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.

 

Kogi Government To Empower 99,000 Farmers

The Kogi Government has promised to empower at least 99,000 smallholder farmers across the state in pursuit of its food production and agribusiness policy.

This was made by known by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, at the monthly meeting of the Core Delivery Team (CDT) of the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) in Lokoja.

The meeting was organised by the SPA in collaboration with Synergos Nigeria.

Oloruntoba said that the beneficiary farmers in 2018 would be those who engaged in the production of food and cash crops, including cassava, rice, fishery and poultry.

He said that the state had keyed into the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to boost food production and develop the agricultural sector.

He said the state’s agricultural sector was expected to generate about N22.05 billion, 15 percent of this year’s budget of N147 billion.

The commissioner said that all the sub-sectors of the agricultural sector in the state were expected to contribute to the success of the programme.

Oloruntoba urged farmers to change their attitude toward farming, saying: “We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect different results; attitude is everything.’’

He emphasised the need for representatives of the ministry in the CDT to always allow the knowledge they gained at the various meetings to trickle down to other members of staff.

He said that in 2018, the government would establish four prototype cassava peels processing factories in different locations across the state to produce animal feeds.

“This is an initiative that we borrowed from Synergos Nigeria and we intend to replicate it across the state. So, we are planning to execute many programmes in 2018.

‘‘We thank Synergos for their intervention and pledge to do more; we look forward to better a collaboration,” he added.

Speaking, Synergos Country Director, Mr Adewale Ajadi, said that there was high demand for poultry and fish feeds processed from cassava peels.

Ajadi, who was represented by Mr Victor Adejoh, Synergos Field Manager for Kogi, Benue and Kaduna States, thanked the state government for its policies and programmes on agribusiness and its interest in smallholder farmers.

Participants at the meeting gave an account of their various ministries, departments and agencies in their efforts to move the agricultural sector forward.

 

Osun Produce Board Signs MoU With OSCOTECH On Commercial Agriculture

By Shina Abubakar

In order to boost commercial agriculture in the State of Osun through advance technology, the State Produce Board (OPB) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke.

The deal was sealed at the Conference Hall of the institution on Tuesday between  the management of Osun Produce Board led by the Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO, Dr Yemi Adegoke and Osun State College of Technology Governing Council led by the Council Chairman, Professor Layi Fagbenle.

Speaking during the event, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the board, Dr Yemi Adegoke hinted that the signing of the MoU was in line with the vision of the present Government led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to boost agricultural production and improve the income for  all  stakeholders in the sector.

Dr Adegoke explained that to achieve the government’s target and vision , it is therefore important to move  away from over 3000 years primitive and subsistence farming method which requires the use of hoes and cutlasses only,  to Mechanised and Commercial farming method which is the only alternative to change the poor condition of farmers and consumers.

He maintained that OSCOTECH, Esa Oke and all other state-owned tertiary institutions are blessed with both human and material resources needed to improve farming method, urging the institutions to establish Commercial Farms, Technology, Research and Demonstration Farms and engage in production of Herbs.

He noted that this will make them a leading light capable of competing with other institutions around the World.

He promised that the Produce Board and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security will give the institutions all necessary technical support needed to execute the content in the MoU, in order to achieve the target result within a limited period.

In his brief remarks, the College’s Council Chairman, Professor Layi Fagbenle acknowledged that the vision of the government of the State of Osun is a good one and expressed optimism that it will come to reality.

Prof Fagbenle stressed that Nigeria and West Africa sub-region are blessed with fertile agricultural land, good weather and human materials.

He therefore promised that the institution will cue-in and make the vision a reality.

Also speaking, the Acting Rector, Dr Samson Adegoke who described the signing of MoU as a good sign of good thing for the institution, said it is prepared for the task ahead, especially now that it has a department of Agricultural Engineering.

Rice Importation Drops By 91 Percent

Official figures on rice exportation from Thailand to Nigeria between 2014 and 2016, has revealed that the volume of rice imported to Nigeria has dropped.

According to the figures, the importation dropped from 1.24 million tonnes in 2014, to 58,260 tonnes in 2016, representing a 91 per cent decline. The drop in importation has been attributed to President Muhammadu Buhari New Year broadcast, to ban the importation of rice import in 2018.

Industry sources believe that the reduction in Nigeria’s importation trend was facilitated by the successful implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), from which many states had benefited.

He said: “We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered. Two years ago, I appealed to people to go back to the land. “I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to restructure the economy.“Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious variants would be on our dishes from now on.”

According to Buhari:

“Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.”

To intensify local production, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture (NIRSAL) is deploying an innovative nation-wide field structure to support 225,000 farmers under the CBN Anchor Borrowers Scheme.

However, the report added that Benin Republic’s rising rice export figures is posing a challenge in its border with Nigeria. A USDA review of the agricultural situation in Benin, published in March 2014, stated: “Benin serves as a delivery corridor for West Africa, reaching more than 100 million people in the landlocked countries of Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and the northern states of Nigeria.”

 

FG To Create One Million Jobs Through Egg Production

The Federal Government said production, processing and marketing could create no fewer than one million jobs through its National Egg Production (NEGPRO) Scheme.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in Abuja at a meeting with the Technical Committee on National Egg Production on Tuesday.

Ogbeh expressed optimism that the country would be self-sufficient in egg production through the scheme, by which poultry value chain would be developed across the 36 states of the country including FCT.

The minister said the scheme would be inaugurated in Ondo State and subsequently in other states of the country.

“The ministry will work with the committee and with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), we will achieve the goal of the scheme.

“Unless we deal with the problem of food, Africa cannot survive,’’ he said.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr Toyin Taiwo, said in a document that the scheme was aimed at strengthening egg production, processing and consumption in the country.

Taiwo, who is also the Director, Animal Husbandry in the ministry, said the scheme would help diversify the economy and increase the contribution of agriculture to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“The scheme is for the period of five years and at full operation nationwide, it is expected to provide about 50 million table eggs daily for local consumption, export, processing into egg powder for use in confectioneries and pharmaceuticals,’’ he said.

Chief Tunde Badmus, the Chairman of Tuns Farms Limited and National Anchor of the scheme, said that farmers would be given loans by the CBN to kick start egg production across the country after the flag off of the programme in states.

He listed the facilitators of the scheme to include Bank of Agriculture, the Poultry Association of Nigeria, CBN and the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation.

 

Yam Farmers Assure Nigerian Of Increased Production

Nigeria Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers Association have assured Nigerians of increased yam production in 2018 so as to boost the yam export initiative of the Federal Government.

The Acting President of the association, Prof Simon Irtwange, gave the assurance in an interview in Abuja on Monday.

He said farmers had been mobilised to increase their production in order to make provision for the local consumption and export requirements.

Irtwange, who is also the Chairman of the Technical Committee on Nigeria Yam Export Programme, said efforts were made to build the capacity of yam aggregators to buy exportable yams in large quantities from farmers after harvests.

He said yam exporters, instead of going to markets to buy yams, could procure the yams from the aggregators who already knew the standards for exportable yams.

He said the committee was partnering with the Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, for the production of seedlings of exportable yams so as to boost the production of the yams and encourage farmers.

“I will not agree that export has anything to do with the local production because not every yam variety can be exported.

“The ones that are exportable are the ones that meet export standards. The export requirements include 2kg. yams that are slender and smooth, while the non-export yams are purely for local consumption.

“We have also encouraged yam production; this year, we would have more output than what we had in the previous year because farmers are now sensitised and they have gone into massive production. So, there will be enough yams for the local market and export.

“We have already selected the yam varieties we want to promote for export but the seedlings for those varieties are the major challenge right now.

“So we have gone into partnership with Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. They will produce the seedlings for us and IITA is also involved in the project.

“After production, we have aggregators who will off-take the yams from the farmers and will aggregate for the exporters,’’ he said.