Why Osun Govt Commits Billions Of Naira To Agriculture – ACN

Rauf ACN
ACN
The state government of Osun has committed hundreds of billions of naira to agricultural sector in the last two and a half years of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration, the Acting Chairman of the state chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Elder Adelowo Adebiyi has disclosed.

The party chairman, who spoke at the 3rd Annual Business Retreat of the Osun Business Men’s Club held in Osogbo at the weekend, said Aregbesola’s government systematically pumped money into the sector like no other governor had done in the history of the country. 

Represented by the party’s Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, the ACN boss disclosed that farmers in the state earned over N60 million as profits from proceeds realised from the sales of their farm products with the assistance given to them to aid their farming by the state government.

He stated that the state has created jobs for unemployed graduates and youths through its agricultural programmes, adding that over 3,000 jobs have been created through agriculture by the present administration in the state.

The ACN Chairman disclosed further that the interest of the Aregbesola administration in the agricultural sector has helped at improving the economy of the state, pointing out that 25 new poultry-rearing facilities among other farm settlements had been set up by the state government.

Adebiyi, who saluted Aregbesola’s courage since he assumed office as the fourth Executive Governor of the state, noted that “after Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Aregbesola is the head of government in the Western Region of Nigeria, who has done so much to make agriculture the foundation of his economic planning.”

He opined that the state would, in the next few years, become one of the nation’s most dependable food baskets with the efforts Aregbesola is putting into the agricultural sector.
“The quantum of agricultural products coming out of Osun has doubled since Aregbesola embarked on his massive agricultural development programmes. It is important to comprehend the trend, to appreciate the transformation going on. Many more young people are becoming interested in agriculture like never before,” he added. 

He maintained that the government was laying strong foundation for industrial development of the state by investing in agriculture, adding that the combination of both agriculture and industry would bring about economic growth and prosperity in the state.

He assured the people of the state of success in all the programmes and policies of the Aregbesola-led administration.

Aregbesola Commended For Encouraging Agriculture In Schools

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GOV. RAUF ASESOJI AREGBESOLA OF THE STATE OF OSUN
State of Osun Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Wale Adedoyin, has eulogized Governor Rauf Aregbesola for his good gesture towards re – awakening agricultural programmes in schools in the state.

The commissioner made this statement during the formal launching of the Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) programme at Ogedengbe School of Science, Ilesa.

Adedoyin stated that the objective of establishing the Young Farmers’ Club in schools is to inculcate in students the habit of having interest and passion for farming among them at their tender age, so that the virtues of dignity of labour could be achieved in their early life through farming.

He explained that agriculture in schools over the years has empowered more than 200 schools in various agricultural ventures such as arable crops production, tree crops production and livestock farming such as poultry, fish farming and piggery. He therefore, charged the students to adhere strictly to the rules and regulations guiding the Young Farmers’ Clubs as designed by teachers and executives of YFC as well as the objectives of the agriculture- in – schools programme of the state.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Principal of Ogedengbe School of Science, Mr. M.O Adebayo, thanked Adedoyin for launching the Young Farmers’ Club in the school, adding that the programme will make students to be self – reliant in the nearest future and also make them job creators rather than job seekers.

In his response, the Labour Prefect of the school, Master Albert Olawale thanked the commissioner for the establishment of the club in the school and promised him that he would use his office as the Labour Prefect to encourage his colleagues to take to farming activities in the school, so as to ensure that greater number of the students become members of the club.

Others present at the launching of the club were, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Sunday Odediran, the Director, Agric Services, Mr. D.K Ajisekola, the Director, Veterinary Services, Dr. I .O Aluko, the Director, Livestock, Mr. J.O Ajayi, the Director, Fisheries, Mr. O.A Awoyemi and other dignitaries.

Aregbesola vows to make agriculture viable

Rauf Aregbesola
Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun
GOVERNOR Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has said that the overriding objective of his administration is to make agriculture a viable industry in the state.

He his government is working relentlessly to make sure that farmers are the core of wealth creation and productive agents of empowerment.

He spoke during the Osun ‘Farmers’ Day with Ogbeni’, held at the Bola Ige House, Government Secretariat, Osogbo.

He also distributed farm implements worth over N80 million to farmers in the state.

The governor said that with the discovery of the agrarian nature and the enormous agricultural potentials in the state, the administration came up with the Six-Point-Integral-Action Plan, with agriculture as a major plank.

“Our agricultural policy is squarely focused on you, the farmers in Osun, hence the theme of this interactive session, ‘Imagine the world without farmers’, he said.

Culled from Guardian

Osun Speaker Advocates More Investment In Agriculture

1349852791Najim-Salaam1

Speaker, State of Osun House of Assembl Honourable Najeem Salaam, has urged the executive arm of government in the state to exploit the natural advantage of fertile land and invest more on agricultural development.
The speaker stated this during the public presentation of N183.1 billion budget by the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the hallowed chamber of the State House of Assembly.
Salaam added that various developmental projects of the state government require huge resources, which could be sourced through mass production of food in the state.

He then stressed the urgent need for the state to build a strong economic base to sustain the recent pace of infrastructural development and secure a better future for the incoming generation.

According to the Speaker, the 2012 budget implementation and overall performance has shown the quality leadership of the governor in providing “authentic quality of democracy dividends.

“I make bold to say that the people of the State of Osun are the target of all projects and employments springing up in all nooks and crannies of the state. And this is a statement of fact.

“Let it be known that Osun is our collective patrimony. So, I propose to you, Mr. Governor that winning the future for the majority of our people must be the next. Let’s step up our campaign on agriculture, let’s double up our effort on food production. Let the State of Osun encourage massive production of the cash crops peculiar to each town like the State of Georgia boasts of cotton wool in the United States.”
“Let our state encourage exploits of abundant tourism potentials like what obtains in the State of Florida, where Disney World is bringing close to eighty per cent of the government revenue to the table every year.
“Our state must be rich and self-sufficient. Our dependence on Abuja for survival must be reduced. Our forest must be secure from unscrupulous loggers and our march to prosperity must begin now. That is the next,” Salaam said.
He also commended the governor for changing the face of the parliament with the renovation of the chamber with modern canteen and e-library, saying the chamber has changed from analogue to a state-of-the-art, which could compete with any legislative chamber in the world.
Salaam also urged the members to expedite action on the 2013 appropriation bill, by scrutinizing the figures and facts, so that the ship of the state would not be grounded for lack of energy and resources.

story II
O’ School To Organise Training For Painters
The Osun School Infrastructure Developmen Committee is set to organise a capacity improvement training programme for artisans in the state from Monday, 4th to Saturday, 9th of February, 2013.
According to a statement made available to OSUN DEFENDER by the Secretary of the Committee, Prince Agunlejika Taiwo Adeniran, the programme was developed in accordance with the policy of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the need to execute all the projects in such a way that it would be beneficial to the citizens and also to improve the human capacity of the citizens of the state.
“To this end, the committee has planned a series of capacity improvement training workshop for artisans starting with capacity improvement for painters”, the statement added.
He explained that the committee had met with several paint manufacturers who had indicated their interest to participate in the programme.
Agunlejika maintained that the training programme was for 300 painters that spread across the state.
The training programme would be divided into four batches.
In each batch, there would be a day of technical briefing, lecture and demonstration by the resource persons.
The second day, according to the statement, was for practical painting works by the participants.
At the end of the training, certificates of participation would be presented to the certified artisans at a finale at the Government Technical College, Iwo Road, Osogbo by the Governor at 11:00 a.m.

story III
Osun To Link GRA, Oke-Oniti, Others
The State Government of Osun has disclosed its decision to provide access road for communities around Oke-Oniti GRA extension in the state capital.
It also stressed the need to provide potable water and electricity for the people occupying government land around Lopin Plastic Industry along Ikirun road in Osogbo, comprising Irewole, Atiba, Salako and Koju Drive communities.
This was disclosed by the State Commissioner for Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Architect Muyiwa Ige, during a meeting meant to engender peace and progress among residents of the areas held at the Local Government Service Commission Hall, Osogbo.
The commissioner, at the meeting, said 1000 square metres or at least two plots of land serve as the requirement for an individual to secure land at the GRA and urged the residents to quickly get approved plans for their lands.
He warned them to desist from attacking field officials of the ministry whenever they visit the area.
Speaking on behalf of the residents and other stakeholders, Elder Ajeigbe promised that the spirit of Omoluabi will be embraced by the residents.
He also lauded Ige and top officials of the ministry for their mutual understanding in the implementation of communal peace and progress as one of the six–point integral action plan of the current administration in the state.

Purchase of cell phones for farmers: “I will not be distracted” – Minister of Agriculture

Akinwumi-Adesina-300x216Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adeshina, Monday affirmed that despite the criticisms trailing the proposed purchase of cell phones for farmers in the country, the ministry would not go back on its decision.

He maintained that the policy would not only enhance the performance of Nigerian farmers but also transform the agricultural sector.

The Minister disclosed this while addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja. He noted that the government would not commit itself to direct purchase of cell phones for farmers but would only subsidise the phones through a partnership that would involve telephone service operators, Ministry of Communications Technology and other stakeholders.

He disclosed that reason being that the purchase of cell phones for farmers is tied to the distribution of fertilizers directly to the farmers without the involvement of third parties who had allegedly been ripping them off.

Hear him: “Government policy must always be based on evidence and well analyzed data. We carried out an analysis of our GES work based on a large sample of 426,000 farmers from various local government areas in 13 states.

“We found that 71 percent of farmers sampled did not have cell phones. This shows that many of our farmers in rural areas are quite poor and are excluded from the benefits of the mobile phone revolution going on in Nigeria.

“These farmers cannot access the GES scheme without cellphones and we must find a way to include them. They must not be left behind.”

Adeshina said that the Ministry planned to make phones available to farmers on a gradual basis, stressing that government would not be involved in direct purchase of the phones.

“Of course, we cannot get 10 million phones to all farmers who do not have phones this year. Our plan is a gradual scale up. We intend to get about 2 million phones to farmers who do not have phones this year”.

“How will these phones be paid for and how will they be distributed? We ended four decades of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sector by ending direct procurement and distribution of these inputs by the government.

“We also ended the ineffective and corrupt direct procurement and distribution of tractors by government. It will therefore be inconsistent for government to now start direct procurement and distribution of phones.

“There will be no direct procurement of phones by the Federal Government. We are also not going to give anyone contracts to import phones from China or anywhere else. Let me also state loud and clear.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Communications Technology are partnering together to implement this policy,” he emphasised.

Asked who will be eligible to benefit from the scheme, the minister said “we intend to use the GES scheme to distribute these phones. To be entitled to a phone, farmers must be registered on the e-wallet platform. Paper vouchers will be issued to farmers who do not have phones.

“The government will provide a subsidy to the farmer through the voucher to buy the phone. The farmer takes the voucher to the local mobile phone operator and pays the balance which is the difference between the value of the voucher and the cost of the phone.

“Once a farmer buys a phone and a SIM card, his new phone number will be updated on the e-wallet database and he will be able to receive his e-wallet voucher which will entitle him to purchase fertilizer and seeds at subsidized rates.

“Phones will be sold directly to farmers by local mobile phone service providers. The government simply subsidizes the cost of the phone directly to the farmer.

“We intend to start by first targeting farmers who live in areas where there is network coverage already but who do not have phones. We will then encourage phone companies to increase their coverage and as they do we will target farmers in those areas.

“By so doing phone companies will have the incentive to expand to rural areas because our programme will assure them of customers in those new areas. Cell phones in the hands of our farmers will do more than deliver government subsidized inputs.

“It will provide them access to market price information. They will be able to bargain better and save themselves from the middlemen who currently exploit them by paying them very low prices for their produce.

“Cellphones in the hands of our farmers will allow us to reach farmers with extension information such as what crops to plant, when to plant and other agronomic practices that will help them improve their productivity.

“It will allow farmers to better deal with shocks such as drought and floods in real time. Simple alerts to farmers’ phones can help them avoid catastrophes while saving lives.

“Majority of our farmers are excluded from financial services. 78.8 percent of Nigeria’s rural population are unbanked according to the report by Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access, EFInA. The cost of reaching them in rural areas is high for financial institutions.

“No bank can afford to build branches in every little village. Cellphones provide financial institutions with a low cost and efficient way of providing financial services to our farmers. The use of cellphones to provide financial services in rural areas is not new. It is already being used in several African countries.”

The minister asserted that despite the wide criticisms on his plans for the farmers, he would not be deterred in his determination to transform the agricultural sector, stressing that “as a Minister, I cannot use hype to guide policies. I must use evidence to guide policies. When the floods occurred, there was panic in the land.

“Some derided our efforts and said Nigeria would have famine; that there would be massive food shortage; and there would be food riots. Those who wanted to import food and get waivers from government sponsored such media hypes. I was not moved.

“We used modern technology to guide our decision. Using remote sensing and satellite imagery, we mapped out the extent of the flood and determined that no more than 1.17 percent of our total cultivated area was affected by the floods. Our detractors wanted the world to believe the opposite, that food crisis was imminent. They were wrong. Today, five months after the floods, we do not have a food crisis.

“The same way these detractors have misled the public about the relevance of cellphones in Nigerian agriculture. They do not know that we are already using cellphones to distribute fertilizer and seeds to even mitigate the impact of the flood. We are already using cellphones to reach 232,000 farmers for rice production in the dry season, each getting three bags, across 10 states of the north east, north west and north central regions.

Speaking further the minister claimed that: “To reach farmers affected by the flood, we are also using cellphones through the growth enhancement support. We are reaching 98,000 farmers affected by floods across the country with two bags of fertilizers per farmer, plus one bag of agrolyser micronutrient to replace some of the soil micronutrients that have been washed away by the flood. Such is the power of cellphones revolutionizing agriculture today in Nigeria.

“I will not be distracted. We will rebuild the broken walls of Nigeria’s agriculture and unlock wealth and opportunities for our farmers. For those calling for my crucifixion, let me say that when Jesus was before Pilate, they had accused him falsely. Pilate, after listening to his case, found no cause for condemning him. Nonetheless, should anyone still want me crucified, let me say this, along my faith: “I am crucified with Christ already. Nevertheless, I live and the life that I live, I live by the grace of the son of God, who died for me,” Adeshina said.

Culled from Newsnaija

‘FG not serious about boosting agriculture’

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Alhaji Muhammad Tahir Munguno, has said that the Federal Government is not serious about reforming the agriculture sector.

Speaking in Kano at the opening ceremony of the 46th annual conference of the Agricultural Society of Nigeria (ASN), Munguno said his committee has on many occasions suggested the best way forward for the sector, but that government has continued to ignore them.

“Take the transformation agenda on agriculture for example, when the 2012 budget was brought before the House, we noticed that there were a lot of mistakes. So we looked into the mistakes, thought of a better way and then presented our recommendations, but the recommendations were ignored. That is why the level of implementation was low,” he said. The chairman, who was represented by a member from Taraba State, Dr Aminu Ibrahim Malle, added that the e-wallet scheme introduced by the Federal Government is not helping matters.

“How many farmers know how to really use mobile phones. And considering the challenge of electricity in Nigeria, how would they be able to charge their phones to receive messages,” he said.

Mungunu, who noted that Nigeria is one of the signatories of the Maputo declaration which stipulated that all signatory nations must give not less than 10 per cent of their budgets to agriculture said, “What Nigeria budgeted for agriculture in 2011 was 2.7 per cent and the same was budgeted for 2012. With this allocation in a country where more than 70 per cent of the population are farmers, we can rightly say that what the government is saying about transformation of agriculture is just a lip service”.

culled from Daily Trust

President Jonathan Restates FG commitment to Revolutionise Agriculture

Goodluck-Jonathan-03099 President Goodluck Jonathan has restated the Federal Government determination to revolutionise the agricultural sector, so as to achieve self- sufficiency in food production and provide job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths in the country.

“Agriculture is the main economic backbone of the country. Agricultural revolution is the only means to combating poverty and creating jobs for the teeming youths; it’s a main focus on our programme”.

The President added, “For us to create wealth across the length of the country; we must revolutionise agriculture. That is an area we are working very hard and I believe before we leave office the vision will be very clear to most Nigerian”.

culled from this days

German experts visit Osun to boost agriculture

agricultureThe Osun State Government and the State of Saxony-Anhalt in the Federal Republic of Germany are working towards a partnership on agriculture.

At a dinner in honour of seven German experts in agriculture, held at the Government House in Osogbo, the state capital, Governor Rauf Aregbesola said he was eager to see how the experts could improve agriculture in the state.

The experts are on a week’s visit to the state to return a visit by officials of the Osun State Government, led by the governor, to the German state in May.

Aregbesola said: “I am full of expectation of the prospects this relationship will bring to our people and your state. At the end, the potentials of our state would be harnessed for rapid development.

“The state is full of potentials that can be tapped. We have abundant mineral resources and a rich culture. I am eager to see how your expertise can enhance farming here through the transfer of knowledge by training and technology.

“I am full of expectations and believe your visit will be mutually beneficial to both parties.”

He urged the experts not to limit themselves to farming, but to exploit other potentials of the state.

Speaking on behalf of the experts, the Dean of the Martin Luther King University, Halley, Prof. Peter Wycsk, assured the governor that their visit would lead to an effective collaboration between both states and improve Osun’s economy.

Wycsk said they would study Osun’s agricultural programmes and suggest ways to improve them.

He said: “We have come here to give you our best and that is not money, but knowledge.”

The experts will tour the Cattle Ranch at Oloba Farm, the Iwo Farm Settlement, the Toro Farm in Iwo and the Feg-Agro Farm in Iloko-Ijesha, among others.

There will also be a technical review session involving the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Ministry of Commerce, Cooperatives and Empowerment and the Osun State University.

Called from The Nation

FG to Develop Non-oil Sector through Agriculture

President-Goodluck-Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan, President federal republic of Nigeria
The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to the development of the non-oil export sector, especially agricultural commodities, with a view to restoring their lost glory.

Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, stated this at a media briefing on the second international Africa’s forum on indigenous stimulants with focus on kolanuts and bitter-kola industry in Abuja.

Ortom noted with displeasure that “the products have being in existence for decades without much promotion and development for foreign exchange earnings”, and said the present administration, was ready to partner relevant bodies to further improve the economy through them.

He described kolanuts as one of the oldest cultivated plants in the West African sub-region and highly respected among others that have national and traditional values.

Beyond traditional chewing, the minister said kolanut contains caffeine used for manufacturing of pharmaceutical products, kola wine, kola-chocolate, livestock feeds and others.

Ortom said the government was ready to inject a new life into kolanuts industry “since the major challenges facing the industry is lack of massive investments in local processing, grading procedure, packaging, storage and marketing of the commodity”.

He stressed the need to maximise the economic benefits of the crop through improved product, processing, marketing and export to enable the country generate higher level of job opportunities to reduce poverty and raise incomes for the farmers and the country as a whole.

The minister, who commended the conference organisers for the initiative to reposition kolanuts and bitter-kola industry for economic growth and development of the country, said the strategic commodities could serve as panacea to the nation’s poverty and economic challenges.

Also speaking at the briefing, executive chairman of the international conference on Africa’s indigenous stimulants, ICAIS, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, said the group was formed to facilitate the exploration and exportation of the selected crops to the international markets.

Akinyemi added that it was also meant to create conducive environment for the examination and possible applicable solutions to current and evolving problems in the stimulant industry.

In her remarks, the initiator/coordinator of ICAIS, Heather Akanni, disclosed that five action plans have been evolved to make the stimulants industry in the country very beneficial and profitable to Nigerians in the future.

Akanni assured stimulants farmers and traders who are constantly faced with inadequate financing for their purchases, that the initiative would enable them meet with potential supporters from within and outside the country through micro-financing.

ICAIS is a private sector initiative by Vertical Inspirations Ltd in partnership with the African Business Roundtable (ABR); the Centre for Black Arts and African Civilisation (CBAAC) and endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment; Culture and Tourism; National Orientation Agency (NOA); Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), growing states and other stakeholders in the country.

Culled from ThisDay

‘Agriculture Can Overtake Oil In Export Revenue’

Obumneme-UmeokaforObumneme Umeokafor is the Managing Director of Jocarol Nigeria Ltd. He tells ADEOLA BALOGUN that Nigeria stands to earn more from non-oil exports if the current drive in agriculture is sustained

How will you assess the current efforts of government towards the promotion of agricultural products for export trade?

The present Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, is doing a wonderful job in trying to create the needed investment drive in the country. But to promote this foreign direct investment, there is still more to be done. The government has to create an enabling environment; it has to put the basic infrastructure in place as a minimum standard. The road network and power are still a major setback to the foreign investment drive.

Many believe that the only thing that we export in Nigeria is crude oil. Why is there low awareness in product export?

I believe that the awareness is gradually being ingrained in the Nigerian culture. Initially, it wasn’t so because the government had concentrated solely on oil and gas and we never knew what we had in the non-oil sector. Don’t forget that in the early 60s, the non-oil sector was sustaining the economy until when oil became the all in all. But with what we are doing in Jocarol, with the necessary awareness we have been creating in partnership with different state governments, more Nigerians are becoming aware that there indeed are other products that can earn us foreign exchange. If you look around, Nigeria is a blessed country. If the government can look into all these areas in its drive for foreign direct investment, I believe that it will greatly help the economy and help to diversify the Nigerian economy and promote non-oil export trade.

What is the export value of kolanut and bitter kola?

The two are very important cash crops that can be exported from Nigeria. If we look at bitter kola, for instance, the international price has been hovering between $15 and $16 per kilo. It is an investment that can earn Nigeria a lot of money if the government can encourage the plantation of more of the tree and also encourage the exportation of the product.

Bitter kola is a very good foreign exchange earner mainly demanded in the United States, France and India where it is used in the production of many medicines that are needed worldwide. We have created so much awareness and investment drive in this aspect and I believe that in the nearest future, Nigeria stands to gain enormously from the exportation in the non-oil sector. There is no need focusing so much on oil that can finish at any time when we have other vital areas too where we can earn foreign exchange.

When I was a student in Europe and I did a dissertation research on agriculture export, I discovered that Spain is the chief exporter of food in the entire Europe. Spain exports agricultural products to different European countries; there is no oil there. Their manufacturing sector is not so good but Spain has a better standard of living. Nigeria stands so much to gain also as the agricultural power house in Africa if the government can sustain the current drive.

What of charcoal export?

Charcoal also is a good export product but we have had much rain this year and it has greatly affected the exportation of charcoal. Ordinarily, we are supposed to be in the season of charcoal but the flooding has not helped matters.

What other area of export is Jocarol making effort to go into?

We are presently partnering with the Lagos State Government to create the needed awareness about the potential in agriculture product export. We organise trainings and workshops and help in sourcing contracts with different international companies. We believe that these are little contributions that will go a long way in creating the needed awareness because knowledge is power. We focus on quality specifications of these products because we discover that ignorance on the part of Nigerian investors about quality specification of some of the exported products has led to great losses. We put them through and the risk factors associated with each product and the countries where they are demanded. We are happy that many people and companies are coming to acquire the needed knowledge to enhance their earning.

What of the cassava tuber; can the product be exported in that form?

Well, the tuber can be exported but it is just that the risk is quite high. Preferably, the chips will be better because of its added value. The contract the Federal Government secured from China is basically on cassava chips and pellets. Quite a number of Nigerian companies now export agro-based products to the world and we are happy about that. I must say that the government’s drive has attracted huge returns in terms of cassava chips contracts from China. I believe that the right foundation has been laid for us all to build upon.

Are the ports conducive for export trade?

I will commend the government for making them export trade friendly. But when it comes to import, I still believe that there is room for improvement. The 24-hour clearance is still not operational in Nigeria and this is what the government must do a lot to achieve. The road network is vital. In fact, I don’t understand how roads leading to major seaports are in such ugly shapes. This is an important aspect of international trade which the government should look at critically and do something drastically.

There were reports in the past of many security outfits at the ports, often leading to too much bureaucracy. Has the situation improved now?

There is no problem with different outfits manning the ports but what I think the government should do is to spell out the specific functions of each outfit to avoid overlapping and duplication of duties. There must be a kind of harmonisation of functions and the fees paid so that the 24-hour clearance can be achieved.

What in real terms does Nigeria stand to gain in exporting agricultural products?

Presently, Nigeria’s earning in the agriculture export sector is not what government wants it to be. If we look at the present GDP of Nigeria, returns from agricultural products have not reached 50 per cent benchmark. But I can say that if everything is put in place, agriculture export can overtake what we earn from the oil export. If the government sustains the policy, especially its plan to ban the importation of rice in 2015 and increase the production rate of cassava, I believe in five years, agriculture’s contribution to the GDP would be quite significant.

But do we have enough resources to achieve that?

I believe we have. If the private-sector driven agricultural sector is encouraged and sustained, with time, many Nigerians will diversify into the sector. What I also want to say is that it is not how many Nigerians that come to the field but the method of farming used. Government really has to invest more in mechanised farming to phase out the present subsistence farming method. One mechanised farmer can produce in a season what 200 subsistence farmers can produce in years. Government should intensify efforts in providing necessary incentives to encourage manufacturing or importation of agricultural equipment and implements where farmers can have easy access.

In the US, only about five per cent produce what the population eats and even export. It is not a matter of how many but the techniques and methods employed.

As a company that interfaces on behalf of Nigerian companies internationally, is there an improvement in how foreigners regard Nigerians in terms of partnership and investment?

I believe Nigeria is a world power, no matter what is being said about us. It will amaze you in most of the international flights I have been, the number of foreigners in the plane is always more than double compared to Nigerians. You ask yourself this question, of all the negative things being said about Nigeria, what is it that is bringing in this huge number of foreigners? I believe that we need to put things right in Nigeria because it is a great country that is blessed.

Culled From: The Punch

Netherlands invests over 5 billion naira in Nigeria’s agriculture

farmersThe Netherlands is investing over 26 million Euros – over 5.3 billion naira – in Nigeria’s agric business for thousands of Nigerians, the Dutch ambassador to Nigeria, Bert Ronhaar has said.
Mr Ronhaar, who made this known when the special advocate on financial inclusion for development to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Princess Maxima of Netherlands, paid a visit to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development last night, said six million Euro is being spent on value-added chain for cassava thereby creating employment for 100,000 farmers.

“We are supporting the cassava industry and the small holder cassava growers in Nigeria with a contribution of six million Euros developing the value-added chain of cassava which results in creating employment and income for approximately 100,000 Nigerian farmers,” he said.

“At the same time the Dutch government is supporting the coco growers in this country, the coco processing industry; it is also supporting the value-added chain in the cocoa industry. And the total amount invested in that programme which will last for over five years is approximately 20 million euros.

“It is not about money always. It is about the idea. It is about the drive, the experience with which we can help Nigeria.

“There is one other programme that will start in 2013. The programme is for nationwide public private partnership in agro-processing, in agriculture and horticulture. That will be implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Center, IFDC, well known to many of you, I know. And that will be a few million Euros. We really hope that they will bring expertise together of Dutch industry, but not only the Dutch, but African and many more local companies.”

Princess Maxima, who said she is in Nigeria for the launching of the National strategy for financial inclusion, said stakeholders including the insurance industry need to come in to make financial inclusion a reality and limit the risk the famers have to go through.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwumi Adesina, said financial inclusion is already being implemented through the government’s agric programme as over million farmers have received two bags of fertilizers each through the mobile phones.

CULLED FROM DAILYTRUST