Post-COVID-19 prosperity lies with farmers –Ayade

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has described farming as a veritable leeway to prosperity, urging Cross Riverians, especially women, to go into farming.

The governor spoke in Calabar at the flag off of inputs distribution to farmers as part of mitigation measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. At the event was also the Minister for Agriculture, Sabo Nanono.

According to Ayade, his administration’s commitment to agriculture was the reason farmers in the state enjoy five percent interest loan.

“The post-COVID-19 pandemic has become very clear that only farmers have the capacity to survive even if all the doors are closed and so, I challenge everyone to own a farm and show me that your farm is working,” he said.

He urged the minister to increase fund set aside by the Federal Government for women farmers to encourage them.

Earlier, Nanono disclosed that his ministry was working to ensure Nigeria become self-sufficient in food production.

He said: “This gathering is one of our efforts to work hand-in-hand with state governments and other relevant stakeholders to assist in ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is my pleasure to be here with you today to roll out the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021.”


Farmers gets 20,000 cocoa seedlings, others for 2020 Farming season

As part of effort to ensure farmers are adequately provided with farm inputs for the 2020 farming season, the federal government has distributed 20,000 cocoa seedlings, over 5,000 oil palm sprouted nuts and 1,500 kg cashew seeds to farmers in Imo state.

In addition, yam farmers through their national association and other cooperative groups will be supported with 20,000 node of vine cuttings and 10,000 foundation seeds of yam as well as 200 litres of pathway organic growth enhancer also the Potatoes farmers will benefit from 1,500 bundles of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and 200 litres of pathway organic solution was also given to the yam farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono during the roll-out ceremony of the distribution of free agricultural inputs to farmers at New Owerri, Owerri, Imo State reiterated government commitment to ensuring that Smallholder farmers across the country have access to quality seeds, stating that it is a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security and industrialization of the agricultural sector.

Alhaji Sabo Nanono explained that “through this effort and other complementary interventions by different stakeholders, the government hopes to increase quality seeds, the resilience of farmers, accessibility and the national food systems in general.”

The Minister noted that “the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.”

He stressed that “coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr. President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.”

The minister informed that ‘’ the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of seeds, seedlings of cocoa, sprouted nuts of oil palm, vines of orange flesh, sweet potatoes, one node vine cuttings of yam and its seeds and groundnut seeds as part of the Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and prevent food scarcity in 2021.

Nanono said the Ministry “is also supporting groundnut farmers through the Groundnut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association (GPPMAN) with improved 3 mt groundnut seeds. These seeds, seedlings, nuts, vines and other inputs are being given to farmers free’’.

He disclosed that in the roll out distribution exercise, “at least 35% of the agricultural inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly.”

The Minister informed that “the next major roll-out of support to farmers will take place in Borno State, where improved wheat, groundnut and rice seeds, as well as gum arabica seedlings, will be distributed to farmers nationwide along with their inputs.”

In his remark, the governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma lauded the Agricultural policies and visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari’s in the sector geared towards job creation, food sufficiency and economic growth.

He said, “Imo State will buy into the Agriculture policy because the state has Agricultural potentials which will create jobs for its teeming youth population and boost the Internally Generated Revenue of the state and Nigeria in general.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Imo State Dr. Lambert Orisakwe noted that “Imo State is predominantly an agrarian society where every family is engaged in one form of agricultural practice or the other”. He said the coming of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to distribute agro palliative to farmers in the state is a welcome development. This August and memorable occasion is very refreshing and calls for celebration.”

In her Goodwill message the Commissioner of Livestock Development, Imo State, Hon. Obiageri Ajoku called for a robust synergy relationship with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development towards achieving food and nutrition in Nigeria.

While giving the vote of thanks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Mrs Karima Babangida thanked the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma for gracing the occasion and flagging off the seed distribution exercise of oil palm, cashew, rice, yam, potatoes, groundnut, and cocoa to farmers; and the organic growth enhancer for higher yield of the crops especially yam and orange flesh potatoes.


Revving up yam production, farmers’ profit with technologies

Yam has been described as the most important source of dietary calories in Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria, ranking as the third most important source of protein supply.

Hence, yam is important for food security and income generation, just as 31.8% of the population in Nigeria and 26.2% in Ghana depend on yams for food and income security, according to Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

In Nigeria, yam is a food and cash crop, and plays an important role in food security and in the livelihoods of 60 million people in the West African region. The crop is cultivated mostly in the derived, humid, and southern Guinea savanna agro-ecologies.

About 48 million tonnes of yam (95% of global supply) are produced on 4 million hectares annually in the region, mainly in five countries of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo; Nigeria alone accounts for 70% of global yam supply.

However, despite its importance in the economy and lives of many Africans and Nigerians in particular, yam faces several constraints that significantly reduce its potentialities to support rural development and meet consumers’ needs as an affordable nutritional product.

The constraints to yam production include poor value addition technologies, scarcity and high cost of quality yam seeds, and on and off farm post-harvest losses. YIIFSWA also lists “low soil fertility, unexploited potential of yam markets by smallholder farmers, unavailability of adapted varieties to stress environments of the savannah agro-ecologies, diseases and pests, and limited opportunities for smallholder farmers, mainly rural women, in yam production and marketing” as additional challenges.

“Globally, Africa’s contribution to supplies of grains is modest: maize, about 5%; rice, 3%; and wheat, 3% in the late 2000s (FAOSTAT 2013). But Africa is the lead player in the supplies of cassava with 50% of world production and yam with 95%.

Africa’s two predominantly world food crops, yam and cassava, are produced at a high cost because of low technologies,” YIIFSWA said in a document.

Dr Robert Asiedu, IITA’s former Director for West Africa, said: “The unavailability and high cost of high quality seed yam is the primary constraint in West Africa with the food security of millions of people heavily dependent on the availability and affordability of seed tubers.”

Therefore, high ratio propagation technologies developed to make yam seeds available at competitive prices and to address the constraints of quality, rapidity, and multiplication in seed yam production should be explored by the current administration in Nigeria.

Traditionally, farmers use tubers as seeds, which is inefficient and costly. High production costs are attributed to the use of seed yam tubers, which account for about 30% of the total yield and as much as 63% of the total variable cost incurred per season of cultivation. Moreover, most of the tubers are of low quality, containing pests (nematodes) and pathogens (virus) which decrease the yield of yam tubers.


NIRSAL supports 2,872 farmers in South-South

In its efforts to attain food security, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc) has supported 

2,872 farmers of various crops in the South-South region of the country under the Anchor Borrowers Programme designed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Specifically, it is empowering 475 female farmers in Uyo for cassava production during the 2020 wet season farming.

NIRSAL in a statement said the women farmers empowerment programme was in strict adherence to the principles of all-inclusive growth.

According to its Agro Geo-Cooperative® (AGC) model, NIRSAL structured the farmers into a group which was aptly named the Uyo Women Agro Geo-Cooperative. Thereafter, the 475 female farmers were trained on good agronomic practices and received various inputs for their use.

In addition, all 475 hectares of land will be mechanized throughout the planting season to enhance yields and profits and eliminate the drudgery of farming with crude implements.

Furthermore, members of the Uyo Women AGC will receive finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) for which NIRSAL Plc is playing a critical role as a Participating Financial Institution (PFI) in ensuring that the CBN’s and indeed the Federal Government’s developmental and economic diversification goals are met.

To officialize the activities, NIRSAL Plc flagged-off the distribution of inputs to the farmers during a ceremony held at Anang People Primary School, Obio Ndot, Oruk Anam LGA of Akwa Ibom State where Mrs. Theresa Thompson Akpan, the President of the Uyo Women AGC, described the CBN’s support through NIRSAL as a milestone in enhancing cassava production in the state.

She tasked farmers under the Uyo Women AGC to embrace NRSAL Plc’s approach of farming as a business in order to move from peasant farming to sustainable agribusiness. She thanked NIRSAL Plc for harnessing the female farmers’ potential and for its continued support of agribusiness in Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking through Helen Akula, the Head of NIRSAL’s Akwa Ibom State Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office (PMRO), Aliyu Abdulhameed, the organization’s Managing Director, noted that NIRSAL’s support of Uyo Women AGC will not only empower the 475 farmers of the AGC but will create jobs for many families in the community, thereby achieving NIRSAL’s mission of forging partnerships between finance and agriculture while achieving food security, creating jobs and spurring economic growth.

He added that through the ABP, the farmers’ door to commercial financing had been unlocked, thereby paving the way for a better-quality life. He, however, reminded the farmers that “the input you received today is not a grant but a loan that must be paid back for other farmers to also benefit from.  I have faith in you all that together as a team every kobo will be repaid with ample profit left in the bank for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour.”

Also speaking at the event, Desmond Ushe, the Acting Head of the CBN’s Akwa Ibom State Development Finance Office, noted that with the integration of NIRSAL’s AGC concept, risks will be reduced significantly, and the participation of farmers in the ABP would be boosted.

Ushe solicited for sincerity and commitment from the farmers to match that of Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the CBN, whom he said possesses the utmost passion for the ABP and for economic growth through agriculture.

The event in Akwa Ibom fits into NIRSAL’s regional and nationwide support for farmers under the ABP. A total of 2,872 rice, maize and cassava farmers belonging to Uyo Women AGC, Pemo Anegbette AGC, Upalibuisi AGC, Southern Basin AGC, Integrated AGC, Ijeoma Aibiokula AGC, Green Money Initiative AGC and God’s Own AGC are receiving NIRSAL’s support in the South-South states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta while a total of 44,670 farmers cultivating on 68,771 hectares of land are benefiting nationwide.

Rice, maize, cassava, sesame and soybean farmers in Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi states and the FCT were recently positioned for an increase in yields and improvement in livelihoods following NIRSAL’s support for their 2020 wet season farming activities also under the ABP.


NALDA partners Abia to boost agriculture

The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) says it is committed to boosting agriculture in Abia.

Mr Paul Ikonne, Executive Secretary of NALDA, made this known in a statement issued in Abuja by Mr Tope Ojeme, the agency’s Director of Communications.

Ikonne  gave the assurance when he led a delegation to the Government House in Umuahia.

He expressed the readiness of the agency to partner with the state government to resuscitate the Ogwe Golden Chicken farm.

Ikonne said that the mandate of the agency was to ensure availability of food, adding that it had rolled out the Back to Farm and National Young Farmers Schemes.

Ikonne stressed that Abia had been selected as one of the pilot states for the schemes in the country.

He gave an assurance that NALDA would provide technical support, training and inputs to encourage farmers to produce enough food for the country.

The executive secretary, however, urged communities to make land available for farming,

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, on his part, said that the state was willing to partner with NALDA to revive the Ogwe Golden Chicken farm.

Ikpeazu noted that his administration was building cottage industries in the 17 local government areas of the state.

He also said that his administration was working toward making the state a major food processing hub.

The governor added that he was already mainstreaming agriculture for job creation and provision of raw materials.

He pledged to work with NALDA in critical areas that would ensure value addition.

Ikpeazu, however, called for urgent intervention to tackle the gully erosion increasingly ravaging arable lands in the state.(NAN)


Mechanization, digital solutions‘ll boost agricultural production in Nigeria — AATF

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, said mechanisation and digital solutions will boost agricultural productivity, accelerated market access, informed pricing, financing opportunities, and result-oriented extension services in Nigeria.

AATF made this known in its agricultural programme overview for African farmers, where it pointed out that the agricultural sector of Sub-Saharan Africa remains the least in terms of mechanized agricultural system compared to other parts of the world. The overview of mechanization and digital agriculture by the Foundation also highlighted factors that need urgency by African governments to adopt mechanized and digital solutions to tackle them, which include population growth and changing lifestyles, rapid urbanization, reducing the agricultural workforce, and others.

AATF believes that technology can be a catalyst for the transformation of the agriculture sector in Africa, as it has been in other parts of the world. AATF said: “The agricultural sector of Sub-Saharan Africa is the least mechanized in the world; farmers have on average a tenth of the mechanized tools of their peers in other developing regions. This lack of mechanization has undermined the competitiveness of African farmers, reducing their productivity and exacerbating a vicious cycle where they are unable to invest in modern machinery and in digital technology they require. “Population growth and changing lifestyles are creating a surge in demand for food, well beyond the current capacity of the sector. The rapid urbanization of African societies adds to the urgency. As individuals increasingly move to the cities, rural labour rates are likely to rise and farms will need to do more with fewer available hands and produce ever more food to meet the swelling demand.

“Mechanisation and digital solutions offer geometric production increase, accelerated market access, informed pricing, more financing opportunities, and results-oriented extension services required to drive radical change of the sector. It is critical to not only identify appropriate mechanization and digital technologies to markets to enhance their availability, access, and proper application by smallholder farmers for improved returns”, but it also stated. The Foundation also maintained that “The lack of mechanization is a key bottleneck to the transformation of African agriculture, which is why AATF is working to give farmers the tools to increase their productivity, investment in their farmers and access new markets.”


NIRSAL disburses N105bn to farmers

The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending has provided funds amounting to N105bn to support different agricultural sectors in the country.

The agency, in a statement on Wednesday, said the beneficiaries of the funds were selected from the pre-upstream, upstream, midstream and downstream segments of the agricultural value chain in in the country.

According to NIRSAL, investment of the funds has led to the creation of over 400,000 jobs and impacted two million lives positively.

The statement said NIRSAL Agro Geo-Cooperative facilitated the financing by creating 16,000 agro geo-cooperatives made up of eight million farmers cultivating four million hectares of farmland.

NIRSAL explained that over 52 agro geo-cooperatives covering over 270,000 hectares of land had benefitted from the process through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

The agency said, “This agriculture funding has started to bear results as North-Central farmers are poised to smile to the banks with expected profits, high yields and improved livelihood in the 2020 wet season.

“Rice, maize, cassava, sesame and soybean farmers in Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi and Benue and the Federal Capital Territory will record financial and harvest gains, following NIRSAL’s support for their 2020 wet season farming activities under the ABP.”

NIRSAL said that farmers in the Federal Capital Territory were structured into 16 established agro geo-cooperatives, 12 of which were included in the ABP for wet season 2020.

It added, “NIRSAL has also linked the 926 FCT farmers cultivating 1,140 hectares of land with guaranteed off-take markets thereby protecting them from price fluctuations and the exploitative tendencies of some middlemen.

“Other forms of support that guarantee bumper harvest and financial gains for the farmers, include the provision of fertilizer, crop protection products and round-the-clock technology-driven project monitoring services.”

It said some farmers in Dobi area of the FCT had received further support for their on-going farming activities.

The Head of the agency’s Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office in the FCT, Mr Ayo Olaleye, reiterated the Federal Government’s and the CBN’s unwavering commitment to the development of the agriculture sector.

Olaleye told the farmers that NIRSAL would continue to prioritise farmers’ needs, not just in the implementation of the CBN’s ABP, but also in the development and delivery of frameworks that would further open the banking sector to agriculture, with the agro geo-cooperative model being one of them.


Adama J. Adama: Agriculture will create more jobs for Nigerians than oil and gas sector

Although Nigerians have heard a lot about the merit of agriculture since the time of Operation Feed the Nation and The Green Revolution, the message seems to have been lost on them simply because politicians, policymakers and various governments in the country had paid lip service to agriculture since the late 1970s. With the country’s disproportionate reliance on the petro-dollar economy, agriculture was relegated to the background, leading to the abandonment of farming, a scramble for white colour jobs and rural-urban migration.

In recent years, the decline of crude oil revenue had piled pressure on oil-dependent countries to consider diversifying their economies and to come up with a viable alternative. Adama J Adama, CEO of two revolutionary agribusiness initiatives, and, has provided evidence that agriculture business can clearly become Nigeria’s mainstay and if taken seriously by government and individuals can usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity that surpasses the oil booms.

With just two month into after its official unveiling, Viable X has proven its creator and investors right that agriculture is a feasible business and a reasonable way of empowering members of the society. The growing number of registered members on the platform and the phenomenal volume of the transactions recorded so far speak volume about the impact the platform is making in Nigeria’s agriculture and insights to the long-term gains accruable to the country, farmers and the agribusiness community.

The positive response and the results are further reinforcements on the feasibility of agribusiness in a world turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

A viable approach to Agribusiness floated specifically for farmers, traders, agripreneurs and agro-allied investors, the National Export Promotion Council (NEPC)-licensed Viable X platform offers farmers instant loan, serves as a virtual marketplace for trading in farm produce and facilitates export financing for commodity.

The platform safeguards investors’ fund with goods-in-transit and marine insurance policies from Leadway Assurance and so far.

With the track records of fu investment dividends to Farm4Me Investors, 50% return on investment (ROI) in four months is a bankable promise for Viable X Export Financing Investors.

In a country where agriculture has been neglected and downgraded to the preoccupation of the rural poor, providing collateral-free loans, ranging from N50, 000 to N200, 000 for smallholder farmers, has been an innovative approach to turning around the fortune of agriculture and those working in the sector in Nigeria. “All that is required is three guarantors and credit history verification from credit bureau, and a loan is granted and extendable by repayment,” reveals Adama J. Adama, Viable X’s CEO.

Adama has been an initiator of game-changing agriculture initiatives since the debut of his first initiative Farm4Me, a Nigerian premium agribusiness outfit that successfully pioneered contract farming in Nigeria since 2019 till date.

Of the viability of Viable X, he avows, “the platform was created to change the face of agribusiness in Nigeria.”

The level of patronage, he reveals, has been very encouraging, an assertion backed up by encouraging figures: over 6, 000 members enrolled on the platform in less than two months, and the volume of transactions on the platform exceeding N100 Million, with export financing attracting the highest patronage.

Viable X’s goal of attracting 100,000 registered members by December 2020 is not farfetched in view of the success recorded in its first few weeks.

“Our passion is to raise 1000 commodity trading millionaires in 2025. We are committed to keeping our promise and therefore ready to go the extra miles to satisfy our members,” Adama reiterates his objectives of raising millionaires on the platform.

“We will not rest on our oars. We will continue to make giant strides, raising more millionaires,” he adds.

Viable X at inception was touted as an initiative with capabilities to boost job creation and foster economic empowerment through innovative agribusiness approaches.

The prospects have materialized with the provision of soft loans and creating a viable platform that helps farmers to market their products with ease.

Riding on the success of Farm4Me, Viable X is the second innovative approach to agricultural business pioneered by Adama. The first was his boundary-pushing Farm4Me platform which specialises in contract farming for interested clients.

“It is simply about contracting a farmer to farm for you and deliver a specified quantity of farm produce to a specified location on a specified date, or sell the produce and pay the client in cash” explained Adama, who took the pain to distinguish contract farming from crowd farming which is simply the pooling of funds to sponsor a farming project and sharing of the profit by the fundraisers.

Explaining the dynamics of Farm4Me, hailed as first-of-its kind in Nigeria, Adama said:  “Potential clients who signs up on the website receives a breakdown of the cost, projected yield and profit document that enable them to make a decision on the crop and the hectares of land.”

He continued: “After, Farm4Me is notified, the service agreement is sent to the potential client to study carefully, sign and send back. We sign our part of the service agreement and send the final copy to the potential Client. Once the contract has been activated, invoice is generated and sent to the potential client. Once we are notified about payment, work begins immediately on the farming project. On a milestone basis, the client is informed on the progress of the farm.”

Again, as it is with Viable X, investors in Farm4Me are also protected against loss by Leadway Assurance which insures the farms to minimise risk. In the instance of a yield below the invested capital, for example, Farm4Me undertakes to refund the client’s capital, thereby providing an insulation that shields the client from the risks associated with farming, Adams explains.

The client can take advantage of other services offered by the agribusiness firm. Farm4Me can, for instance, help the client to sell the farm produce at the prevailing market price (if he so wishes) and credit the client’s bank account or harvest and ship the produce to the client’s doorstep on an agreed date.

Like Viable X, Farm4Me also attracted a lot of interest. “We receive on the average 15 sign-ups every day,” Adams confirmed.

He added: “We have a good number of clients that have paid us to farm for them.”

The economic impact of this revolutionary approach to farming has been immediate and obvious.

Within its first nine months, Farm4Me created economic opportunities for a vast number of people including landowners, tractor operators, vulnerable women and youths who engage in farm labour as well as farm input suppliers.

With at least, 20, 000 people working directly and indirectly with Farm4Me, the opportunities evolving from its operations tallies with its CEO’s vision to build a Nigerian multibillion-dollar agribusiness company with tangible social impact.

Brighter days ahead

Given the dynamics of its first few months of operation, the exploits of the Viable X platform has further attested to the merit of salvaging Nigeria’s fortune by diversifying the country economy include significant investment in agriculture by Nigerians.

According to Viable X’s CEO: ” Agriculture is a money-spinner. We are exploring innovative ways to make it attractive to Nigerians, especially, graduates.”

Adama further avowed: “By 2030, Nigerians will now see beyond Oil and Gas and see agriculture as a viable alternative through our success story.”


Entrenching cassava mechanisation initiatives for higher yield

Nigeria is rated the largest producer of cassava in the world when its farmers are harvesting fewer than 10 tonnes per hectare with numerous challenges, including the myth that cassava farms do not require fertilizer, as the chemical will contaminate the crop, and the belief that cassava does well with minimum rain and minimum weeding.

Apart from being the largest producer, Nigeria is acknowledged globally as the country that consumes cassava the most. While other countries of the world use cassava as animal feeds, ethanol, starch and other industrial products, here in Nigeria, it is one of the staples eaten the most daily.

Nigeria has explored using High Quality Cassava Flour as a substitute in the wheat flour confectionaries, and master bakers experimented with about 20 per cent of cassava flour addition in bread baking, prompting a move to deepen industrialization of the product to reduce forex on wheat importation.

Despite these realities and potential, production cost is very high and productivity per hectare is still very low, necessitating adoption and maximisation of farm mechanisation, which is capable of resolving the twin challenges.

In 2013, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) introduced one of its programmes, Cassava Mechanisation and Agro-processing in Nigeria (CAMAP). The programme was started in the South-Western states of Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Ondo, as well as the North Central’s Kwara, with an initial number of about 2,000 farmers.

The CAMAP initiative is working towards revitalising the cassava industry through mechanised production and post-harvest handlings along the value chain. The project aims to improve cassava productivity through increasing the operational efficiency and improving market linkages for smallholder farmers. With this approach, the project is enhancing food security, improved incomes and means of livelihood for farmers, processors and marketers in the cassava sector.

It will be recalled that the government-initiated mechanization scheme launched in 2014 by the former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, in Zamfara State, has not recorded much progress funds and sustainability have become stumbling blocks to the initiative. Hence, stakeholders believe that the private sector-led initiatives in farm mechanization and value chain development are the wands that could make great impact on the sector.

In four countries, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania, CAMAP also promotes good agronomic practices, encouraging farmers to use improved stem varieties, fertilisers and herbicides, and ensure timely farm operations.

Since its launch in 2013, the project has increased the efficiency and timeliness of operations, the key results being about 200% increase in yields, about 100% increase in incomes, improved quality of life and attraction of more women and youths into cassava farming as a business.

Mechanisation has increased the efficiency and timeliness of operations and this has attracted women and youths into cassava farming who are now trained in farming as a business.

Impact of National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation
One of the principal partners of the programme in Nigeria is the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) in Ilorin, Kwara State. 

With its mission of accelerating mechanization in agriculture in Nigeria, NCAM became the chief technical driver of the project, ensuring that imported machineries followed the nation’s technology transfer rules.

While reiterating the importance of mechanization to productivity and food security, Mr Faleye Tope, a chief agricultural engineer with the centre, said: “We have never seen anything like the facilities AATF brought into the country for the project. For us, it was an eye opener seeing a machine that can plant cassava and harvest it.

“Following the mandate of our centre, we were able to study one of the machines, dismantled it, opened it up and reproduced it using available materials. We and AATF were able to train over 100 operators for the various equipment, as well as farmers on what was expected of them.”


FG Inaugurates Smallholder Farmers’ Programme

The federal government has launched the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP) programme targeted at about 1,100,000 smallholder farmers across the country.

AFJP is expected to create between five million and 10 million jobs in 12 months and also mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic by creating more access to food production, processing and distribution in Nigeria.

The federal government has launched the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP) programme targeted at about 1,100,000 smallholder farmers across the country.

AFJP is expected to create between five million and 10 million jobs in 12 months and also mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic by creating more access to food production, processing and distribution in Nigeria.

He noted the plan was also in tandem with the three pronged action plan of the Ministry to deal with the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and farmers.

According to him, “these measures include among others, the life-saving humanitarian assistance to vulnerable households to buffer the impact of COVID-19, such as the release of about 100,000 metric tons of assorted food commodities from the National Food Reserve to several groups and communities.”

He explained that the deliverables of the AFJP as contained in the NESP in 12 months includes, “creation of between 5- 10 million jobs in the agric sector, produce about 10,000,000 MT of food, cultivate between 20,000 – 100,000 hectares of land per state based on land availability to an aggregate of 2.4 million farmers tied to farmlands, input financing loan to farmers will be zero interest, land clearing and preparation support, among others.

“This symbolic launch represent over 1,100,000 smallholder farmer beneficiaries in 36 states and the FCT on the Batch A list under 6 partners namely AFEX, BabanGona, Value Seeds, Universal, Thrive Agric and Oxfam. We will soon be announcing Batch B beneficiaries,” he stated.

However, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, stressed that the agric sector is the bedrock of the economy and appreciated the efforts of the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for his policies in the agric sector.

On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Agric Production Services, Hon. Muntari Danduste, said the policy would cushion the effects of the pandemic on 2020 farming season in the state and the nation.