The cultivation of millet and sorghum has experienced a downturn in Nigeria, the Executive Director, National Agricultural Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), Prof. Emmanuel Ikani, said.
Ikani made the observation in Zaria on Tuesday at a sensitisation workshop and seed fair on sorghum and millet value chains.
He attributed the decline to the inability of millet and sorghum farmers to access improved seeds for cultivation, thereby making them to plant less than one hectare each.
He said that the sponsor of the workshop, the African Development Bank (AfBD), had observed that sorghum and millet grew many countries and had high potentialities in Africa, especially in the semi-arid region.
“The Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria has also developed more than 40 varieties of sorghum, while the Lake Chad Research Institute has also come up with many improved millet seeds,’’ he said.
Ikani called on relevant stakeholders to engage farmers in the rural communities through enlightenment and sensitisation campaigns to encourage them to return to the cultivation of millet and sorghum.
The director added that millet and sorghum had nutritious benefits.
He said that a recipe from millet was used in the production of medicines to cure diabetics, cancer and other diseases; while sorghum was used in producing biscuits and malted drinks, among others.
Ikani was represented at the workshop by the Deputy Director of the institute by NAERLS, Prof. Yusuf-Ahmad Sani.
In his contribution, Dr Sharif Wali, representative of the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), also decried the decline in maize production.
Wali said that LCRI had released many millet varieties and was still improving on its researches.
“Recently we have come up with millet varieties with other good agronomic practices. The institute appeals for more value addition to millet, similar to what obtains with rice and maize,’’ he said.
Alhaji Malami Abubakar, Sokoto State Project Manager, who spoke on behalf Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs), said that the collaboration between NAERLS and the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) on millet and sorghum was fruitful.
Abubakar said that the collaboration centred on the improvement and attainment of enhanced production so as to improve the economic status of farmers.
He added that the ADPs were ready to sustain the collaboration with ICRISAT and other key stakeholders for farmers to get improved seeds and have access to
better agronomic practices.
Similarly, Malam Idris Magaji, a representative of the farmers, noted that farmers in many parts of the country had abandoned the production of millet, adding that they had shifted their attention to rice and maize cultivation.
“Part of the reason for the shift from millet and sorghum cultivation to rice and maize production was the full value chain in rice and maize, which had been lacking in millet and sorghum,” he said.