IAR Rolls Out Innovative Platform To Sustain USAID Project

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By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) has introduced measures called “Innovation Platforms (IP)” to sustain the project which is tagged: “Taking Cowpea to Scale in West Africa – Nigeria”, sponsored by USAID is ongoing in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Senegal.
The IAR Director, Prof. Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar disclosed this while donating sets of threshers and grinders to IP beneficiaries at the premises of the institute in Zaria, Kaduna State.

The director, who was represented by the IAR Deputy Director, Prof. Dauda Yusuf, said the essence of introducing IP was to holistically ensure continuity of the cowpea project in Nigeria.

“We want a situation where after the exit of international donors, the project will continue. We have to ask ourselves questions, many projects like this have come, donors have sponsored actives but immediately they leave, that’s the end.

“Continuity is the watchword, continuity is what we want, we want farmers to keep-on participating in their project, we don’t want the project to die down.

“Innovative Platform is a platform that we have collected all the stakeholders into a particular unit, so that even if the project is off, the activities can still continue with the stakeholders,” he said.

According to him, the platform is divided into three platforms so that the information can go round, saying that the farmers in each states of Kano, Sokoto and Katsina can benefit enormously from it.

“So that at the end of the day, they can go to their leaders and ask questions, they can go to their leaders and say they need help.

“When you grow cowpea, processing is very important, it is not just enough to grow cowpea and say you have a very high yield.

“The question is, what do you do with the yield? How did you get this yield? You have to reduce the feed loses and it can only be reduced when appropriate processes are being done, one of such is threshing,” he said.

He assured that the threshing machines would certainly reduce feed loses, improve the time of operation and also reduce drougering.

“The method our local farmers use in threshing cowpea is hectic, they spread it on the farm and start using sticks to beat, it is time wasting, very drougering and feed loses is very high.”

In his speech, the Coordinator of the Project, Dr Nafi’u Abdu said the aim of the project was to promote wide scale adoption of improved cowpea variety that were of high quality.

“Most especially in Nigeria, we have vast arable land that can support cowpea cultivation but it is unfortunate that Nigeria still import cowpea from neighboring countries because of poor quality seeds.

According to him, the project aimed at providing high quality seeds working with National Research Institute of Nigeria, that is breeders of cowpea seeds to produce cowpea varieties that are of high quality.

“When you talk of quality, those that are high yielding, high biomass production, resist pest attack and be able to adapt to prevailing climate change that we are facing across the world,” he noted.

Abdu said under the project, they were able to developed about 13 different cowpea varieties within three years, saying one of the varieties was one which grows within 67 days from planting to havesting.

While assuring that the new developed cowpea varieties were of high yield, Abdu also added that farmers get up to 1.7 tones per hectare as against 0.7 tones farmers usually get using the local varieties.

He said the biomass production which was being used to feed animals was doubled the local varieties.

The coordinator said the IP created across the three participating states had brought all the stakeholders involved in cowpea production together.

Abdu said the stakeholders comprised of the farmer, research institutes, seeds producers, processors, extension agents and agro-chemical sellers among others.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Alhaji Sani Ibrahim-Matazu, a farmer from Katsina State appreciated USAID, IAR and all other partners that contributed to actualise the programme.

Ibrahim-Matazu, an ex-member Katsina State House of Assembly and one time council chairman, said farmers were so enthusiastic to grow this improved cowpea varieties.

He promise that the beneficiaries would make judicious use of the machines for maximum benefit. 

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