Extension service providers to resume training of farmers – IITA

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Extension agents working under the Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) in Oyo State and the University of Agriculture Makurdi (UAM) will soon resume training of farmers, an officialhas said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was previously halted by the COVID-19 lockdown across the country.

The organisations disclosed this in a statement signed by Mr Godwin Atser, the Digital Extension Advisory Services Specialist of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Atser noted that training activities would adhere strictly to the rules on physical distancing set by the country on COVID 19.

According to him, JPDM and UAM are partnering with the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of the IITA for the dissemination of the AKILIMO decision support tools to farmers in Oyo and Benue states.

“AKILIMO is an all-in-one agronomic advisory tool developed by ACAI that supports cassava growers with knowledge and recommendations to intensify their cassava-based cropping systems.

“Both JDPM and UAM commenced full dissemination activities in 2019.

“They have so far covered dozens of rural communities and local government areas in the two states; gathering farmers at their homes, village squares, under trees, community schools and churches.

“Using battery-powered mobile projectors, videos and other paper-based tools developed by ACAI, the organisations, through their extension networks, are teaching farmers best weed control methods.

“They are teaching them the safest use of herbicides and best planting practices in cassava-maize farming systems.

“The training activities were, however, halted over a month ago following the outbreak of COVID-19 and lockdown measures put in place by the state and federal governments to curtail the pandemic in Nigeria.

“At separate meetings held recently at the JDPM office in Oyo and another in Benue, the extension agents resolved to resume training under COVID-19 regulations set by the government.

“This is to ensure that cassava farmers were armed with best-bet weed control and planting techniques as the farming season begins,” he said.

Atser commended the extension agents for their work so far before the lockdown.

He said recommencing the training at this time is a humanitarian gesture to farmers to enable them to avert hunger and cushion the effects of the looming economic recession.

Atser added that the training would be conducted based on government COVID-19 safety rules and regulations, which allowed a limited number of persons to gather while maintaining a physical distance.

“Other safety measures harped upon at the meeting included the proper washing of hands and compulsory use of face masks by trainers and trainees at every training event.

“Farmer Field days which are to come up soon will also be conducted under COVID-19 rules.

“There is need to follow up on farmers who have been trained and have adopted the intervention in order to serve as points of reference to others,” he noted.

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