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.


Agriculture Created Six Million Jobs In Two Years – Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said on Monday that agriculture sector created six million jobs in the in the last two years.

Ogbeh said this while analysing the achievements of his ministry and 2018 targets of the ministry at a strategy retreat in Abuja.

The minister was reacting to reports that over four million jobs had been lost in over two years of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.

He explained that the six million jobs were created both on and off farms as a result of the huge increase in local rice production.

According to him, our agriculture is heavily manual and to be able to reduce rice importation by 95 per cent, at least six million extra jobs have happened in the farm.

“There are about 12.2 million members of the Rice Growers Association; we have created more jobs than we have lost,’’ he said.

The minister said the country earned $31m from the sale of purple hibiscus popularly known as zobo leaves in the last one year and that the demand was still increasing.

“We are exporting more than we are importing now and most exportation is agro-products.

“We are growing in agriculture and from the middle of this year; whoever chooses to eat Thailand rice is welcomed to pay duties.

“We shall impose duties on it because we consider it a wasteful luxury and something this country can’t afford,’’ he said.

Ogbeh said the Federal Government would also engage in establishing both cashew and cocoa plantations to boost production and export in 2018.

He said that plans are underway to make the country leading producers of cashew nuts.

The minister said that fertiliser blending would also be improved to accommodate micronutrients in the product.

Ogbeh said the government would also work to ensure quality control of produce both for export and local consumption.


Nigeria To Ban Rice Importation This Year

In recent times, the agricultural sector has worked towards empowering farmers. The focus on agriculture is in a bid to ensure the country does not rely on importation to feed.

President Buhari in his New Year speech delivered in a live broadcast this morning, disclosed that the Federal government will stop the importation of rice beginning from this year

”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 re-structure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on” he said


We Are Not Doing Bad In The Agricultural Sector- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration would not rest in continually reviewing and strengthening ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector until Nigeria regains its pride of place as a food exporting country.

In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, yesterday in Abuja, said the President spoke while receiving a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kebbi State at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari said the country’s huge rice import bill had dropped significantly by over 90 per cent, a development he noted was not good enough by his expectation.

“Beyond self-sufficiency, we must strive to become net exporters of food commodities.

“We are not doing badly in the agricultural sector and Nigerians and the world are beginning to appreciate our efforts. We will not be satisfied; we will work harder until we start exporting food.

“We are happy that rice and beans importation into the country has gone down by over 90 per cent, and visibly everyone can see how productive states, like Kebbi, have turned out to be, and states like Lagos, Ogun and Ebonyi are following the example,” he said.

He said Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Sokoto states had already made remarkable turn-around in the sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.

The President said he disagreed with the astronomical food import bill presented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the inception of the administration, pointing out that it was later discovered to be “fraudulent practices” by some of the elites to deplete the foreign reserves.

“When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 dollars per barrel for many years, and the production was 2.1 billion barrel per day, I did not believe them, because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown.


Women Farmers Plead With Benue Assembly To Prioritize Budgetary Allocation To Agric

The President of Nigerian Association of Women In Agriculture, NAWIA, Mrs. Ngizan Chahul has appealed to the Benue State House of Assembly to prioritize budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector to ensure sustainable growth and development in the sector.

She made this appeal at a one day Benue state Legislative Interactive Forum on 2018 Agricultural Budget and State Agricultural Policy Formulation organised by NAWIA and HEDA Resource Centre with Support from Oxfam Nigeria and TrustAfrica held in Makurdi.

Mrs. Chahul who commended the state legislature and the executive for ensuring the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law in the state said the law had reduced the incidences of herdsmen/crop farmers’ conflict that affected farming activities in the past.

“Furthermore,the on-going process for Benue state agricultural policy formulation has received legislative support which the Benue state Governor may soon sign into law, is a laudable step towards boosting investors’ morale in agro-processing and the creation of revenue opportunities for the Government, as well as employment for the Benue People, especially the youths.”

“The fact is that without a policy the agricultural sector will continue to suffer, but if we have it in place every other thing will fall into place and our state will be happier for it.”

Continuing she said, “today, the 2018 budget estimates have been presented to the Benue state House of Assembly, we would like to know the house committee position in debating for the increase in agricultural budget to at least 10% of the total annual state budget as contained in the Maputo Declaration.

“We all know that Benue State is the FOOD BASKET OF THE NATION. The state is expected to have the highest budget allocation to agriculture to enable the state sustain its appellation.

“Employment of agriculture extension officers, revival of moribund agro-processing factories in the state, research, establishment of the agro-processing zones in the state are some of the issues that the increased budget is expected to fund. If this is done, the smallholder farmers that we represent, will have a good market and stable income to improve their livelihood.

“We must also appreciate the state government for launching a unified standard measurement for most of the Agro-produce in the state, which has reduced the middlemen exploitations. “We also appreciate the State Ministry of Agriculture for its proactive steps in improving agriculture ln the state.

“In a special way, we appreciate Oxfam Nigeria and TrustAfrica for their support Which has made this occasion possible.

Mrs. Chahul who lamented the level of post harvest losses recorded in the state, expressed optimism that the deliberation and actions taken by stakeholders in the sector would to a large extent improve the fortunes of state.”

On his part, the lead paper presenter, Mr. Justin Gbagir urged the state government to ensure improved commitment to the implementation of its annual budget to better the lot of farmers in the state.

“We need to see greater commitment to the implementation of the government policies as contained in the working document of the administration and by so doing we will record unprecedented growth in that sector. “I must however state unequivocally that the situation at the moment is not encouraging but we hope that the government would do better if more funds is committed to the sector.” Gbagir noted.

Farmers Receive Training On Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture

The FADAMA III Additional Financing (AF) Programme have recently started training the personnel of Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP), FADAMA staff and farmers in nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

This was disclosed in a statement by Mr Tunde Oladunjoyelo, the World Bank Media Consultant on FADAMA, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mr Nath Olayinka, the State Project Coordinator, said that that the aim of the training was to expose the participants to the best ways of retaining food nutrients during food preparation.

He said that the training was also aimed at developing good eating habits and boosting the food security of the state.

He said that a human nutrition specialist was engaged to share knowledge, ideas and skills with the participants, while equipping them with the wherewithal that would enable them to disseminate the information effectively to farm families.

Speaking, Mrs Iroko Ibukun-Oluwa, Director of Extension, OYSADEP, urged the participants to practise and disseminate the knowledge they acquired in the training to farmers.

She said that OYSADEP would put in place a feedback mechanism to ensure that the knowledge was successfully delivered to farmers.

Also speaking, Dr Thomas Adepoju, Head of Department of Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan, said that nutrition was the bedrock of all development.

“It studies the process in which living organisms take in and make use of food for the production of energy, the functioning of organs and tissues, maintenance of life growth, reproduction and elimination of waste products from the body.’’

Adepoju, who said that the cycle of malnutrition and poverty could be drastically reduced via behavioural communication strategy, urged the participants to share the knowledge with the farmers and facilitate the transformation of agriculture into agribusiness.

Alhaja Dauda Ayoade, the Secretary to the FADAMA Community Association, who spoke on behalf of the farmers, commended the FADAMA III (AF) Programme for the nutrition-sensitive training.

She pledged to convey the knowledge which was acquired in the training to other members of the production clusters and groups.


Bank Of Agriculture Disburses N1.4 billion In Kogi State

The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Bank of Agriculture, Mallam Kabir Muhammed Adamu informed newsmen that over N1.4 billion had been disbursed in Kogi State since the inception of the bank in the state.

Speaking in Okene, Kogi State on Friday during the inauguration of the bank’s branch, he mentioned that out of the amount,  only about N375 million  had been repaid back leaving a balance of over N1 billion.

The Managing Director who was represented by the Executive Director of Retail banking of the bank,  Mr. Emmanuel Ameh said before the closure of the former Okene branch,  the sum of over N91 million was disbursed to members of the community and the repayment has not been too encouraging.

He pointed out that with the new beginning,  the branch would have 100 per cent repayment in all subsequent disbursements.

The managing director seized the opportunity requesting all those who collected loans from the bank and still owe to go and pay up.

He mentioned that without paying back their earlier loan,  they cannot have any relationship with the bank again stressing that the bank charges between 9 percent and 20 percent on it loans.

According to him,  the bank which is owned by the Federal government had been in agricultural financing for over four and a half decades stressing that the bank currently operates on 136 business locations nation-wide.

He stressed that it was common knowledge that waste disposal rather than waste management was prevalent in Nigeria and this involves co-disposal of general and hazardous wastes on land, water bodies, roads and uncontrolled and open burning.

Ahmed lamented that the practices portend serious ‎danger to the environment, health and also retard economic development.

The permanent secretary stressed that  the policy ‎should be able to promote among others; waste reduction at source, recylce and reuse as the best option for solid waste management in Nigeria to promote resource conservation and environmental protection.

He added that the policy should also promote private sector participation and i‎nvestment including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in waste management as government alone cannot continue to handle the issue of solid waste management and active participation of all including the citizenry, corporate bodies among others.

Ahmed therefore stressed the government’s readiness to work with relevant stakeholders ‎to develop actionable work plans to drive implementation of the policy.


Niger Govt. To Equip Farm Institutes To Train Youths

Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger on Friday said the state government would equip farm institutes at  Tegina, Kuta, Nasko and Bida local government areas to train youths in modern farming methods in 2018.

The governor said this while presenting the state’s N128 billion 2018 budget proposal to the state House of Assembly.

Bello added that the budget, christened “People’s Budget” had provisions for farm institutes to train youths in all year farming system.

He explained that arrangements had been concluded by the state government to clear  2,000 hectares of land under the Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme.

The governor said ” we will increase  the number of agricultural equipment hiring centres across the state to 15 and rehabilitate irrigation schemes.

“We shall continue to collaborate with agricultural development partners in rural transformation, value chain development and extension delivery.”

Source: NAN