Buhari Approves N10.7bn For 10 Rice Mills

10.7billion has been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday for the establishment of new 10 rice mills across the country.

This was disclosed by the Ministers of State for Agriculture, Heneiken Lokpobiri and that of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola after the Council’s meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Another N68.6 billion for road projects across the country was also approved.

Lokpobiri said that the Council approved the 10 rice mills with the capacity to produce 100 tonnes per day, and the mills would be managed by private rice millers.

“”Today the Federal Executive Council approved the establishment of 10 very large rice mills to enhance the milling capacity of rice value chain in the country.

“”Few years ago it was reported that this country needs a minimum of 100 large rice mills. As of today we have about 21 but Federal Government in its wisdom decided that today we should approve the establishment of 10 at the total cost of N10.7billion.

“”These would be given to the sector to manage which they will be pay back within a given time frame as it would be agreed between the Bank of Agriculture and the Rice Millers,’’ he said.

According to the minister, the mills will be located in Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Anambra, Kaduna, Ogun, Niger and Bauchi states.

Fashola disclosed that N64.108 billion was approved for additional work on 43 kilometers part of the Section one of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

According to him, the new approval is to accommodate the changing factors occurring on the project and also to modify the bitumen for the road in order to withstand the heavy vehicles passing through the road.

“”This covers Glover leaves, pedestrian bridges, toll plazas for that section so as to accommodate changing nature of that road since conception.

“”So, many new structures, religious institutions, factories, universities and increased human activities that have come up along that road.

“”The inherited design didn’t provide for all these at all. The second section under RCC about 80 kilometers will come to Council to incorporate similar works including drainage works e.t.c when we finish procurement,’’ he said.

The Minister also disclosed that N4.57 billion was approved for Sumaila-Falala-Birnin Bako-Bauchi road, linking Bauchi and Kano States.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and publicity, Garba Shehu, who also addressed the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that N10 billion was approved to fight erosion in the country.

“This is the fourth quarter soil erosion, flood and pollution accelerated intervention projects worth about N10 billion. These are projects that cover the length and breadth of the country.” he said

He also disclosed that 460 million dollars was approved to facilitate usage of new buildings located at main airports in the country, which could not be put to use at the beginning of this administration.

“”The previous administration awarded contracts for the construction of new buildings in our major airports in Lagos and Abuja and nobody can use them.

“”So, government today awarded a new contract for variation and additional contracts for new passenger and cargo terminals and a lot of other works to facilitate their usage including in the case of Lagos and Abuja improvement to enable jumbo aircraft and airbus 380 to be able to land in both cities (Abuja and Lagos).

“”The rail terminal will be accessible from arrival hall in Abuja at the cost 460million dollars,’’ he said.

The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, revealed that the council approved N93million for erosion control in Tambuwal Local Government Area of Sokoto State.

He said the council also approved N1.57 billion as payment for all the outstanding liabilities to the contractor that executed the Azare-Jere water project which he said was a spill off from the Gurara Dam pipeline water transfer project.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Kebbi State Delivers Rice Affordable To The Public

In a bid to reduce and subsequently stop rice importation, various states have set up different programmes to boost the rice production and the agricultural sector as a whole.

It has been disclosed by Gov. Abubakar Bagudu that Kebbi state will deliver rice for as low as N10,000. To achieve this the state is to work together with farmers and millers under the Federal Government’ Anchor Borrower Programme.

The governor gave the assurances Sunday night in Birnin Kebbi at a dinner hosted in honour of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

The minister is on a two-day working visit to Kebbi with a team of journalists to showcase and assess the government agricultural revolution.

Bagudu who commended the President Muhammadu Buhari led Government policy on rice called for more investments by the public and private sector.

The governor said that the mobilisation of 70,000 farmers and N11 billion spent on the pilot scheme had yielded so much dividends and attracted national and global attention to the state.

He said in addition to the two major rice milling factories – Labana and Walcot – , there were so many small and medium scale millers springing up in the state.

Bagudu disclosed that Labana and Walcot rice milling factoriies had N55 billion demand for paddy.

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Agriculture, Key To Nigeria Development

 

My country, Nigeria is filled with diverse mineral resources and we have grossly enjoyed the proceeds from the sale of crude oil being one of our major revenue. However, Nigeria has continued to make little or no progress in many areas and it has become the dream of the younger generation of the present Nigeria to be part of the nation building in no small measure. I desire that this great country will not continue to live in the midst of plenty and yet suffer from penury. The economy of any country is the base of its development and yet the country has not got it straight on this crucial matter.

Economic issues are real life issues and without increased strength to attain the status of developed or real developing nations, we may continue to live in poverty. What saddens the heart is that many Nigerians are living below one dollar per day and the currency has lost it values. My dream in this regard is to see to the balance of trade that is required for any developing economy. When the imports keep increasing and there is only one major commodity to export we are far from the Nigeria of our dream.

I would encourage the teeming youth to see agriculture as a great ladder towards economic independence because as it stands, Nigeria is yet to be financially liberated.

In addition to the above, industrial development will go a long way to reduce unemployment, encourage entrepreneurship and reduce importation of foreign products.

CBN’s N55billion In Agricultural Sector Provides One Million Jobs

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s implementation of the Anchors Borrowers Programme has allegedly created over a million jobs in country.

According to reports, this was achieved in two years with the disbursement of N55.53 billion.

Besides, the programme, which is in partnership with state governments and several private sector groups, aided the disbursements to over 250,000 farmers, who cultivated almost 300,000 hectares of farmland for rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soybeans, cassava, among others.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who made the disclosure when he performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of  Greenfield  Integrated Poultry Facility, alongside Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, in Emure-Ile, said the current attention to agriculture is by no means a bad strategy.

Meanwhile, Emefiele while showing gratitude for awards won over the weekend said;

“Agriculture can still be used as a key catalyst for creating jobs, reducing unemployment and driving growth in Nigeria”‘ adding that in 2003, when importation of chickens was banned, with the exception of day old chickens, the policy served as a major fillip for the poultry industry.He said that ABP is designed to support smallholder farmers by providing them with the requisite training, tools and funds at single digit interest rates, to improve cultivation of key agricultural items such as maize, soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat.

The programme also provides a ready market for farmers by linking them with credible off takers and processors of their produce.  “With the commencement of the Greenfield Integrated Poultry Facility, we expect that the implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in the State will be tremendously expanded. This will surely go a long way in providing needed inputs for the facility.

“Today, some analysts have put the Nigerian poultry industry to be worth about N1.2 trillion, comprising about 165 million birds, which produces over 650,000Metric Tonnes of eggs… making Nigeria the largest producer of eggs in Africa.

“Despite this huge success in the sub-sector, statistics from Eurostat, however highlight that between 2009 and 2011, over three million Metric Tonnes of poultry products were imported into the Republic of Benin, and eventually smuggled into Nigeria.

“This means that despite the huge domestic production, we are still far behind meeting our local consumption needs for poultry products. It is no wonder that Greenfield Assets Limited and ONDIPA have decided to fill this gap with the investment we are witnessing today,” he said.
The state Governor, Akeredolu, said his leadership will remain a beacon of hope to many of its citizens, as efforts are well on track towards being a major food basket in Nigeria, as well as fulfill its promises.He also raised the hope of continuing to provide the enabling environment towards attracting increased investment in the state, a drive that has made it possible for the current investment by Greenfield.

The Chief Executive Officer of Greenfield Limited, Dr. Paul Obanua, explained that the facility comprises a pasteurised liquid and powder egg processing plants; 200,000 Commercial Rearing Capacity; 600,000 Commercial Layers; Egg Grading and Packing Centre; a state of the art Feed Mill; and modern Broiler Processing Operation. He assured that the completion of the first phase construction will be due in just one year, marking the take off of the production.

Farmers Commend FG For Support In Borno

The Federal Government has been commended for their support Programme for farmers displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency by the Women farmers in Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno.

According to NAN, The government, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) supported 270, 000 displaced farmers during the rain-fed and ongoing dry season farming activities in the state.

The farmers were provided with fertilisers, seeds, chemicals, tube wells, water pumps and other inputs.

Mrs Maryam Abubakar described the gesture as commendable, noting that it would boost agricultural productivity as well as provide them with sustainable means of livelihood.

Abubakar said that the women were supported in the cultivation of tomatoes, onions, Okro, cabbage and other vegetables.

She noted that her involvement in farming in the past one year had enhanced her socio-economic status.

Ms Fatime Musa, the Head of the Women Farm Cluster in the area, said that no fewer than 61 women were registered in the cluster.

She said that the women were allocated land by the government and the development organisations.

“We are 61 in number, including widows and divorcees, working on the farm. We received fertilisers, inputs and farming implements, in addition to tube wells and water pumps, provided in the farm.

“We preserve some of the produce for our household consumption and sell some, to meet our financial needs,” she said.

Hafsatu Yahaya, however, called on the state government to provide access road to open up the area, to ensure easy transportation of farm produce to the urban centres.

Yahaya noted that the people of the area relied on Ox Cart for transportation, due to lack of access road.

“Besides, the difficulties associated with the movement of farm produce, it is also difficult to take sick persons to the hospital in Maiduguri due to lack of access road.”

Zabarmari is one of the farming communities liberated from the Boko Haram insurgents by the military.

Also, the community is one of the major rice producing areas of the state.

Other produce cultivated by the farmers in the area include maize, beans, millet, sorghum and perishable produce.

 

Food Price Drops By 15% After Harvest

There has been a decrease in the past three months following the harvest recorded by farmers. Traders and farmers have recorded a 15% decrease in price in the space of three months.

A 50 kilogramme bag of local variety of rice was sold for N13, 000; as against its previous price of N15,000, while a measure of the produce was sold at N650.

Refined rice had also indicated similar decrease in prices, as a 50 kilogramme bag sold between N15,000 and N15,500; as against its old price of N17,000, depending on its quality.

Prices of other produce had dropped significantly in the past months; as a measure of maize sold at N280 and millet N350, as against its previous prices of N350 and N500 respectively.

A measure of cooking oil was sold at N380 as against its old price of N500; while perishable produce such as tomatoes and onions showed similar decrease in prices.

A measure of tomatoes was sold at N200 and onions N120.

Traders at the markets attributed the drop in prices to improvement in the supply of food items to the market.

 

Aregbesola Calls On Nigerians To Intensify Efforts On Food Production

Nigerians have been charged on attitudinal change towards ensuring that the country is self sufficient in food production with a view to banishing hunger across the nation.

This charge was made by Governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Tuesday during the foundation laying ceremony of “Sanrot Agro-Allied Rice mill and Fertilizer Blending Plant” in Ijebu-Jesa owned by a business mogul, Chief Rotimi Obeisun.

Ogbeni Aregbesola also joined Chief Rotimi Obeisun to commission other projects under the Timsed group of companies which include: hotel and holiday centre, civic centre and cinema, food and confectionery section, water and beverage bottling plant and Timsed radio and television broadcasting service to mark his 60th birthday celebrations.

He stressed the need for the country to stop exporting raw materials and importing finished items, a situation which the governor said is contributing to the dwindling economic fortunes of the nation.

He explained that the rice mill which has the capacity to produce ten million tons of rice per annum will go a long way in providing a ready market for rice farmers in Osun and environs.

The Governor also commended the fertilizer blending plant saying it will be a major boost to the state’s economy as it will be able to produce about one hundred thousand metric tons of fertilizer when fully operational.

Osinbajo Launches Plan To Boost Agriculture And Power Sector

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday In Abuja, launched the Economic and Growth Recovery Plan (ERGP) Focus Laboratories on power, agriculture and manufacturing to fast-track economic growth.

Osinbajo disclosed that the newly inaugurated Focus Labs would further boost economic growth and ensure that Nigeria continued its journey of building a competitive economy.

“The labs will operate by bringing together all private and public sector officials to achieve the ERGP’s objective of reaching seven per cent economic growth by 2020.

“The Focus Labs are being conducted in three selected areas to accelerate investment and job creation.

“These specific areas are agriculture and transport, manufacturing and processing and finally power and gas sector,” he said.

Osinbajo explained that the laboratory groups were meant to bring private/public sector participants and potential investors together to think through the implementation of the specific areas of focus.

“We believe that working together as a group, we will be able to achieve these specific objectives that have been set out for us,” Osinbajo said.

Sen. Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and National Planning, said the government was far from achieving the targets captured in the ERGP.

He said government planned to improve power generation and its operational capacity to 10 Gigawatts by 2020, but two years to the deadline, it had only succeeded in generating four Gigawatts.

Udoma said the Focus Laboratories would eliminate the bottlenecks that hinder private sector investment in the agriculture, manufacturing and power sector.

He said this was important because 245.1 billion dollars was required to implement the ERGP, out of which 195.98 billion dollars was expected from private sector and 49.15 billion dollars from the public sector.

Udoma said the three main objectives of the initiative were to create new investment opportunities for critical projects, job creation and resolution of complex inter-agency problems that inhibited private sector investment.

The highlight of the event was the inauguration of the Central Steering Committee which comprised all ministers, permanent secretaries of Ministries of Budget and National Planning as well as representatives of the Vice-President’s office.

He also inaugurated the Core Working Groups for Agriculture and Transport, manufacturing and processing as well as Power and Gas Supply, headed by their respective ministers.