‘Agric technologies, value addition key to achieving food security’

Source: The Guardian

Prioritising Agriculture, value addition and availability of purchasing power have been identified as factors that can boost food security in the country.

The role of the government in providing resources to encourage farmers and processors to scale up production and processing of agricultural products while promoting local contents has also been empasised as imperative.

The foregoing was disclosed during a visit by the TETFUND Committee on Research and Development, Agriculture Thematic Group, to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO).

Representing the Tetfund committee, Ogugua Aworh said FIIRO had played a role in industrial development in the country with regards to agricultural and food products.

“They have developed very useful products, which, unfortunately, have not been adequately appreciated by the nation. FIIRO has developed products in all aspects of food that can address nutritional problems. In weaning foods for children, FIIRO was the first to develop Soy-Ogi, and big multinationals then took a cue from it,” he said.

According to him, research institutes like FIIRO should be given all resources for research on how to build the economy, thereby encouraging the industry and creating the right environment for products to be displayed, produced, and transformed into commodities for the use of the community.

“Until these things are done, the impact of FIIRO cannot be felt,” he added.

Acting Director-General, FIIRO, Dr Agnes Asagbra, said the institute is into commercialisastion of new agricultural technologies that could help farmers, processors, and industrialists.

“Food processing companies acquire the technologies produced here and in turn, replicate what we do,” she said.

According to her, FIIRO carries out training in the six geopolitical zones, and she also emphasised the need for public-private partnership, which is projected to provide better coverage.

“From TETFUND, we have received some of the working documents which align with our industry. They have come to expose us to how to tap into getting TETFUND funds through collaboration with fellow research institutes and universities,” Asagbra added.

Representing Director-General of National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Deputy Director, Emeka Orji, said the country had been faced with challenges in optimising results, caused by lack of synergy in of various agencies.

He lauded the collaboration between FIIRO and TETFUND and said that it would bridge the gap between research, academia, and industry.

On the production of technologies, he said, “We need to upscale these products and ensure they are of global standards so that they can compete with other products in the world.”

Push for technology-driven growth in agriculture

Source: The Nation

THIS position resonates with those of agriculture and economic development experts, who unanimously argue that technology is key to driving growth in the agriculture sector and, by extension, the economy generally.

So, when Prof. Chiroma Maigana of the Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, reiterated his position that achieving accelerated agricultural growth and improved livelihoods are only possible if technology is integrated throughout the agric value chain, he sure spoke the minds of other experts in the sector and, indeed, ordinary Nigerians.

The agriculture expert told The Nation in an interview last week that technological innovations in agriculture are crucial for boosting productivity and achieving scale, while at the same time optimising yield and reducing waste. He said the adoption of technology in agriculture, more popularly called agritech, would help in solving several challenges across the spectrum of the traditional agriculture value chain; that for Nigeria to feed itself, significant reforms, particularly those that favour the adoption of advances in technology, are needed across the sector.

Aligning with Maigana, a business development consultant, Kenneth Obiajulu, said greater attention should be given to building production capacity in the agricultural sector as well as higher value agro-processed foods by riding on the back of technology.

According to him, there are structural challenges inhibiting the agricultural sector from reaching its full potential. He listed some of them to include limited access to technology, credit and marketplaces, among others.

Obiajulu said the challenges in the sector have made technology-led interventions to disrupt the market imperative. He noted that there are lots of agritech opportunities, ranging from the offer of credit to the marketplace of inputs to logistics to transport the harvest. He maintained that the agric sector holds tremendous potential for technology adoption, considering the sheer size of the population.

Obiajulu is right. According to the United Nations (UN), the world will need to produce 70 per cent more food in 2050 to meet the growing demand, and technology can help in increasing agricultural output.

The import of the UN projection and recommendation are obviously not lost on stakeholders and the authorities in the agric sector, where the push to turn to technology to achieve a more robust and resilient food system has gained significant traction. Not a few agriculture and economic development experts believe that a total and radical revamping of the agriculture sector, through the use of technology (agritech), is required in the way food is produced, consumed and how waste is managed.

A common thread that runs through their presentations at various fora is the recognition of the fundamental role and opportunity in the agricultural sector to not only guarantee food security, but also enhance economic development.

They, however, recognise the existence of a multitude of challenges and barriers to the sector’s growth such as poor market information, lack of infrastructure, poor policy and regulatory environments, and climate change, among others.

But, the good thing is that leveraging technology, according to them, could help get round the challenges. Obiajulu said, for instance, that he anticipates a future with significant advances in farm mechanisation and automation, including farm robots taking over labour intensive tasks and reducing drudgery.

He said Nigeria needs a strong innovation climate and supporting infrastructure to make it well-positioned for agri-food technologies to take root.

For the Country Manager/Deputy Managing Director, OCP Nigeria, Caleb Usoh, applying modern technologies to the agricultural sector will help enhance food production, efficiency and revenue. He said the sector holds a huge potential for agritech start-ups.

With Nigeria  forecast to have a population of about 250 million by 2050, Usoh said overall demand for food will increase, and policy makers, farmers and investors  will have to  look to new agriculture technologies to produce better crops and  increase yields.

He supports the use of precision technology and big-data analytics by agro-entrepreneurs to drive innovation in farming, admitting using crop monitoring technologies to analyse the fields, along with smart irrigation systems, digitalised farm management systems and drone technology to map out the crops and to oversee the distribution of fertiliser and pesticides.

An international consultant in rural agriculture and Senior Lecturer, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Kola Adebayo, noted that multiple start-ups are already trying to change the agric landscape with the use of innovative business models.

According to him, some of them are working on various technologies that not only create a viable business, but also help improve income, noting, however, that the major problems faced by farmers include lack of information on farm inputs, unorganised credit and absence of market linkages.

Adebayo noted that various agritech companies have come into play to help farmers provide best value for their produce.

Indeed, a number of innovative start-ups operating in the food technology and agriculture technology sectors have merged. Some of the agritech start-ups, The Nation learnt, are working to enhance supply chains, using big data analytics and artificial intelligence to optimise farm management.

Others are focused on farm finance, storage monitoring and digitalisation of local markets. In Nigeria, food agritech firms are said to have drawn about $50 million in investment.

One of them is Farmcrowdy Limited, Nigeria’s first and leading agritech company founded in 2016 by five young Nigerians led by Onyeka Akumah. Farmcrowdy has raised $15 million for 25,000 farmers.

Akumah said agritech was becoming more and more mainstream. While pointing out that sustaining Nigeria’s growing population requires increasing agricultural production by 2050. He said this will require adoption of technologies to improve outcomes. He maintained that there is a need for a strong digital footprint to help farmers and agro-businesses find a competitive edge, enabling them to meet the changing needs of both growers and end customers.

From the outset, Farmcrowdy Limited was purely a crowd farming platform trying to solve the problem of farmers’ access to finance. Today, the organisation has taken an integrated approach, trying to disrupt whole supply chains with digitalisation.

In the light of opportunities in the agriculture value chain, Akumah said the company will focus on the use of technology to build tools and resources that farmers will need to boost food security through six business focus — Farmcrowdy Structured Finance, Farmcrowdy Insurance, Farmcrowdy Marketing, Farmcrowdy Tech and Data, Farmcrowdy Foods and Farmcrowdy Aggregation. He said  the  businesses were set up to serve individuals across the entire agriculture value chain, prioritising stakeholder access to better yields, lower costs, and smarter marketing.

Akumah said Farmcrowdy Foods is a one-stop e-commerce platform for fresh food and groceries. He said since inception in April 2020, Farmcrowdy Foods was able to complete over 3,000 orders in its first 90 days, through its  mobile app on the Google and IOS app store.

He stated that Farmcrowdy Foods is set to launch its e-commerce platform where consumers can purchase fresh foods and get value for their monies, adding that its Trader platform, a one-stop-shop, was created to provide major processors and international buyers the opportunity to purchase commodities directly from farming clusters and aggregators by optimising the market access to African farmers and improving their income and boosting their yields.

He said Farmcrowdy Trader has a mobile application that enables easy farmer’s data profiling, advisory services, procurement, agency banking, insurance, and microcredit for small-holder farmers.

This year, Farmcrowdy acquired Best Foods Limited to offer a wider livestock production and processing solution to the meat market. With the acquisition, Farmcrowdy took a majority stake in Best Foods, an agribusiness group formed 16 years ago and focused on the processing of livestock and marketing of agricultural produce.

Akumah said the acquisition provided Farmcrowdy the opportunity to continue to grow its livestock value chain with an improved process for livestock production and processing to reach the desired high standards fit for local consumption and export where necessary. He stated that Farmcrowdy’s vision is to empower the food industry to grow its comparative advantage through digital technologies. To this end, the company, he said, aims to build an ecosystem that connects all parties on the value chain, bringing together food domain expertise and technology.

The Nation learnt that when the company started in 2016, establishing two start-ups in the agritech space was a challenge, but today, there are over 30 start-ups in the space even as more are cropping up every day.

According to Akumah, an ecosystem has already emerged for entrepreneurship in the space, with Farmcrowdy amassing a network of over 300,000 farmers, cultivating across 17,000 acres of farmland and rearing three million broiler birds and deploying funds for farming projects across Nigeria.

In April 2018, Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, visited Farmcrowdy at their Office in Lekki, Lagos, as a part of his tour to start-ups and tech hubs across the country.

During the visit, Akumah presented Osinbajo with a certificate of sponsorship for his 10 maize farms on Farmcrowdy platform.

Farmcrowdy’s Co-founder & Chief Growth Officer, Ifeanyi Anazodo, said through collaboration with government agencies, the company was working to develop localised supply chains. He expressed his belief that bringing innovative technological solutions to agricultural practices holds enormous economic potential.

Perhaps, to underscore the growing agritech space in Nigeria, the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) said it has acquired considerable experience in the area of agricultural training for industry executives and   farmers.

ARMTI Executive Director Dr. Olufemi Oladunni said agriculture technology  has become more important than ever before, adding that the use of modern technologies to increase yield, improve food quality and promote sustainability in the agri-food value chain will encourage more youths to venture into agriculture.

200,000 farmers to benefit from regenerative agricultural intervention

Source: The Guardian

No fewer than 200,000 farmers are expected to be engaged by the regenerative agricultural intervention in 10 states in Nigeria.

The regenerative initiative, the first of its kind in Nigeria would be piloted across Kano, Cross River, Jigawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Benue, Niger and Plateau states.

The new Agricultural technology is inherently enhances on-farm biodiversity and water storage capacity will enhance farmers productivity and food security in the country.

The biotechnology Agricultural project, is being anchored by Dantata Foods and Allied Products Company Limited, in partnership with RegenFARM Limited and the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office of the British Government under its Agricultural sector intervention (LINKS Project).

The tripartite partnership is aimed at increasing quality food production, enhancing export opportunities of Nigeria’s Agricultural commodities and improve the soil fertility, nutrients content and organic matter.

Besides, the biotechnology will rescue Nigeria from challenges of soil degradation through flooding, erosion and continued cultivation which reduce farmers productivity and low yield.

Speaking on the project, Managing Director, RegenFARM Limited Mr. Jason Haywarda said Regenerative Agriculture would be an all-embracing opportunity for the Agro-processing industry in the country.

Mr Jason explained that the Intervention will also enhance small holder farmer out-growers productivity, boost profitability and resilience to climate change will be greatly enhanced.

On his part, the Chairman/CEO Dantata Foods and Allied Company Limited Alh. Tajuddeen Aminu Dantata posited that the partnership has already galvanized access to markets in UK and other parts of Europe for the organic commodities produced under the Regenerative Agriculture practices.

He added that Dantata is involved in Agricultural Production, manufacturing and processing, besides the export and distribution of Agro allied products, as well as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

“Dantata Foods have aggregated and monitored farmers in the aspect of livestock and animal husbandry. With all these achievements, the Company wants to build a strong relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria to stand out as a reliable implementing partner for farmers’ aggregation and Agro-allied development projects”.

With a financing commitment from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the Prime Anchor Borrowers Programme, the consortium of private sector and government bodies, the agric solution is expected to rollout new techniques to boost food security in the country.

The use of Regenerative Agriculture inherently enhances on-farm biodiversity and water storage capacity, and therefore RegenFARM Platform offers a cross-over to other complimentary industries and sectors which are focused on, for example, conservation of wildlife and the retention of rainwater in the landscape to rehydrate arid landscapes.

General Manager, Corporate Services, Dantata Foods and Allied Products Company Limited, Sanusi Bature in the release emphasized the platform is designed to assist with the management of various food value chains and offering complete traceability from farmers to end users.

Repositioning agriculture in Nasarawa

Nasarawa state is reputed to be one of the leading agrarian states with at least 80 percent of its population engaged in one form of agricultural activities or the other. The state has all it takes for development, for instance, human resources, fertile soil and other resources. To this end, Governor Abdullahi Sule said the major part of his agenda is to encourage commercial agriculture in the areas where the state has comparative advantage and boost value addition to crops by laying solid foundation for agro-allied industries. In other words, he said he would work with interested investors to drive the sector to diverse level of growth. According to him, ” My administration is poised to place Nasarawa state on the global map as being front line rice producing state,” Sule said. He noted that the best and easiest way to get people out of poverty is through agriculture; therefore, he tasked all stakeholders to get the youths interested in agriculture, insisting that agriculture must be made attractive, particularly to the youths. On assumption of office, Governor Sule had ensured early distribution of 3,960 metric tons of fertiliser to farmers across the state for the 2019 farming season and sold at subsidised rate.  Subsequently, the state government also made available another 50,000 metric tons. Sule warned the farmers against buying the products and selling at high rates, saying government would not condone the activities of such people. He noted that his government was working hard to encourage youths to go into farming through introduction of mechanised farming. He explained further that government would provide tractors and other implements for effective agricultural practice, as well as enabling environment for farming in the state.


Signing the agreement/MoU


On July 2019, the governor inaugurated automated agro processing company, NewPal Nigeria limited in Keffi.The managing director of the company, Mr John Samuel, said he was encouraged by the spirited goodwill demonstrated by the administration in encouraging agricultural activities in the state.The state commissioner for agriculture and water resources, Alanana Otaki, said when he visited some agricultural projects sites in Akwanga and Kokona LGAs that he was so moved by the demonstration of Sule’s commitment.The governor also signed a tripartite agreement between agricultural firm AZMAN Group and a first class traditional ruler, His royal highness Alhaji Abdullahi Usman the Ohemege Opandan on 45 years land lease agreement.The land totaling 12,400 hectares in Umaisha Development Area of Toto local government area is geared towards boosting rice production in the state.Interestingly, during the handing over ceremony of agricultural equipments by the Japanese government in Azara, Awe LGA,  Sule disclosed that he has approved the release of N88 million as counterpart funds to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), for the state to participate in the value chain development programme for small farmers in the state.According to Sule, “Government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IFAD for the state’s participation in the value chain development programme, a scheme aimed at improving casava and rice value chains for small farmers.”He explained that through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP), 442 rice farmers were empowered and trained to improve rice production technologies management with 35 front line extension agents also trained in good agricultural practice to be passed to other farmers as well as 11 extension agents that were trained in Japan on improved rice production technologies and research methods. The Japanese ambassador to Nigeria, Yutaka Kikuta, said farmers in selected three local government areas of the state would benefit from Japan’s agricultural funding to boost food production through mechanised farming in the state. He thereby donated 20 rice reapers and 20 rice threshers for use in three selected LGAs of Awe, Obi and Keana, respectively.


Sule’s appeal to IFAD,World Bank and FG
Governor Sule also appealed to IFAD, World Bank and the federal government to jointly support women small holder farmers and out growers in the state. He said IFAD’s support can go a long way towards value chain addition.”We want IFAD and the World Bank to support women because women are excellent farmers of rice.”By the time most of our commercial agriculture as well as the small holder farming programme are fully incubated, Nasarawa state will take over from Benue as the food basket of the nation.”The market enterprise development advisor, Hajiya Fatima Mukthar Buhari, revealed that the state was selected by IFAD among eight other states because of its enormous agricultural potentials and support for small, medium and large scale businesses.She said that her visit to Nasarawa was part of implantation support mission of IFAD and value chain development programme which focused on enhancing productivity and profitability of small scale agro processors by improving the access to market and capacity.


Approval of counterpart fund


Governor Sule also approved N 72 million counterpart fund for two years to guarantee agricultural activities in the state to access funds from United Nations Development Programme in global environment facility in order to empower farmers in the state.He maintained that the vision of his administration is to see that Nasarawa accounts for at least 25 percent of Nigeria’s total rice production.Governor Sule is not relenting in exploring all avenues to enable farmers go into agricultural activities and access available agro-financial means. To that extent, he is encouraging the expansion of Olam Farm in Rukubi, Doma LGA of the state.He also encouraged individuals across the state to embrace agriculture as a means of livelihood as well as boost the economic prosperity of the state.He said Olam farms has over 10,000 hectares of land for the rice value chain development especially with the out growers. “Olam Farms has over 4,000 out growers with more to come from other commercial rice farmers with operators like Azman Farms and Dangote Group coming into the state.”
The state government and leadership of CBN also reached an agreement on a N1 million loan facility on youth empowerment.


Visit to water resources ministry


He as well visited the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with the aim of partnering with the federal government  on Farin Ruwa Dam project which was started by previous administration with memorandum of understanding MoU already signed between the state and federal government.The governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for approving over N8 billion for the construction of the Farin Ruwa Multipurpose Dam as well as Sisin Baki/Farin Ruwa road.He thanked the federal government for coming to the aide of the state at a time Nasarawa needed assistance, saying even though the state government has commenced the construction of the Sisin Baki/Farin Ruwa roads, the federal government has now taken over the project with the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The governor said when completed the project will generate direct employment to over 30 thousand Nigerian youths who are versed in agricultural development.The minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, commended governor Sule for awarding contract for the construction of access road to the site for Farin Ruwa multipurpose Dam project in Wamba LGA.Adamu encouraged Governor Sule to work towards making Nasarawa state Open Defecation Free (ODF) and to continue to give  priority to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) the basic ingredients of life. He assured that his ministry will remain focused and see to the completion of the Farin Ruwa project.The permanent secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ekaro Comfort said that the visit of the governor would encourage the federal government to do more for the government and good people of Nasarawa state; therefore urged Sule not relent on his efforts.The governor used the occasion by the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation to showcase some home-grown machineries that his administration is collaborating with the agency to revitalise agricultural production and processing in the state.

Source- https://www.blueprint.ng/

LASG to partner FAO on coconut production

Lagos State Government is set to partner with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to boost the coconut value chain in the state, conservatively estimated to be in excess of N350 billion yearly.

Deputy Gov. Obafemi Hamzat, who made this known when a team from FAO, led by its Country Representative, Mr. Fred Kaffero, paid him a visit in Lagos on Wednesday, added that the partnership would ensure that the state’s coconut production improves significantly and the its value chain strengthened.R

“As we all know there are different varieties of this cash crop, FAO will assist with the technical know how and support with the production itself.

“Being a research based organization, FAO will visit different sites in the state, take the soil samples and the coconut; assess the variety and make necessary recommendations to the state government on replacement strategy, procedure and the variety available for planting,” he said.

The deputy governor noted that the collaboration would start immediately with a meeting between the FAO and local farmers, to educate them on planting and harvesting periods.

He added that the Ministry of Agriculture, on its part, will work with the farmers to ensure quality product, while identifying the best way to process it, as the potentials of the coconut sector and its value chain, presents real opportunities for income generation.R

Earlier, in her remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said that the development of the coconut sector would ensure sustainable food security, income, employment and wealth creation, that would impact on the economic development of the state.

Kaferro commended the Lagos state government for its commitment to food and agriculture production, noting that the issues relating to coconut were important, as it goes from production to variety,  processing and to a healthy coconut and how it is consumed.

He added that agriculture and its entire value chain requires partnership especially, as coconut gives opportunities for income generation for different segments of the society be it in production, export or marketing of the crop.R

The FAO representative disclosed that the organization was in the state to provide the needed technical support required for tapping into employment opportunities.

Nigerian government reiterates commitment on quality fertiliser for crop production

The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to ensure that quality fertilisers were provided to farmers to boost crop production and food nutrition in the country.

Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this at a joint meeting of fertiliser stakeholders and security operatives in Abuja.

This is contained in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, by Mrs Oleh Juliet, Principal Information Officer of the ministry.

Mu’azu, represented by Mr Tunde Bello, Director, farm inputs support services in the ministry , said that the meeting was strategic as it would help to build resilient partnership with security operatives to ensure attainment of food security in Nigeria.

Source: www.today.ng

Nigeria: FG reiterates commitment on quality fertiliser for crop production

The Federal Government of Nigeria  has reiterated its commitment to ensure that quality fertilisers were provided to farmers to boost crop production and food nutrition in the country.

Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, Permanent Secretary , Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said this at a joint meeting of fertiliser stakeholders and security operatives in Abuja.

This is contained in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, by Mrs Oleh Juliet, Principal Information Officer of the ministry.

Mu’azu, represented by Mr Tunde Bello, Director, farm inputs support services in the ministry , said that the meeting was strategic as it would help to build resilient partnership with security operatives to ensure attainment of food security in Nigeria.

Source:www.worldstagegroup.com

Enugu: 2000 rural farmers benefit from World Bank $750m Nigeria CARES programme

Source: Business AM

Findings by Business A.M. indicate that the programme is fully aligned with a forthcoming World Bank 2020–24 Country Partnership Framework for Nigeria, and Nigeria’s Economic Reform and Growth Plan 2017–20 and the National Economic Council’s COVID-19 action plan.

The programme outlines a proposed programme-for-results (PforR) operation in the amount of $750 million to support Nigerian states in their efforts to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable households and microenterprises in the country. The proposed PforR is an emergency operation designed to support budgeted programme of expenditures and interventions at the state level targeting existing and newly vulnerable and poor households, agricultural value chains, and micro and small enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the economic crisis.

The operation provides financial support to the states to fulfil programme objectives in four key results areas: strengthening institutional support for coordination and delivery; increasing cash transfers and livelihood support to poor and vulnerable households; increasing food security and safe functioning of food supply chains for poor households; and preventing collapse and facilitating recovery of household/ micro enterprises.

The programme development objective is to protect livelihoods and food security of poor and vulnerable families and facilitate recovery of local economic activity in all participating states across Nigeria.

Enugu State government, which is one of the participating states in the $750 million World Bank Nigeria CARES programme, undertook the distribution of the improved agricultural inputs to the farmers in the rural areas. The improved agricultural inputs included cassava stems, rice seeds, fertilizer and herbicides.

Governor IfeanyiUgwuanyi addressed the beneficiaries during the flag-off of the programme, saying that the intervention was aimed at improving the state’s agricultural productivity, create employment, and also act as a catalyst to stimulate the state’s rural economy.

Enugu state with an estimated $5.86 billion gross domestic product (GDP) economy, is a mid-tier 3 sub-national, placing 25 of 36 Nigerian states in a 2016 GDP ranking of Nigeria’s states. The state has fewer industries, but with a bulging civil servant population.

Governor Ugwuanyi, who was represented by his deputy, Cecilia Ezeilo, informed that the improved agricultural inputs distribution was informed by the key pillar of the CARES programme which recommends support to farmers with quality farm inputs such as high yielding seed varieties, in order to ensure sustainability of food production and improved livelihoods of the state’s farming families.

“The improved agricultural inputs for distribution in this event were acquired by the state government, in line with recommendation of the State CARES committee. The agricultural inputs intervention targets the agriculture value-chains in which the state has comparative advantage, namely rice and cassava farming,” the governor said.

He said the exercise will be replicated in the other two senatorial districts of the state; and that the initiative was mainly to reach the poor and vulnerable farmers “for economic empowerment, poverty alleviation, reduction of conflict-inducing social inequalities, boost agricultural productivity and stimulate the rural economy of the state.”

Governor Ugwuanyi commended the state’s CARES committee headed by the commissioner for finance, AdaonahKene-Uyanwune, for living up to expectation. He announced that the state government was making farming an all-season activity, in order to further broaden and stabilize the role of farming as a source of sustainable employment, livelihood and constant supply of raw materials for the local industries, and for export.

According to Matthew Idu,state commissioner for agriculture, the improved agricultural inputs distribution exercise was to increase food production in the state; and is also one of the measures to address the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He urged the agriculture supervisors to ensure maximum utilization of the inputs, and that they should not sell the products.

Sanwo-Olu appoints Abisola Olusanya Lagos agriculture commissioner

Source: The Guardian

The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has confirmed the appointment of Abisola Olusanya as the substantive commissioner for agriculture.

Abisola’s appointment was announced in a statement by the government, quoting a circular issued by Lagos State Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola.

Sanwo-Olu, who congratulated and wished the new commissioner a successful tenure in office, first appointed Ms. Olusanya into the State Executive Council on the 20th of August, 2019, as the special adviser on agriculture.

He later appointed her as the acting commissioner for agriculture on 8th June 2020, upon the resignation and subsequent coronation of the erstwhile commissioner for agriculture, Omogbolahan Abdulwasiu Lawal, as the 15th Oniru of Iru Kingdom.

“Ms. Olusanya is a tenacious and a result-oriented professional with 10 years of experience in leadership roles spanning sales, marketing and supply chain management with a speciality in executing strategies towards food security, SME inclusion, growth and profitability,” the government said in a statement.

“She is a leader with a participatory management style and proficiency in establishing and managing an entire operation with a key focus on sustainable organisational culture in line with global management practices.”

How Nigeria spends billions on coconut importation

Source: Premium Times

Nigeria’s expenditure on coconut importation annually cannot be described as anything short of outrageous, as shown by data from the United Nations Statistical Office.

The data obtained from the UN office shows that Nigeria spent $219,446.53 and $293,214.22 on coconut importation in 2019 and 2018 respectively, an amount higher than $186,094.58 that was spent on coconut importation in 2017.

According to Nma Okoroji, the president, National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), Nigeria’s importation of coconut has risen over years by more than 80 per cent as the country has not been able to produce enough coconut locally.

“Between 265 tons of coconut are produced in Nigeria presently and 70 per cent of it is produced by Lagos State and 30 per cent is produced by the other states in Nigeria. But, as the national president, the association cannot promote what we don’t have.

“We don’t have enough coconuts in Nigeria presently; 80 per cent of the coconuts that are used in this country are imported and the cost of importation is getting higher and higher everyday,” she said.

“In Nigeria, coconut farming is a cash tree that receives very little attention.

“The farming is a ‘gold mine’ because of its wide range of industrial applications of most of the products. For a crop not indigenous to the country, she is blessed with the trees which could help harness the development of industries through which the standards of living can be improved.

“In Nigeria, low production as a result of old plantations and the varieties, have reduced coconut industrialisation,” she added.

Coconut is one of the important and useful palms in the world. Coconut is a cash crop grown in most of Nigeria’s 36 states.

Coconuts in Nigeria

In 1876, Nigeria established its first coconut plantation in Badagry, Lagos State.

Apart from consuming the fruit and water, the parts of the plant are also used by many industries such as pharmaceuticals, beverages and cosmetic industries.

The extracts are processed into food, fruit drinks, and cosmetics.

The coir can be used to make brushes, ropes, floor mats, mattresses, strings among others while the leaves are used for building and furniture making.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nigeria ranks 19th, far behind Indonesia, Philippines, and India as the topmost producers of coconut in the world.

s of 2010, the annual coconut production in Nigeria according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was 263,815MT. In 2011, the figure rose to 265,000MT before dropping to 264,814MT in 2012 and then eventually settled at 266,045MT, 267,520MT in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

The country experienced yet another increment in 2015, thereby bringing the total production value to 269.373MT.

Furthermore, in 2016, there was an increase in production value, at 283,140MT, which was evidently higher than the previous years, before experiencing a slight decline to 281,626MT in 2017.

Moving on, the country had another increment, bringing the production value to 290,288MT in 2019 from 285,200MT in 2018.

Coconut as an income-earning produce

Considering the money spent on coconut importation annually, Nigeria can gain more if more is produced locally.

The chapter chairman of the National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), Kingsley Isong, attributed the high cost of importation to the country’s production and demand shortfall.

‘’The high cost of importation is because there is a production and demand shortfall. What we are producing cannot adequately address what we are consuming,” he said.

“In fact, it’s going to get worse now that we are going into actual processing when there’s going to be a serious demand for coconut.

“I can tell you that over the last decade, the global demand for coconuts and its derivatives increased by over 500 per cent.”

Speaking further, he stated that Nigeria imports coconut seedlings and its nuts from other neighbouring West African countries.

“We import more… we import seedlings from outside the country, especially Malaysia, but we import the coconut itself from the West African countries – Ghana and Ivory Coast.

“Before now, we did not even know that most of the coconut that we eat is actually coming in from outside, even people on the street did not know that.

“Here in the north, they eat a lot of coconuts, so the coconut comes from Ghana and they truck it everywhere to the north and other parts of the country, immediately after the border closure that is when we realised that the coconut that we are eating is from Ghana.

“At some point, there were about 70 trucks of coconut at the border, and they couldn’t enter and the cost of coconut went up.

“We are the highest consumer, you can imagine if Ghana that has about a million people is producing 400,000MT and Nigeria with its coconut eating population is producing only 290,000MT you can see the shortfall,” Mr Isong said.

“Another thing which is going to happen is that, you know, like Akwa Ibom State has just built a coconut mill factory. That factory can crack about 300,000 nuts a day.

“So, with all this coming up the demand on coconut is going to become higher and the cost on the street is also going to become higher unless something is done.

“Do you know they use coconut for sugar refinery?

“And every drop of coconut oil in Nigeria used in sugar refineries is imported,” he added.

The cost of coconut importation in Nigeria in the last decade was the highest in 2011, a comprehensive data analysed by PREMIUM TIMES illustrates this.

Data obtained from the United Nations Statistical Office show that Nigeria’s cost of coconut importation was highest in 2011, with an import amount of $9,495,210 followed by 2016 with $590,604.00, although there was no recorded data in 2015.

This shows that Nigeria spent more on coconut importation yearly, although the exchange rate of the US dollar in the last 10 years, varies.

Mr Isong urged the government to support farmers with more improved seedlings to cut the cost of importation.

“Government must assist the coconut value chain. The federal government has identified coconut as (part of) six or seven critical cash crops in the country.

“That identification means coconut is very important as a cash crop in the country.

“The problem we have right now is actually seedlings because the local coconut cannot compete – in terms of yield and also the duration for fruiting – with the imported ones.

“Take for instance, our own that we call Guinea tall, starts fruiting between 9 -15 years. This is a long time. There’s what we call the Malaya dwarf. This one fruit between three years, compared to our own.

“If you plant now, in the next three years you are going to begin to harvest.

“If we can support farmers to begin to cultivate the dwarf, which has high yield and earlier harvesting, it will be a plus to increase coconut production in the country.

“And, it will definitely bring down the cost of importation,” he said.

“We need the government’s support, especially in terms of seedlings. We need the government to waive import duty on seedlings. we need their support in the provision of organic fertilizer.

“We intend to emphasise organic production because the world is more interested in organic production, as organic coconut oil sells better than any other coconut oil,” he added.