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Sierra Leonean scientist honoured in Nigeria

18 October 2007 at 20:57 | 999 views

By Taye Babaleye, Nigeria.

An agronomist with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Alpha Kamara has been honored by the Emir of Biu, Borno State, for introducing series of improved technologies that ensure food security and alleviate poverty in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State. Dr Kamara, a Sierra Leonean, was honored during a recently held farmers’ field day at Wandali village in Kwaya-Kusa LGA.

The Emir of Biu, Alhaji Umar Aliu Mustapha who conferred the title of Sarkin Yada Iri (Chief Seed Producer) on Alpha Kamara(photo, right) said the gesture was in appreciation of Dr Kamara’s assiduous efforts in introducing improved agricultural technologies to farmers in his Emirate under the project, Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno State (PROSAB), funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and implemented by IITA. Dr. Kamara also received a work bull from the Chairman of Damboa Local Government in the Borno Emirate.

“Since PROSAB came to Borno State four years ago, our people have become major producers of maize, soybean, cowpea, sorghum, rice, and groundnuts. Their crop yields have improved through the use of improved crop varieties and improved crop management practices. The parasitic weed Striga which destroys maize and sorghum fields and made farmers abandon their fields is being wiped out in the farming communities through the use of improved technologies introduced by the project,” says the Emir.

In his response, Dr. Kamara said he valued the honor so much because it came from a traditional ruler and farmers, as a sign of appreciation. He thanked his colleagues from IITA who developed the technologies being extended to the farmers.

Ms Valerie Bilodeau, the CIDA Representative, said agricultural development could only be possible when there was cooperation among key players in the sector: the government, the private sector, and farmers alike. She expressed satisfaction at the level of improvement in agricultural practices in Borno State; adding, “We are delighted to support PROSAB which has succeeded in bringing female farmers into the mainstream of rural development,” She remarked that she would go back to Canada with good memories of what she had seen during the field tour of soybean farms in nearby villages.

Earlier, the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Hajiya Maryam Bukar Petrol called on CIDA and other donors to intensify efforts to support rural farmers in the State through adequate funding of research institutes for more dedication, to face the challenges of food production in the State. She added that extreme weather conditions, poor soils, poor management techniques, and lack of storage facilities were some of the problems facing farmers in the State.

PROSAB has contributed to the turning around of the fortunes of thousands of farmers in the four LGAs of Biu, Damboa, Hawul and Kwaya-Kusa. This year’s farmers’ field day was attended by more than one thousand male and female farmers.

Editor’s note: Special thanks to Mallam Osman Sankoh for this news item.