On Wednesday 19th December, Governor David Umahi swept another outstanding laurel from the presidency, exclusively awarded by President Muhammadu Buhari himself, in appreciation of the governor’s towering strings of accomplishments in Agriculture and undying political will to concretize the president’s vision of diversifying the economy.There is everything positive to say about Ebonyi State  when it comes to Agriculture where her name is already etched in the golden books of records. The state proudly recorded major milestone in all areas of the sector in the outgoing year, comparatively setting records that have not been achieved in Nigeria, but one achievement worth re-emphasizing is the recent establishment of a gigantic fertilizer plant.Yes, the state has welcomed with open arms a brand new ultra modern 40 tonnes per hour fertilizer blending plant, first in the entire South East and South South zones. This plant which is commemorative of the state’s advancement in agricultural services and preparedness to drive the sector was symbolically inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh. How the state managed to set this project in the face of teething economic challenges is still a stuff of legends.It is no coincidence that Ebonyi state is at the top of every national ranking in Agriculture. The state has singlehandedly brought a revolutionary change that has positively upset the entire firmament of agriculture. Governor Umahi’s agricultural revolution, especially in the areas of rice production is widely acknowledged. It transcends party, ethnic and racial boundaries.Even though PDP, the administration has continued to endear itself to the presidency and policy makers in Agriculture through watershed agric policies and programmes.Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe further confirmed this when he said, “… Anywhere, anytime we mention our successes in Agriculture, your name (Umahi) comes up. Your rice is in every supermarket in Animal and in Lagos and you are one of the five governors who have succeeded in making Nigeria attain almost food sufficient in rice production. You have reduced rice importation by 90 percent and we have saved some seed import in the last 34 months to the tune of 21 billion dollars as a country…”Ebonyi as a state has unknowingly unlocked the potentials of Nigeria Agriculture. The state is now a prominent name and a major player in the current efforts to diversify the nation’s economy and discourage over reliance on oil revenue.Ebonyi has further revved up its agricultural programme with mechanization of farming, assistance in procuring necessary Agricultural inputs like seedlings, fertilizers and pesticides, grant of soft loan to local farmers under the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme.The state is sharpening up plans to introduce six-mega rice cities in the state and any local government area that covers 5,000 hectares for rice production.The governor himself is a farmer who takes more than a passing interest to turn around the fortunes of the state in agriculture. That’s a man who the cap fits!


What makes Europe an interesting market for moringa?


The European market for moringa is still young and underdeveloped. Only a few consumers in Europe know moringa. Therefore, most consumers still need to be educated on the benefits of moringa before they will consider buying it.

Official data on the size of the European moringa market are not available. Importers estimated market demand at a few hundred tonnes in 2017. Leading markets in Europe are:

  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • France.

Moringa production in Europe is insignificant. Supplies need to be met by imports. Globally, India is the largest producer and supplier of moringa. In 2017, global annual exports of moringa (including leaf powder, seed oil and other products) by India were estimated to amount to around 500 tonnes, of which an estimated 100–200 tonnes goes to Europe.

According to a moringa importer in the Netherlands, India currently exports around 500 tonnes of moringa to the global market annually. India is also the European market main supplier of moringa.

Europe’s main importers of moringa products from India are:

  • Germany (35% of Indian exports to Europe in value)
  • United Kingdom (14%)
  • Austria (9%)
  • France (8%)
  • Spain (6%).

As the plant grows in various regions worldwide, there is a potential for smaller producers if they can create a unique selling proposition (USP) for their product compared to supplies from India, especially since European importers have strong concerns about the quality of Indian supplies (e.g. fearing heavy metal contamination). Smaller producers entering the global market include various African countries, such as Kenya, South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique.


Experts Advocate High-Level Technology For Agriculture Development

A group of experts have advocated a paradigm shift in the way agriculture is being practised particularly in some emerging economies around the world.

While speaking during one of the sessions at the 7th Atlantic Dialogues in Marrakech, Morocco, on the topic: “Agribusiness and Agritech in Emerging Economies.”  Agriculture experts are drawn from Nigeria, Morocco, US, Argentina, Brazil, France, Cape Verde to mention a few, argued that the use of improved technology would in no small measure help in the development of agriculture in emerging economies.

They were of the opinion that Drones can be used on crop field for scanning with compact multispectral imaging sensors, GPS map creation through onboard cameras, heavy payload transportation and livestock monitoring with thermal-imaging camera-equipped drones. It was also discussed that high-income countries have seen significant improvements in their agricultural management systems through modern remote sensing technology, such as satellites and aircraft and the information they collect. As a result of this, from the vast amount of data collected, the advice is provided to farmers to inform their decisions.

One of the participants at the conference, Seyi Oyenuga, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer, Securefarmer noted that the use of small unmanned aerial vehicles better known as drones for agricultural purposes is a new emerging technology which could revolutionise the way agricultural entrepreneurs interact with their land, water, crops and infrastructure.

“Drones can be made specifically for business use and farming in particular, they can capture geo-referenced,
overlapping, high-resolution images of 400 hectares in a single flight; can seamlessly upload data and produce agricultural analytics from their data management systems, and fly autonomously from take-off to landing.”


Tanzania: Handeni Readies for Cashew Nut Growing

At a time the government is streamlining the crisis-ridden cashew nuts industry, efforts are underway to introduce the crop as a dependable source of cash for smallholder farmers is set to begin in Handeni district, Tanga region.

Some 600,000 cashew seedlings have been purchased from the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute in Mtwara region for distribution to the farmers.

Farmers who wanted to grow the crop and want to be supplied have been urged to register with the ward and village offices so that they can be reached out.

“The seedlings will be supplied free of charge”, said the district executive officer William Makufwe, noting that those who need the trees have to indicate the size of their farms.

According to the official, the district council has spent a total of Sh. 28 million to purchase and ferry the young cashew trees from Mtwara to Handeni.

Farmers keen on cashew nuts cultivation will have to fill a special form and failure to tend the crop properly would see them paying Sh. 5000 as a fine for each destroyed tree.

Mr Makufwe distribution of cashew seedlings would start on February 15th next year at all ward offices.

The district agricultural and irrigation officer Yibarila Chiza said the farmers will have to be sensitized enough on the cultivation of cashew nuts, which is largely new to the area

Introduction of commercial cultivation of cashew nuts in Handeni follows recent efforts to promote cassava as a cash crop to increase the economic fortunes of people here.

Maize, a staple food crop in the area, occasionally serves as a source of cash for the small holder farmers in the district if there are sufficient rains.

Handeni, which is prone to drought unlike other districts in the region, has had no reliable cash crop although there had been efforts last year to revive cultivation of cotton.

Sisal, a cash crop which made Tanga region famous all over the world, was cultivated mainly by the commercial farmers in the past but dropped after the settler farmers left.

Agricultural experts say Handeni was suitable for the production of cashew nuts because it has suitable soils like those of other coastal regions where the crop thrives well notably Coast, Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma.


Maize farmers want FG govt to provide farming implements

Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, Oyo state chapter has called on the Federal Government to make farming implements available for its members for optimal productivity.

Mr Israel Oluwagbemileke, the Chairman of the Association made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Ibadan.

He said that the farmers needed farm implements such as tractors, seed planter, and harvester machine among others to enable them produce large quantity of maize.

He said that the lives of farmers and their household had not improved as expected because they could not transform farming into business due to lack of government’s support.

The chairman noted that the farmers maize production during the late harvesting season this year was not much difference from that of the previous year due to poor funding of the agricultural sector.

“Last year, we realised 4.6 metric tonnes per hectare while this year we realised 5.2 metric tonnes per hectare, the difference is small, we could have produced more if we had all equipment and funds needed.

“We have little improvement this year because we planted improved seed some of which are drought resistance and grew faster, also we had more rains this year than the previous year,” he said.

Oluwagbemileke appealed to government to make available grants and free interest loans to farmers to boost the production of maize and other crops in the country, saying this would also make farming attractive and lucrative.

“Let the government give grants to farmers, although they have been doing that but it gets to the wrong hands, let them ensure that the grant gets directly to the right farmers.

“The government should also provide little or no interest loan for farmers.

“Also let all farm equipment be subsidised by the government, if these challenges are addressed, I believe there will be increase in food production in the country.

“Our farmers are ready to produce food that will be enough for the country and even for export if we are adequately supported,” he said.

Oluwagbemileke however advised the farmers to always plant improved seeds with good agronomic practices while praying to God for increase.

He said that the farmers-herders crisis posed serious challenge to the farmers, adding that it had grossly affected production level and called on government to provide lasting solution to the clashes in the country. (NAN)


Soybean Rally Gives U.S. Farmers Pause on Possible Shift to Corn

A soybean rally fueled by signs of easing U.S.-China trade tensions has added a wrinkle to the plans of some farmers to shift more acres to corn.

On Tuesday, soybean futures closed at a premium of $5.375 a bushel to corn, the highest since June 18. The oilseed defied a slump in equities partly spurred by renewed U.S.-China trade concerns in industries outside agriculture. U.S. President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled China will resume soybean purchases soon. Prices had slumped after the Asian country began to shun U.S. supplies in July.

The soybean-corn spread “plays an integral role in planting decisions for farmers,” Mark Recker, who raises both crops in Fayette County, Iowa, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “I can tell you that guys are looking really hard at growing more corn.”

Recker said he planted 700 acres of soybeans (283 hectares) and 800 acres of corn this year. As of Tuesday, he intended to shift to 900 acres of corn and 600 acres of soybeans next season. Now, he’s waiting to see how the U.S.-China trade talks play out.

The spread rally “might continue as long as the trade believes we have a deal in China,” Ted Seifried, the chief market strategist at Zaner Group LLC in Chicago, said in a phone interview.

The Chinese government said Wednesday that it plans to move quickly on specific issues where a consensus was reached in trade talks over the weekend. Officials have been told to take the necessary steps for soybean purchases.

China is the world’s top soybean consumer, and the U.S. and Brazil are the top producers. The corn-soybean spread, based on the most-active futures contracts, closed at the 2018 low of $4.65 on Sept. 12. It reached the year’s high of $6.8925 on March 5.


FG to assist Fish Farmers meet Global Demand- Minister

Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the Federal Government will assist fish farmers to attain the full potential of the country in catfish production.
Ogbeh made this known during a seminar and fish exhibition organised by the National Fish Association of Nigeria, South East Zone in Enugu on Thursday.
The minister was represented by the South East Regional Director of Agriculture, Nnaji Ibezim.
He said that in spite of the rating of the country as the highest producer of catfish in Africa, the country still had an annual deficit of 2.1 million tonnes.
Ogbeh commended NFAN in the zone for training 3,100 catfish farmers, saying that such training would lead to paradigm shift in the volume and quantity of catfish produced in the country.
Her said: “I am delighted about this programme and I must commend the leadership of NFAN, South East Chapter for coming up with this initiative and I urge other regions to also replicate this.
“With the exhibitions displayed by the trainers, I am convinced and optimistic that if the beneficiaries are committed to catfish production, the global demand for it would be met.
“Despite the fact that Nigeria is the highest catfish-producing country in Africa, it still has a deficit of 2.1 million tonnes to meet global demands expected of her.
“We are only able to produce 1.1 million tonnes of catfish out of 3.2 million tonnes of fish but I believe after this training, the deficit gap would be greatly reduced.”
The minister noted that the level of standard maintained by the trainers during the various stages of catfish rearing and production was commendable.
Ogbeh pledged the support of his ministry in advancing the vision of NFAN at ensuring that “agriculture becomes an enticing and profitable sector for all who come into it’’.
In a remark, the National Publicity Secretary of NFAN, Chidike Ukoh, appealed to the Federal Government to assist fish farmers in the zone to overcome some of the challenges which included soft loans.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the exhibition had in attendance representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment and Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
The trainees exhibited catfish of various species and sizes; and fish feed extruder machines.


CBN: Rebuilding the Agricultural Pillars

AGRICULTURAL development is one of the five major strategic combination methodologies needed to create quantum leap growth and sustainable development in the Nigerian economy. Other methodologies are the application of ‘The Big Push’, Schumpetarian growth model, Endogenous growth model and Interventionist policies.

Briefly, ‘The Big Push’ ‘’suggests that countries need to jump from one stage of development to another through a virtuous cycle in which large investments in infrastructure and education coupled with private investments would move the economy to a more productive stage.” The Nigerian economy, by now, needed to have jumped from the factor-driven stage where it has been for 58 years to the efficiency-driven stage which is next in the concentric rings of economic development, but not so.
Gbolahan Folarin, Chief Agronomist at PS Nutrac measures the growth of a young yam plant on June 5, 2018, in Wasinmi, near Abeokuta.
PS Nutrac Int. Ltd is an agriculture venture in Nigeria that aims to lead the agriculture industry into the future through utilising new aeroponics technologies and growing methods to address efficiency in food production, security, research and development. / AFP PHOTO

The Schumpetarian growth model hinges on creative destruction, which is about innovation and technology. Innovation is crucial for economic development; economies which fail to innovate are noted to fall off the path of growth. Endogenous growth model argues that economic growth is generated from within a system as a direct result of internal processes and not external forces. There is a need to look inwards to maximize our potentials including our huge population.

Interventionist policies are needed at one point or the other to promote industrialisation and protect local industries until they had reached a level of development when they are able to compete in the global market. Major developed countries, including the USA, used interventionist economic policies at one point. In the 1970s, the USA used Import Substitution Industrialisation, ISI, as a means to promote national and regional development in the ‘’Buy American Campaign.” It is therefore commendable that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, evolved an interventionist policy by the exclusion of 41 items from the Interbank foreign exchange market to encourage local manufacturing and conserve foreign reserve.


US Bans Imported Nigerian Fish

America has placed an embargo on processed Nigerian fish as the commodity has been denied access to the United States of America’s market since February this year. The Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) disclosed this while speaking with newsmen.

National President of CAFFAN, Mr Oloye O. Rotimi, who revealed this shortly after the inauguration of the newly elected executive of the Abuja Chapter of the association said, “The problem with us is dual but the first is caused by our civil servants. There is a documentation they needed to go through the United States Department for Agriculture that was requested for three times, they refused to comply so America banned our processed fish. That has been since February. And you won’t believe that up till November, this problem is still there.

“A lot of the fish people had on the way to America were seized and destroyed. This is serious, I know a farmer who exported fish worth $55,000 and he lost it to this carelessness on the part of the civil servants.”

He said other people around Africa are taking advantage of Nigeria, adding that “they will come here, take our products, package it as the products of Ghana and Kenya and send it to this same America. I have been there and at least I have studied some of the African shops in America, the fish that comes from Nigeria is the best.”

Mr Oloye highlighted the challenges facing the aquaculture industry in Nigeria today to include access to finance, marketing, cost of inputs and lack of farmers’ adequate knowledge of the sub sector.

Also speaking, the newly elected chairman of the Abuja chapter of the association, Alhaji Mundu Mohammed, promised to put a structure in place that would enable fish farmers in the FCT reap good benefit from their investments.




Low Irrigation cause of set back in Nigeria’s Agriculture

According to the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, poor irrigation practice is one of the challenges facing agriculture production in Nigeria.

The Minister made this known during the Second National Borehole Masters Drillers’ Conference themed “Borehole Drilling: Its Social, Economic and Environmental Effect in our Fragile Environment.”

Ogbeh who lamented farmers’ negligence on irrigation, said the role of water in agriculture cannot be over emphasised.

‘‘One of the setbacks in Nigerian agriculture is that there is very little irrigation.”

‘‘Irrigation covers just about 2 per cent of our production, and yet the yields on irrigated agriculture are much higher than those of rain-fed soils.” He said

He commended the inputs of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in preserving dams for water conservation, stating that with water preservation, farming in dry season would be a lot easier.

Ogbeh revealed that FMARD was working with the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP) to drill more wells in order to increase access to water, which he believes would help reduce the clashes between farmers and herdsmen.

On his part,  Acting Executive Director, Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC), Mr. Peter Onoja,said that water was a natural resources and therefore needs proper management.

He urged the National Assembly to pass the approval of Water Use and Licence Regulations 2016 and the National Water Resources Policy and Strategy 2016 bill establishing the commission into law, so the commission would have some legal backings while carrying out its duties.