From 10 to 15 June, IITA and partners organized a joint seed fair in the northern Nigerian Kano and Jigawa states.
The seed fair aimed to create awareness among farmers on the availability of seeds of improved crop varieties and help them to access quality seeds for enhanced productivity.
Additional objectives are to provide market opportunities for the seed companies to market their seed and establish partnerships with different stakeholders along the crop value chains.
The IITA-Kano Station exhibition showcased improved crop varieties that the Institute is promoting in the region. Among the most notable were the improved seed varieties of cowpea, soybean, and maize. They also provided information materials on improved crop management and IITA’s work to support farmers with new technologies to help them realize high yields.
The implementing partners of the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA) Project organized the fair with the theme “Quality seed: the basis for enhancing product quality and achieving better yields for smallholder farmers”.
The partners in Nigeria are IITA, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR/ABU), University of Agriculture Makurdi (UAM), Center for Dryland Agriculture (CDA-BUK), Kano Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), and Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI).
The 3-day event attracted over 1200 participants, including researchers, seed companies, input suppliers, farmer-processors, buyers of improved seed, community leaders, and service providers.
The Fair took place in selected farmers’ hubs established by the Syngenta Foundation at Tofa and Bunkure communities in Kano and Birni Kudu in Jigawa. The Fair was officially opened at each Center by the District Head of the Local Government Areas.
In her opening remarks, AVISA National Coordinator, Prof. Mary Yeye, stressed that AVISA aims to make available improved seed varieties to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. She said, “This will be achieved as farmers adhere to good agronomic practices. Achieving this will automatically translate to increased income and improve the standard of living of the farmers.”
IITA-Kano Station Head Alpha Yaya Kamara emphasized the significance of quality seed as a prerequisite for increasing yields on farmers’ fields. “Using high-quality seed is one of the most important elements in increasing agricultural production in any farming system,” he said.
SFSA Country Program Manager Isaiah Gabriel said the foundation’s mission was to facilitate commercialization and increase the adoption of specific varieties of cowpea and sorghum. They also aim to build a sustainable seed and grain production system in Nigeria.
He encouraged the seed companies to capitalize on the one-stop-shop farmers’ hub platform the SFSA established in several LGAs in Kano and Jigawa states for seed sale and grain aggregation.
IITA Seed System Specialist Lucky Omoigui explained that the AVISA project aims to develop a viable seed delivery system in Nigeria that will enhance farmers’ access to quality seed of legumes and cereals. He noted that good seed interacting with a good environment would determine the crop’s health and productivity.
Representatives from ICRISAT—Dr. Ignatius Agaraiwa, Dr. Ajeigbe Hakeem, Dr. Michael Vabi; IAR Zaria—Prof. Daniel Abba; and Bayero University, Kano—Prof. S.G. Mohammed also delivered goodwill messages underscoring the increasing demand for quality seeds of improved crop varieties.
They applauded the opportunities the seed fair created for farmers within and outside the communities to purchase quality seeds of the various improved varieties.
In addition to improved seeds, many farmers purchased other inputs such as insecticides and fertilizers for this year’s cropping season.