By Gabriel Ewepu
ABOUT 342 rice farmers from 27 Commodity Interest Groups, CIGS, in Kogi State, Thursday, revealed how they recorded bumper rice harvest despite poor rainfall as they adopted the training given by the State Coordination Office of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (KOGI APPEALS) on improved farming practices and other support received.
The farmers who cultivated rice on 782 hectares of farmland located in Ibaji, Idah and Yagba West Local Government Areas of the State were trained for 2021 wet farming season.
Speaking on behalf of farmers under the Ojodomo Multipurpose Cooperative society, in Ibaji Local government area, Atama Akpagi said they were trained on how to transplant rice, and also they went through seminar classes to build their capacity on best practices in rice cultivation.
Akpagi said: “So far we appreciate the efforts of KOGI APPEALS Project for introducing us to transplanting methods in rice farming which we have not been doing before now, but with the aid of the APPEALS project through seminars and workshop, we were able to practice transplanting methods which has made so much difference in our harvest this year as compared to the previous year’s harvest.
“Before the intervention of the APPEALS project, we use to harvest 100bags of 100kg but with the support of APPEALS we harvest 150 bags of 100kg, while in our group of 10 members, our previous year harvest which was 400 bags of 110kg, we later harvested 550 bags of 100kg this is with the support of KOGI APPEALS project.”
Meanwhile, a rice farmer in Echa Ejeba Cluster, In Idah Local Government Area of the State, David Ojoba, said, “Before the APPEALS project, what I usually produce is low but now with the support from the KOGI APPEALS Project, I have been able to produce more rice paddy more than what I use to produce before.
“The rice I produced this year is richer than the previous year because the APPEALS Project support has lifted my production.
“Normally before the intervention of the APPEALS Project, I do produce about 20- 25 bags. But with the support from the APPEALS project I have been able to produce 40 bags, which is very encouraging.
“The Kogi APPEALS gave us training on how to manage the input they facilitated for us, how to use and apply the chemicals and fertilizers. I thank KOGI APPEALS for all support.’
Another rice farmer at Omi Village in Yagba West local government Area, Kayode Ola, said he initially doubted the genuineness of the APPEALS project following negative experiences he had in similar projects that were introduced to them, but decided to watch out for APPEALS’ project.
According to him the APPEALS Project in the state was completely different and impacting as he and other farmers have been supported in his community, which in the past he has been struggling with his rice farm the over years because he lacked access to finance to go on large scale rice farming but with the support from the APPEALS project he has been able to achieve that and large quantity of rice produced, and that the sales of his commodity has changed the narrative in his family as he can now sponsor his children in school and improve his livelihood.
They stated this during the documentation of the implementation of the Value Chain Investment Plan (VCIPs) led by the state project coordinator Dr Sanni Abdullahi Ozomata. The exercise aimed to ascertain the level of the implementation of their Value Chain Investment Plan and to have first-hand knowledge of farmers’ experiences during the farming season.
The farmers said due to the support facilitated by KOGI APPEALS such as the provision of improved rice seedlings and exposing them to best farming practices they have been able to record over sixty per cent (60%) increase in yield on their rice farms. They noted that what their farms use to look like before the intervention of the APPEALS project cannot be compared with the way it now looks as there is a great improvement due to the adoption of modern farming techniques and inputs such as the use of tractors for land preparation before planting and also the adoption of line planting system.
They said before the coming of the APPEALS Project they could not farm more than one hectare of farmland and no means of purchasing the needed inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that would enhance their productivity but with the support from the APPEALS project, most of the farmers have been empowered to farm more than two hectares each of rice with the provision of the necessary inputs.
It would be recalled that earlier in the year KOGI APPEALS facilitated the establishment of demonstration plots across eight locations in the state where the farmers were exposed to modern technologies and methods of planting that would lead to increased yield and enhance their productivity.
The technologies demonstrated include the use of a power tiller to pulverize the soil, Faro 44, 60 and 60, Urea Deep Placement using Urea Super Granules to reduce nutrient losses, and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to maintain optimum plant population and efficient water management. Others are bird repellers to scare birds that cause great damage to maturing paddy in the field, rice harvesters and threshers to reduce drudgery and improve the timeliness of operations with a reduction in post-harvest losses.