Anambra to Key into FG Proposed Livestock Production Project

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has declared the state’s willingness to key into Federal Government’s Livestock Agricultural Production Project when a team from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with World Bank paid a visit to the Government House, Awka on Thursday.

The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Nkem Okeke, said livestock business, which was highly lucrative, would help to improve the economy of the state.

He said the state was ready to develop its livestock business, but pointed out that non-availability of animal feeds was one of the problems affecting the industry.

The team’s spokesperson, Winnie Ifeoma Lai-Solarin, said they came to assess the livestock industry in Anambra in preparation for the $200 million World Bank credit to enhance productivity and resilience policy value in the industry.

‘Livestock industry has over the years suffered setbacks and neglect in addition to being bedevilled by crisis raging between herders and farmers. The livestock industry is a sleeping giant in Nigeria,” Lai-Solarin said.
She added that the team would visit 21 states in the country in preparation for the project, noting that the four major components of the industry are institutional strengthening; enhancement of the performance value chain; management of the natural resources, and development of conflict eradication strength.

“Anambra stands tall among other states and has shown its willingness to key into the project; we were able to see livestock potential in Anambra and commitment by the state farmers,’’ she said.

She then revealed that there was institutional synergy of the state to turn its comparative advantage to productive purposes and promised smooth process of the project in the state.

Earlier, the state commissioner for agriculture, Afam Mbanefo, listed some of the achievements in the agricultural sector, saying the state had recently commercialised some of its agricultural produce, in addition to having its branded ‘Anambra rice’ and ‘Anambra fufu.’

The commissioner assured them that the state would soon pay the N20 million state counterpart fund in support of the project, which would officially commence in January next year.

“Livestock industry is one of the projects in which the state has signified its interest and we believe this is quite a good one for Anambra,’’ he said.

828 Bags Of Contraband Rice Seized

At least 828 bags of imported rice has been seized by The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB) at Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.

Two 40 horsepower outboard engines and the boats which were transporting the items were also seized according to the Commanding Officer, FOB, Capt. Yusuf Idris, who disclosed this at Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area of the state on Tuesday, adding that the seizure was effected by men of the personnel at FOB on patrol around Mbo river at about 20.48 hours on Saturday, July 14.

Idris said the suspects abandoned the contraband and the boat at Mbo bank when they sighted naval gunboat, adding that the contraband goods were transported into the country from the Republic of Cameroon.

He explained that the command would continue to hunt merchants of contraband rice as they refused to halt trade in illicit items, saying that the seized commodity run into millions of Naira.

The commanding officer said that the Nigerian Navy had resolved not to allow anybody or groups however powerful they may be, to rob the Nigerian government of legitimate earnings.

He noted that “like we have always said in line with the harmonised standard procedures, I am handing over 828 bags of rice suspected to be smuggled into the country from Republic of Cameroon to Nigerian Customs Service.

“We have told and warned people against smuggling of contraband items: we will continue to hunt them
until they decide to stop.”

He, however, reiterated the command’s commitment to support and protect legitimate business owners in the maritime environment.

Idris said that the suspects would be handed over to the appropriate authority for prosecution, saying that the Nigerian Navy remained resolute and undeterred in carrying out their duties.

Ali Garko, the Customs Assistant Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, thanked the Nigerian Navy for the support in fighting smuggling in the Nigerian maritime territory.

Osun Speaker Distributes Seedlings To Osun Farmers

By Israel Afolabi

In its bid to ensure adequate supply of inputs in agricultural sector in the state, the Speaker, State of Osun House of Assembly, Dr. Najeem Salaam has distributed high yielding crop seedlings to All Farmers Association Of Nigeria (AFAN) Osun State Chapter.

In his remarks at the AFAN secretariat Osogbo, Dr. Najeem Salaam urged youths to go into farming due to unstable oil price globally that is affecting the nation’s economy.

Salaam made it known that it is only farming that can bail out this nation at this critical period.

According to him, “whether we like it or not, we cannot continue to downplay the importance of farming because oil is no more booming. We want to lift farming to greater height in the state”.

He promised to give support to the farmers’ association with all things within his power to ensure good cultivation in the state.

He said, “I will support farmers with tractors because I know the problems facing our farmers in general.”

He however predicted a brighter future for farmers if given the necessary support with the required equipments and tools to cultivate.

The lawmaker also advised farmers to contribute to the Land Charge Bill before the house while promising that their views would be factored in before the bill is passed.

He noted that a Microfinance bank for farmers will be established in the state to give loans to the farmers without stress while there will be training for farmers to cultivate in line with modern systems of farming.

In his remarks, the President of Osun chapter of AFAN, Mr Kayode Afolabi noted that Dr. Salaam has kept his promise with Osun AFAN.

He commended the speaker’s good gesture towards farmers in the state while urging him to purchase tractors for farming in the state.

He charged Dr. Salaam, as one of their members, to stand up for farmers challenge for them to have better life.

He solicited his support for the establishment of farmers’ Micro-finance Bank and farmers house in the state as well.

He urged government not to drive farmers out of Oke-Osun farm settlement because of farmland scarcity in the state.

Among the crop seedlings distributed to the AFAN are cashew, cocoa, oil-palm, pepper and moringa seedlings.

Buhari Inaugurates Rice Factory In Calabar, Says FG Making ‘Giant Agricultural Strides’

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is committed to boosting Nigeria’s economy through Agricultural revolution and is already recording progress.

The President made this statement on Tuesday while commissioning the automated rice seed and seedling factory in Cross Rivers State capital, Calabar.

He applauded the Cross Rivers state Governor, Ben Ayade, over his contribution to Federal Government’s Agricultural revolution.

“When we assumed the reins of leadership of our dear country, this administration launched a zero oil economic roadmap as a way of making our country less dependent on oil while encouraging investment in other sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture.

“Indeed this factory speaks loudly about the giant strides we are making in agriculture as a country. This monumental project for which we are gathered here today is a marvel to behold.”

 

The automated seed and seedling factory is believed to be the first in Africa and the President is confident that the seedlings from the factory will improve rice production and sufficiency nationwide.

“The factory which is said to be the first in Africa is an automated plant with a capacity to produce high yielding vitaminised and disease resisting rice seedling.

“What we expect is that the seedlings from this factory will improve rice yield from current nation three to four tonnes to about nine to 10 tonnes per hectare to ensure rice sufficiency in the country,” he said.

President Buhari said further Governor Ayade is establishing various people-oriented projects because he has keyed into the Federal Government’s revolutionary vision.

“I must say that visiting the state (Cross Rivers) for the second time within three years in connection with people oriented and the flagship project of Governor Ayade is very welcomed and very satisfying to me.”

Rice Farmers Register For Wet Season In Katsina

5,654 rice farmers in Daura and Sandamu Local Government Areas of Katsina State already have their data captured to receive loan under the Federal Government Anchor Borrowers Programme for the raining season.

Alhaji Nura Baure, Chairman, RIFAN Chairman, Daura Local Government, said during the flag- off of the exercise on Monday in Daura, that the association had captured 2,961 farmers for the agricultural scheme.

He said the basic requirement that qualifies a prospective beneficiary were obtaining of Bank Verification Number, registering with the association and endorsement by district head and a competent court of law.

The chairman said more farmers can still register, but stressed that the data capture exercise would soon close as only 10 days had been earmarked for the exercise.

“We would ensure that we reach the set target,’’ he said, adding that about 900 women were among those whose data had been captured and issued with forms to complete the remaining processes.

“I am encouraged at the turnout of women farmers for the scheme,’’ he added.

Officials of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in the two local governments said the process was ongoing and open to more farmers wishing to participate.

Baure cautioned those registering for the programme with ulterior motives that they would face prosecution if they fail to repay the loan granted them.

He commended the Federal Government for the scheme as according to him about 2,500 farmers in the area have achieved self-reliance courtesy of the anchor borrower programme.

A total of 896 farmers in the local government benefited from the last distribution of the dry season agricultural inputs under the programme.

Similarly, Alhaji Usman Nalado, Chairman, RIFAN, Sandamu Local Government said that the data of 2,693 farmers had been captured for the programme.

Nalado, who is the Matawallen Sandamu, told NAN in Sandamu that 721 of those captured were women.

“We would not relent in encouraging our mothers to key into such lofty scheme,’’ the chairman said, adding that successful farmers would receive water pumping machine, fertilizer, seedlings, herbicides and other relevant farming implements.

He said the procedure of accessing the loan and repayment mode was uniform nationwide as beneficiaries were expected to repay the loan with bags of paddy rice not cash.

608 farmers in the area received farming inputs during the last dry season farming under the programme.

Returnees Embark On Massive Farming In Yobe

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that residents who returned to communities in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe have embarked on massive farming with the favourable rainy season years after they were sent away from their homes by Boko Haram isurgents and their farm lands getting destroyed.

Correspondents who visited the area on Wednesday reports that many farmlands abandoned for several years were being cultivated by the returnees. Mallum Bukar, a displaced person who recently returned to Buni Yadi, said he was cultivating his farm after six years since he fled the area.

He said “though some returnees cultivated their farms last season, the number of people returning to the farms this year is higher.

“Some returnees have even expanded their farms: some of the farmlands abandoned several years ago even before the insurgency have been reclaimed and planted this year.”

Umar Ali, a resident of Gujba village told NAN that the increased engagement of returnees in farming activities this year was encouraging.

He said “if the yields are good, the people will no longer look for food support from humanitarian organisations.

“Farming is our major occupation: we are now back fully prepared to reclaim our economic lives destroyed by the insurgency.”

Muhammadu Bakoro of Sabon Gari village also in Yobe said what the returnees needed now were improved seedlings, herbicides and pesticides “with just a little quantity of fertiliser.

“We are optimistic we can cultivate our food needs this year and sell the excess in view of the massive agricultural activities going on in communities.”

Improved security in Yobe facilitated the return of Internally Displaced Persons to almost all the communities destroyed by insurgency in the state.

Rice Farmers Commend FG Over Efforts To Stop Importation

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has commended the Federal Government for its plans to stop the importation of rice by shutting its border with a neighbouring country to reduce rice smuggling into the country.

Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, the President of RIFAN, expressed gratitude on Wednesday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja while reacting to the statement of Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, concerning plans to close the border because of large-scale rice smuggling into Nigeria through the unnamed country.

Goronyo said that the move had become imperative in view of the current rice revolution in many states across the country and the strategic interventions which some Federal Government agencies had initiated.

He said that if adequate measures were not taken to stop the activities of the smugglers, they would have adverse effects on the expected bumper rice harvests in the country, while creating a glut.

“It is a step in the right direction to ensure self-sufficiency, enable the country to make progress, crash the market prices of locally produced rice and make the huge investment on rice production to be more meaningful,’’ he said.

Goronyo said that although rice importation through the land borders was banned since April 2016, rice smugglers still engaged in the unwholesome act.

He said that even before now, RIFAN and the Nigeria Customs Service had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to curb rice smuggling into the country through land borders.

The RIFAN president said that the joint efforts had reduced the activities of the smugglers, adding that the smuggled rice in the country, which largely came in through the informal sector, was just five per cent of what the citizens consumed.

“Any smuggler bringing rice into the Nigerian market would have to think twice because it is no longer a profitable venture, as the landing cost of a 50kg. bag of imported rice is now N20, 000.

“So calculate how much the rice had to be sold for the venture to be a profitable one; honestly, rice smuggling is no longer a lucrative venture,’’ he said.

Goronyo said that as part of efforts to achieve the goals of the anti-rice importation policy, the Comptroller-General of Customs ordered the deployment of capable officers and men to the country’s borders to enforce the order.

He said that the Customs also re-organised its anti-smuggling patrol operations to strengthen efforts to enforce the ban on rice imports via the land borders.

He commended the efforts of the customs service to restore the confidence of RIFAN in its capacity, while assuring the country’s rice farmers of getting adequate markets for their produce.

Goronyo said that rice production in Nigeria had increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.

He said that in 2015, Nigerians spent not less than N1 billion daily on rice consumption, adding that while spending had drastically reduced, rice consumption had, nonetheless, increased because of increased local production.

Goronyo said that available statistics showed that the rice consumption rate had increased appreciably, while the production rate had climaxed to 5.9 tonnes per annum.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for investing massively in rice production, adding that his policies had stimulated the nation’s development.

He assured Nigerians that with the sustained implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, RIFAN would assiduously work towards Nigeria’s attainment of self-sufficiency in rice production by 2020

FG Urged To Encourage Cassava Starch Producers And Ban Importation

The Federal Government has been urged to encourage cassava starch producers in the country by stopping the importation of corn starch by Harvest Feed and Agro Processing Limited (HFAP).

The company made this plea through the chairman who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Adeyemi said that government needed to protect local industries that produced cassava starch, and stop those importing corn starch into Nigeria to the detriment of local production adding that the move would encourage local production and boost industralisation.

“The corn starch is going to affect the sell of our product which is not what we desire.

“Nigeria is the leading cassava producer in the world, producing a third more than Brazil and almost double the production capacity of Thailand and Indonesia which is opportunity for us to stop corn starch importation.

“We have enough raw materials to produce edible cassava starch for local use and exportation to earn foreign exchange but government need to help local producers.

“Cassava has the potential to industrialise Nigeria more than any other product if its potentials are properly harnessed; it is a key instrument for job creation and catalyst for development,’’ he said.

The chairman commended Fadama III AF for its intervention in the agricultural sector and described its partnership with off-takers as wonderful.

“We are into cassava processing into edible starch, we have wonderful relationship with Osun State Fadama, which they cultivated 300 hectares of cassava.

“The Fadama in Osun state are well organised and on top of their games; they supervise their farmers properly and facilitated interface between the off-takers and farmers very well, we have seamless relationship,’’ he said.

Adeyemi, however, urged the Fadama National office to increase the farm sizes allocated to farmers because it was too small to meet off-takers demand.

“Fadama should develop commercial farmers, like those that can go for 10-50 hectares.

“It will help industrious users like us in HFAP rather than just smallholders farmers that are doing less than five hectares.

“Though the farmers that are doing less than five hectares are also good for food market, but Fadama needs more to help both farmers and off-takers,’’ he said.

Adeyemi added that Fadama should work on getting the farmers more working tools like tractors, harvesters, planters, plough among others rather than depends on hoes and cutlass.

“This is the only way the youth can be interested in the agriculture and get involved fully in farming.

“We can go into partnership with Fadama in this area of agricultural equipment, but not in a short term relationship, it must be a long time relationship like five years, such that we can recap our equipment in a very short time.

“We started with Fadama sometimes last year by off-taking cassava from their farmers and we are able to solve transportation issue by off-taking directly from their farms instead of waiting for them to bring their produce to us.

Adeyemi added that “the challenges we encounter sometime is that of price issue; cassava price has started dropping from what we signed with them.

“Even though we agreed on a certain amount but the price we agreed to pay was too high compared to present market price, we had to do some negotiation again.”

He added that the company was also involved with cassava farmers in Ogun.

“We provided inputs to the farmers and they do the farming and after a year, we buy from them and deduct whatever we had spent on them.

“My challenge is that our farmers still need enough education because there is a lot of side selling.

Adeyemi said that the company is planning to go into farm ownership which they would allow farmers to cultivate under an agreement.

According to him, the new approach would give the company more control on output.

15,000 Farmers Supported In Kebbi State

At least 15,000 farmers in Kebbi State have been empowered by PROACT, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in rice and sorghum production in the state.

According to Mr Olumide Ojo, the PROACT Project Coordinator, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Daura on Wednesday, the farmers were assisted to enhance food security and encourage self reliance among the beneficiaries.

15,000 households had been registered in the programme in Kebbi state and 15,700 metric tonnes of paddy rice and 6,115 tonnes of sorghum had been produced in Jega and Danko/Wasagu Local Government Areas.

The coordinator said that the harvest was during the 2017 and 2018 wet and dry season farming.

He said the NGO was in Daura on an assessment visit of an EU-Oxfam sponsored programme – Improving the Fuel Wood Balance (FUWOBA), with a view to identify possible areas of improvement of their activities.

Ojo said that the organisation was committed to increasing its coverage by expanding the scope of its activities.

PROACT programme is an EU and Oxfam project in Nigeria, which is aimed at boosting food security.

Agriculture: Buhari Commends Jigawa Governor

President Muhammadu Buhari during his two-day visit to Jigawa state has commended Gov. Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa for keying into the Federal Government’s agricultural programmes.

He said that he was happy that Badaru adopted the agricultural policies and programmes of the Federal Government.

The agricultural programmes of the Badaru-administration include goat loans to women as well as mass production of rice, wheat, sesame and groundnuts, among others.

Besides, Buhari lauded the governor for embarking on solar power projects which, he said, were aimed at improving power supply to the people.

He also commended Badaru for the water supply schemes across the state and the provision of other critical infrastructure in efforts to improve the wellbeing of the people.

He assured the governor that the Federal Government would continue to assist the state in the provision of water and other basic facilities.

Buhari, who urged the people to continue to support the Badaru-administration, pledged the Federal Government’s commitment towards making life more meaningful for the citizens.

Embrace Farming, Agric is Our Future, Buhari Charges Youths

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on both educated and uneducated Nigerian youths to embrace farming in order to earn respect for themselves.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President said this on Monday at the Blair House, Washington DC after his White House engagements with the United States’ President, Donald Trump.

He was said to have spoken at a meeting with the Chief Executive Officers of six American agricultural companies and their Nigerian counterparts including Aliko Dangote and John Coumantaros.

The President restated his call on Nigerian youths to seize opportunities in agriculture, a sector of the economy he said was already proving to be the bedrock of the nation’s new economy.

He said the country must help the youths to plan their future and urged them to explore opportunities easily accessible in agriculture because, as he said, “agriculture is the future.”

While stressing that planning in Nigeria must take into consideration the factors of climate change and a burgeon youth population, Buhari also promised the support of his administration in the promotion of skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship among the young population.

He said, “We realised, rather belatedly that we ought to have been investing in agriculture. We are now aiming at food security because of our large population.

“Our youths, the ones who have gone to school and even those that have not, should go to the farm, to earn respect for themselves.

“Agriculture is providing jobs for millions of our citizens and we are doing well towards the attainment of food security and jobs.

“The media may not appreciate the work we are doing but we will shock them by the success we are recording.”

Buhari welcomed several investment proposals being put in place by the Americans and their Nigerian counterparts.

Among those brought up for discussions were the three million tons fertiliser by Dangote, the largest in Africa coming on stream in July, to be followed by another one to produce 1.4 million tons of the commodity; a large-scale modern seed production company, and weed and pest management and chemicals products companies by the Americans.