Africa’s Food Security Is Threatened Due To Lack Of Modern Techniques

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has revealed that Africa’s refusal or lack in using modern farming techniques will threaten Africa’s food security.

Josef Kienzle, FAO’s Leader of the Mechanisation task team, said that unless the governments adopt new technologies of farming, the continent will continue relying on food aid.

“There is need for a paradigm shift on intensive crop production since the current methods applied cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium,” Kienzle said during the second conservation agriculture conference in Nairobi.

The FAO official said the use of rudimentary hand tools and little access to mechanization and inputs such as
quality seeds and fertiliser is further complicating agricultural productivity in the continent that has
a high population growth rate.

He said the governments must also consider allocating funds towards the improvement of degraded fertile land, depleted groundwater, pest upsurges, eroded biodiversity, air, water and soil pollution and sustainable
intensification to help increase production.

He noted that the more the annual crop yields continue declining, the more the continent will have of
undernourished people.

He recommended the application of tools that offers minimum mechanical soil disturbance, promotes permanent organic soil cover and diversification of soil crop species grown in sequence.

The FAO official called for the formation of smallholder associations that can be formalized and later
institutionalised and linked with other institutions to help promote information sharing.

“There is need to integrate sustainable mechanization in collaboration with the private sector to enhance
productivity and profitability,” he added.

Kienzle said that the majority of smallholders in Africa are women due to the fact that rural-urban migration has forced youths out of the farms to look for other means of making a living.

“There is need to incorporate the youths by re-positioning farming as a lucrative business enterprise for them to venture into and supplement production,” he added.

Barack Okoba, FAO Climate Smart Agriculture Officer, revealed that FAO offices in Kenya has developed a messaging system where farmers are sent electronic messages to their mobile phones.

“They receive messages on weather patterns and market information to help them make right decisions,” he added.

He further noted that coaching and mentorship programs have been set up through producer business groups to help attract people into the business.

 

Green Procurement And Sustainable Development

By Ayodele Fatoberu

Green purchasing/procurement is a process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value-for-money on a whole-life basis in terms of generating benefits for the organisation, society, the economy and the environment (International Green Purchasing Network) IGPN (2010). In another hand, Sustainable procurement is an investment process typically associated with public policy, although, it is equally applicable to the private sector. Organisations practicing sustainable procurement meet their needs for goods, services, utilities and works, not on a private cost-benefit analysis, but with a view to maximising net benefits for themselves and the wider world (Wikipedia).

The International Institute for Sustainable Development describes Green Procurement as the selection of products and services that minimise environmental impacts; it states further that it requires a company or organisation to carry out an assessment of the environmental consequences of a product at the various stages of its lifecycle.

According to Bruntland Commission on Sustainable Development, this is simply defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

It is therefore pertinent to note that Sustainable Development is attainable when consumption of renewable resources does not exceed nature’s ability to replenish.  This is the main reason why proponents of Green Economy have identified Green Procurement as a tool for Sustainable Development.

It is instructive to note the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which came before the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG). Goal 7 of the MDGs was to ensure Environmental Sustainability, and the results of the achievement of Goal 7, shows that the rate of deforestation was high as at the 2010 target year, even though the target for the bio-diversity conservation was not met. Goal 7Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Global concern for Environmental sustainability stems from the threat posed by monumental environmental degradation arising from unsustainable resource consumption and development are as follows: Deforestation, Desertification, Depletion of Ozone layers, Climate change, Global warming, Pollution, Water resources depletion, Habitat destruction, Ecosystem destruction and Energy consumption.

This concern has received the attention of the Conference of Parties (COP 22) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, i.e. Marrakech Climate Change Conference which was held between 7th – 18th November, 2016 in Morocco, and the 12th Conference of the Parties serving to the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement.  The issues centre around Energy, Governance, Agriculture and Food Security, Forestry and REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation), International negotiations, Climate change, Adaptation, and Mitigation.

Besides, resource consumption in the process of growth and economic development can impact negatively on the ecological integrity of the environment, which implies that we should ask the following questions as part of the sustainability checklist in every day to day economic activities as highlighted below: What are the raw materials used for the products? Are there any toxic or hazardous chemicals likely to be generated during manufacturing? What performance regulatory specifications must the new product(s) and or service(s) meet? How reliable will the delivery manufacturing/distribution process be? Are all steps commercially proven? Does the company have experience with the operations required? What types of wastes are likely to be generated?  What is their physical and chemical form?  Are they hazardous?

This is the reason why concept of Design for Environment (DFE) is now being advocated globally to reduce the negative impacts or carbon footprints, emissions and waste generation. It involves, consumption of less energy, reduction of waste generation, no hazardous/non-toxic materials and sustainable forestry products.

A number of challenges have been identified by the Institute for Sustainable Development and they include, Price sometimes, a green product may have a higher up-front purchase price; lack of corporate commitment; insufficient knowledge whereby, many organisations are unfamiliar with the concept of green procurement or with the options available to them; and availability. Other challenges are that there is no acceptable alternative, no specifications, and purchasing habits among others.

However, in implementing green procurement programmes, there is need for organisation support, self-evaluation, goals’ setting, developing strategy, running a pilot project, developing implementation strategy and sustaining a systematic procurement programme.

However, in Nigeria, efforts are being made through the relevant environmental agencies for policy advocacy and sensitisation for green development and infact, a unique example of Green project in Nigeria is the Osun State Secretariat Complex, Osogbo which in concept, design and execution is a Green Project, and fully branded as such with the green roof to depict the concept as green project.

It is obvious that Green Procurement is the New Growth frontier according to the International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN) and it remains a major avenue for achievement of Sustainable Development.

 

  • Fatoberu is the General Manager of Osun Public Procurement Agency.

Stakeholders Worry Over Rate Of Deforestation In Africa

Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and other stakeholders have decried the spate of deforestation in Africa in view of its negative effects on climate change.

Declaring open a 3-day workshop of African Forest Forum (AFF) held at the Osun State University, Osogbo, Aregbesola commended the initiative of AFF for improving livelihood and sustainable management of forest resources in the African continent.

The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mrs Grace Titilaoye Tomori, noted that he launched an afforestation programme that witnessed the planting of two million trees and also encouraged every household to ensure that a tree was planted in the name of members of the family.

The workshop with the theme, “Modelling Climate and Applications to the forestry sector hosted by the Osun State University, Osogbo had no fewer than seventeen African countries in attendance.

Aregbesola said that Osun had been fully committed to afforestation and tree planting in order to curtail the ravaging effect of climate change.

He noted that Osun had 10 forest reserves across seven local government areas and also identified poor data base and lack of comprehensive management due to encroachment and deforestation as the challenges being encountered.

The ECOWAS Representative, Mr Moussa Leko, said it is committed to supporting the efforts of member states in creating synergy among stakeholders in order to sustain the forest management globally and also in sound decision making within the Sub region.

Leko further stressed on the importance of forestry on food security and supply of renewable energy as source of livelihood among the people of Africa.

He commended the initiative of the forum with huge impact expected to be felt on forest resources management both at regional and international levels.

Mr Godwin Kowero, the Executive Secretary of the AFF stressed the way climate change is affecting environment and therefore becoming threat to human lives.

Kowero added that the forum is working closely with the United Nations to address the issue of forest deforestation especially in the African continent.

He said strategic plans are being put in place across African countries to curtail environmental degradation and climate change challenges.

In his remark, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Labode Popoola, said efforts is ongoing to carve out Renewable Natural Resources center in the Faculty of Agriculture of Osun State University.

While urging participants to make the best use of opportunities provided by the workshop, he praised the state government for supporting the university in meeting up with its academic challenges.

500 Kogi Farmers Receives Training

Sunny DeLegend Services, an NGO, in collaboration with Kogi Government on Saturday trained 500 farmers on “Agriculture Beyond Food: E-commerce Training”.

The Managing Director of the NGO, Mrs Joy Amuta, told journalists in Lokoja that the training would cut across areas such as agriculture, fashion, recycling and real estate.

She added that 10,000 farmers were targeted through value chain with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) including benefits such as workshop, business plan, loan facilities, off-takers opportunity, partnership and business connection.

“Many people do not know that with agriculture you can become a millionaire, and that is the reason we are trying to educate, sensitise and train them in that aspect.

“We are also partnering with Tehilla Shelter Foundation, Heal4Africa Initiative, SMEDAN and other stakeholders to bring hope to the people and restore to them what they had lost in agriculture.

“Today, we are opening the mind of the participants that they can actually channel whatever passion they have into agriculture; you can source your income from agriculture and use it to develop your passion,” she said.

Amuta commended the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, for making the programmme a success, saying the farmers are ready to really engage in mechanised farming.

“We will educate, sensitise, train and give them the necessary information on how they can easily access these funds.

“We urge all farmers across the state to take advantage of the programme and key into it,” she said.

She added that the organisation had mapped out 1,000 hectares of land for this wet season, but that the main challenge was land clearing. She said the commissioner has promised to facilitate it.

Oloruntoba commended the organisers for the initiative, describing it as a wonderful project and a way of empowering the people to richness.

According to Oloruntoba, there is land, water and people; and the government is supporting agriculture, but the NGOs are needed to partner with government to educate and train our people.

“So, programmes like this will create an avenue to let our people know those opportunities that are available to them and take advantage of them.

“We have also completed land mappings few days ago for 4,800 farmers with minimum of one hectare each, for proper information and accurate data to eliminate sharp practices,” he said.

Mr Clement Ilegoke, a participant, said on behalf of his colleagues that: “I think we are impressed because the loans are well explained and we are all ready to go back to the farm and make the state proud.”

FG Raises Alarm Over Unhealthy Importation Of Rice

The Federal Government has appealed to Nigerians to be careful and stay completely away from imported rice, raising alarm over the unhealthy status attached to the imported rice.

This was revealed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a media briefing in Lagos. He said the government could not guarantee the healthy status of the rice having spent months on the high seas and warehouses. He appealed to Nigerians to complement the efforts of the government by consuming only locally-grown and processed rice which he said “is fresher, tastier and healthier’’. “We don’t know where or how imported rice is made or how old it is? It is reported that most of the rice dumped on us are old and probably rejected. “The citizens of those countries do not eat this rice. The citizens of Benin also do not eat it. But they send it to us. “Unhealthy foods are dangerous to health.

So let’s eat what we can vouch for,’’ he said. The minister noted that rice smuggling was the biggest challenge facing rice production in Nigeria. Quoting the Rice Millers Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RIMIDAN), he said that more than two million metric tonnes (MT) of parboiled rice were smuggled into Nigeria in 2017.

Mohammed said that smuggled rice was primarily sourced from Thailand and India and came into Nigeria through the country’s borders with Benin, Niger and Cameroon. “In Benin Republic, the total demand for white rice (white rice is consumed in Benin, against parboiled rice in Nigeria) is 400,000 MT. “Yet the country, with a population of about 11 million imports between one million and 1.2m MT of rice annually. “Who are they importing for? Nigerians of course.

In fact, as Nigeria’s rice import falls, Benin’s rice import increases. “Most of the parboiled rice imported by Benin eventually lands in Nigeria through smuggling,’’ he said. The minister said that smuggled rice costs between N11,000 and N13,000 per 50kg bag, while Nigerian processed rice sells for between N14,500 and N15,000 per 50kg bag Explaining why price of local rice was higher, he said Cameroon and Benin Republics had lowered tariff payable on rice to 0 and five per cent respectively to encourage importation and subsequent smuggling into Nigeria.

He added that Thailand and India where the smuggled rice were sourced also gave a high level of subsidies to rice farmers and rice processors. The minister disclosed that the local rice producers had made some representations to the government on how Nigerian rice could compete favourably, in terms of pricing, with the heavily subsidised imported rice. He assured that the government would work on the presentations to formulate policies and take steps that will bring down the price of local rice.

Mohammed noted that less than three years into the rice revolution, millions of jobs had been created in the whole value chain in the country. He, therefore underscored the economic importance of consuming locally produced rice, especially in terms of job creation. “Nigerians should remember that every time they eat imported rice, they are eating the jobs that would have been created for Nigerians. “It is important for Nigerians to know that when they consume imported rice, they are creating jobs in India and Thailand and destroying jobs across our country. “Today, we have rice farmers in all states and all geopolitical zones. “In fact, most of us have friends and relatives who are farming rice. So if we don’t patronize their products, we are destroying their livelihoods,’’ he said.
He said the government would embark on a massive nationwide campaign to sensitize compatriots to the need to support the rice revolution by consuming local rice.

AfDP Proffer Solution to Africa

With the quantity of Cocoa grown in African countries, making her the largest producer of cocoa in the world, The African Development Bank (AfDB) has advised cocoa processing and chocolate production in Africa. Concerned AFDP gave this advise to end the continent from being at the bottom of global value chains.

AfDB said there is huge opportunity for Africa, the largest producer of cocoa in the world, to rake in economic value that the global market offers.

It identified cocoa as the main ingredient for chocolates which come in all shapes and sizes.

And the demand for chocolate will most likely continue to increase, according to experts, AfDB said.

Africa produces about 75 per cent of the world’s cocoa but the region faces a daunting paradox.

Though it accounts for a majority of the world’s cocoa production, Africa gets just 5 per cent of the $100 billion annual chocolate market value.

Akinwunmi Adesina, AFDB President and former minister of agriculture said, “Africa has been unable to extract a larger share of the global chocolate market value because it exports just raw cocoa beans.

“Africa is stuck at the bottom of the cocoa value chain, dominated, instead of dominating, despite being the leading producer!” exclaims Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

Adesina said: “African farmers sweat, while other eat sweets. While the price of cocoa has hit an all-time low, profits of global manufacturers of chocolate have hit an all-time high.

The bank is leading a call to action on Africa’s agro-industrialization, which is key to transforming the cocoa value chain.

“Africa must not be locked at the bottom…it must rapidly add value to what it leads the world in producing”, Adesina said.

“it is time for Africa to move to the top of the global food value chains, through agro-industrialization and adding value to all of what it produces”.

The African Development Bank has prioritised industrialization in its High 5 agenda. This could create an opportunity for African countries to add value to their raw materials. It is this regard that the Bank’s Annual Meetings for this year has the theme “Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization”.

This year’s Easter celebration signals a further call to action for African cocoa producers to start producing chocolate to compete with countries like Belgium, Switzerland, U.S. and France.

“This will not only bring in money, but also afford opportunities for the many cocoa farmers who are yet to taste chocolate in their entire life.

Rice Farming: 35- Man Committee Elected For Anchor Borrowers Programme

The Rice Farmers Association at Sandamu Local Governmemt Area chapter, Katsina AState has inaugurated a 35-man committee to monitor the utilisation and implementation of the Anchor Borrowers Programme in the area.

Alhaji Unman Nalado, the Chairman of the association, announced this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Sandamu on Tuesday. Nalado explained that the committee consisted of two sub committees at Local Government and polling units cluster levels.

He said that the local government committee comprised 25 members, including traditional rulers, the district heads and the ward heads to ensure close monitoring and implementation.

The chairman added that the polling unit cluster commttee comprised 10 persons mandated to report any act of diversion of the agricultural implements given to the registered farmers.

According to him, 670 farmers received the agricultural implement which includes bags of fertilizers, herbicides, seedlings, sprayers and water pumping machines.

Nalado noted that the number of the hectare registered against the name of an individual farmer determined the quantity of the implements to be provided to him which would be repaid with bags of paddy rice after one year.

He called on the farmers to make judicious use of the implements, to generate employment and boost food security

No fewer than 431 farmers in Sandamu benefited from the programme in 2017.

 

Buhari Commissions N50b Sugar Estate In Niger

President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the N50 billion Sunti Golden Sugar Estate which he said will employ 10,000 people directly.

Speaking in Sunti in Mokwa local government area on Thursday, Buhari said the magnitude of nvestment in the sugar estate is a clear manifestation that the policies on economic diversification  of the government is attracting the right kind of support and engagement.

“With N50 billion invested into Sunti  Golden sugar Estate, this makes it the largest Agro-allied investment in Nigeria today. The sugar factory will produce 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually, employ 10,000 people directly and a network of 3,000 small scale outgrowets of sugarcane. ”

The President stated that the socio-economic impact of the company’s investment cannot be quantified as lives would be changed and the impact on the national economy will be significant.

He further noted that the benefits of the River Niger have been overlooked for long stressing on the need for proper utilization of the masses of bodies and how it can be converted for commerce and investment.

Buhari then reassured Nigerians that the administration is committed to the transformation and diversification of the economy adding that they will continue to support businesses and investors by creating enabling business environment.

He stated that sugar have been identified as a key commodity that is critical to national food security adding that the sugar factory will help stem the tide of importation of sugar, save foreign exchange and create wealth amidst rural poverty.

In his address, Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello said Nigerlites are proud farmers adding that the sugar estate would utilize the farmers and make them productive.

He said that 2018 have been earmarked as the year of agricultural revolution in the state calling on investors to invest into the state which is a perfect model for investment.

Bello said that the sugar mills which is one of the two sugar mills in the country will produce 4,500 metric tonnes of sugar per day.

The governor then appealed to the President for the speedy completion of the Suleja road,  Tegina-Kontagora road and Mokwa-Jebba road in order to attract more investors into the state.

The Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, Mr. John Coumantaros said the Sunti sugar factory is to ensure that local sugar is produced in Niger state adding that the factory is showcasing the shift in the focus from crude oil to agriculture.

He said that the Sunti Sugar factory will save Nigeria 100 million dollars on foreign exchange every year strengthen the capacity and economic status of the people.

The Chairman commended President Buhari for his policies which have been good and have lead to private sector growth across the country.

The Sunti Golden Sugar Estate occupies 17,000 hectares of land in Mokwa local government area of Niger state out of which 10,000 hectares is being used as sugarcane farm.

The Rice War: How Asian Rice Importers Sabotage Nigeria’s Rice Policy By Mustapha Ogunsakin

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, must by now have understood what it means to fight the rice mafia in Nigeria. For about a week now, he has been in the eye of the storm over comments reportedly credited to him, relating to the fact that seven rice mills had closed shop in Thailand on account of the drop in the importation of rice by Nigeria.

Apart from the response of Thailand Ambassador to Nigeria, Wattana Kunwongse, denying remarks that rice mills are collapsing in the Asian country; many people had gone to town, particularly on the social media, to castigate the minister for telling lies. This was done rather than viewing the statement credited to the minister in the context that Nigeria is involved in a trade war that dates back many decades.

Kunwongse, in a statement, said: “The report is not only misleading but a distortion of the actual conversation between myself and the honourable minister of agriculture at the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development.” He narrated how he “praised President Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the essence of which is the endeavour to move the country to a self-sufficiency and export-oriented economy, and to that worthy cause, Thailand stands ready to work closely with the Nigerian government in the field of technological transfer and agricultural machineries.”

It seems relevant and necessary to ask how the exporting country hopes to benefit from assisting an importing country in technological transfer and agricultural machineries that will end up stopping the latter from continuing to depend on the former. Some issues raise questions of correlation and causation. What the ambassador did not explain is how his country exported 1,647,387 metric tonnes of rice to Republic of Benin in 2017 alone. Mr Kunwogse also did not mention that Thailand’s export of rice to Benin Republic has been steadily on the increase, 805,765MT in 2015, and 1,427,098MT in 2016, while official export from Thailand into Nigeria was steadily declining.

Nigeria has an estimated 180 million people while the population of Republic of Benin is about 11 million people. In 2014, 1,239,810MT was imported into Nigeria. It declined to 644,131MT in 2015, and to 58,260MT in 2016, reaching an all-time low of 23,197MT in 2017, and if this trajectory remains on a downward path, Nigeria may not be importing rice by 2020. The flow of rice exported from major Asian origins to Benin for onward shipment to Nigeria is a factor that should not be ignored in the regional rice trade in West Africa.

ECOWAS data indicate that over half of the rice Benin imports is sold into the Nigerian market. Port of Cotonou statistics show about 2.4 million metric tons (MMT) of cereals arriving at the port in 2014, over half of which is rice. USDA data shows about 700,000 MT of net rice and wheat imports, coming under lower duties, another reason for the large volumes of cereals transiting from Benin Republic to Nigeria. Rice is by far the most important commodity for the Benin Food Importers Association.

This should be a cause for concern as Nigeria consumes parboiled rice exclusively, but Benin prefers white rice. Rice consumption in Nigeria is almost entirely of parboiled rice. In West Africa only Nigeria consumes parboiled rice. Other West African countries, including all the neighboring countries to Nigeria (Niger, Benin, Cameroon, Chad) are not consumers of parboiled rice. In Africa only South Africa is the other major country that consumes parboiled rice.
The shipments of parboiled rice from India and Thailand into Lome, Cotonou and Douala ports is a very fair estimate of smuggled rice into Nigeria as none of these countries have internal consumption of parboiled rice. All the parboiled rice exported to these countries finally find their way into Nigeria. Consumption of parboiled rice by Nigeria’s neighbours like Togo, Sierra-Leone, and Niger Republic is not significant as parboiled rice is not part of their staple food. So where is this humongous rice import meant for?

Smuggling of parboiled rice from across the borders (mainly Benin Republic) is creating a major disaster for the rice industry in Nigeria and is upsetting the country’s economy. Will it then be correct that the exporting country is involved in the smuggling by proxy? These neighboring countries don’t consume parboiled rice! Details on this argument can be found on: https://www.proshareng.com/ news/Agriculture/Smuggling-of- Parboiled-Rice-from-Across- the-Borders/37718 .

In a few weeks, Nigerians will celebrate Easter, a very important festival for Christians in Nigeria which celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the other season apart from Christmas that the demand for parboiled rice will reach its peak. Why is it now that the attack on the minister over importation of rice loudest? Much of the rice exported to Republic of Benin are expected to find their way into Nigeria at all cost, particularly through smuggling.

Investigations reveal that the rice gang has become so ruthless and sophisticated that they will stop at nothing to ensure that these goods get into the country. The smugglers who move in convoys of not less than 50 vehicles, are always battle ready and well equipped to kill anyone, including customs officials, who dare stop them. A case in point is January 17, 2018, when smugglers engaged custom officers in a gun battle at Abule-Egba, Lagos State, where the smugglers incited the people into a riot, claiming one of them was killed.
The attack on Chief Ogbeh therefore seems part of a ruthless campaign that has been going for years to ensure that Nigeria never reached self –sufficiency in rice production. Ogbeh’s predecessor in office, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, now President, African Development Bank(AfDB) was also fought to a standstill.

In July 2015, the government of Thailand announced that it has struck preliminary deals to export a total of 760,000 tonnes from its huge stockpiles to several countries in Africa. This announcement was made by the Thai Rice Exporters Association which said the rice will be supplied to Nigeria, Mozambique, and South Africa.

This was despite the restriction placed on importers of rice and other items from the official foreign exchange market by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, had at that time bemoaned the high bill on rice importation which had resulted in huge unsold stock of rice cultivated by indigenous farmers as well as low operating capacities of the many integrated rice mills in the country.

But Reuters quoted Chukiat Opaswong, honorary president of the Thai association, in a phone interview from Johannesburg, saying most of the rice going to Africa is parboiled and shipments will start in September. The rice would be sold at around $430 a tonne netting the government more than $325 million, that is roughly N117 billion. Nigeria is one of the major importers of the commodity from Thailand, importing about one million tonnes of rice valued at about $700 million every year.

A research by Bloomberg then revealed that Thailand Government held around 17.8 milliom tons in stock piles and was keen on selling 10 million tons of stockpiled rice in 2015 and around seven million in 2016 through tenders. (“Thailand’s rice export to the world in 20 January-December 2017 reached 11.48 million tons equalising $5.1 billion (USD), a 15.54 per cent increase compared to previous years, which is one of the highest figures in the history of Thailand’s rice exportation). The stockpiling means the rice exported is not necessarily fresh as it is kept for years in stores and only drawn upon during the time of export.

In 2015, Dr Adesina fought the “Rice Cabal,” a group of exporters of parboiled rice from Thailand and India, to a standstill. In 2014, he warned that “Nigerian government will not allow any company to undermine its policy of food self – sufficiency”, and then added “Nigeria is not for sale”.

For over a decade, a cabal of foreign rice importers has held Nigeria by the jugular, determining the quantity of rice to be imported into the country from Asian countries such as Thailand, and India. So much was their influence that they have no regard for government’s quota of rice importation. These companies are so powerful to the extent of owing government N35.6 billion on duties from imported rice in 2014 alone, according to the former Minister. It is not clear whether these companies paid the tariff after the Buhari administration took over government.

In recent times, Nigerians have begun to patronise their own local rice which they have turned into delicacies, attracting higher prices than imported rice. Virtually all eateries across the country now serve local rice, one popularly called “ofada”. Across the cities, women with coolers take the rice to offices and sell to ready customers who pay higher price.

Nigerians are also beginning to appreciate the nutritional value and taste of their own local rice as against parboiled rice that has been laced with preservatives and warehoused for years before getting to their destinations.

Nigerians living in the city of Lagos woke up in December 2017 to the cheery news of sale of local polished rice by Lagos State government. The product, christened LAKE RICE, was a product of partnership between Lagos and Kebbi states to ensure food security and showcase the ability of Nigeria to become a food-producing nation. Over a million bags was sold. It went a long way to reduce the price of rice during the festive period. Since then many state governments have formed joint partnership in the production of rice and other staple foods.

Foreign rice importing companies are therefore experiencing serious competition from patriotic Nigerian rice growers, farmers, and even state governments who have embraced government’s rice policy and have become major investors in the local rice sector. Nigerians are taking the gauntlet and freeing themselves from shackles of dependency. Nigerians are feeding Nigerians.
The fear or competition by these Asian companies and their unwillingness to pay billions of naira to the treasury is what is driving a devious campaign against the rice quota allocations. For once, Nigeria is winning the rice rice war, and after Chief Ogbeh spoke to put this in context, hell was let loose.

Government’s rice policy is geared towards encouraging investment in local rice production and milling as government has announced the plan to distribute more small mills across the rice production zones. As Easter festivities approach, the Nigerian authorities will have their hands full in controlling imported rice from finding their way into Nigeria through smuggling. Nigerian rice producers and the entire value chain will also need to make sure local polished rice reaches the nooks and cranny of the country. States like Lagos are also expected to control the huge Lagos market by selling at subsidised rate the way they did last December. Then the words of Audu Ogbeh will be understood that the Asian Tigers are at war with Nigeria and West Africa on rice, a war Nigeria and the West African sub region must win very quickly and permanently.

Federal Government Pumps N43.92 Billion Into Rice Farming

The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Al-Hassan, in New York at Nigeria’s side event during the ongoing 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) stated that the federal government has released about N43.92 billion (122 million dollars) to 300,000 rice farmers to increase Nigeria’s rice production by additional two million tonnes in 2018.

The theme of the event was: “Achieving Economic Empowerment: Addressing women peace and security issues as a pathway for socioeconomic Independence for rural women in Nigeria”.

Mrs. Al-Hassan said: “The Agricultural Transformation Agenda is aimed at strengthening the agricultural value chain, achieving a hunger-free nation, accelerating food and nutritional security, generating employment and growing wealth for millions of farmers.

“The current Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Federal Government has released over 122 million dollars to farmers through 13 participating institutions.

“This is to spur the production of additional two million tonnes of rice in 2018 by 300,000 Rice Farmers, majority of whom are women in rural areas”.

She said the Muhammadu Buhari-led government was determined to meet the objectives of poverty eradication and the empowerment of rural women and girls for sustainable development, inherent in Agenda 2030.

According to her, the Nigerian government has taken rigorous steps to initiate and strengthen policies, institutional frameworks, systems and mechanisms aimed at achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

She said some of the implementable strategies were designed to harness the socio-economic potentials of Nigeria’s 83.3 million female population.

 

1,500 Rice Farmers Empowered In Katsina State

1,500 rice farmers have been equipped with various farming implements in Daura Katsina State.

According to reports the empowerment was done under the phase 11 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Scheme, an official has confirmed.

The Chairman Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Nura Baure, disclosed this in Daura on Thursday during the distribution of the farming implements to registered farmers, said that each farmer had received two bags of fertilizers, two bottles of herbicides and a water pumping machine.

Also given to the farmers, he said, were a bag of improved seedlings, two liters of liquid fertilizer and a bag of organic fertilizer.

He put the monetary value of the implements at N275,000 per beneficiary which would be repaid within one year.

“The loan repayment must be in bags of paddy rice, not cash,” he explained.

Baure warned the farmers against diverting the implements or defaulting in repayment, saying that a mobile court had been established to try defaulters.

He said that the scheme was aimed at promoting mass production of rice, through a revolving loan procedure, so as to empower millions of farmers in line with the objectives of the ancho borrowers programme.

In his remarks, the state chairman of RIFAN, Alhaji Shuaibu Wakili, assured the beneficiaries that those who repaid would be reconsidered without delay.

He said that 18,000 farmers across the 34 local government areas of the state were expected to benefit.

Wakili said that the programme was being funded by the federal government and facilitated by the CBN, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance and Cooperative Bank.

He lauded the efforts of the Katsina Sate Government in facilitating the implementation of the programme, especially during the farmland mapping out survey and the bank processes.

Malam Idris Mohammed, a beneficiary, commended the federal government for the programme and promised that repayment would not be a problem.