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Strip Cropping as a Way to Increase Cowpea Production

Farmers in northern Nigeria learn a method used in many countries to provide bigger crops and protect soil. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Nigeria is the world's largest cowpea producer. Cowpeas are also called black-eyed peas. But there is always room for improvement.

Recently, before the start of another farming season, some farmers in northern Nigeria received training in ways to increase production.

The Institute for International and Tropical Agriculture organized the training in Kano. Extension agents also attended. So did representatives of the United States Agency for International Development and the Kano State Agricultural Development Authority.

The program included training in strip cropping. This means repeatedly planting two rows of cereals followed by four rows of cowpeas.

Strip cropping is generally done on slopes, or hilly areas. Farmers in many countries use this traditional method with a number of crops. Experts say it can provide bigger crops and protect soil from damage by wind and water.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization suggests using strip cropping with the alternating of crops. That is, not growing the same crop again and again. The F.A.O. says combining these methods can reduce insect pests and fungi.

Farmers in the Americas also use strip cropping to reduce erosion. One example is on Prince Edward Island, a province of Canada in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Colorful rows of crops look like an artist designed them. Agricultural specialists on the island say the strip-cropping method works well with potatoes. They say it can reduce erosion rates over hilly areas far better than simply changing crops.

At their training in Kano, the farmers also learned about a method called triple bagging to store cowpeas. The system uses three fifty kilogram plastic bags. The cowpeas are placed in the first one, which is then put inside the other two. Insects are not likely to get through all three bags. Cowpeas can be stored this way for five months without the need to use preservatives.

The farmers also learned how to use the sun to kill insects that invade cowpeas before storage. The cowpeas are placed on a black plastic sheet under the heat of the sun. Later, the produce is moved into metal cans without any air inside.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. You can learn more about agricultural methods at I'm Steve Ember.