The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the Gombe State, has begun a two-day training of 50 farmers to boost cowpeas production in the country.
Mr Baba Gabriel, the Acting State Co-ordinator, FMARD, Gombe State office, said this while addressing newsmen on the sideline of the training in Gombe on Friday.
Gabriel said the gesture, aimed at empowering farmers with the right extension knowledge, was part of the government’s effort at boosting food security.
He said that the training, being conducted for farmers in three zones of Northeast, Northwest and Northcentral, was also to complement efforts at creating jobs and improving farmers’ income in the country.
“We are aware that the time to plant cowpea is now and this zone is a major stakeholder in cowpea cultivation; so the Federal Government is coming in to assist farmers with the right extension services to boost productivity.
“We are also giving the right knowledge about climate change and how to get the right yield that will boost their incomes,” he said.
Mr Ibrahim Yakubu, the acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Gombe State, commended the Federal Government for the timely training to assist cowpea farmers.
Yakubu said the farmers would be trained on the new farming techniques of cultivating cowpeas, to increase the production of the commodity as key to food security and poverty reduction efforts of government.
“The training is vital in view of the importance of the crop in nutrition, food security and job creation.
“Also, the training would expose our farmers to new techniques in cowpeas cultivation, to boost yield and increase incomes of smallholder farmers who rely on such vocation for their livelihoods.”
According to him, 50 farmers from across the state will be trained and they are expected to step down the training to other members of their communities.
He restated the commitment of the state government to partner all stakeholders in efforts to improve the agriculture sector.
“The state government is very much concerned about supporting farmers and this is why we are here.
“If you recall few weeks back, we launched our fertiliser sales and distribution; the state government under the leadership of Gov. Inuwa Yahaya, spent over N2.8 billion to purchase those fertilisers.”
Dr. Joseph Hussaini, the Acting Programme Manager, Gombe State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), said since this was the right time to plant cowpeas, farmers needed all the information to ensure they got things right before cultivating their crops.
Hussaini, who is also the resource person for the training, said the right information on good agronomic practices was key to the food security efforts of the government.
He, therefore, said there was the need for such frequent engagements and training of farmers and other stakeholders.
“We need to tell them what variety to plant, when to plant and all the agronomic practices needed for a successful enterprise.”
Hussaini said cowpea was a major cash crop that youths and women could leverage to improve on their incomes and reduce poverty.
He said that the training was relevant to sustain and improve cowpea production in the country.
According to him, Nigeria is the largest producer of cowpea in Africa and the second or third in the world.
He said the Northeast region was good for cowpeas cultivation because of the favourable weather of moderate rainfall and brilliant sunshine.
He advised farmers to cultivate cowpea, adding that the crop required no fertiliser to be cultivated.
“Fertiliser application is what is taking the largest chunk in production; so cowpea, which is more expensive as a produce, would help farmers to make more money from its cultivation.
Our correspondent reports that the training is tagged: “Emergency training on climate resilient practices in cowpeas production in the Northwest, Northeast and Northcentral regions.”