Stakeholders are seeking the establishment of demonstration farms to provide hands-on training, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Co-founder, PS Nutraceuticals, Samson Ogbole, a young agro entrepreneur, is teaching Nigerians how to cultivate yams and potatoes without sand.
A biochemistry graduate of the Igbinedion University, Edo State, Ogbole trains farmers on his demonstration farm. He organises demonstrations to show farmers technologies.
The visit to a demonstration farm allowed prospective farmers to share concerns on new techniques, technology and crops.
At demo farms, farmers learn how to use their hands and machines, such as sprayers and cultivators. Farmers and trainers can exchange information and ideas.
The immediate past Provost of the Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), Dr. Samson Odedina, loves to train people on agrobusiness, including how to manage their farms, dry and store grains, and use machinery.”I am a farmer, and I have great passion for farmers. I want to help farmers and make a better life for them,” he said.
When Odedina set out to promote profitable cassava farming, he did it with cassava demonstration plots across the campus. The college made available plots for students and farmers. It was a success story. The demonstration farms showcase agricultural techniques and technologies to improve crops.
They also serve as a venue for research and testing of new methods alongside traditional ones.
Depending on what’s being tested or showcased, he said demonstration farms could have various crops, livestock or poultry breeds, and fertiliser and technology.
He said demonstration farms allow the students to practise what they learn in the classroom under the supervision of their lecturers.
Now the Rector of Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia, Ogun State, Odedina still promotes demonstration farms.
He said to be successful, demonstration farmers must know how to plough, apply fertiliser, and herbicides and harvest.
In addition to acting as a platform to educate farmers, he said demonstration farms (model farms) foster innovation.
The farms, according to him, im-proves business sustainability through efficiency in agrifood supply chains, boosting the competitiveness of farmers.
According to him, on-farm demonstrations serve as one of the most effective extension education tools.
Although demonstrations require considerable time and effort, experts believe the payback comes when farmers adapt to practices they perceive to be effective and appropriate for local conditions.
His cooperation with the farming community in Akure has made much progress in recent years.
Following this, exchanges have been strengthened and businesses have developed rapidly in the area.
Niji Group Chief Executive Adeniji Kolawole said demo farms had created new opportunities for the uptake of business models in the agro-food industry to revitalise the rural areas.
Inspired by the belief that informed and skilled farmers are essential to the sustainable future of the agriculture sector, Kolawole embarked on demonstration plots aimed at offering and sharing field experience to farmers, extension workers, agri-businesses, and other stakeholders including input suppliers, traders, processors, government institutions, and students within his green project at Ilero, Oyo State.
The demonstration plots, well-designed, stimulate farmers to experiment with innovative ideas, practices, and technologies that can improve and increase their income.
Kolawole said there was need to revolutionise the way innovations in agriculture and food are brought to market by bridging the present and future to grow a more diverse and sustainable farm economy and provide healthy food for all.
He said demonstration farms established within farm states can transform agro-food industry as well as create new opportunities for farmers to participate in the innovation value-chain.
According to him, farm estates with demonstration farms provide a platform farmers to incubate new technologies that include pilot trials, farmer feedback and guidance.
He noted that investing on demonstration and model farms add value to farmer-members and provides a new collaborative opportunity for startups.
He said his vision was about a transformed agriculture and food economy centered around farmers, innovation, and prosperity.
The Vice President, Local Market Farming Development of OCP Group, Madam Fathiha Charradi, said the demonstration project initiated by the company operates through centres of excellence that aim to help productivity and recourse use efficiency by implementing technology and know-how.
She said the platform acts as an engagement for the public to encourage a better understanding of farming and pesticides.
She explained that farmers are showcased the benefits of soil moisture, reducing erosion and improving inputsr during field demonstrations.
Each demonstration plot is visited by neighbouring farmers.
The farmers hosted on demonstration plots see agriculture as a productivity-enhancing, labour-saving technology.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State Commissioner for Education,Prof Uchenna Eze said schools in the state must provide and maintain demonstration farms to ensure that pupils embrace modern agriculture.
Eze said a piece of land must, henceforth, be earmarked for farming in schools just as a field is provided for sports, adding that his ministry might reconsider fresh registration for schools to ensure that the school environment is conducive for different aspects of learning.
According to him, education should be complemented with other activities aimed at developing every child’s talents in other areas of human endeavour.
The commissioner explained that the new directive on provision of demonstration farms would form part of the requirements for registration of both public and private schools in the state.
“For this singular reason, we have made it compulsory that the land for any primary school to be approved, henceforth, will be at least six plots of land.While that of secondary school must be nothing less than eight plots across board.
‘’This is to ensure that a piece of land is surely mapped out for the school demonstration farm in each school,’’ he said.