The Jigawa State government has signed an agreement with Bayero University, Kano (BUK) for the Centre for Dryland Agriculture (CDA) to produce 100,000 sex-identified Date Palm seedlings for distribution to farming communities across Jigawa State. The agreement, which was earlier endorsed by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sagir Adamu Abbas, was signed in Dutse on Wednesday March 23, 2022 by the Honourable Commissioner of Agriculture during the opening ceremony of a Policy Workshop on indigenous tree restoration organized by CDA.
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Muhammad Alhassan, who represented the Executive Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (MON), was accompanied by the Commissioner of Land, the Managing Director of the Jigawa Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (JARDA), and several Permanent Secretaries and Directors from the State.
Date Palm is dioecious, with seperate male and female plants. During the establishment of plantations, it is difficult to identify the fruit bearing female plants at seedling stage. To address this problem, scientists from Bayero University, Kano comprising Drs Suleiman Babura, Lawan Sani and Kabir Umar developed a procedure for molecular sex identification at early growth state. The sex-identified seedlings can then be micro-propagated using tissue culture techniques. This will ensure sustainable supply of quality seedlings and enable farmers to cultivate sufficiently large number of productive female trees with minimal number of male trees.
During the signing ceremony, the Jigawa State Commissioner of Agriculture stated that “we are signing this contract for the propagation of sex-identified date palm for the benefit of our people, especially women”.
The Director of the CDA, Professor Jibrin Mohammed Jibrin noted that the Centre has developed Date Palm sex identification technique as a direct response to a request by the Association of Professional Farmers of Kano and Jigawa State, who came to CDA and complained about their loses in resources, labour and time spending to date palm sometimes for more than five years before realizing the plants are male and will not bear fruits.
With this new technique and the tissue culture facility at CDA, the desired proportions of female and male seedlings can be propagated and distributed to farmers. According to him, Jigawa state falls within the region where date palm can be cultivated at commercial scale. The state has conducive soil and climatic conditions for date palm cultivation.
The existence of local varieties with good fruit qualities and strategic geographical location that eanbles double fruiting season show the potential of the state in commercial date palm production.