The exchange visit to Zinder led by WOFAN Executive Director Hajiya salamatu Garba and the wife of Katsina State Governor Hajiya Fatima I. Shema, was for ideas and experience sharing on coping
strategies practiced by farmers in combating the effects of climate change.
Niger being a Saharan area is dry with land topography categorized by sand domes. The vegetative cover is characterized by a few scattered shrubs. The soil is fragile and crops are grown under the minimum tillage method. The most widely grown crops in the area were millet due to its drought resistance while groundnut and cowpea are mostly grown along as minor crops. The farmers in practice use long handled local hoes to make planting holes instead of making ridges as is done in Nigeria. It was observed that farmers in Zinder apply to the best of their abilities both water and soil conservation practices.
At the community radio station in Zinder the visiting women groups from Nigeria were shown round the station while officers at the station explained how community members contribute towards the operation of the radio station and how messages including agricultural related messages are generated and aired for the listening pleasure and benefit of the community members. The officer added that the community radio has given community members access to express their views on important issues concerning their general well being.
At Mata Maye in Zinder, the visiting women met groundnut oil women processors group at their centre where they explained the various processes they employ in processing groundnuts into oil. While explaining the processes they displayed several of their locally fabricated implements and machines used in oil processing. The implements include a groundnut roaster with a metal mixer used to mix and turn the groundnut while the heat from underneath the roaster roasts the groundnuts, grinding machine for grinding the roasted groundnut, kneading pans were the groundnut paste in mixed and cut into shapes before frying which is the final stage where oil is obtained. The women processors group in Mata Maye further explained that on average they process more than a bag of groundnuts per day. The oil processed is collected in drums and stored in their warehouse before being transported to the market for sale.
The use of improved drought resistant cowpea varieties bred by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has also being introduced to the farmers in Niger. The cowpea varieties were mostly seen intercropped with millet. Importance of the intercropping system as the farmers explain is that while the cowpea releases nitrogen into the soil which is relevant for the vegetative growth and grain filling of the millet, the millet will also provide shade for the cowpea which reduces impacts of excess temperature, therefore a symbiosis cooperation.
WOMEN FARMERS ADVANCEMENT NETWORK.