By Shuaib Sadiq
Kaduna – A Moroccan company, OCP Africa, on Tuesday in Kaduna began the training of 10,000 farmers in soil characterisation, nutrients and fertility to ensure proper application of fertiliser at farms.
The Country Manager of OCP Africa, Mr Caleb Usoh, who opened the training in Chikun Local Government Area, said that the OCP School Lab project would enhance crop production.
Usoh said that the farmers were selected from 12 Local Government Areas, under a pilot scheme covering 72 communities in the state.
He said that the selected farmers would receive three-month training in proper fertiliser applications.
“OCP is an African company from of Morocco and it is taking advantage of Morroco’s nature-endowed mineral resource, phosphate, to bring value through agriculture to a growing global population.
“OCP Africa is the leading company in the production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilisers, phosphoric acid and other phosphate derivatives and nutrient additives for plant and animal health.
“The new technology will increase farmers’ awareness of the nature of their soil and right fertiliser to apply for better crop yield,” he said.
Usoh said that the project would build fresh data on the soils of Kaduna State, as part of efforts to enable the farmers to get value from their farms during wet and dry season farming.
“The OCP School Lab is a powerful tool at the heart of OCP Africa development strategy.
“It is a mobile soil testing laboratory and training equipment installed in a truck and manned by experts who drive daily to selected farming communities to interact with groups of smallholder farmers.
“This initiative is a farmer-centred business development model which is aimed at increasing farm yields and incomes of smallholder farmers.
“It will support the farmers to have access to training and extension services based on soil analysis opportunities, and soil-specific fertiliser recommendations for improved productivity.
“OCP School Lab is the first initiative of its kind launched by a fertiliser producer, bringing latest soil testing innovations and effective agronomical training to serve the needs of African farmers.
“OCP has piloted this programme in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire, reaching more than 5,000 smallholder farmers in 2016,” he said.
Usoh commended the Kaduna State Government for supporting the scheme which, he said, would attract the interest of other stakeholders from different states across the country.
He said that the programme would soon be expanded to farmers in other states to enable them to have sound knowledge of their soil types, nutrients availability and deficiencies.
“It will help the farmers to imbibe the need for scientific methods and develop commercial mindset towards their farming enterprises,” he said.
In his remark, Mr Dauda Ashafa, the Acting General Manager, Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency (KADA), said that the programme would be highly beneficial to farmers in the state.
He noted that at present, fertilisers were produced and supplied to farmers without specifications on soil types.
“But with the new technology, it is only those fertilisers that will improve crop yields that will be produced; this arrangement will save cost and boost productivity,’’ he said.