Farmers in Dawakin, Nigeria, celebrate introduction of improved cowpea varieties
Farmers in the rural community of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area of Kano State, northwestern Nigeria, were mainly subsistence farmers trying to earn a living from the harsh environmental conditions prevalent in the area noted for poor rainfall and nutrient-deficient soils causing repeated crop failures.
Two years ago, extension agents of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, working with the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) implemented a Tropical Legumes III (TL III)-funded project, under which:
- They introduced improved cowpea varieties to the villagers. These new varieties were resistant to the parasitic weed, Striga gesnerioides, which had been a menace to farmers in the area.
- The extension agents experimented in several small plots in farmers’ fields in the village to demonstrate the potential of cowpea-based farming systems and the use of improved cowpeas for quality seed production.
- Farmers were mobilized and organized into viable community-based organizations (CBOs).
- Innovations in crop production systems were applied.
- Farmers were linked with input dealers and large-scale seed buyers to guarantee post-production markets.
As a result:
- The farmers produced more than their consumption needs.
- They sold the surplus for better incomes.
- This year, they expect even better yields and higher income from their cowpea seed farms.
In order to celebrate these successes, and to highlight the potential of a new cowpea variety, a farmer’s field day was organized on 29 September 2017, in Dawakin. Representing the district head, Alhaji Mahammud Ubale appealed to KNARDA to “bring more of this seed for dry season farming in the community and also sell the seed to members of the community for next year’s planting”.
A total of 170 farmers (135 men and 35 women), traditional rulers, government and TL III project representatives and other stakeholders, including Dr Chris Ojiewo, TL III project manager, attended the field day.
Project: Tropical Legumes III
Donor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Partners: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA); NARS from selected eight countries; University of Agriculture, Makurdi; Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) and ICRISAT