Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has agreed to support the dissemination of improved technologies on weed control and other agricultural innovations to farmers, as part of efforts to bring about agricultural transformation in Africa.
The former president made his position known when he received reports from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) – managed Cassava Weed Management Project on the efficacy of Lagon—one of Bayer products for control of weeds in cassava and maize— from a delegation comprising Bayer and IITA officials in Ogun State.
The visiting team also presented to the former president the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management toolkit—a step-by-step extension guide for controlling weeds in cassava farming systems that has proven to double yields of cassava from the current national average of 10 tons per hectare to more than 25 tons per hectare.
Receiving the presentation, Chief Obasanjo commended the team for a job well done and promised to support efforts of getting the word out.
“We want to be a hub for spreading the good news,” he added.
Earlier, the Country Cluster Commercial Lead for Bayer West/Central Africa, Laurent Perez said Bayer was willing to work with the former President to improve the livelihood of farmers.
“As a major stakeholder and strong voice in Nigeria and Africa, Bayer is willing to partner with Obasanjo Farms in order to achieve our set objectives for Nigeria,” he added.
Perez noted the strategic role of Nigeria in the agricultural environment, stressing that the country has huge potential and a very active agricultural environment.
According to him, it was in light of the potential of Nigeria in the agricultural space that Bayer AG Germany decided to make long-term investment in the country.
He called on Nigeria’s government to come up with policies that would be investor-friendly so that the huge potential in Nigeria could be fully tapped and utilized.
Dr Alfred Dixon, Project Leader of the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project said that the improved weed control options being developed by IITA and Bayer were helping farmers to more than double their cassava yield from 10 tons per ha to more than 25 tons per ha.
Dr Dixon who was represented by Godwin Atser, Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert at IITA said farmers using herbicides with the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management toolkit had profits increased by 83 percent.
He reiterated the willingness of IITA to work with the former President to lift farmers out of poverty, noting that weeds were depleting farmers’ incomes and limiting farm sizes.
The delegation also discussed other areas of crop protection, training, and seeds and drew an action plan.
Other members of the team were the Managing Director, Bayer Middle Africa, Mohammed Jimoh; Country Sales Manager, Temitope Banjo; Development & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Ahmed Mansur Bello; and Area Sales Manager, South West, Adeyemi Adeyemo.