Maize farmers in Benue State are excited over bumper harvest this year despite the initial challenge of army worms infestation on their farms.
Our correspondent reports that earlier in July, the maize farmers had expressed optimism of bountiful harvest even with the army worm attack which most of them said was tackled with the right pesticides.
Though, it is the third consecutive year that farmers in the state have had cause to worry over their crops been ravaged by the dreaded worms which appeared to have defied solutions in some areas, they were able to conquer the challenge this time around.
For Ediga Akpa who owns a large maize farm in Otukpo area of the state, last year’s harvest wasn’t too good because of the nature of rainfall coupled with the usual challenge of fertiliser/other farm inputs availability and pricing, as well as pest and diseases.
Akpa said he got less than 20 bags of 100kg maize per hectare in the 2017 harvest as a result of the enormous challenges which the maize farm contended with in the process.
But this year he boasted of hitting over 30 bags per hectare.
“I got superior quality seeds from Premier Seeds. My farm size is over seven hectares. And I achieved this through the best practices I deployed which included proper planting timing; I ensured I got fertiliser/chemicals in advance and applied them at the right time and quantity,” he said.
Though, the challenges this season for Akpa included poor availability and high cost of farm inputs, scarcity of tractors for land preparation as well as inaccessibility to finance, he however rejoiced that the harvest was worthwhile.
Similarly, Vitalis Tarnongu, a maize farmer in Makurdi, the state capital, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of his effort. He noted that army worm and a destructive leaf eating insect which looked like sand fly attempted to wreak havoc on his 12- hectare maize farm but that he tackled them with a chemical he got from reputable agents.
“It was not only the army worm but another insect which name I don’t know (it looks like sand fly) threatened the maize plants at their infancy. But I was able to control it, my harvest is quite encouraging.
“Yes, this (pointing at a large stock) is my maize harvest for this season. It’s seeds for next year planting. This year’s harvest is better than last year’s as better insecticide and fungicide were used to keep off fungi disease and army worm infestation,” he said.
Tarnongu said he got foundation seeds from the University of Agriculture in Makurdi for the farm and employed good agronomic practices, including the use of organic fertilisers and herbicides.
He said he also did thorough monitoring and ensured there was no trace of attack by applying fungicide and insecticides at various intervals to achieve the desired result.
“And my seeds this year are now ready for certification,” Tarnongu added.
For Sunday Ogili, too, he had good yield from his maize farm this year, despite the initial challenge which took his time, money and knowledge to tackle; otherwise he would by now be counting losses.
He explained that, “initially, the army worm swooped on my maize farm but with the application of recommended chemical, I tackled the challenge headlong. I told you earlier that I was expecting good harvest, indeed, everything turned out right as expected.”
The Benue State chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Aondona Hembe Kuhe, in a recent interview with our correspondent, admitted that maize harvest was likely to turn out well, noting that worms infestation which constituted a common problem for maize farmers in the state for some years now had reduced drastically with the proper application of appropriate chemicals in farms by many farmers