Agrorite leading the fight against food insecurity using Agtech

The importance of smallholder farmers in society cannot be overstressed. Smallholder farmers put in so much work in order for us to eat quality and nutritious food, but at the end of the day have little or nothing to show. Smallholder farmers account for over 70% of the food produced in Africa, which emphasizes their relevance in fighting food insecurity in Africa.

Agrorite is a premiere digital agricultural platform that improves the livelihood of smallholder farmers by connecting them with Finance, Smart farming solutions, and Premium markets. Our mantra is to provide positive outcomes for farmers in order to tackle the challenge of food insecurity in Africa and our vision is to inspire the production of sustainable food for Africa.

Lack of access to quality, nutritious agricultural commodities by premium processing companies was another major gap we spotted in the sector, which we are tackling by enabling smallholder farmers to meet up with the growing demands by these processing companies. We have also opened agricultural participation for all through partnerships with Cooperate and Institutional Funders. Individuals are not left behind as they can sponsor farming activities via crowdfunding to earn decent profits.

Not only are we well received in Nigeria, but our service is also acknowledged in the investment and agricultural sector. Consequently, we seat on over 8200 farmers network that spans across Nigeria, cultivated on 5,830 hectares of farmland, and produce well over 86340 metrics tones of crop production for local consumption and export. Commodities such as Peanut, Sesame, Cashew, Shea Butter, etc are some of the commodities we trade on.

Innovation and Technology is an essential component of Agrorite. With our in house developed farm management system (Agrorite Bookie), farmers will now be better equipped to efficiently and smartly manage their farms, get real-time updates on crop performance, and make a projection on the farm inputs required to successfully deliver on the expected output by off-takers.

Our value addition, over the last year, has earned us award recognition from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, The UK Government, GIZ, and UAE. We are currently in partnership with AirBus, GoGlobal Africa, and most recently won the African Most Innovative Digital Agricultural Platform 2020 by the African Brands Award.

More so, aligning with our vision in fighting the global food crisis, we have identified the importance of agricultural product processing and storage hence our cause for embarking on setting up a processing plant that will enable ready food production in Nigeria which in turn creates decent job opportunities in the agricultural value chain. We believe Processing adds value to the Agric produce and creates room for commercial agriculture, thereby promoting agricultural activities.

Onboarding farmers and convincing them to do things in a modern and organized manner is usually challenging, hence, our constant training and workshops in measuring their Progress. Likewise, funding – which can help improve volumes of both production and trade. Through a partnership with government and other cooperate bodies we can achieve even more in closing these gaps, that’s why we are open to collaboration.

When partnering with Agrorite be best assured of a decent return on investment. Another interesting thing about Agrorite is our readily available off-takers both locally and internationally to buy off produce at harvest. The security of investment is guaranteed as we provide extensive insurance coverage on all our farms and commodity on transit. It will interest you to know that Investors are not left in the dark; they are carried along the investment or farming circle with regular updates on progress made and we are easily accessible through our 24/7 customer support service.

Our partnership with you will largely improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers as well as beat food insecurity in Nigeria and beyond.

Source: Nairmetrics

Funding options for agriculture in Nigeria expands with N50 bln scheme

The Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGSF) Amendment Act assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari increased the share capital of the fund from N3 billion to N50 billion. The new scheme is in line with Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) move to increase lending to the agricultural sector and support increased food production. The fund provides a guarantee for bank loans for agriculture and boost lending to agriculture. Financing of production farm machinery, production equipment, processing, storage and transportation are now allowed under the amended ACGSF Act, writes COLLINS NWEZE.

Before now, farmers were the least that banks would consider for loans. Such loans, if approved, were deemed lost from the outset, especially when advanced to smallholder farmers.

Today, the story is different. Both the smallholder farmers and established ones can take a shot at bank loans. Also, lenders, which previously saw agricultural loans as high risk, are now seeing the potential of how much a well-priced credit can add to their balance sheets and profitability. The amendment of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGSF) Bill raised share capital of the fund from N3 billion to N50 billion, a step that allowed more farmers to access agricultural loans.

A breakdown of the ACGSF Amendment Act 2019 shows that the sharing ratio is Federal Ministry of Finance (60 per cent) and Central Bank of Nigeria (40 per cent). The maximum for a non-collaterised loan under the scheme is now N100,000.00, the maximum amount for collaterised loan granted to individuals, cooperative societies and corporate entities is now N50 million, up from N10 million.

Also, complete Agricultural Value Chain financing is now allowed as well as the financing of production farm machinery, production equipment, processing, storage and transportation.

This Act amends the ACGS Fund Act Cpa. A11, Laws of the Federation Nigeria 2004, to enhance capital base, expand coverage of the scheme, increase the size of the loanable fund, increase membership and give more powers to the board.

Further details of the ACGSF showed that the amended section 2 of the Principal Act enacted by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, now requires that the Minister shall appoint a chairman, a representative of the Nigerian farmers, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, and a representative of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The fund was increased from N100 million to N50 billion, which may be increased by such amount the Board may determine and that amount shall be contributed in a proportion as the board may prescribe. President Buhari signed and certified the ACGSF Bill into law.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele identified agriculture financing as the way forward for the economy. He explained that part of its developmental role, the CBN has in collaboration with the Federal Government established the ACGSF for promoting agricultural enterprises in Nigeria.

The fund, he added, will complement other special initiatives of the apex bank in providing concessionary funding for agriculture.

According to Emefiele, “there was no need to allocate scarce forex to rice importers when vast amounts of paddy rice of comparable quality produced by poor hard-working local farmers across the rice belts of Nigeria are wasted, and farmers are falling deeper into poverty at a time the government exports their jobs and income to rice-producing in overseas countries.

“A few decades ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest producers of palm oil but, today, we import nearly 600,000 metric tonnes while Indonesia and Malaysia combine to export over 90 per cent of global demand.

“Under these circumstances, I believe it is appropriate, and in fact, expected, that the CBN contributes to protecting the jobs and incomes of local farmers, using some of the same principles Western economies use to justify the protection of their farmers through huge subsidies.”

Noting that agriculture remained the largest employer of labour, the CBN chief said the sector contributes about 24.2 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Emefiele described as unacceptable that the greatest share of the demand for forex goes directly to importing agricultural produce.

He said: “So, the CBN has both a direct and indirect rationale to ensure that this sector is revived in a significant way. In this regard, we are gratified that the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), together with other initiatives like the CACS and Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), are proving to be successful in several states.”

He explained that in Kebbi State alone, over 78,000 smallholder farmers cultivate about 100,000 hectares of rice farms. It is expected that over one million metric tonnes of rice will be produced in that state alone this year.

Source: www.salaamgateway.com

In face of crisis, equitable farming systems grow in Nigeria

In northeast Nigeria, where agriculture forms the backbone of rural communities and livelihoods, the militant group Boko Haram has forced millions to flee their homes and take refuge in crowded settlements on the outskirts of the region’s largest cities and towns. They’re leaving behind not just their homes, but their ways of life.

In the region’s largest city, Maiduguri, an estimated 130,000 displaced people have settled into urban and peri-urban camps – part of more than 1.4 million displaced people living in camps throughout Borno State alone.

Many in the camps are farmers, cut off from their lands and communities and unsure of when they will be able to return home, get back to their fields and earn a living again. And a significant portion of these farmers are women, many of whom face obstacles because of their gender.

“We’re now trying to educate them, trying to explain to them that both women and men are equal in terms of whatever they are doing, so they shouldn’t be denigrated.”

Kachalla Kyari Mala

Amid these dire circumstances, a program is helping displaced Nigerian farmers create income opportunities and plan for the future by providing gender-responsive training, education about best agronomic practices, access to land and seed, and marketing opportunities.

“The idea is for them to have the knowledge, for them to know what they are doing when they go back to their homes, so that they will be self-reliant,” says program leader Kachalla Kyari Mala, a researcher at the Lake Chad Research Institute, part of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria.

The institute initiated the training program in 2018 to assist displaced wheat farmers living in the camps. The project launched after Mala and his team received training in gender-responsive agriculture research methods starting in 2017 through the Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project, a joint effort between Cornell’s Department of Global Development and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

Read more at https://news.cornell.edu/

Sterling Bank to host Africa’s biggest digital agriculture summit

What comes to mind when you think of Agriculture? The produce, the farmers, investments, tech or the next level? The next level that will propel us into the much-needed transformation with the design and implementation of the right policies, scalable innovation alongside focused and sustained investment.

It is no news that the existing frameworks and age-long practices in Africa’s agriculture sector are outdated and need to be improved upon.

Transforming the continent’s agriculture sector into a powerhouse that will not only feed the continent’s growing population but will also boost the economy, create decent employment for millions of people and hopefully absorb the shocks from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Agriculture is one of the sectors Sterling Bank holds close to its HEART. As one of Nigeria’s foremost commercial banks renowned for its giant strides in Agriculture financing, Sterling Bank has over the years organised a yearly Agriculture summit to bring together industry players, actors and subject matter experts across the board to discuss pervasive issues ranging from poor market linkage, risks of natural disasters, cost of raising funds, absence of agricultural insurance amongst others.

The summit aims at providing insights on Africa’s agriculture with a view to charting a new course and unleashing the full potential of the sector.

These and so much more is what Sterling Bank aims to address during this year’s edition of Agriculture Summit Africa, ASA 2020 themed “FAST-FORWARD AGRICULTURE: EXPLOITING THE NEXT REVOLUTION”. This year’s edition promises to be different as it will be the first time of hosting the Summit digitally.

Some of the key areas that will be the core focus areas during this year’s summit will be on government policies, technology, agribusiness financing, scalable innovations and the impact of resource availability and climate change on the output.

This, in turn, will help more key stakeholders get more involved in developing policies to aid the growth of the agribusiness value chain across the public and private sectors, attract sizable investments to drive expansion and achieve global competitiveness. The role and impact of technology and data science in stimulating innovation in the value chain will also be discussed during the Summit.

The keynote speakers for this year’s summit are Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and Dr. Atta-Krah who will be speaking on the theme, the Deputy Program Director for Mercy Corps AgriFin, Sietika Gatabaki will be the lead speaker for ‘Role of Technology and Data in Agriculture’ which is one of the panels, while Tayo Aduloju of The Nigerian Economic Summit Group will be talking on ‘Public-Private Partnership’.

Join the Summit on the 23rd & 24th of September 2020 where live discussions will be held on a number of exciting topics that will help forge a path for the opportunities to be explored.

Visit http://agricsummit.org to register for this year’s digital Summit.

Source: The Guardian

Africa’s agricultural sector faces up to Covid-19 crisis

Along the tarmacked border separating Kenya and Tanzania, hundreds of trucks filled with perishable food sit in the heat. At the roadside, drivers lounge on cardboard mats in patches of shade for up to a week as swabs are sent to Nairobi for coronavirus testing. By the time drivers complete their journeys, much of their cargo is putrid, and with many planes grounded, Kenyans are seeing price hikes on supermarket shelves. 

That is just one of Africa’s 110 borders. The blockage offers a glimpse into the devastation the Covid-19 pandemic is beginning to wreak on the continent’s agricultural sector, which provides a livelihood to 60% of the continent’s workers. 

The virus and its lockdowns affect African farmers, agribusinesses and SMEs, as well as consumers and government departments involved in the sector, which together comprise 23% of continental GDP. In various countries, however, the picture was already less than rosy before the pandemic hit, with 650m people facing food insecurity. 

For the optimist, the question arises: could the coronavirus turmoil present an opportunity to reimagine food security and build resilience for the future? 

Ever adaptable, African farmers have begun to experiment with apps and new technologies. Meanwhile, policymakers and relief organisations are refocusing on food production and provision. Pioneering policymakers are prioritising food security and shifting to clean energy sources, such as hydroelectric and solar. 

Better harvests

When it comes to agriculture, “Covid-19 appears not to have caused, so far, as terrible a collapse as it might have done,” says Christopher Cramer, a professor at SOAS, University of London. “Some parts of East Africa, West Africa and very much of South Africa went into the pandemic on the back of harvests that were much better than in the past few years.” 

Strong agricultural output in many major growing regions followed years of drought. In South Africa, for instance, maize production in 2020 is expected to be more than 30% higher than in previous years. All across the continent, many planting seasons were drawing to a close when the pandemic escalated in March, sparing farmers from the coming price fluctuations in agricultural inputs. 

Experts are quick to point out that African food production and supply have risen steadily since the 1960s, despite doom and gloom predictions, particularly in countries such as Malawi, Ethiopia and Ghana. And yet the industry has struggled in Zimbabwe and grown sluggishly in the likes of Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. 

Meanwhile, certain agricultural regions were already in trouble when pandemic fears locked them down, principally East Africa, which is facing floods and a locust infestation of proportions not seen in 70 years. In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, rainfall in late 2019 was uncharacteristically light, while conflict in Nigeria, South Sudan and the arid Sahel have compounded food insecurity. And with commodity prices falling earlier this year, growers of vital crops such as cocoa and coffee are edging towards disaster. 

Still, in many regions, the pre-existing agricultural tailwinds have been just enough to sustain agriculture sectors in the face of these challenges and the coronavirus. 

On 28 February, an Italian man who works in Nigeria became sub-Saharan Africa’s first official Covid-19 case. Since then, Africa as a whole has recorded more than 860,000 cases, while many more will go unreported. While numbers are mounting, this is not yet the devastating outbreak many feared. 

And yet an upsurge would lay bare the continent’s weak healthcare systems – Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has just 450 ventilators for a population of 200m – and direct attention away from security challenges in conflict-prone areas. The prospect of a food crisis, however, has garnered less attention. And yet, Africa is a net food importer to the tune of around $47bn annually and is now facing border closures worldwide. 

Supply chain issues

“The first impact was on flower farmers in East Africa, who saw demand from European markets essentially collapse,” says François Conradie, senior political economist at NKC African Economics. “Supply chain issues have also been relevant as imported inputs have become harder to come by.” 

For smallholder farmers across the region, seeds, fertiliser, animal feed and crop protection instruments upon which they rely to maximise yields have become scarce, or substantially more expensive, hindering production of widely-consumed crops such as rice and maize, as well as Ethiopian coffee, Kenyan horticulture and Ghanaian pineapples. 

Many agricultural SMEs have been forced to downsize or fold as food has rotted on farms or in trucks, causing job losses, food insecurity and poverty. Meanwhile, lockdowns have sucked the life out of the informal sector, the primary source of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. 

According to World Bank data, 70% of Nigerian households have seen their income fall, with volatility highest in rural areas where farming usually pays the bills. 

Between late April and early June, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a Boston-based non-profit, surveyed nearly 1,500 Kenyan farmers and agri-dealers. Eight in 10 agri-dealers reported a decrease in farmer footfall, and 76% reported lower sales compared to a month earlier. 

Farmers, meanwhile, said the price of inputs had risen, and 55% said they had been forced to borrow money in the preceding month to cover living expenses. That stops them making important investments for the next harvest. 

Long-term consequences

But the impact on farmers and pastoralists, who cannot move freely under lockdown rules, is only half the story. Export cuts – due to reduced global airfreight, collapsed demand from European, Asian and US markets and smaller agricultural outputs – could cause inflation, which in turn could depreciate African currencies. And most African nations have considerable external debt stocks, paid in US dollars. 

“Governments find themselves having to spend more to cope with the pandemic at the same time as these economic problems result in lower tax revenues, so they borrow more,” says Conradie. “In the long term this is going to crowd out productive investment spending and even some crucial spending on social safety nets.” 

The implication of a farming crisis is a long-term hit to already vulnerable African economies and less food for a continent whose population is set to double in the next 30 years. That is why governments and institutions across the continent must act now.

“States cannot rely easily on foreign investment or aid – they need to build resilient export sectors and to take a national role in promoting change,” says Professor Cramer. “Spending on public agricultural R&D needs to rise, investment in irrigation needs to rise.” 

The African Development Bank has launched the Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 (Farec), which has earmarked $10bn to support governments, smallholders and the private sector. Importantly, it emphasises sustainable growth in food production and distribution, and has already supported around two dozen countries, creating “green corridors” to move agricultural products and handing out loans. 

Meanwhile, agribusinesses themselves have pleaded with governments to encourage cargo flights, through tax incentives, fuel subsidies and landing charge waivers. In Kenya, international cargo flights have slowly picked up, albeit at twice the price per kilo compared to the start of the year. 

Digital solutions

Farmers, too, continue to employ novel solutions, many of them digital, to safeguard their agricultural incomes. PAD produces digital tools to advise farmers on what to plant and when, as well as what equipment to use to safeguard their crops. “Overall, 98% of agro-dealers reported communicating with suppliers via mobile phone, and 70% reported receiving messages from farmers about inputs at least once a day,” says Sam Strimling, a research associate at PAD. Meanwhile, a collaboration between the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and Penn State University is allowing East African farmers to pinpoint locust swarm locations for pesticide spraying. 

“Financial challenges experienced and anticipated by farmers as a result of the pandemic were somewhat mitigated by optimism about forthcoming harvests,” says Emmanuel Bakirdjian, Africa regional manager at PAD, “with 52% of farmers expecting a more bountiful harvest than the previous year.” 

The depreciation of African currencies, while a challenge at a governmental level, could actually make life easier for farmers once freight picks up again, by making local currency incomes higher for exporters and putting more money in their pockets to purchase inputs domestically. 

“To make the most of the opportunity, we would need to see more willingness from protectionist governments to tolerate currency weakness, and from governments generally to focus on the improvements in the business and investment environments,” says Conradie. In the past, countries such as Nigeria have been reluctant to float their currencies, instead opting for dollar pegs. 

Still, there is plenty more to be done and the lower-than-expected spread of Covid-19 in Africa should not breed complacency. 

Hopes for the continent’s vaunted green revolution, built on rising agricultural production over the past half-century, are not dead. But governments must invest in irrigation, encourage a shift towards digitisation, support smallholder farmers with loans and act now to limit the long-term economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, before it is too late.

Source: African Business Magazine

Dangote Fertiliser crucial to govt agricultural agenda ― Agric Minister

The Federal Government has asserted that Dangote Fertiliser Limited is very important to the achievement of its Agricultural Transformation Agenda, aimed at boosting food security in the country. Besides, the construction of the Fertiliser plant has been fully completed and is set for commissioning in the next few months.

Besides, the construction of the Fertiliser plant has been fully completed and is set for commissioning in the next few months.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, who stated this during a facility tour of the Dangote Fertiliser plant in Lagos, at the weekend, called on the company to assist the Federal Government’s agricultural mechanisation scheme, as well as extension services for small scale farmers.

According to him, Dangote support is needed for the success of the mechanisation scheme, which, he said, is expected to cover 632 local government areas across the nation.

“It is very clear that Dangote, in one way or the other, will help in this programme of the government,” he said. Nanono said Aliko Dangote’s investment in fertiliser production would contribute to improved farm yields and agricultural productivity, which are critical to Nigeria’s long-term food security.

The minister commended Dangote for keying into the government’s Presidential Initiative on Fertiliser, aimed at bringing down the cost of fertilisers across the country.

“The capacity of Dangote Fertiliser is enough to change the way fertiliser is being used in this country. We are going to complement his efforts and support him in this regard. “The challenge of the supply of fertiliser will be solved by the Dangote Fertiliser plant. I can now go home and sleep.”

“The challenge of the supply of fertiliser will be solved by the Dangote Fertiliser plant. I can now go home and sleep.”

Read more at vanguardngr

Youths get agripreneurship training

CROSS River State Governor Ben Ayade has promised to build youth capacity in agribusiness.

He spoke at the Agricultural Training and Business Farms in Abuja where indigenes would be trained in modern farming and agripreneurship.

Ayade pledged partnership with CSS Global Integrated Farms in line with his administration’s agro-revolution.

He said: “I am overwhelmed by this gigantic agricultural institution. The facilities are world-class…

“The technical knowledge and 21st century farm experience that our youths need to drive, enhance and maximise the benefits of Green Money can be acquired in this farm. We believe our future lies in agriculture; it is the only guaranteed way to achieve food sufficiency, mass employment and revenue earnings….”

Chairman of CSS Global Integrated Farms Dr John Opara said Ayade was a man with a clear but rare vision to reverse the fortunes of Nigeria through innovative agriculture.

Opara extolled Ayade’s ‘inspirational leadership’, saying the governor was laying a solid foundation for generations unborn. “I can see the kind of future Ayade intends for Cross River State. His passion for humanity has got him thinking even beyond the present into generations ahead. Ayade is not only thinking of today’s Cross River, but also tomorrow’s. And it is only strategic that he is assiduously investing in the future of youths…

Source: The Nation Online

Nigeria to support small-scale farmers, others with N600 billion – Minister

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, has revealed that the federal government has resolved to inject over N600 billion as a stimulus response into the agriculture sector, targetting small scale farmers, to ensure food security and sustainability.

This was disclosed in a statement, on Sunday, by Theodore Ogaziechi, the director of information in the agriculture ministry.

The minister stated this while on a weekend tour of Dangote Fertilizer Plant.

Mr Nanono also had a crucial meeting with other fertilizer companies in Lagos State seeking their cooperation for food production.

According to him, the well over N600 billion stimulus-response. which targets farmers nationwide, will take off with an initial 2.4 million farmers.

“To avoid the abuse of government funds and good intentions, the support will be in kind in form of inputs and not cash as was the practice in the past.

“The forceful closure of all International borders, necessitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, has made it evident that Nigeria can conveniently and sustainably feed itself,” he said.

The minister had commenced his tour with a courtesy call on the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, where he pledged to support the state’s farming communities with rural roads, solar lighting and water holes so as to encourage and empower them to increase productivity.

He also promised to collaborate with the Lagos State Government in the fishing sector in order to tap the potential of its marine endowments so as to drastically reduce the importation of fish in the country.

In his response, Mr Sanwo-Olu, who received the minister in the company of his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, and other state officials, promised to collaborate with the federal government not only in the fishing sector but also other areas.

Mr Sanwo-Olu, while recognising agriculture as a critical component of development, stated that he will complement the FG’s effort when he completes his project, the largest rice mill in Nigeria with a capacity to mill approximately 30 million Metric Tons of rice per annum.

“This will help Nigeria focus more on exportation of rice and downward review of prices at the retail market,” he said.

According to him, Lagos State is presumably the largest retail market for agricultural products as well as the largest enabler in the industry with Dangote Fertilizer Plant being cited in its domain.

In another engagement over dinner, Mr Nanono and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Abdulkadir Mu’azu, had interacted with agro-input dealers in Lagos to discuss quality, affordability and availability of fertiliser in the country.

Dangote Group and other fertilizer blending companies, Premium Agro Limited, Elephant Group and Kewalram Group, stated that raw materials for fertiliser blending, most especially ammonium phosphate, is the major challenge facing them.

Meanwhile, the Dangote Group is considering the exploration of local sources for the raw materials which they are hopeful and confident that once the domestic source is remedied, the problem of fertiliser shortfall will become history in the country.

Overwhelmed with this revelation, Mr Nanono said that with the impressive strategies initiated by the Dangote Group, the outcome will change the narrative of agriculture, food production/fertilizer availability and the nation’s economy for good before the end of 2020.

Source: Premium Times

Why we developed a five-year master plan for agriculture – Sanwo-Olu

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has revealed why his administration developed a five-year master plan that would be guiding the state’s intervention and investment in agriculture for a long-term return.

Sanwo-Olu disclosed this in Lagos, during the courtesy visit of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono

Sanwo-Olu said the state government was ready for collaboration with the federal government to stimulate the growth of agro-processing market for local producers and reduce the nation’s dependency on imported agricultural products.

He welcomed collaboration with the federal government on exploration of marine resources, construction of rural roads and provision of power infrastructure to boost agricultural output.

He said: “We are excited that the Federal Government is coming up with investment in strategic areas of agriculture to transform the sector. It will interest you to know that Lagos has started to take similar step by coming up with a five-year agricultural and food security master plan in response to the challenges we face. This master plan will be guiding our intervention in various areas of agriculture. It will not only improve food security, it will also create market opportunity for local farmers.

“Today, Lagos is building the biggest rice mill in the country to ramp up national agricultural output. Beyond this, our Government is developing initiatives that will catalyse agro-processing market in Lagos, with the objective to reduce food importation and over dependence on finished products from outside the country.

“The state is surrounded by large bodies of water and we are positioning ourselves for collaboration that will enhance effective exploration of our marine resources. We are ready to work collaboratively with the Federal Government to harness the State’s agricultural resources and I promised that you have found the right partner in Lagos for the initiative you have brought forward to change the face of agriculture.”

The Governor described agriculture as a “major stake” into which any serious government must invest, noting that the lessons drawn from the negative impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on farming and agriculture should not be lost among the current crop of leaders.

The governor praised President Muhammadu Buhari for the choice of Nanono as supervising administrator of the ministry, saying the minister came in with energy and deep knowledge of the sector.

He said the federal government’s initiative would increase food accessibility, lower prices and improve the quality of products in the market. He pledged that Lagos would be a willing partner to drive the projects.

Nanono said Lagos had offered the nation the needed industrial backing to boost agriculture, stressing that the State played key role in Nigeria’s rise on the global ranking to become the 13th largest rice producer in the world and first in Africa.

The minister said the federal government was ready to step up its partnership with Lagos for improved agricultural production, confirming that there would be more investment in marine resources.

Nanono disclosed that the federal government would also be making funds available for the construction of rural roads and provision of solar power for farmers in Lagos.

Source: sunonlinenews

Bauchi State Government signs MoU with OCP to boost agriculture

Abuja, Aug. 27, 2020 Bauchi State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OCP Africa, a company in global production and exportation of phosphate based fertilisers, to boost agriculture in the state.

The Country Manager of OCP Africa Fertilisers Nigeria, Mr Caleb Usoh, during the signing of the MoU in Abuja on Thursday, said it was a milestone in OCP’s effort to contribute to productivity and food security in Nigeria.

He said the collaboration with the Bauchi State government would be in four major areas.

According to him, the areas include, development of last mile inputs distribution through OCP’s One-Stop-Shop and implementation of soil testing solutions.

He added that other areas included, implementation of agribooster project and collaboration with the state’s institutions of higher learning.

Usoh noted that the partnership was meant to address persistent challenge of poor access to adequate and appropriate farming inputs, trainings and technology by farmers in rural communities.

According to him, the MoU seeks to ensure a joint development of last mile inputs distribution through OCP One Stop shop.

“Both parties have agreed to collaborate in setting up and equipping five centres for last-mile agro-inputs distribution and retail.

“This will be done in very rural under-served farming communities with high agriculture potentials within Bauchi State.

“It presents an all-inclusive total distribution solution that seeks to make available under one roof all that is needed by a farmer to enable him to succeed in his farming endeavour.

“The outlets are designed to create a platform for different companies and service providers across the entire value chain to interact with farmers in provision of various goods and services.

“The centres will provide services such as input distribution hub for quality input products and after sales services.

“Also, it will provide hub for access to mechanisation and irrigation services, training hub for classroom and field learning on good agricultural practices.

“It will also act as centre for financial solutions like input credit profiling and mobile money solutions to farmers and rural dwellers.

“The centres, which are to be located in very rural areas, will also be built to provide by way of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) access to clean water for the communities,” he said.

The Country Manager disclosed that Bauchi State had collaborated with it in the implementation of the OCP School Laboratory project from 2018 to 2019 in the form of a Mobile Soil testing caravan.

Other forms of collaboration, according to him, are soil testing services to smallholder farmers, on the spot fertiliser recommendations, training on good agricultural practices and simple soil sampling techniques.

Usoh disclosed that the agreement would cover a wide range of activities like reaching smallholder farmers, recruiting and training youth as agricultural extension agents.

Others, he said, included supplying farm inputs such as fertilisers, seeds, and agrochemicals while facilitating access to credit facilities for farmers who would participate in the project.

He stressed that all of those, would be achieved while leveraging digital technology to facilitate learning, farmers’ information gathering, field team management and access to agricultural products and services.

On collaboration with institutions of higher learning, Usoh said both parties intended to establish linkage between the Bauchi State University and OCP sponsored Mohammed 6 University in Benguerir Morocco.

This, according to him, is to explore areas of academic and research collaborations, trainings and exchange programme, adding that it would energise and modernise the knowledge of ecosystem in Bauchi State.

Usoh said the company was committed to making agriculture a profitable venture for farmers in Bauchi State.

He pointed out that as a private company, OCP, which had been in existence in the last 100 years, was ready to invest to move agriculture forward in Africa, particularly Nigeria.

He further noted that “we are not counting cost so much as the benefit that will come to the people and to expand.

“So in this case the farmer benefits and we as a fertiliser company will sell more.”

He disclosed that beside the collaboration with Bauchi State, OCP had relationship with other states in the country.

He pointed out that the company may not have formalised some of the relationships but was involved in various activities in different states.

“As we progress and see the willingness of the states like Bauchi state, we will then find a formalised structure to do much more,” he said.

Bauchi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Samaila Adamu expressed the state government’s readiness to ensure sustainability of the partnership.

He said, “the essence of the MoU is for Bauchi State Government and OCP to collaborate to take the state to the highest level as far as agriculture is concerned.

“Basically, there are four major areas we want to start with. One is soil testing to know what is required of our various soils across the state. This is to improve soil quality.

“For the one-stop-shop. Most of our farmers are in the rural areas where access roads are lacking.

“In view of this, OCP Africa came up with an initiative to convey most of these inputs to the doorsteps of the farmers.

“This is so that they do not cry for lack of seeds, agro chemicals and fertilisers and other inputs that will improve production.

“Number three is the Agribooster. In that area we are talking of crops that we have comparative advantage in, in which the state and OCP Africa will come together to inject some resources in.

“In this project we will directly supervise the cultivation of cash crops and value addition for in-house consumption and export.

“The last is the issue of empowerment. In this regard we intend to train farmers in the best agricultural practice and how to convey what they learn to their various communities.”

The commissioner said the commitment between the state government and OCP would boost employment opportunities in the state, improve the state’s revenue generation and ensure food security in general

Source: naija247news