By Rabiu Sani
Maiduguri – Some farmers in Maiduguri have expressed concern over the invasion of their farms by a parasite called millet stem-borer (Coniesta-gnefusalis).
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, Mr Lawan Babagana called on the government to assist farmers in controlling the parasites to reduce the damage being caused by the organisms.
Infestation is the state of being invaded or overrun by pests or parasites. It can also refer to the actual organisms living on or within a host.
Pests pose devastating risks to farmers. A pest infestation can threaten crop production, contaminate commodities, and result in significant damage to revenue.
He said: “The quality of the seeds was excellent; we are still expecting a good harvest despite the damage to the crop by millet stem-borer.
“The pest is causing damage to the plant and we need urgent intervention to control it.’’
Another farmer, Malam Modu Audu, expressed worry over ‘army-worm’ infestation of maize farms.
Modu, however, said that he was preparing to harvest millet and sorghum crops in a few weeks’ time.
NAN reports that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with implementing partners distributed seeds and fertiliser to more than one million farmers in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states.
A cross section of the farmers, who spoke to NAN on Sunday in Maiduguri, lauded the organization for the support, saying that it made it possible for them to return to the farms.
Mr Markus Butrus, said that he was anticipating bumper harvest in 2017 in view of the support from FAO and favourable weather condition.
Butrus said that he cultivated millet, groundnut and sesame seed at his farm at Dubai-Maisumari area of Maiduguri.
He added that he received seeds and fertilisers from the organization which enable him to cultivate his farm without difficulties.
“I am happy and hope to get bountiful harvest. I returned to the farm after it was abandoned for many years due to the insurgency.
“FAO and its partners assist farmers and distributed seeds and fertilisers to us.
“The gesture will enable me to feed my family and engage in productive activities,” Butrus said.
Ms Alheri Ishiaya, a maize grower, added that she planted maize, millet and vegetables with the support from the organisation.
Ishiaya, a mother of nine, said she worked on the farm together with her children.
She called for introduction of modern technologies to ease farming cumbersome processes and encourage production.
“I am calling for modern technologies to enable us move away from traditional system of weeding to be able to cultivate more lands.
“The application of modern farming tools and better innovative practices will encourage mobilize participation and encourage production,” she said.
A vegetable grower, Mrs Hansatu Dodo, disclosed that she cultivated vegetables, noting that: “she no longer go to the market to buy vegetable anymore”.
Hansatu added that she would preserve some of the produce for her households and sell the excess to the market.
Mr Emmanuel Osomeka, the Country Director, Social Welfare Network, a client of the FAO, said the organization had supported 5, 000 displaced farmers in Gwoza, Maiduguri and Jere local government areas of Borno State.
Osomeka said farmers were provided with improved seeds and fertiliser, while extension workers were deployed to assist and train them on fertiliser application, pest management and modern farming techniques.
He explained that 65 per cent of the beneficiaries consisted of women, while 25 per cent was made up of young people and 10 per cent male.
“We accorded priority to women, youth and the vulnerable. The programme is designed to address food security challenges and provide sustainable means of livelihoods to displaced farmers.
“This is part of a comprehensive humanitarian effort to encourage displaced families to feed themselves and earn a living through agriculture,” he said.
According to him, the organization had adopted effective monitoring and coordination of farm activities during the current cropping season to enable farmers, to get higher yields at harvest.
Osomeka praised the military for securing farmlands and safeguarding the lives of farmers in liberated communities.