The Commonwealth of Learning(COL) in partnership with the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) and Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU), has trained over 100 vegetables farmers in Osun on digital agriculture.
The workshop for training the trainers was held at the OAU Progressive(IFE)Cooperative Investment and Credit Society Limited, on Friday in Ile-Ife.
The programme convener, Prof. Adeolu Ayanwale, explained that the essence of the training was to sensitise vegetable farmers on the potential digital facilities that would help them to improve production.
Ayanwale, of the department of Agricultural Economics, OAU, noted that the programme was organised at the right time when Nigeria is facing the challenges of food insecurity.
He noted that the workshop would give the vegetable farmers a lifelong learning that would benefit the generality, proffer solutions and enrich the farmers on agribusiness.
“We discovered that the manual way of farming is not very efficient, so we want to let people see the potential of digital agriculture, encourage and teach them on how to use it in various ways.
“This workshop would change the notion of some people that every vegetable that has fertilizer application is not healthy for humanity.
“Besides, farmers would understand that the right quantity, quality, time and place of fertilizer application on vegetable matter most,” he said.
The don urged participants to train others vegetable farmers at home and educate them on how to apply fertilizer that would be useful to the plants.
A Commonwealth Scholar, Dr Mary Idowu, while speaking on digital advisor for vegetable production, said that “fertilize is not a poison, if well applied to the vegetable, but would make farmers to get good yield; good vegetable that is nutritious to human health.”
Idowu, who is also of the department of Agricultural Economics, OAU, explained that with the right method of applying fertilizer, farmers would have good vegetable production that would give them more money and ensure healthy living for the people.
She reiterated the readiness of the Commonwealth of Learning to assist and train more farmers as part of its efforts toward solving the problem of food insecurity in the country.
In his contribution, Dr Olufemi Oladunni, Executive Director, ARMTI, charged the participants on the need to be trustworthy and be patient in their dealings.
Represented by Mr Peter Popoola, a Contract Farming Facilitator, Oladunni advised the farmers to have positive attitude, share information that would be useful and have good knowledge of their own financial position.
Mr Olusegun Oni, a Researcher at ARMTI, while speaking on financial literacy, urged the vegetable farmers to start business with their personal savings instead of bank loan.
Oni counselled the farmers on adequate planning, records keeping, savings in case of emergency needs and for business continuation, and the need to embrace internet banking.
Also speaking, a Management Development Officer at ARMTI, Mr Kingsley Olurinde, advised the vegetable farmers to ensure efficient market for their produce even before production.
Olurinde charged the farmers to embrace social media such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter among others to advertise their produce as well as packaging them for export to avoid wastage.
A Professor of Soil Science and Former Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, OAU, Duro Oyedele, admonished the vegetables farmers to enter into contract arrangements with their customers on sales of their produce and embrace the use of technology to enhance sales.
Mrs Comfort Olaosun, President of Agro Processor, Osun State, who spoke on behalf other participants, appreciated the organisers and promised to impact on others what she learned from the workshop.
The News Nigeria(NAN) reports that the farmers were trained on the right method of using fertilizer, method of planting and spacing the plants, and how to identify nutrients deficiency symptoms on the plants.
The Commonwealth of Learning, created by the Commonwealth Heads of Government, is a Canada-based intergovernmental organisation concerned with promoting and developing distance education and open learning.