Dankwambo throws sup­port for ir­ri­ga­tion

Daily Trust - - FEATURE - From Adamu Saleh, Gombe

Sa­malia Dabai Yombe is an army colonel who re­tired about 35 years ago and de­cided to train as a pi­lot to fight que­lea birds in Kebbi and other parts of the North.

In 2006, Yombe ac­quired two air­craft auc­tioned at the Nige­rian Col­lege of Avi­a­tion Tech­nol­ogy, Zaria. At that time, Yombe re­ally had no idea what the air­craft would be used for. It was later that the idea of aerial pest con­trol came to his mind, when the air­craft were been pre­pared for air wor­thi­ness.

The first con­tract for pest con­trol of que­lea birds handed to him was in Yola, Adamawa State, and that was even be­fore the air­craft could leave the main­te­nance hangar. At that time he knew lit­tle or noth­ing about que­lea birds, but quickly put to­gether an ex­pe­ri­enced team where he met ex­perts in the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture who schooled him in the tech­niques of aerial bat­tle against hordes of que­lea birds.

Yombe, in an in­ter­view with Daily Trust, said dur­ing one of his flights, he chased the birds to see how they roosted and nested.

Such ex­pe­ri­ence, he said, is the se­cret of iden­ti­fy­ing how the que­lea birds should be con­trolled and to mon­i­tor their high level of dev­as­ta­tion on farm­lands.

He said the job of con­trol­ling the birds was half done once their roost­ing and nest­ing area is iden­ti­fied.

Other forms of ex­per­tise, he said, is the ap­pli­ca­tion of the chem­i­cals such as Que­lea Tox which has a strong odour like that com­ing from a de­com­posed hu­man body. The Que­lea Tox was ex­hausted in 2007 and 2008 and the pro­duc­tion stopped when the chemical fac­tory in In­dia was de­stroyed af­ter an ex­plo­sion. Fenthion, which shrinks the birds’ re­s­pi­ra­tory sys­tem to pre­vent them from breath­ing and suf­fo­cate them to in­stant death, is now the chemical that is used.

The chemical has no of­fen­sive odour and lasts for 74 hours in the tar­get area.

He said his first ap­pli­ca­tion of the chemical was at Nguru in Yobe State in 2007 where it was used ex­ten­sively and the con­trol of the birds was suc­cess­ful. In 2008 Yombe went to the United States to train on crop dust­ing, which is the gen­eral ap­pli­ca­tion of air­craft for farm­ing pur­poses.

On his re­turn, his two air­craft were re-equipped to en­able them carry enough chem­i­cals for more ef­fec­tive aerial at­tack of the birds. The two Cessna 172 air­craft were also re-equipped with a con­ti­nen­tal en­gine that pro­duces 210 horse power as against the Licmi that pro­vides only 180 horse power. He said the ex­tra power en­abled the air­craft to carry load of up to 200 litres that are com­men­su­rate with the kind of safety mar­gin that is pro­vided by the air­craft and re­mains within the law. Gombe State Govern­ment has promised to en­cour­age dry sea­son farm­ing by pro­vid­ing im­proved seeds to farm­ers and buy­ing their prod­ucts af­ter har­vest.

Dankwambo stated this when he vis­ited Ju­rara farms in Kwami Lo­cal Govern­ment Area of the state to as­cer­tain the level of com­pli­ance by farm­ers to dry sea­son farm­ing.

He com­mended the farm­ers for ad­her­ing to govern­ment call for the cul­ti­va­tion of vast land for the dry sea­son farm­ing in the state, say­ing he will em­ploy agric ex­perts to ad­vice the govern­ment ap­pro­pri­ately on dry sea­son farm­ing in the state for more yields.

Ear­lier, the Com­mis­sioner for Agri­cul­ture, Al­haji Dahiru Buba Biri, said the visit of the gover­nor will, no doubt, boost the farm­ers morale,

“In Nasko, we move to the clos­est tar­get in Warra and Shanga in Kebbi State. These are ar­eas that have the high­est pop­u­la­tion of que­lea birds and where the state farm be­ing taken care of by the Chi­nese is sit­u­ated. We also carry out the same oper­a­tion in the evening and in the morn­ing and the re­sult is clear.

“Or­di­nar­ily, if you are to do point A to B kind of fly­ing, one can do 300 litres and then 150 litres of fuel. But for safety, we take 200 litres of the chemical and then depend­ing on the dis­tance from take-off point to the tar­get, most of the time, I make sure the weather is within the re­quired safety en­velop and the dis­tance is within 10-20 min­utes of our land­ing area.

“That, of course, will de­ter­mine the amount of load that will be taken. I con­sider safety first be­cause I fly within strict safety reg­u­la­tions of the Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (NCAA) as a cus­to­dian of that dis­ci­pline,” he stated. adding that the govern­ment has spent hugely on dry sea­son farm­ing in the state, call­ing on the farm­ers to re­cip­ro­cate the ges­ture by cul­ti­vat­ing more land for the dry sea­son farm­ing next year.

He said the farm­ers in Ju­rara, a ma­jor ir­ri­ga­tion area in the state, re­quired a reser­voir to be con­structed for them as that will boost their farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, adding that farm­ers in the area were sup­ported by govern­ment with fer­tiliser and seeds.

The chair­man of farm­ers as­so­ci­a­tion in the area, Malam Musa Us­man, said farm­ers in the area will ex­pand their farm­lands to pro­vide for more ir­ri­ga­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, adding, “even our youth here are en­gaged in farm­ing un­like youths in other parts of the state who are en­gaged in commercial mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ing, pop­u­larly called Ach­aba or be­come po­lit­i­cal thugs.”

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