Impacts 850, 000 smallholder farmers
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigerians agonize under the heavy burden of high cost of food, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, yesterday, disclosed that farmers in Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia have benefited from its mechanized 65, 300 hectares of land in five years.
This was made known by the Executive Director, AATF, Dr Canisius Kanangire, in a presentation at the 2021 Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, FANRPAN, Policy Dialogue held in Nairobi, Kenya, entitled: Technologies to Improve Supply of Diverse, Safe and Nutritious Food across the Value Chains.
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According to Kanangire farmers who embraced mechanization of agricultural activities on their farms under its Cassava Mechanization and Agro-Processing Project, CAMAP, up-scaled their harvests from seven to nine metric tonnes per hectare to over 25 metric tonnes per hectare, which is an increase of over 200 per cent.
He also made it known that following increased harvest there is also increased profit running into five-fold- $350 per ha to over $1,800 per hectares based on quality tubers, increased yields coupled with better market linkages.
He added that the Foundation is resilient in the vanguard of mechanized farming activities including agro-processing through CAMAP and AgriDrive.
FANRPAN Policy Dialogue is an annual event that brings Governments and other agricultural policy stakeholders together on agricultural transformation in Africa.
He said: “At AATF, we continue to witness the transformative power of technologies when placed in the hands of small-holder farmers,” he said.
“Through the Water Efficient Maize for Africa, WEMA, initiative driven by AATF, over 120 climate-smart drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize varieties have been released. These varieties are suited to different agro-ecological zones and with the potential to increase maize yields by 40-60 per cent.
“The CAMAP Project managed to bring over 65,300 hectares under mechanization within five years in Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia, benefitting over 850,000 smallholder farmers, majority of them women and youth who usually provide labor for cassava production.”
He further stated that, “AATF and partners in Nigeria, released the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea variety, the first GM food crop to be released for cultivation outside South Africa. The product is resistant to the pest called Maruca pod borer which has the potential to reduce production by up to 80 percent.
“Cowpea production is expected to increase through the control of Maruca Pod Borer. The benefits derived from the product include bumper harvests, higher incomes, and improved nutrition and health through reduced use of harmful insecticides. Farmers will now be assured of better health – especially regarding lower use of chemicals from eight sprays to only two.”
Meanwhile, he reiterated that AATF’s continued support to engage in the annual FANRPAN Policy Dialogue, as a platform and space to share lessons on the role of agricultural technology and also engage with the policy and decision makers on the modalities for implementation.