We encourage all participants to therefore key in, be focused and participate fully in all activities during the training,” she added.
Also speaking, Mrs. Amina Ehoche from the Benue State Ministry of Agriculture commended the work being done by the partnership of Oxfam, HEDA and NAWIA and assured of the Ministry’s resolve to partner with NAWIA and support the efficient step-down of the, Seasonal Rainfall Prediction, SRP in the rural communities so as to reach more small holder farmers.
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In his remark, NAWIA Head of Programmes/Project lead, Mr. Tavershima Torhemen said the participants were being trained in farming of crops like soya bean, rice, maize, yam, cassava and livestock production.
According to him, “the feedback we are getting from the participants have been very impressive. They alluded that we have opened their eyes to what should be done par time with the change in climatic conditions.
“We must point out that with the climate change challenge and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic we are faced with the prospect of a looming food crisis in no distant time.
“And the best we are doing now is to be able to tell the farmers the right variety of seedlings to plant and when to plant them so as help ensure early recovery from the harsh economic effect of the pandemic and to adapt to the climate change. Those are the basic things and that is why this training is very important,” he said.
Meanwhile some of the participants who commended NAWIA for the opportunity to benefit from the training said it came timely.
For Mrs. Susan Agber from Buruku LGA, the training had among others exposed her to technics of farming certain crops more than once in a year.
“I also now know that you can salt your corn before planting to protect if from insects that destroy the seedling when the are planted,” she said.
On her part, Mrs. Mary Jibo from Makurdi LGA said she had gained so much from the training assuring that she would cascade what she was taught to members of her community.
Another participant, Mrs. Rosemary Obulu, who stated that her interest was in the area of maize cultivation said, “initially with my lay man’s knowledge I thought that maize is planted once in a year but I have learnt that it can be planted twice which means more money for those of us cultivating maize.”
“I must therefore commend NAWIA and their partners for giving us this opportunity to improve our sources of livelihood and our lives,” she added.
It was gathered that the programme which was funded by Oxfam Nigeria through a sub-grant from HEDA is one of the projects being implemented by NAWIA in its drive to help small holder farmers make the best out of their farms.