Another Round Of Osun Youths To Undergo Agricultural Training In Germany

Osun Government is living no stone unturned in its bid to boost agriculture in line with the vision to turn the state into the food basket of the nation. This is happening just as the second batch of youths going to Germany for modern techniques in farming have rounded up their German language training programme today in Osogbo.

The Rauf Aregbesola administration, having realised that the only way to increase food production, eliminate poverty and boost the economy is therefore engaging the youths of the state in agriculture.

20 youths who make the second batch of the trainees who are drawn mostly from the O’REAP Youth Academy and the Oodua Farmers Academy. The youths have undergone the German language lessons for for two months in a bid to make their agric training in the city of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany easy and more effective.

Speaking shortly after the close of the language training programme today, the coordinator, who is also the immediate past Senior Special Adviser on Quick Impact Intervention Programme, QIIP, Mr Dele Ogundipe explained that serious agricultural development has been the cardinal objective of present administration.

“Because of the quest to develop agric in the state, the Governor, around May 2012 contacted the state of Saxon-Anholt in Germany to be of assistance to the state in the area of agricultural development.

“Saxon-Anholt state agreed to the arrangement because of the performance of the Ogbeni Aregbesola administration in the area agriculture having sent a delegation of eleven members to state of Osun who went round the state (in Germany) visiting various farms and having consultations with various stakeholders in agriculture programmes, said Ogundipe.

He explainee further that the students have been tought riduments of German language and agric related cultures. He added that the language department at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife has also been engaged to train the youths for two months on German language.

Dwelling on the benefits of the relationship between the state of Osun and the State of Saxon-Anholt in Germany, the coordinator noted that it is uncommon a state in Geany would have sich nilateral relationship with any state in Nigeria, stressing that the feat has led to so many other opportunities in the area of health care and agricultural development.

According Ogundioe, the German delegation were impressed with the agricultural programmes in Osun, hence decided to establish the best practice demonstration farm for the state, which will help boost food production.

He added that at a time that the nation is passing through hard times in its economy, it is therefore a good move to expose Osun youths in the state to the most modern agricultural technique in the world which will be of great advantage to the state especially as the country is now focusing on agriculture.

Mr Ogundipe said, “what Osun is doing in the agric sector is very lofty and helpful to Nigeria as a country. If you train one youth to be good in agriculture, you are training the world, how much more when the state is investing in the training of over 40 youths on modern ways of agriculture

“We are looking at a situation whereby when the youths come back from Germany we can be attaching them with the appropriate intervention programmes of the Federal government and our own state here

“One of the cardinal objectives of this administration after coming into power in 2010 is to embark on serious agricultural development even when oil was still booming at that time. It means that Ogbeni Rauf Areggesola has been very proactive

“The youths travelling to Germany have been trained on the riduments of German language and German language in agriculture so as to aid their assimilation and participation while in Germany.

“The first batch of Osun youths went to Germany in August of 2013 and came back in November the same year, the second batch were supposed to go in 2014 but were delayed because of the need to improve on the language more than the first batch and the issue of Ebola.

“Hopefully they will be leaving this July” Mr Ogundipe said.

The German language instructor; who is the fourth to come to the state for the purpose, Mr Ronald kley expressed delight at the level of understanding and assimilation of the youths, while also lauding the efforts of the state government for the initiative.

“It has been a worthwhile experience so far, the students performance have been very encouraging and I can say that they are fully ready to go to Germany and learn modern techniques in agriculture which will help the state

“It’s good that they are going to Germany to learn new things and new experience on their own. We have talked about many things they will meet in Germany like animal livestock, pig farming technique and how to live and stay in my country, knowing what is forbidden and what’s allowed”, Kley said.

A beneficiary of the programme, Miss Olanibi Comfort from Atakumosa East local government of the state described the programme as a very good one which will place the state of Osun on a pedestal self sustainability.

She added that the programme is one that will go a long way in taking the jobless youths off the streets and find something worthwhile doing in the area of agriculture, stressing that it will make the state of Osun to be a center point for other states in the federation to emulate in the area of agriculture.

“I am so delighted to be a part of this programme because it will continue to change my life for the better. the programme will go a long way in taking many jobless youths off the streets and put something worthwhile on their
hands”

Another beneficiary, Mr Adebayo Waheed thanked the Aregbesola administration of Ogbeni for giving out the rare opportunity to the youths of the state, saying it is a programme which Nigerian leaders should embrace and emulate in whole.

He added that the programme will guarantee food security which will help solve many challenges the nation is facing as a result of dwindling oil revenue the country is facing.

“We have so many graduates out there without jobs. I suggest that everybody should go back to farm, because it is the only solution to the numerous problems we are facing as a nation.

Exploit Underground Water To Boost Agriculture, US Forum Tells Nigeria

As Nigeria seeks measures to diversify the economy through agriculture, stakeholders at a summit in the United States, have urged government to explore groundwater resilience programme for sustainable agricultural practice in the country.

Besides, Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, has expressed optimism that Nigeria would come out of the present economy crunch through diversification into sustainable agricultural practices and mineral resources.

Lalong said this while addressing participants at the Ground water summit holding in Denver, United States of America.According to him, as the world is focusing on sustainable development through major intervention project and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), there is the need to be strategic in the campaign for diversification into agriculture.He said through such vision, future generation would be positively influenced and not be deprived of their rights.

He observed that commercial agricultural practices require a lot of water for its sustainability throughout the season hence; ground water takes a lot in this practice. He stressed the need to integrate the water management practices for environmental, economical and social agricultural practices.

National President of Association of Waterwell Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP), Michael Ale, urged knowledge investors to come to Nigeria for baseline information and research into the sustainable use of underground water for agricultural practices.

NIPR Endorses Buhari’s Policy On Agriculture

The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has endorsed the move by the Federal Government to develop agriculture as the mainstay of the nation’s economy.

The institute also charged President Muhammadu Buhari administration to ensure that appropriate policies and funding should be provided in order to encourage people’s interest in agriculture.

The NIPR, in its communique issued at the end of its 2016 Annual National Conference and AGM held at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan with the theme “Networking for National Economy: The Synergy of Agriculture and Communication”, stated that there are rich potentials in agriculture and food sufficiency in the country.

“The conference commended the Federal Government for consistently advocating the need to return to Agriculture as the main stay of the Nigerian economy and urged government to match its desires with appropriate policies and funding to drive the renewed interest in Agriculture,” the institute said in the communique signed by the Chairman, Communiqué Drafting Committee, Tope Adaramola, who is also the Chairman, Ogun State chapter of NIPR.

It added that “The Forum identified Nigeria’s rich potentials in Agriculture and food sufficiency, but regretted that the potentials had not been actualized partly because of lack of networking and effective application and management of communication.”

The NIPR highlighted the significance of networking and communications as panacea to the dysfunctionality in the nation’s socio-economic and infrastructural development, while also identifying poverty as deterrence to the nation’s agricultural revolution.

“The conference noted that there is a disconnect between research and development in the Agricultural sector and key players in the Agricultural sector on the one hand, and between government policy and the needs of the peasant farmers on the other hand,” it said in the communique issued at the weekend.

It added that “Public Relations and Communications professionals have a crucial role to reconnect all these diverse stakeholders.”

Similarly, the institute counselled Public Relations practitioners on the need to avail themselves of the opportunities to grow interest and competences in Agricultural Communication by encouraging the evolution of Agricultural Journalism, development communication and Agricultural Communication’s Institutes as obtainable in some developed economies.

“Discipline and adherence to ethics was identified as a major pivot for sustainable contributions and activities that could lead to food sufficiency and agricultural revolution,” it said, while further stressing that “Translation of modern scientific discoveries and Agricultural registers into the various local languages to enhance the comprehension and usage of such skills and strategies by farmers at the grassroots.”

While submitting that every Nigerian should embrace farming by utilizing all available (space) within their vicinity to enhance food sufficiency, the body image makers also implored government to imbibe marketing communications policies in the Agricultural sector and to create opportunities for strategic engagements by critical stakeholders like the NIPR in enriching and bringing policy and skills gaps.

China Partnerships On Agriculture With Sokoto Excites Tambuwal

The partnership agreement entered into between Sokoto government and various companies in the Henan Province of China will revolutionise the state’s agricultural landscape for the long term benefit of the people, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has said.

Speaking after a meeting with Chinese investors at the Haofeng Machinery Manufacturing Company in Zhengzhou, Tambuwal said the story of Henan Province’s rise to the top of China’s food chain was a model which Sokoto would emulate.

A statement issued in China by his spokesman, Malam Imam Imam, said like Henan, agriculture has traditionally been the pillar of Sokoto’s economy, with the state among Nigeria’s highest producers of wheat, corn, onions, tomato and rice.
china2“Henan is considered the breadbasket of China. Our target in Sokoto is that in the next 10 years, we want to become the most important state in Nigeria in terms of agriculture.

“We hope to standardise the production of important agricultural items such as beef, fish, maize and vegetable oil. Our vision to have the full agricultural value chain fully embedded thereby creating job opportunities for the citizens,” the Governor added.
He said visiting the Province has come at the right time considering the renewed relationship blossoming between Nigeria and China.

According to a memorandum of understanding earlier signed, China’s Henan companies will invest more millions of dollars in construction of a demonstration farm in Sokoto.

It also provides for experts from Sokoto and Henan Province to carry out joint analysis and study of climatic conditions, soil moisture status, crop cultivation techniques and plant protection and quarantine

The partnership will also promote lease investment and promotion of agricultural machinery between the two entities.

According to Tambuwal, Henan has seen rapid development in its economy over the past two decades, and its economy has expanded at an even faster rate than China’s national average.

“In the same vein, Sokoto has the potential to lead Nigeria’s agricultural revolution and we intend to be at the forefront,” he added.

Farmers Find It Hard Getting Funds From Banks – Minister

Farmers across the country find it difficult to access loans from banks to fund their various projects, the Federal Government has said.

According to the government, most banks in the country hardly lend to farmers, while the few that give out loans for agriculture always requests very high interest rates, a development that has impacted the country’s agricultural sector negatively.

Speaking at the national workshop on developing a rapid action plan for quality seed production and presentation of the alliance for a seed industry in West Africa, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, lamented that no farmer could survive the high interest rates demanded by Nigerian banks.

“You can’t borrow in this country to fund agriculture yet, they want us to do magic. Most of the banks insist that the lowest they can give is 25 per cent interest on their loans and no farmer can survive with that rate,” the minister stated.

He observed that most banks were not speaking the same language with the farmers when it comes to funding agriculture.

Ogbeh, however, stated that the government was working hard to address the development, and stressed that it was high time the nation fed its citizens and reduced the importation of food to the barest minimum.

On the demand for seeds, the minister said the estimated amount in 2016 was about 350,000 metric tonnes for rice, maize and sorghum, with an approximate seed industry value of N112bn or $564m.

He said, “The 2015 annual production was about 122,000 MT valued at N43bn or $216m. This, effectively translates into a supply-demand gap of about 231,000 MT valued at N81bn or $409m.

“Presently, the gap is filled through massive use of low quality seeds, such as farmers saved seed and supplies from unscrupulous seed merchants. In this regard, Nigeria needs a seed industry revolution.”

Meanwhile, the International Fund for Agricultural Development has announced that about 9.2 million out of the 14.2 million targeted Nigerians have benefitted from its development projects across the county in the last 30 years.

The agency said that over $317.6m had been spent in financing 10 projects in Nigeria.

The Director, West and Central Africa Division, IFAD, Ides de Willebois, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at the presentations of findings by the Independent Office of Evaluation of the agency.

Willebois said the projects had improved the livelihoods of the rural poor and strengthened their food production systems.

He said that the evaluation was carried out to assess the results and performance of the IFAD-government partnership in reducing rural poverty, and to generate findings and recommendations for the future partnership between the agency and Nigeria.

FG To Invest N59.7bn On Youth-In-Agriculture Scheme In September

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, Director-General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), on Sunday said the Federal Government would launch N59.7 billion Youth-In-Agriculture Scheme in September.

Sanginga, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan, said the scheme would be sponsored by the federal government and African Development Bank (AFDB).

The director-general said IITA would train those enrolled in the scheme, adding that beneficiaries would be trained on how to make agriculture a business with good networking.

“The programme tagged “Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness programme, will engage youths in agribusiness for 18 months to enable them learn how to make agric business plan.

“Each will be given between 25,000 US Dollars and 300,000 US Dollars as loan to start a business.

“The programme started by IITA in 2012, was taken over by the federal government and AFDB to create employment in agric sector.

“To support this objective, the programme will be extended to 36 states and Abuja in September.

“After the programme, we expect the youths to become chief executive officers of factories, companies and creators of jobs rather than job seekers,” he said.

Sanginga urged the youths to develop positive mindset in agriculture and take good advantage of the programme.

“They should be serious with the training because at the end of it only those who did well will be rewarded,” he said. (NAN)

Agency To Partner States On Agriculture

A non-profit organisation, Synergos Nigeria, has expressed its commitment to reducing global poverty through partnership with governments to transform agriculture from subsistence farming to business.

Its Country Director, Adewale Ajadi, spoke at a workshop to launch the State Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) in Abuja.

He unveiled plans to utilise a systems change approach in reorienting and empowering key state actors in the transformation of the agriculture.

Ajadi said gender inclusion and nutrition-sensitive approaches to food production, particularly cassava and rice, would be the focus of the transformation plan.

He added: “With the projection of a doubling of the population of Nigeria by 2050 and the perennial challenges facing production and processing of agricultural commodities, there was need to change the face of agriculture in Nigeria.”

The Country director added that the Bill-and-Melinda-Gates-Foundation-funded programme was engaged in a pilot project of the SPA programme in three states of Kogi, Benue and Kaduna to provide farmers with new farming techniques available in developed countries.

“Our approach to Nigeria’s agriculture is to ensure that federal and state agricultural leaders themselves drive agricultural transformation while Synergos will provide the craft necessary for the systemic change across the complex issues of poverty.”

Rice Farmers Launch Campaign To Promote Local Rice Consumption

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on Tuesday said that it had launched the `Operation Produce More and Eat Nigerian Rice’ as part of efforts to boost local production and consumption.

The South-West Zonal Coordinator, Mr Segun Athoh, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that rice farmers had the dedication and ability to improve production.

Athoh said that the association was already clearing and preparing the lands in the Badagry area of the state, to grow rice.

“We are presently on the farm now doing land preparations to grow rice in Badagry, Lagos. What I will advise Nigerians, according to my slogan, is: Operation produce more and eat Nigerian rice.

“We have the dedication, ability and discipline to achieve this, so that we can match other nations, shoulder to shoulder.

“It is high time Nigerians changed their pattern of feeding; if we can grow rice, wheat, guinea corn and many others, there is nothing bad to eat our own.
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“Nobody will query us for eating our local produce, we have to change our pattern and look inward,’’ he said.

The coordinator, however, urged the Federal Government to do more in terms of direct funding.

“It is time for everybody to have a sober reflection on the state of agriculture in the country. Everybody should start growing what we can eat.

“We have to do what we call backward integration so that at the end of the day, we will be self-sufficient in Lagos State, and the country at large.

“With the little land in Lagos State, I believe we can feed ourselves. Where we have shortfalls, we can get more to add to what we have,’’ Athoh said.

According to him, over 80 per cent of Nigerians are farmers across the nation.

Rice Importation Ban, Good For Economy – RMIDAN

The President, Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, who also doubles as the National Chairman, Association of Rice Investors, has hailed the banning of the importation of rice through land borders by the Federal Government, saying the policy will remove the major obstacles faced by local producers.

He said the policy would boost diversification of the economy.

While addressing journalists in Lagos during the week, Owoeye said the key challenge to the rice farmers in the country had been removed by the government with the reversal of the earlier policy which allowed importation of rice through the land borders.

He said the policy had allowed illegal smuggling of rice from neighbouring countries, which he said affected the revenue generation for Nigeria while improving the revenue generation of the countries which exported the rice.

Owoeye said, “This was our stand before, but the Federal Government claimed that we should allow goods to move freely within ECOWAS countries into Nigeria.

“Secondly, the government believed that our much needed revenues would be generated from land borders. Meanwhile, from our experience, we let the government know then that we didn’t have the resources to manage to align with the rice coming through the border because we have many unmanned borders through which illegal importation could be done.”

Apart from the policy reversal, Owoeye disclosed that the governments at both the federal and state levels had also been supporting local farmers along the rice value chain with various intervention funds.

He added that through the intervention, many moribund rice mills across the country had been revived and were fully operational.

Owoeye explained that with the massive intervention and support from the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry, among others, the insufficient gap in rice production in Nigeria would be drastically reduced.

Farmers Record $200m In Net Income From Rice Initiative

The rice revolution initiative has made Nigerian farmers to record an estimated $200m (N39.4bn) in net incomes in the past two years.

The development has therefore created wealth for the farmers and their communities, according to a policy expert and Coordinator of Africa Regional Climate Change Programme under the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr. Richard Munang.

He believes that diversifying into other sectors such as an optimised agro-sector, services and manufacturing will help boost growth in the sector.

Munang spoke in Abuja during the inauguration of the Nigerian chapter of Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly, with the theme, ‘Reshaping Nigeria’s food security and climate resilience through EBAFOSA.’

At the event, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, who was represented by the Director of Administration in the ministry, Chris Ezeilo, said EBAFOSA which seeks to combat food insecurity, climate change, ecosystems degradation and poverty in Africa, using innovative approach, now has a membership of 2,000 in Nigeria.

Manung said that although Africa holds 65 per cent of the world’s arable land and 10 per cent of internal renewable fresh water sources and a projected agro-value chain worth $1tn by 2030, the reality on the ground was appalling.

While quoting the World Bank reports that in Africa, a 10 per cent increase in crop yields translates into approximately a seven per cent reduction in poverty, the policy expert said Nigeria was already demonstrating high potential of an optimised agro-sector.

He said, “Unleashing a rice revolution has produced 1.8 million metric tonnes of rice paddy within two years and created 460,000 jobs, especially for the youth. In addition, farmers’ net incomes increased by an estimated $200m, creating wealth for farmers and their communities. This is only a fraction of the potential Nigeria can realise.

“Distinguished guests, when Nigeria succeeds, Africa succeeds. Nigeria holds about one-fifth of the continents population. If empowered, this will be the largest consolidated market in the continent.”

Despite Agricultural Policies Of Jonathan Administration, Cocoa Production Fell, Stakeholders Say

Nigeria’s cocoa production has dropped by 5.2 per cent from 248,000 metric tonnes in the 2013/2014 planting season to 235,000 metric tonnes in the 2014/2015 season, according to information gathered from stakeholders in the cocoa value chain.

Stakeholders had expected an increase to about 350,000 metric tonnes for the 2014/2015 season following the distribution of improved seedlings by the Federal Government with a target to increase yield and make the country the largest producer of cocoa in Africa before the year 2020, and to develop a globally competitive manufacturing industry around the Nigerian cocoa bean.

Cocoa is currently the country’s leading agricultural export, while Nigeria is the world’s fourth largest producer of the commodity after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana, and third largest exporter after Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Analysts noted that cocoa prices in the international market had risen but that supply would be a major challenge for producers in the coming years due to increasing demand.

The Federal Government, during the last administration, had targeted a yearly increase that would raise production to around 700,000 metric tonnes this year and one million metric tonnes in 2020 by distributing early-maturing, high-yielding and disease-resistant beans that mature in about 18 months to farmers to replace seedlings with four to five years maturity rate.

“We have distributed more than 140 million seedlings of high-yielding cocoa varieties to recapitalise the cocoa plantations, because they are old. That will give us a yield of almost five times. By 2020, Nigeria should be certainly in the one million metric tonnes cocoa production club,” the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, had said in 2014.

The National Vice President, Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Cross River/Akwa Ibom zone, Mr. Godwin Ukwu, said the decline in production was not unconnected with aging trees and illegal mining on cocoa farms.

He said, “The ages of the trees are going down and production is declining, and there is no support from the government in any way to rehabilitate or replant the cocoa and it is affecting production.

“There is a difference between the government trying to do something and doing what it has to do. Last year, a lot of the seedlings did not get to many farmers. The government needs to ensure that its intervention gets to the farmers through monitoring to get the seedlings to the real farmers who need them and not to political farmers.”

According to Ukwu, production also went down in other cocoa producing countries such as Ghana, where the yield dropped from the usual 900,000 to one million metric tonnes to 700,000 metric tonnes.

Ukwu said if something was not done urgently about the production, demand would be more than supply, leading to more pressure on the farmers.

A consultant and Chief Operating Officer, Centre for Cocoa Development Initiative, Mr. Robo Adhuze, said increased rainfall would help production in the current season.

“We are expecting the weather to get better; we are trying to track rainfall across the country; when it begins to rain properly, it will get better. Across board, we are having issues,” he said.

According to Adhuze, despite the fact that cocoa prices are currently soaring in the international market, hovering between $2,900 and $3,000 per metric tonne, production across board is expected to drop in the next few years.

He said, “Prices are soaring in the international market, which is normal, because we are expecting a drop in production in the next four years and consumers are looking for more with the downward production trend.

“The weather and then the demand from East Asian countries such as India and China are also not helping the situation. More people are consuming more cocoa products, but production is going down.”

According to reports, the demand for cocoa is predicted to rise by 30 per cent by 2020, but without empowering and investing in small-scale farmers, the industry will struggle to provide sufficient supply.

A report by The Guardian of the United Kingdom indicated that steady growth over the last 100 years had transformed the chocolate confectionary market into an $80bn a year global industry, but that with demand expected to exceed supply, a crisis was looming for the industry.

The report stated, “Around 3.5 million tonnes of cocoa are produced each year. But rising incomes in emerging markets like India and China, combined with anticipated economic recovery in the rich North, have led to industry forecast of 30 per cent growth in demand to more than 4.5 million tonnes by 2020. This should be good news for farmers and businesses alike.

“But complacency and disregard for the livelihoods of more than five million small-scale family farmers who grow 90 per cent of the world’s cocoa mean that the industry may simply be unable to provide sufficient supply to meet the demand.”

According to Adhuze, the Nigerian situation is compounded by economic factors such as unstable foreign exchange.

“Nigerian cocoa investors are not smiling, as they get the money, they pay more to reinvest,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Segun Awolowo, said 2015 was generally not a good year for agricultural production in the country.

According to him, a drop in production will adversely affect the target to increase yield.

“We need to scale up production; the idea is to surpass Ivory Coast and Ghana. Ghana is already at 700,000 metric tonnes, and we are still hovering around 240,000 metric tonnes but the idea was to get to 500,000 metric tonnes in the next few years,” he said.

The Punch