The United States Agency for International Development and Food and Agriculture Organisation, on Tuesday, sensitised farmers in Kebbi on ways to combine rice with fish farming to enhance their income and food security.
The training, held in Birnin Kebbi, was organised in collaboration with University of Georgia, University of Ibadan and Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto.
Principal Investigator of the Research Project, Prof. Emmanuel Ajani, said that the process involves growing rice and fish in the same production area, either at the same time or at interval.
“It was practiced first by Han Dynasty in 1700 in Southern China and is currently practiced in many major rice producing countries of the world, especially in Asia.
He said that it was important to introduce the technique to farmers in Kebbi as Nigeria is currently emerging as the leading producer of rice in the world.
“In China, fish-rice system is producing 1.2 million metric tonnes of fish,” Ajani said, adding that it was important for Nigerian farmers to embrace it.
He explained that the aim of the workshop was to sensitise and encourage farmers to embrace the scheme so as to increase their productivity.
“We are also aiming at solving the problem of nutritional insecurity; and in this system, you don’t need to apply pesticides.
“All pests that disturb rice, the fish feed on them, and at the same time you are managing water resources all year-round.
“Studies have shown that the adoption of rice-fish farming technology can generate an additional 23 per cent income for farmers, and it leads to reduction in production cost and improve soil fertility,” Ajani added.
Prof. Joseph Ipinjolu of Usmanu Danfodio University, said that the focus of the pilot project was on two major rice producing states in the county.
“We have selected Kebbi and Ebonyi states being the two major rice producing states, with large rice producing communities.
“The workshop is for the establishment of innovation platform for fish and rice farmers groups.”
He added that the programme will acquaint farmers with strategies todiversify their farms “through integrated agriculture – aquaculture systems and nutrition – sensitive value chains, for better nutrition outcomes.”
The state Commissioner of Animal Health, Husbandry and Fisheries, Alhaji Aminu Dandiga, commended the organisations for selecting Kebbi for the pilot project.
He assured that the state government would work closely with them to ensure the success of the project.
“We want you to do more by using your technical expertise, especially with the occurrence of the flood that ravaged our farmlands , and we will support you,” the commissioner added.
He advised them to work with key stakeholders and traditional rulers to ensure better outcomes.
Speaking in behalf of the participants, Alhaji Muhammad Augie, the state Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), thanked the organisations for the project.
He said that the participants would build upon the experience and knowledge they acquired and impart it to other farmers in the state.