Study Reveals Constraints In Nigeria’s Extension System

A study on the Training Needs Assessment of extension agents in Nigeria has revealed several gaps and constraints that have hitherto limited the effectiveness of extension service in the country.
Findings from the study, which was recently presented in a paper titled: ‘The Capacity of Extension Staff in Managing Weeds in Cassava Systems in Nigeria’ in Nanning, China, during the World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops’ revealed that unless extension workers have the capacity to transfer improved knowledge on weed control in cassava, farmers will not be able to maximise the benefits of improved weed management technologies.
A Communication and Knowledge Exchange expert at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, Godwin Atser, who presented the paper, also noted that the current farmer-extension ratio of one extension worker to 3011 farm families was a major constraint limiting the effectiveness of extension system in Nigeria.
“The ratio of one extension worker to over 3,000 farmers drastically fell short of the target of the Nigerian government to have one agricultural extension worker attached to 800 farmers, posing a serious challenge to the agricultural transformation agenda of the government,” he explained.
Atser said that apart from the grossly inadequate number of extension workers, his study indicated that the existing workers were older, lacked capacity development as a result of underfunding and basic requirements, causing inefficiency.
The study, which was funded by the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project specifically, investigated the capabilities of extension staff of Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) in weed management in cassava systems in Nigeria.
“The findings of the study,” Atser said, “showed that more than 80 per cent of extension staff have not had training that specifically targets weed management in cassava.
“There is knowledge gap on weed identification, types of herbicides, cassava varietal identification, and computer skills among extension staff.
“Furthermore, the extension system in Nigeria is male dominated and majority are 50 years and above. Radio, telephone and group discussion were the most used communication channels for technology transfer to farmers by extension staff.”
He recommended training of extension staff on sustainable management of weeds in cassava systems with specific emphasis on weed identification, herbicides use and application, cassava varietal identification, gender and computer skills.
Atser concluded by calling for recruitment of young, educated and upwardly mobile agricultural extension workers in Nigeria, with intensive capacity development to meet up with the need for effective dissemination of information to farmers on new technologies, varieties and market opportunities.

Government To Stop Roaming Of Cattle

The Federal Government has moved to stop cattle from roaming across the country, within the next 18 to 24 months.

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture and rural development, announced the plans at the 19th Regional Implementation Forum for International Fund for Agricultural Development-supported projects in West and Central Africa in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ogbeh represented President Buhari at the occasion.

According to him, “This is why our government has decided that grasslands in large portions around the country will be created and improved grass seeds will be brought in from other countries, which have gone ahead of us to create the desired grass that will make it unnecessary for the herdsmen to roam about. So in the in next 18 to 24 months, we assure you that no cattle will roam about in this country.

“We need young women and men who can invest in cattle rearing and milk production as this must not be left only to the Fulani herdsmen. Feeding cattle has been an issue, which we need to address.

“We have given support to rice, wheat and cassava farmers; also to cocoa producers.”

The measure is a part

Danish Agric Companies Express Interest In Nigerian Agriculture Sector

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council’s Senior Advisor, Ms Susanne Teilmann, on Monday announced the readiness of 25 Danish companies to invest in the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

Teilmann told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the companies had indicated interest in taking advantage of the Nigeria’s huge agricultural potential and share their farming experiences with Nigerian farmers.

“My Council is in Nigeria to make presentations to the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture on what we have learnt on how Nigeria’s agriculture sector can become better.
My Council is very ready to share our agricultural development experience with Nigerians. We are ready to share all our experiences with Nigeria.”

Already, about 25 Danish agricultural development companies have indicated their interest in coming to Nigeria to do business, as well as share their experiences with Nigerians.

“Nigeria is where things can happen and this is where we want to be,’’ she said.

Teilmann, however, said that the companies were ready to partner with “the right” partners in Nigeria in developing and harnessing Nigeria’s agriculture potential.
The Council’s Advisor expressed optimism that Nigeria’s agriculture sector, if well-developed, had the possibility of making Nigeria a “food hub” in West Africa.

Teilmann urged Nigerian governments to urgently begin to encourage professionalism in the development of her agriculture.

The Advisor also enjoined the Nigerian governments to encourage and create the right environment for the involvement of young Nigerians in professional farming.

“Nigeria has the great potential of being the huge food hub for the whole of the West African region if her agricultural potential are adequately harnessed.”

“We need to encourage professionalism in agriculture. We need to have schools for the training of young professional Nigerians in different areas of farming processes,’’ she added.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council represents the agricultural and food industry in Denmark

Governors Make Plans To Invest In Agriculture, Mineral Resources

In their bid to boost internally generated revenue to augment dwindling allocations from the Federal Government, governors from the North-West zone plan massive investment in exploration of their mineral resources and development of agriculture.

The governors,’ under the ageis of North-West governors’ forum, made the declaration at the end of their meeting in Katsina.

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, said that the seven states in the zone would give priority to the exploration of their mineral resources and the development of agriculture.

The communiqué, signed by Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, the chairman of the forum, was issued to newsmen on Sunday in Katsina

It said that the two sectors if properly harnessed, would solve the problem of unemployment, insecurity, as well cattle rustling in the zone.

It urged Nigerians to support President Buhari’s fight against corruption and insecurity.

The governors advised Nigerians to support the policies of the Federal Government aimed at revamping the economy.

They pledged to mobilise stakeholders in the zone to ensure the development of the area.

“For the zone to succeed in addressing most of its challenges and forge ahead in the wake of monumental challenges, the governors agreed to cooperate and unite.’’ the communique said

It added that the governors agreed to establish a secretariat in Katsina State to coordinate their activities.

Group Urges Buhari To Fasten Implementation Of Fertiliser Policy

The Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure speedy implementation of policies on fertiliser.

Its Executive Secretary, Alhaji Rabiu Ahmed said the earlier the government unveiled its plans, the better for the agricultural sector, adding that farmers and stakeholders were awaiting the direction the government would take.

He said: “The sooner it rolls out its work programme for farmers, the better because everybody in the sector is waiting to see what direction the government is going to take.

“Nonetheless, our members are still bringing fertiliser in small quantities, but they are not bringing large quantity because they do not know what the policy of government will be this year.

“We want the government to know that the 2016 planting season has already started in the farms, and there is need for farmers to know what the policy of government is.

“It is not good for policy decisions to be delayed because agriculture is time-bound; if you do not apply the fertiliser at the right time, you will not get the potential yields.’’

Ahmed said there was need to know the method the government would adopt in the distribution of the commodity this year.

He added that it was unclear if the government would adopt the methods of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme or the approach it would take.

“The challenge is that we do not know the direction of government supplies, so members are scared because they do not want to import fertiliser.

“Also, members cannot produce fertiliser in large quantities before the government will come and undermine the efforts by subsidising the commodity,’’ Ahmed said.

Rice To Become Cheaper By April – FG

The Federal Government said on Saturday that it would stabilise the price of rice from April to make it affordable to everybody in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, made this known while declaring open the 2016 National wheat farmers field day in Alkamawa village in Bunkure Local Government of Kano state.

Ogbeh said that the stability of price would be very viable due to its demand and affordability to the people as from April.

He said the boosting of wheat production and other cereals had become necessary to reduce over dependence on importation.

The minister added that over 300, 000 hectares of land in wheat producing states would be dedicated to boost wheat production.

“The government will continue to support farmers to encourage agricultural activity, enhance food security and employment generation in the country,’’ he said.

According to him, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will diversify the economy with greater emphasis on agriculture.

Ogbeh urged Nigerians to embrace agriculture to enhance their welfare and enable them become self reliant.

In a remark, Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the senate would make legislation to remove obstacles being faced by wheat farmers in the country.

Are China And Brazil Transforming African Agriculture?

China and Brazil are set to increase their influence in Africa, with the recently launched New Development Bank opening offices in Johannesburg this month and preparing to issue its first loans in April. New research on China and Brazil in African Agriculture published in acclaimed journal, World Development, reveals that the picture on the ground is far more complex and more contested than generic policy statements about South-South cooperation or win-win partnerships would have us believe.

Agriculture, which employs 65 percent of Africa’s labour force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product, presents a major area of engagement for both China and Brazil with the continent.  Additionally, both countries may claim to be particularly well positioned to help African countries develop their agriculture sector.

China offers win-win partnerships with unparalleled pragmatism that is much welcomed as an alternative to the increasingly obsolete aid industry. Brazil offers tropical technology that is claimed to be well suited to Africa’s similar soil-climate characteristics and an approach to the cooperation exchange that is arguably more horizontal.

But despite being often clustered together as leaders of the South-South paradigm, China and Brazil are quite different, both in rhetoric and in practice.

World Development Special Issue on China and Brazil in African Agriculture digs behind South-South Cooperation rhetoric

Edited by Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto and Qi Gubo, this special open access collection digs behind the rhetoric of South-South cooperation and win-win relations to reveal the reality of South-South encounters.

At its launch, co-editor Professor Scoones noted that policy ideas and technology travel from China and Brazil to Africa in the context of South-South relations. They do not end up the way they were first designed though but get transformed and reconstituted through negotiation and mutual learning.

The eight articles in this open access collection looked at cases of Chinese and Brazilian engagements in four African countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – as well as the origins of Chinese and Brazilian agricultural policies, technology and capital by looking at the two countries’ domestic contexts.

They reveal a rich mix of engagements, including:

  • agricultural investments by private and state owned enterprises
  • tri-lateral development cooperation efforts
  • technological adaptation initiatives
  • training programmes
  • ‘under-the-radar’ involvement in agriculture by Chinese migrants.

These diverse experiences challenge simplistic narratives of either “South–South” collaboration or “neo-imperial” expansion of “rising powers”.

Research reveals no singlular Brazilian or Chinese model

There is therefore no singular Brazilian or Chinese model but engagements in Africa reflect struggles back home in Brazil and in China that meet other struggles when they land in diverse African countries.

These are struggles for power and resources as well as battles between competing visions on agriculture and development. They are local struggles but they are also global struggles that need to be situated against the geopolitics of aid and international development and the changing global configurations of capital.

Three papers from the collection were briefly discussed at the recent Contested Agronomies conference, hosted at IDS. One looked at the case of China’s Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centres and two focused on Brazilian cooperation programmes symbolising the agribusiness-versus-family farming dualism in Brazilian agriculture.

A closer look at China’s Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centres

The Chinese demonstration centres were presented by Xiuli Xu, professor at theChina Agricultural University, as an example of a top-down policy being implemented at the grassroots.

The 23 centres found in Africa were established by Chinese companies from different provinces in China, with support from their government. The Chinese government emphasises state-business relations and the need to ensure long-term financial “sustainability” of these centres for technical cooperation. The companies in turn hope to develop a potential market for their seeds, machinery and other technology in Africa. In the meantime, they operate as ‘aid workers’ interacting with local communities and learning about the trade of cooperation.

Brazil’s cooperation programmes reflect agribusiness-versus-family farming dualism in its own agriculture

The Brazil story revealed contestations beyond the agrarian dualism formulation.

Family farming is disputed in Brazil and this is reflected in the practice of More Food International, one of Brazil’s flagship cooperation programmes in Africa analysed by one of the papers.

Lídia Cabral, one of the authors, noted that the programme has so far been mainly about selling Brazilian farming machinery and tractors in particular and that the policy advocacy thrust of the programme – of reproducing a family farming-based development trajectory – got lost in translation. African governments are attracted by a modernisation ideal where family farming is at best a transitional mode into mechanised commercial farming.

The other Brazilian case-study presented, focused on ProSAVANA in Mozambique, discussed the role played by imagined landscapes of the Brazilian Cerrado and the Mozambican Savannah both in the promotion and contestation of the programme.

Alex Shankland, co-author of the paper, highlighted that the contestation of ProSAVANA has been at the centre of the making of Brazilian cooperation. It has produced spill over effects to other Brazilian programmes and raised questions about Brazil’s South-South narrative and its solidarity and horizontality claims.

Useful lessons from Braziliand and Chinese enagements in African agriculture

There are many useful lessons to be learnt from the Brazilian and Chinese engagements in African agriculture for other countries. For example, a key feature is the role of state-business relations in driving and shaping engagements that provides valuable insight for agencies such as DFID (the UK’s Department for International Development) which has an interest in the role of the private sector, and in public-private partnerships.

But as suggested by this research, these relations have to be understood as part of competing interests, power dynamics and conflicting ideas about development, locally and globally, and should not be treated as anodyne win-win solutions.


Nigeria To Import Grass Seedlings Not Grass – Audu Ogbeh

Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has issued a clarification in response to reports that the government intends to import grass to feed cows. “This is absolutely not true,” said the Minister in a statement.

According to the Minister, what Nigeria plans to do is to import seedlings to grow improved varieties of grass in Nigeria. He said there is no intention to import grass wholesale.

The minister has said a number of times recently that Nigeria needs improved varieties of grass, some of which can be found in Brazil and Kenya, both tropical countries sharing many attributes with Nigeria. The climatic similarities – which mean varieties of grass will have no difficulty adapting to Nigerian climate – as well as the fact that those varieties contain about 28 per cent higher crude protein, are responsible for the Minister’s decision.

“The short to medium term strategy is to improve the grass for cattle consumption, create paddocks to curb and potentially end cattle grazing in light of the serious clashes that arise and increase the protein consumed by Nigerian cows and increase protein content in grass. There is no intention to import grass and this is simply poor information. Nigeria will import grass seedlings for growing in Nigeria,” said the Minister.

Osun Farmer Urges FG To Develop Agricultural Blueprint

The Chairman of Osun State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Otunba Gabriel  Ogunsanya, has urged the Federal Government to have a blueprint on sustainable agricultural development that will reduce hunger and poverty and explore partnerships with the private sector.

Ogunsanya, who is also the owner of the FEG Agro Farms Nigeria Limited, advised the government to retool its agriculture policy to include a greater focus on agribusiness as a critical driver of future developments; and  to give priority to expenditures on public goods that will boost infrastructure.

He told our reporter that there is the need for investment in agriculture and rural development, adding that these are crucial to improve farmers’ lives and livelihoods.

He canvassed the implementation of a blueprint that will combine investment in income earning opportunities with social safety nets to promote a better future for farmers.

Assessing the contributions of the last administration to agric development, he said: “The last administration tried its best which was not enough, because, we are still importing everything. Because of this, the present administration should lay emphasis on the improvement of the agric sector by improving the system to become a major driver of Nigeria’s development.”

With Chief Audu Ogbeh, a farmer, as minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ogunsanya expressed the hope that things would  change for the better. “The Chief  Ogbeh that I know is a good farmer who operates in agro-business. He adds value to what he is producing. He makes sure that all his crops are processed to add value to them; he has been a committed and seasoned farmer.”

He advised President Muham-madu Buhari to promote agricultural entrepreneurship through the development of sustainable commercial farming. This, he added, will help to provide employment.

He stressed that there should be huge investments in irrigation, value addition, increased production, human resources, affordable inputs and appropriate loans, besides fertiliser projects and marketing. While emphasising the need for a stable supply of major agricultural produce, he called for coordinated development between urban and rural areas as well as between agriculture, manufacturing and the service sector in rural areas.