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‘ABU disease-resistant groundnut can revive the crop’s prominence’

As an agronomist, how can our farmers understand your specialisation?In a nutshell, agronomy is all about the management of crops. From site selection, land clearing,…

As an agronomist, how can our farmers understand your specialisation?
In a nutshell, agronomy is all about the management of crops. From site selection, land clearing, seed selection, planting, fertilizer application and all the agronomy processes are the work of an agronomist. In other words, production management is all what agronomy entails. And as head of extension unit of IAR, ours is to disseminate information from the institution to the farmers on whatever innovations we have. We also serve as liaison officers between outsiders and the institute. In other words, we are the link between the institute and outside environment.
Groundnut used to be one of the famous cash crops that bring wealth to our farmers. With the diminishing fortunes of that crop, is there anything that your institute is doing in restoring the past fortunes of groundnut?
Recently, the national release committee approved two varieties of ABU groundnuts. These are SAMNUT 25 and 26. The committee has approved them for release to farmers. These varieties are very high yielding and they resist the russet diseases. They are short-maturing varieties. Another good thing about these varieties is they are upshot of our earlier varieties. Before these two varieties, the last one we had was SAMNUT 24, and that variety has extended up to Niger Republic. This variety, (SAMNUT 24) is high yielding and it has good hulm. It stays green up to harvesting. Therefore, the value that farmers get from the hulm alone is high. Farmers are not cultivating SAMNUT 24 for the grains alone. Even the grains yield three and half to four tones per hectare, while the other groundnuts varieties are not up to two and half per hectare. In the latest ones, SAMNUT 25 and 26, we have improved on the qualities of SAMNUT 24. Therefore, they are having more hulm, which would stay green and the yield potentials are up to four to five tonnes per hectare.
A farmer would have dual advantage with these varieties. He would have the hulm for animals and the grains for sale. The oil content is also higher than that of SAMNUT 24. Therefore, the yield, hulm and oil content are higher than the various groundnut varieties that we had. In oil content, we look at the content, quantity and the amount of nutrients inside the oil.
Farmers would be interested in knowing the fertilizer requirement for these new varieties?
The fertilizer requirement is very minimal. In groundnut, the essential fertilizer is the single superphosphate. We are advancing into other projects by attaching innotulum into our legume crops, which enhances the productivity of the end content, that is, the nitrogen. Legume crops harness the atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into their useful nitrogen for their production, that is why most farmers are not applying fertilizer on groundnut. But the recommendation is; if you can put 20 kilogrammes ‘N’ per hectare as a starter dose of your SSP it is okay. Groundnut does not take too much fertilizer. Usually, a farmer should prepare his land, that is good land preparation, then put organic fertilizer or manure and then two bags of SSP, it would be okay for a farmer to realise the full potentials of these varieties.
The issue of diseases is a major factor that hinders groundnut farming in Nigeria, would these new varieties address this problem?
A researcher always tries to make advancement in his area of research. Therefore, these varieties are resistant to the russet virus, which is the main disease of groundnut. So, even if there is russet virus the varieties would resist it. Therefore, farmers should not worry about diseases with these varieties.
For how long can these varieties be stored after harvest, and what are their market values?
For marketing, these varieties, as I said earlier, have dual functions. Since the farmer is not only doing it for the grains alone; a farmer can attract those rearing animals to buy the hulm. Although, it is true in Nigeria that marketing of farm produce is a problem.  But ours here is to enhance the quality of different varieties. In the case of these varieties, farmers can form groups and liaise with oil millers to dispose their groundnut. Farmers can as well form small processing mills on their own, which would help reap the values of these enhanced varieties.
For storage, we don’t have much problem if a farmer has a very good storage facility. A farmer can get a container and put his produce in hermetic use where air is protected from moving in. A farmer can apply chemicals if he is storing for more than six months. Another method is for the farmer not to remove the shelves of the groundnut. This is a very effective method for storage. These new varieties of groundnut would go through the prescribed processes before they are finally released to the farmers. The most important aspect that I want to emphasise is that these varieties can mature for harvest within the period of 80 to 110 days.
This is aside their high yield, hulm and the oil content. With all these efforts, we hope that very soon groundnut farming would regain its prominence.

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