Wednesday 24 July 2013

Agriculture is our culture-Sam Agwa

It was in February when I first visited Zukutiv Farms here in Benue, a State in Central Nigeria also known as the Food Basket State. Myke Gbe is the owner and lead Farmer here. He has been tapping from the benefits that come with using his Mobile Phone and the Social Media to promote his farm and farm yield, even when many people received with cynicism news that the Nigeria Government planned to purchase cell phones for farmers worth millions of naira.

RNW has featured several reports about Farmer Myke's success story and now he has been selected by the United Nations Development Programme to do a four week on-the-farm training for other farmers to be like him.
There are about thirty participants here undergoing training on Myke Gbe's farm, they look very happy and enthusiastic learning new ways of farming especially smart farming and using the social media to improve their farms.
Sam Agwa
Sam Agwa works for the Benue State Government and also serves as  the UNDP Focal Person in the State. 
He says the State Government and the UNDP signed a partnership to drive SMART  Agro Training. "We were looking for a farm in the State that can tell a story, inspire young people and make a potential trainee believe that yes, I also can do it".

He says this was advertised in the local papers, lots of proposals came in
and ZUKUTIV was selected because the farm met 75% of what was contained in the Terms Of Reference. "Coming to this farm and seeing what it has, it is telling the story practically, is not too ambitious, it's not a kind of an Otta Farm (former President  Obasanjo's) where you just see it and get excited and you think you can not do it, so it  met the aspect particularly of linking renewable energy, because it's one thing our farmers have disconnected from, once you are done with everything it goes, you start a new year facing fertiliser problems and all that".                
Sam Agwa says, what they are thinking they should be able to achieve is, to use what the people have, "agriculture is our culture, that is what the people do, therefore, we should  have issue based programmes to address that, it has to come from agriculture because  80% of our people are peasant farmers".
The SMART concept, he explains is not about bringing a new model or module of farming, "but essentially to what extent can we add value to a farmer so that on that small one hectare, he can derive so much from it unlike before, just for them to think smart".  
On the use of Social Media, Sam says, Benue farmers are attempting it and it's working,  even when it was widely criticised at the Federal level, "I think reasonably we should be thinking about the challenge of taking it forward, the buy-in, we simply do not want people to lose track of that peasant hold on agriculture, it's very critical, let's harness this smartly".

Details of this story coming up later on Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

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