The N2Africa 2011 planning meeting was held in Kano, Nigeria, on 23-24 March 2011. The meeting was attended by about 50 participants, made up of staff from N2Africa and partners from international organisations, governmental and non-governmental organisations, research institutes, universities and the private sector. Participants reviewed the activities of the previous year, drawing lessons from challenges, successes and failures and developed an implementation work plan for the 2011 season.
Results of the dissemination activities show that inoculated soybean yield on demonstration plots averaged 1240 kg/ha compared with about 790 kg/ha in the control plots. All the farmer groups, without exception, chose the technology with the combination of inoculant and phosphorus as their first choice during the technology evaluation session. Among the 8 soybean varieties disseminated, TGx 1904-6F, and TGx 1935-3F were the most preferred by farmers in Kaduna State, while the early maturing variety, TGx 1835-10E, was rated the best by farmers in Kano State. Plant characteristics considered in rating the varieties were plant vigour, plant biomass, pod/seed size, uniformity in flowering, and, in the case of Kano, earliness.
Cowpea variety IT90K-277-2 was selected by most farmers in Kano State for its earliness, and high grain and stover yields. Variety IT97K-499-35 was selected by other farmers for its striga resistance. Average yield of IT90K-277-2 on farmers’ fields was 1,420 kg/ha compared to 900 kg/ha by the local variety and about 1200 kg/ha and 1110 kg/ha by IT89KD-391 and IT97K-499-35, respectively. In Kaduna State, IT90K-277-2 was the most preferred variety in northern Kaduna, while the medium maturity variety IT89KD-288 was the best in southern Kaduna.
Groundnut variety RMP 12 had the best performance in both Kano and Kaduna for its relatively large grain and stover yields and ease of harvesting. It was followed in Kano State by Samnut 22 and Samnut 23 for yield and relative resistance to drought and aphids.
One of the major lessons learnt was the need to get inputs deployed to farmers in good time. Late arrival of inputs last season led to farmers reserving degraded lands for N2Africa activities and this had a profound impact on the yields obtained in both research and dissemination plots. An emerging issue is the poor response of crops to fertilisers in degraded soils. Nutrient omission trials are set to be conducted by graduate students to find out the underlying causes for the non-responsiveness of crops to fertilisers on such soils.
New partners that N2Africa has identified for collaboration, especially in the dissemination of inoculant technology, include the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (KNARDA), International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC), AGRA Soil Health Programme (SHP) and Sub-Sahara Challenge Programme (KKM).
Dissemination activity in 2011 in Nigeria is expected to reach at least 10,000 farmers, with 90 extension agents working in 60 communities and 15 Local Government Areas. Sixty percent of the farmers are expected to work with soybean.