Farmers in Ogbomoso, Oyo State have been urged to invest in production of small ruminants, aimed at improving livestock production for the city and Nigeria as a whole and to increase income generation for themselves.
The farmers, who converged on Olagbemi Osekun Civil Centre, at Ogbomoso South Local Government Secretariat, Arowomole, for a day capacity building workshop for practising farmers in the city, were also trained on how to improve their health statuses, value addition for cassava, maize and soya beans.
The farmers, more than 500 of them were also taught on how to safely handle pesticides and herbicide, as well as how to improve production for revenue generation and eventual prosperity.
Dr Tunde Olayeni from the Department of Animal Production and Health, LAUTECH, while discussing with the smallholder farmers, many of whom constituted women, it was of “vital importance” that the farmers invested in ruminants production, aimed at improving livestock production for the consumption of the people of the city, and Nigeria as a whole.
According to him, the value of ruminant production and management is important to “all mankind by virtue of its contributions to agriculture production, national economy and overall welfare of the people.”
Dr Olayeni, who taught on “small ruminants production and management practices for improved livestock production,” at the workshop organised by the Ogbomoso Community Foundation, told the farmers that it was economical to rear ruminants on pastures with little confinement as production of pastures entails minimum skill and management know-how and is easy to handle.
Saying that animals could help the farmers’ foreign exchange earnings, thus, improving their income generations, Olayeni itemised some categories of animals that could quickly help the farmers make turnover and improve income generations.
Some of the animal included grass cutters, which he said reproduce year-round in captivity. “A healthy female is matured for breeding activity by age of five months upwards, while that of male is seven months upwards,” he said.
To ensure that they protect their investments, Olayeni warned the farmers of the socio-economic implications of diseases in farm animals.
Saying that consequences of these diseases, which include mortality, could result in financial loss to the farmers, he added that those diseases could add to overhead costs, as well as reduction of number of livestock in an enterprise.
He, therefore, encouraged the farmers to took on measures to prevent the diseases, adding that it was important that the farmers adequately fed their animals.
According to him, “disease usually results from a combination of factors” which include “inadequate feeding and low standard of management. Well fed animals are less likely to become ill than under-fed animals.”
Dr Sam Okunade, Assistant Director (research) at the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, speaking on the topic “safe handling of pesticides and integrated pest management in storage facilities for food safety,” said because no single method of pest control is sufficient, it is important that the farmers adopt the integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest population.
He also advised that it is important that the farmers kept pesticides and other interactions “to a level that are economically justified and reduced to minimise risks to human health and environment.” Thus, he said, “natural pest control mechanisms are highly encouraged.”
Mrs O Ogunwobi, who spoke on the topic “value addition for cassava, maize and soya beans,” said farming is business and as such, must be taken seriously.
She told more than 200 women who were specifically trained on value addition for cassava, maize and soya beans that there is a need to “diversify the use of cassava or add value to it other than its preparation into traditional food products.
Earlier in his remarks, OCF chairman, Dr Saka Balogun said that the workshop was organised to empower the farmers in the city and its environs in ways that they could improve their yields and consequently, their income.
The chairman, who said the programme would continue with series of follow up programmes, said he was pleased with the turn out and the opportunity granted to the farmers to improve their lives.
Speaking at the event, Chairman, Ogbomoso South Local Government area, Honourable Sunday Adedeji, represented by Alhaji Sanni, charged the participants to make use of what they have been taught at the workshop.
He thanked the OCF for organising the event and pledge of continued support of the local government in ensuring that lives of the farmers in the city and its environs were improved.
Participants who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune’s Agriculture expressed joy for being part of the workshop and pledged that they would make use of what they had learnt from the workshop.