Away from the conventional inorganic fertilizer, widely used in crop farming, a group of farmers in Katcha Local Government of Niger State, under the investment and technical watch of Contec Global Agro Ltd are deploying organic fertilizers and pesticides in a pilot scale of over 30 hectares farmland to grow rice.
On this scale, it is groundbreaking using organic products such as bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticides, which are regarded to be safer than the inorganic type.
In Emigi, a farming community in the local government, 30 plots of one hectare each allotted to 30 farmers, in five different villages, were designated as demonstration farms. Harvest has just commenced last week from the rain-fed fields in what promises to be a fresh vista for rice farmers due to the increased yield and healthier crop.
The project is a multi-stakeholder collaborative scheme involving the Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN), the Niger State Fadama Coordination office and Contec.
According to Niger State Coordinator of AGAN, Mr. Hussaini Iliyasu, the results have been very impressive. “From less than 2.5 tonnes per hectare in the past, we are now getting about six tonnes on the average, as we have experienced 70 tillers per plant as compared to 35-40 tillers per plants, while using the conventional chemical fertilizers.”
The harvest, which was officially flagged off in Emigi, is consequent upon the good results obtained from using the purely organic inputs with guidance from reputable agronomists and experts.
Managing Director, Contec Global Agro, Mr. Thomas Chackunkal, who spoke on the project’s focus said it seeks to help make farming healthier and more lucrative. “The use of bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides would help to ultimately give life to the soil, give the farmers lesser financial stress and ensure that the people eat very healthy foods.”
Chackunkal disclosed that Contec Global Agro has acquired a research centre in Abuja, where various researches on organic farming and other cutting-edge agricultural procedures would be explored for the benefit of farmers in the country.
On future plans, he said, “We have started with rice, but we are also aware that many other crops are grown in Nigeria, which is why we have gone into partnerships with the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) in Plateau State, and other stakeholders to ensure that every crop is covered. He said the products would be available for dry season farming and small hand-held, easy-to-use devices that could help farmers with irrigation farming would be made available shortly.
FADAMA III Coordinator in Niger State, Alhj. Mohammed Vatsa, who represented the permanent secretary, Niger State Ministry of Agriculture, said, the initiative is highly commendable.
According to Vatsa, the series of testimonies from the farms have shown that continuous use of bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticides would help to more than double yields for farmers, hence advised that every farmer should go for it. Representative of the farmers, Alhj. Mohammed Mahmoud said, “The evidence is there in the field for all to see. I have farming neighbours, who use the conventional products. They get on the average, 40 tillers per plant, whereas I get up to 60-70 tillers per plant.”
He said there were no insect infestations on the farmland, while using the products has cut the cost of production as much as 60 per cent. He added that the duration between planting and harvest was significantly reduced to less than four months as against the six months for conventional farming.
Chackunkal said Contec Global Agro has set up microbiology laboratory and factory for commercial production of bio-fertilizers, growth enhancers and plant protection biological, the first of its kind in Nigeria. “We are following a strong dealer network for our product distribution. So far, we have around 35 dealers located in eight states, including Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfarra, Sokoto, Taraba, Plateau and Nassarawa.
Meanwhile, Managing Director, Niger State Agriculture Mechanisation Agency (NAMDA), Alhaji Baba Madugu commended the organic farming initiative, saying it is the way to go nationwide. Represented by one of the Zonal Coordinators, Ismaila Musa, the MD, however, craved for a systemic inclusion of youths and women in the scheme.
The Etsu Enpa, Jibo, Alhj. Mohammed Jibo approved of the effort, while other traditional leaders of the neighbouring communities, represented by the Emigi village head, Ndashietu Idrisu commended the products and asked for wider accessibility to farmers.