In its bid to improve the production of maize and reduce the fear of farmers as a result of pests and diseases in Oyo State, the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, has extended its maize capacity building programme to farmers in Saki, Oyo and Ibadan-Ibarapa Agricultural Zones in the state.
Speaking in Eruwa, headquarters of Ibarapa Local Council Area of the state, IAR&T Team Leader, Dr. Olugbenga Egbetokun, explained that the capacity building for maize farmers which had earlier been held in Saki and Oyo, was to increase productivity and profitability of maize production among farmers in the state.
Egbetokun while speaking at the training programme tagged: ‘Maize Improvement Programme for Southern Farmers’ said:
“we are moving around Oyo State to empower farmers’ technical-know-how on how to increase their production and improve productivity of maize and it is all encompassing training which includes all areas of specialty of our seasoned scientists in IAR&T. In the team, we have plant breeders, we have pathologists, entomologists and agricultural economists and we are doing this to improve the production of farmers and improve productivity. This is another opportunity for us to get feedback from farmers and proffer solutions. All the challenges they have identified, we are providing solutions to them.’
Egbetokun listed major problems confronting maize production to include pests, pathogenes, mechanical, environmental and chemical factors include; insects, mites, rodents, birds and mammals. Others include disease, breakage, temperature, light, moisture, oxygen, lightning, wind and fertilizer or pest excess and nutritional disorder.
He therefore urged farmers to plant resistant maize varieties and embrace crop rotation with non-host crops. Other include to maintain standard plant population and soil fertility, good farm sanitation and cultural practices, proper residue management, use of chemical and fertilizers based on recommendation, use integrated pest management and store seeds at 12 per cent moisture content.
The Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adebayo Adegbola while receiving the team in his palace urged the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to establish irrigation farms and dams in the South-West like the way it is being done in the North.
Oba Adegbola,who described the training as “timely” said that government must make irrigation farms functional in the region. In the words of the monarch:
“I am calling on the Federal Government, to establish irrigation farms and dams in the southwest to boost our production. You know the only profession that predates farming is hunting; farming is an instrument of development which should not to be neglected.We have jettisoned farming after the discovery of oil, I am happy that Nigeria has realised itself that we are now going back to the farm. Now, apart from production, we must think of storage, we have to prepare for harvesting and time of scarcity.”
Earlier, the Caretaker Committee Chairman in Ibarapa East Local Government area, John Adeloore, declared that his administration is working in synergy with Federal and State governments to give agriculture its rightful place.
He said the Council in collaboration with the Institute has established an acre of demonstration farms devoted to maize, and the proceeds (seed) from the farm are going to be distributed to the farmers free of charge.
He said:”The nation cannot but invest in agriculture in the face of economic downturn that is being witnessed currently. This local government is working in synergy with both the Federal and State governments to give agriculture a priority. My administration is set to repair the tractors, make farm inputs available and offer extension services to farmers among other things.
One of the farmers, who participated in the training, Kayode Falowo, remarked that the training will tend to boost the morale of farmers thereby increase their production.
Falowo said “As far as I am concerned, if our farmers can adapt with what our scientists told us today there will be increase in our production. Things will change technically, farming system has changed and we also have to change, if we adopt these methods, things will also change technically.