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Extension Workers Remain Hub Of Agricultural Development – AATF

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File photo: Rice farm

By; ISAAC ODEH, Kaduna

Extension workers backbone of agricultural developmentDr Issoufou Kollo, Regional Director, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) West Africa has said that extension workers remained the hub on which the agricultural development revolves.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Communication Officer (West Africa) African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alex Abutu.

Dr Kollo said in a chat with newsmen in Abuja that: “As long as the extension workers are in the dark, you don’t have agricultural development, extension is very important for agricultural development, it is not only about research but how the research enhance the lives of the people.

“Agricultural development has two legs, research and extension. When researchers finished their work in the laboratory and have conducted their on-station and on-farm trials, extension worker or agents now take over and take the new variety or technology to farmers. These agents understand the language of the farmers and are in a better position to introduce them to new varieties of crops,” he said.

He said the AATF and the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) in Ahmadu Bello University has entered into a strategic partnership that would ensure Nigerian farmers take advantages of the PBR Cowpea.

“NAERLS can reach all the extension workers in Nigeria and millions of farmers, so it is very good to have collaboration with them. Public education is very important as you know. Scientists cannot explain everything to the public, there are other people who have such knowledge. So, we choose NAERLS because of their very good network to reach thousands of people at the same time, especially farmers and extension workers,” he added.

He said it is very important that smallholder farmers in the country have unhindered access to the PBR Cowpea considering its potentials.He also referenced an ex-ante study conducted by the United States based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on the PBR Cowpea which showed that Nigeria will record a revenue increase of more than ₦48 billion (US$132 million) annually from the planting of the PBR cowpea. The study added that PBR cowpea will benefit Nigerian farmers and consumers, PBR can generate annual benefits equivalent to ₦26.2 billion for producers ₦ 9.2 billion for consumers. PBR cowpea will have an impact on the overall economy.

“We have the data, we didn’t fabricate these data, the data came from farmers managed trials during the National Variety Performance Trials, many farmers have been able to test on their own and compared it to other varieties.

“We have two sets of trials, one is on-station across Nigeria and across different local governments which has been selected by the extension people. When you look the trials, the yield difference between the PBR cowpea and the other varieties of cowpea was about 70 per cent. The PBR cowpea yielded about 70 per cent higher, then when you look at the farmers managed trials, the yield of PBR cowpea is about 154 per cent superior compared to the yield of the other cowpea varieties,” he added.

According to the Regional Director, Nigeria has about three million hectares of land under cowpea cultivation,  so if you have 20 per cent yield increase on this 3 million hectares, that’s the amount of money it can give you, and it is even underestimated on our side of what PBR cowpea can produce in a year.

Annually, about 12-15 million hectares of land is cultivated with cowpea worldwide with the Sub Saharan Africa accounting for the bulk of the total area of production (about 12 million hectares) and Nigeria responsible for about 4-5 million hectares of total world production area.

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