The Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has developed crop specific fertilizers for rice, soya beans and beans, with a view to boost food production and enhance food security.
The Executive Director of the Institute, Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, made the disclosure at a farmers’ field day for the fertilization system research project at Ikara, Kaduna state, on Friday.
He said the fertilization system research project was one of the components of technology generation and dissemination of the institute that involved farmers, who are the important benefactors of any technology the institute might generate.
Ishiyaku explained that the project was a collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which provided the political commitment, and the IAR, which was responsible for the knowledge and skills from which the technology was generated.
The executive director added that the project also included the private sector, through the association of fertilizer producers and marketers, with funding from the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
He said the collaborative effort resulted in an understanding that it was no longer profitable to recommend a blanket use of fertilizer Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) 202020, 201010 or 151515 for all crops.
“It has become very apparent now that each crop desires its own very specific blend of fertilization that has shown a very high potential for profits for farmers.
“ As an institute, IAR is pushing it such that it will be taken up by farmers, so that it results in an increase in their productivity,’’ he said.
He, commended the federal government for its commitments to developing agriculture, through the implementation of various policies that were aimed at harnessing production of the farmers.
Ishiyaku said that the last time farmers made a lot of profits from the sale of farm produce was in the 1970s, but as a result of the implementation of certain policies by the present administration, farming had once again become lucrative.
“Agriculture cannot be profitable as long as food importation is sustained; food importation would choke the production in the country and such a move may end up discouraging many small and medium scale farmers from farming.
“We want to call on the federal government to ensure that under no circumstances should food be imported into Nigeria.
“ It should be left to our farmers, together with the researchers in the sector, to invest largely and ensure that Nigeria’s agriculture provides the nation’s food requirements,’’ he said.
He also urged farmers to consolidate themselves because ‘united we stand and divided we fall’; there are a lot of opportunities to influence policies if farmer organizations come together to influence decision making.
Similarly, Prof. B.D Tarfa, Deputy Director of IAR and lead researcher for the crop specific fertilizer, said the research had reached an advanced stage as fertilizers for soya beans, maize and rice had already been developed.
He said the research was conducted in collaboration between the IAR and Kaduna State Agricultural Development Agency (KSADA).
Tarfa added that 500 farmers each from Kaduna and Niger states were engaged in the research on five different crop specific fertilizers for maize, rice and soya beans.
At the end of the research, two varieties performed optimally on the crops and the varieties had been distributed to the association of fertilizer producers and marketers association production.