Groundnut cultivation in northern Nigeria can be a daunting task as the soils are generally poor. This is aggravated by the fact that farmers rarely follow the prescribed fertilizer recommendations. Three improved varieties of groundnut – SAMNUT 24, 25 and 26 – with a yield potential of 2.5 tons per hectare were released in Nigeria in the recent past, but farmers here get a yield that’s less than a ton per hectare. To address this issue and the other challenges of groundnut cultivation in the region, two training programs were organized for extension workers.
The major groundnut production challenges in the region include low yields, foliar disease, inadequate knowledge of improved varieties, limited skills and knowledge of extension agents on recommended production technologies, and aflatoxin infestation due to inadequate on-farm and post-harvest operations. In addition, groundnut is a self-pollinating crop, has a low seed multiplication ratio, requires a high sowing rate
(70-80 kg/ ha), and has a short germination potential when already shelled. Securing groundnut seed at the onset of the planting season is more expensive (about USD 1/kg) than other crops and ensuring farmer access to improved varieties remains a key challenge.
It was against this background that two training workshops were organized for extension agents and field assistants of the State where the Nigerian component of the USAID Groundnut Upscaling Project is being implemented. According to Dr Michael Vabi, Country Project Manager, Nigeria, ICRISAT, the two workshops were designed to help the extension agents improve their knowledge and skills to assist farmers in increasing farm yields through the use of both improved groundnut varieties and accompanying crop management practices.
The workshops addressed specific and general aspects of groundnut-based technologies from production through storage to the distribution and marking of seeds. The emerging trends and challenges of producing groundnut in the dry season and the underlying environmental concerns in groundnut production were also included in the trainings.
At the end of the training workshop in Kano, Mr Mallam Sanusi Dankowa, the Project Desk Officer of Kano State Agricultural Development Program, appreciated the project and ICRISAT for bringing together extension workers from different states and training them to become better technical advisors to the groundnut farmers in their respective areas of operation.
The first workshop was held in Kano city on 11 and 12 April for Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States; the second workshop was held in Sokoto on 26 and 27 April for Sokoto and Kebbi States. A total of 91 extension agents with 64 from the partner Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs), 6 from private seed companies and 21 from partner institutions benefited from the training. Only eight of the extension agents/field assistants were women. All sessions were conducted in the Hausa language by resource persons from ICRISAT-Nigeria.