The Federal Government has distributed cowpea starter packs (inputs) to farmers and extension agents in Kaduna.
Speaking during the distribution on Sunday in Kaduna, Mrs Dorathy Botar of the Department of Agricultural Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the gesture by the federal government was to encourage farmers and extension agents towards mass cultivation of cowpeas.
Botar who supervised the distribution, noted that it is currently the period for planting cowpea and that it was why the Federal Government gave out the inputs as emergency empowerment.
She also said the inputs distributed were emergency empowerment of the farmers and extension agents which is simultaneously carried out across the Northwest, Northeast and North Central region.
Botar explained that the period for planting many crops has gone because of the rainy season which is gradually coming to an end, adding that it is the right time for planting cowpea.
“Cowpeas are planted in July and first week of September, so it is a good timing, 38 beneficiaries will be given the starter packs including extension agents and the farmers.
“The present leadership of the ministry is interested in improving farming, so the farmers should get ready because many of such programmes will be coming your way,”she said.
Botar urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs, noting that sometimes they sell them, while assuring them of more benefit when they make use of it.
“The farmers and extension agents are already given the fertilizer and herbicides, making it a pre and post inputs, therefore nothing should make them sell them, all they need do is cultivate and make use of it.
“Doing so will reduce poverty and ensure food security,”she said.
Similarly, the State Coordinator of ministry, Dr Timkat Nanfa, said that farming without inputs is a waste of time and resources.
Describing agricultural inputs as the pillar of farming, he said they boost production which would translate to better yield and harvest.
According to the coordinator, the state of cowpea farming in Kaduna is discouraging, noting that with the inputs, farmers would have increased yield.
Also, the General manager of the Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency (KADA) Mr Muhammad Rili, said they identified the beneficiary to be small holders farmers.
According to him, the identified farmers were more in need of such support, noting that it was aimed at encouraging them and assisting their means of livelihood.
Rili therefore said they would ensure monitoring of the beneficiaries to ensure they make use of the inputs, adding that they have taken their comprehensive data base.
“We have zonal offices where we will cluster in the beneficiaries, we will send signals to our Zonal Managers in order to follow up on the utilisation of the inputs.
“We will carefully watch those who are fond of selling farm inputs they got through gestures and goodwill, going forward, we will now put it into consideration of who to benefit and who will not.
“Our objective and target in KADA is to ensure that such gestures to small holders farmers is used, utilised and appropriately deployed for yield full seasons,”Rili said.
He thanked the federal government for choosing Kaduna State as part of the gesture, while looking forward for more collaboration and support towards agricultural development and empowerment of rural farmers for economic reliance and agricultural sustainability.
One of the beneficiary, Mr Philip Iliya, a cowpea farmer, said the gesture by the federal government came at the right time.
He noted that such empowerment boosts the morale of farmers and reduce so much cost and burden.
“All that we will farm will be ours, we will not have to go and take any farm input on credit and when we harvest and sell we pay back for the inputs we collected,”he said.
Also, Mr John Peter, an agricultural extension agent, said improved seedlings is critical to better yield.
He stressed that as an agent, usage of improved seedlings is what they preach to farmers, adding that the inputs would ensure high yield.
He explained that the inputs, which include the improved seedlings is different from the conventional ones which the farmers use on large land but get little yield.
“As extension agents, we always want the improved varieties to get to the farmers where they will get more yield from small land.
“The major aim as an agent and also a farmer is to get other farmers to agree with the improved varieties from the government away from the conventional ones they are used to,”he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the inputs distributed were fertilisers, pre and post usage chemicals, and the cowpea seedlings.