Cassava farmers in Kogi have commended the World Bank’s FADAMA III Additional Financing (AF) programme, saying that it has elevated cassava farming to a lucrative venture.
The farmers from the three senatorial districts of the state extolled the programme in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ojapata after a visit to FADAMA III AF project sites across the state.
Chairman of the 80-hectare Ojapata cluster farm, Mr Patrick Attah, said that the FADAMA III AF initiative was the best of all the agricultural projects ever undertaken in the area.
“My experience with FADAMA is full of surprises because we did not view it as a serious thing initially.
“Few of us decided to partake in it, and with the cooperation of our traditional ruler who gave us land, the programme has turned out to be the best of all the agricultural projects we have seen. It’s just like a dream.
“The price of cassava has increased tremendously, the quality and varieties of cassava we have on the farm have also improved.
“We are joyful because we know that at harvest, we are going to make a fortune from cassava sales; more so now that we have many off-takers waiting,” he said.
The traditional ruler of Onu Emekutu chiefdom, Alhaji Hassan Shaibu, who is also a cassava farmer, said that the FADAMA III AF intervention had greatly reduced poverty in his domain.
He said that the Ojapata cluster farm intended to cultivate 250 hectares in the 2017 planting season, as against the 80 hectares it cultivated in 2016.
At Odo-Ape, Kabba-Bunu Local Government Area, Mrs Esther Rufus, the leader of women farmers, also commended the FADAMA programme for introducing the TME 419 cassava variety to the farmers.
She said that the cassava variety had the advantage of “polymorphism”, as it could produce up to 15 tubers, against the four to five tubers that were normally produced by the traditional cassava type.
Rufus said that FADAMA had also assisted farmers with land clearing and provision of chemicals, while sinking a borehole and constructing 6.27km feeder roads to help the farmers.
Besides, one of the farmers at the 35-hectare Magongo cluster farm in Ogori-Magongo Local Government Area, Mr. Ibitoye Kehinde, was full of praises for the FADAMA III AF project.
“We were reluctant to participate in the programme initially but FADAMA came to open our eyes by exposing us to better farming methods.
“Now, our farms are larger, we were hitherto using manual methods with little yields but we are now fully mechanised,’’ Kehinde said.
Chairman of the 25-hectare Iresuare FADAMA III AF cluster farm, Mr. Sadiku Otaru, said that the 4.1km-road and a borehole, among other benefits of the intervention, were clear testimonies of the feats of the programme in the area.
Treasurer of the cluster farm, Hajiya Aishatu Musa, who noted that the farmers’ earnings had improved significantly, lauded the FADAMA initiative for supplying improved varieties and farm inputs.
The state Project Coordinator, Mr. Paul Ogunmola, said that the objective of the FADAMA III AF was aimed at increasing the incomes of FADAMA farmers, while harnessing the water resources in their neighbourhoods in a sustainable manner.
“For us here in Kogi State, our farmers have told us how the price of cassava has dramatically increased from N10,000 per tonne to around N140,000 now.
“Initially, the project development objective was that at the end of the project, the yield of cassava should have increased by about 40 per cent.
“But by the middle of the project, the yield had gone way up by over 100 per cent and that is very commendable,’’ he said.
Besides, Ogunmola said that it was initially envisaged that the income of farmers, who participated in the FADAMA programme, would increase by 20 per cent, adding, however, that their income had shot up by 200 per cent.
“So, in all angles, I think the project development objective of FADAMA III Additional Financing in Kogi State has been achieved; the farmers are happy, everybody is happy,” he added. (NAN)