47% of farmers have no access to any kind of storage facilities – SBM Intel

Source: Nairametrics

SBM Intel, a geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm has revealed that 47% of farmers have zero access to any kind of storage facilities during harvest, which could rise up to as high as 60% for tubers, fruits and vegetables.

This was revealed in its report titled: “Nigerians just want to eat: Analysis of Farmers and Food Transporters challenges likely to impede National Food Security,” and seen by Nairametrics.

On post-harvest losses 

  • “Agricultural products are easily perishable while production remains seasonal, and demand for farm produce is present throughout the year,” SBM said.

They added that bridging the gap entails adequate storage for farm produce, however, farmers of these outputs may be unable to acquire their own storage facilities.

Citing that the absence of storage facilities forces Nigerian farmers to sell their harvest at low prices to middlemen who own warehouses.

  • “In our survey, almost half (47%) of the farmers interviewed had no access to any kind of storage facilities. The lack of storage facilities contributes to post-harvest losses which could get as high as 60% for tubers, fruits and vegetables.”

They added that lack of storage, however, is not the only factor contributing to losses, as some losses occur during harvests and “others occur while the commodities are in transit, during offloading (due to poor handling), and in varying degrees in the entire process from farm to fork.”

The report urged that for Nigeria to avert a food security catastrophe, state and federal governments need to prevent “even higher food prices across the country through various short and long term measures.”

They said:

  • “In the immediate, the government must fully reopen land borders and end the ban on using forex to import staple crops.
  • “After placing maize on the list of items no longer eligible for foreign exchange only on 14 July 2020, the President announced the release of 30,000 tons of maize from emergency reserves on 2 September, and also gave approval to four firms for the importation of 200,000 tons of maize. This could replicate itself for items like rice and cassava in the coming months, items which millions of Nigerians depend on for sustenance.
  • “For the longer term, wider adoption of irrigation, facilitating the provision of early maturing and drought-resistant crop varieties and a switch to climate-smart agriculture is the best way to guard against crop failure and poor yields.”

On changes farmers and transporters want

  • The government should fix access roads and provide adequate transportation that is cheap, effective and efficient.
  • An efficient rail system which will reduce the cost of transporting farm produce to the markets and improve food security.
  • Security remains paramount followed by access to land and irrigation infrastructure.
  • Financing and the availability of a sizeable storage where most of their farm products can be stored.

What you should know 

  • Founder and Chief Executive of Farmcrowdy Limited, Onyeka Akumah told Nairametrics that Nigeria loses N3.5 trillion to post-harvest loss every year due to the lack of proper storage facilities and the poor state of roads across the nation.
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that Nigeria has emerged as one of the countries to be most hit by a food crisis across the globe in the face of the coronavirus pandemic which had worsened the already bad situation.
  • The United Nations announced in 2020 that it will support Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the sum of $100 million to prevent possible famine, which it says is caused by insecurity, climate change, and poor economic environment.

Enugu Farmers Hail Ugwuanyi on Agriculture

Source: This Day

Farmers in Enugu State under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) have commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his administration’s giant strides in the agricultural sector especially in ensuring food security in the state in spite of the daunting challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The farmers expressed delight at the support and achievements of Ugwuanyi’s administration in the sector, such as “the provision of seed inputs, infrastructure and mechanization for over 11,000 farmers under the FADAMA III Additional Finance; provision of basic input empowerment to over 700 commercial farmers and cooperatives all over the State through the Commercial Agricultural Development Programme (CADP) and the complete profiling and listing of 1700 farmers and farmers’ cooperatives under the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livehood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS), soon to commence Pre-disbursement training,” stressing that they are unparallel and worthy of commendation.

Speaking when they paid a courtesy visit to State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Matthew Idu, to felicitate with Ugwuanyi on the New Year, the Chairman of AFAN, Enugu State Chapter, Mr. Romanus .A. Ezeh, also applauded the state government for “the provision of intervention fund in support of Agricultural Development in Rice and Cassava production in 5 Local Government Areas in Enugu State.

Investing in Nigeria Agro-Sector by SunTwist – The Super Hero

Source: The Nation

Over the years, the Nigerian agricultural sector has drastically evolved due to improved investments from private, public, and individual investors.

The big question is why? And the answer is not far fetched from the fact Nigerians have realized the need to recall the Nation’s agricultural heritage and its resulting economic potentials.

As an investor, the need to make profit is key and this has given wind to the rise of agro-business communities or groups in Nigeria where in individuals or corporate entities have an indirect medium of milking good profits from the agricultural boom by simply funding agro-businesses.

Interestingly, the Nigerian agro-sector houses a vast number of value chains and untapped potentials that can be leveraged on to ensure food security in the economy, which inadvertently makes you not just an entrepreneur but a Superhero in these times.

Some of the benefits of investing in the Nigerian agricultural sector:

  • Improved financial plan:As an agro-investor,you are rest assured that your investment is growing as the need for food is.
  • Job creation: With a consistent increase in the number of crops grown and sold locally and internationally, the rate of unemployment in Nigeria can be drastically reduced thereby improving the standard of living of Nigerians.
  • Food security:affordablefoodis made available foreveryNigerian.
  • Economic growth and development: The agricultural sector appreciate indefinitely and largely contributes to Nigeria’s gross domestic profit.

Investing in agriculture is indirectly investing in people since human capital has become the most important factor in the wealth of nations. – Mr. AkinkunmiAkinboade – CEO Suntwist Nigeria

Now that you’re getting familiar with the superpowers of an agro-investor, you are probably thinking of the right way to start your agro-investment journey?

Look no further! You’ve just found your ‘Farm-ily’.

Suntwist Nigeria is a registered company in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission. As an agricultural business, we provide viable agro-investment opportunities perked with attractive returns that ranges between 30% – 70% per annum through large scale crop and animal farming.

To join our team of super-heroes, kindly visit our website https://suntwist.com.ng/ or reach our customer service on 08102777209 to answer all your questions!

Don’t forget to stay safe, protect yourself and your future.

You are the real Super-Hero.

Investing in Rice Production, Processing Business

Source: This Day

The Federal Government plans to make Nigeria self- sufficient in rice production. That is highly commendable. From research it has been proven that Nigeria rice is the best rice in the world as the taste and quality is far better than the imported ones from other parts of the world.

In Nigeria today, some states produce paddy rice in abundance. Some of these states are Enugu, Anambra, Abia, Kebbi, Imo, Kwara, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, Cross River State and some Northern States such as Sokoto to mention but few.

Therefore with serious efforts not only by Government but private companies and individuals, the self-sufficient policy is achievable.

Rice is now a staple food in Nigeria. Every household both rich and poor consumes a great quantity of rice every day. The demand for rice is very high. The huge demand for rice is further accentuated by increasing and expanding urbanization, endless social parties where rice is the main menu, Nigerians eating habits (preference for foreign rice).The preference for foreign rice should be stopped.

Of the total projected population figure of 200million, over 70% feed on rice.

Because of the demand, many Nigerians have embarked on importation of rice.

This situation should not be allowed to continue forever. These importers must channel their huge resources to establishment of modern milling plants in Nigeria instead of fastening the growth of some foreign countries.

From publications made by the Bureau of Statistics and Federal Ministry of Finance the importation figures of rice amounted to about one (1) Trillion of Naira as the end of 2012. This figure increased to over two (2) trillion Naira in 2016 and about three (3) trillion in 2018. The figure has always on an increase. Rice importation has the greatest figure of over 60% of total import figures.

The Federal Government of Nigeria had total closure of the neighbouring borders and it became clear indication that large quantities of foreign rice come into the country through the neighbouring ports. It became clear that there was huge importation of rice through illegal means. During this period of total ban and closure of borders, it became imperative that Nigerians can actually produce enough rice to sustain itself. Nigerians had survived and are gradually adapted to eating of local rice. Famers were happier, local processors of rice came back to life and they all make more money with less competition with imported products. However, the prices of rice, the staple food in the country rose on top of the roof. A common man can no longer afford the commodity, both locally produced and imported. Currently a bag of imported rice is as high as between N28, 000 and N30, 000 for a bag of 50kg; while the locally made rice is between N18, 000 and N20, 000. Government must therefore have to sustain the tempo of not allowing massive importation of rice into the country, but have a relaxed but full control of rice imports. It is not advisable to impose a total ban on importation of rice without first assessing and establishing exactly what the country can afford to produce; ensure that the country can produce at least 70% of what is needed in this country. There must be full record of what we can produce internally with projection of what our farmers can produce at full capacity.

Generally, encouraging local production or manufacturing, Agricultural production and processing is one of the good things that can happen to this country because the policy will generate more employment opportunities and put more foods in our tables.

The Federal Government has also concluded arrangements to roll out a new policy that will ensure that loans are available at single digit interest rate to farmers with effect from this year.

Corporate organizations such as Coscharis Group have gone into production, processing and bagging of rice. More individuals are being encouraged by the Government to invest into this sector. Here we discussed on how you can invest into rice processing and packaging business.

Investors can invest in rice farming and rice processing or rice milling plant. Rice milling project will best be sited in these areas where rice is grown in order to reduce cost of transportation of the paddy. To set up this project, a minimum space of a plot of land is required to dry paddy rice after harvesting.

The components of machines required to set up this project are cleaning facilities, Dehuller, Boiling tank, Polisher, Bagger and other miscellaneous equipment such as wheel barrows, weighing scales.

These machines can be fabricated locally. They can also be imported from Europe and some known Asian companies that specialize in the area. Prospective investors would be given details on these machine produces and specialists.
Also project vehicles and generating sets are essential for smooth running of this project.

Rice milling could be done on cottage, small, medium and large scale bases depending on availability of capital and the raw materials- paddy rice. Output could be from 2MT to 150MT per day. Generally one metric tonne of paddy rice yields about 60kg- 70kg of milled rice, depending on milling efficiency company management practice and the variety of rice purchased.

In the process of milling well parboiled rice free from sand, stones, unpleasant ordour with fewer breakages, a whole rice, broken rice and bran are obtained. Whole rice are packed and sold for human consumption. Broken rice is further milled into ‘’Tuwo Shinkafa’’ (a flour meal) while bran is very important input for manufacturing dietary products like rice bran bread which has been acclaimed good for the decrease of blood cholesterol, rice bran oil and livestock feeds. From rice you can also be obtained puffed rice, rice cakes, rice pudding etc.

The husks are used for the production of potassium Hydroxide solution or as fuel for milling plants. It can be seen that virtually all parts of paddy rice is useful.

The likely cost of total project will not actually be stated safely unless one knows the scope (whether cottage, small, medium or large scale) a proposed investors would like to embark upon. However, the cost ranges from N550, 000 – N10.2million for cottage level to N57million for medium size plant and over N500million for large scale. Basic factors to consider in determining the initial cost includes the capacity to produce, the source(s) of the machinery, whether to construct his own building or rent one, the location etc.

Therefore to embark upon this project, one needs a business plan (feasibility studies), with detailed costing for all the aspects of inputs, and before one can obtain the likely total estimated cost.

In conclusion, rice milling; an agro-based business is very profitable (45-55% return on investment), and sustainable. It has low capital requirement, technical know-how is not complicated. The machinery and equipment can be sourced locally. The project has a short pay–back period.

It is highly recommended for serious and aggressive promoters, local and state Governments and private investors particularly those that are thinking good for this country.

Seeds council to pre-certify cassava planting materials

Source: The Guardian

The National Agricultural Seeds Council has been mandated to henceforth certify cassava planting materials before they are distributed for planting in the country.

Following the mandate, the council is to undertake inspection visits to farmers’ farms before such could be certified as input suppliers.
This was made known during the three-day training to onboard new Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs (CSEs) and Foundation Seed Producers (FSPs) in South East /South South states, organised by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, Abia State, under the Basics -1 Programme.

NRCRI Executive Director, Prof Ukpabi Joe Ukpabi, through his Director of Research Support Services, Dr Godwin Asumugha, charged trainees/participants comprising 6O village seed entrepreneurs, 27 foundation seed Producers and three certification officers from Abia, Imo and Akwa Ibom states to, during the training, learn how to produce certifiable cassava seeds.

Asumugha said that the training, ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System in Nigeria,’ which was effected in partnership with the IITA, was intended to teach the trainees different aspects of cassava stem/seed production.

He added that while the entrepreneurs/trainees would require their farms to be certified by the council which is the national body mandated to monitor and pre-certify seeds before they are sold in the market, they (the entrepreneurs), would also be required to key into the cassava seed tracker for proper identification. 

A trainee, Mrs Ijeoma Nwachukwu, who is also leader of Imo State Women Farmers Association, said the training had not only equipped participants with the necessary knowledge, but had the capacity to engender massive production of appropriate quality seeds from next year.  

Firms team up to deploy solar energy to poultry farm

Source: The Guardian

Rensource, a leading West African renewable energy services provider, has announced a solar project partnership with the Norwegian impact investment company, Empower New Energy, to deploy a 700 KWp solar photo-voltaic plant to one of Nigeria´s largest egg producers, Premium Poultry Farms.

The power plant will generate 1 gigawatt hour of clean energy yearly, save up to 25,000 tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime and contribute to Abuja’s fight against local air pollution.

This landmark project is one of the largest power purchase agreements for solar energy signed in the C&I sector in Nigeria and will represent the poultry industry’s largest single clean energy project. The power plant is expected to operate for at least 25 years, according to the power purchase agreement signed between the off-taker Premium Poultry and Empower.

“This solution … demonstrates our ability to meet the energy needs of a diverse array of industrial customers. We are honored to supply affordable clean energy to further grow Nigeria’s critically important agricultural sector, while cutting emissions,” said Ademola Adesina, founder and CEO of Rensource.

The poultry farm produces 600,000 eggs daily and has its own feed mill, making it about the country’s largest egg producer.

Kano agric project to spend $3.33 on 100,000 farmers

Source: Vanguard

Kano State Agro-Pastoral Development Project, KSADP, and the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, KNARDA, have launched collaboration for the implementation of agricultural interventions worth 3.23 million US dollars.

2.23 million US dollars is coming from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) while Kano State Government will release 1 million US dollars as counterpart contribution to the KNARDA for its value chain interventions.

This was made known by the Director-General Media and Publicity, Kano state government Mal Ameen Yassar while addressing newsmen on the activities not the Agro Pastoral Development Project.

“The interventions target 100, 000 smallholder legumes farmers across the 44 local government areas of the state, over five years, beginning from the 2020/2021 planting season.

“The focus of the interventions is on equipping smallholder farmers, extension agents, agro-processors and post-harvest handling service providers with knowledge and skills on improved production, post-harvest and agro-processing practices and technologies as well as creating effective input and output market linkages, towards increasing outcomes for beneficiaries” he stated.

He further explained that “this is in line with KSADP’S theory of change which is to transform the smallholder farming to commercially viable businesses by developing commodity value chains to reduce rural poverty, food insecurity and unemployment.

“Through the agreement, KSADP will finance KNARDA annually, upon submission of its annual work-plan and budget which will be cleared by the State Ministry of Agriculture, the KSADP, and approved by the Islamic Development Bank.”

The Deputy Governor of Kano state, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, who doubles as the chair, Project Steering Committee, KSADP, and the Managing Director of KNARDA, Alh. Ibrahim Sulaiman Dan’isle signed the Memorandum of Understanding.

“This MOU, coming a few weeks after we signed a similar one with SASAKAWA, is a major step in our drive to ensure agricultural productivity”, Dr Nasiru Gawuna maintained.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic and it attendant repercussion on food security, taking into consideration our huge population, this MOU could not come at a better time” he stated.

The Managing Director of KNARDA, Alh. Ibrahim Sulaiman Dan’Isle said the synergy between his agency and KSADP will go a long way in reducing poverty, ensuring food security and minimizing natural resource degradation.

How sub-Saharan Africa can rethink its approach to agriculture

Source: www.theconversation.com

You have argued that governments should use the post-COVID environment to think differently about agriculture. What should be done differently?

African governments should have a fresh look at agriculture. This involves embracing technology (information technology, mechanical and biotechnology) and also private sector partnerships. There also needs to be confidence in the citizenry to manage their land parcels. This will involve the granting of title deeds or tradable long-term leases in various African countries. And in the case of better seeds, the evidence from South Africa is there for many countries to observe and learn.

The economic recovery from the pandemic therefore presents an opportunity for governments to explore available technologies that could help in the registration of land rights. These include global positioning systems, mapping and blockchain technologies.

This will help solve disputes and also with the tradability of land rights. This process can be piloted on agricultural land. The proper recording and confirmation of land rights will encourage individual entrepreneurs to invest in their farmland and thereby trigger the commercialisation and growth of the agricultural sector.

There are also examples of technologies that various countries could use to document land. Examples include the use of drones in India, and aerial photography in Rwanda. This would help change the troubling statistic that roughly 90% of rural land in Africa is not formally documented.

How would you envisage overcoming the concern that ambitious rights formalisation and documentation strategies tend to extinguish secondary rights, often held by women?

The overall intention is to ensure formalisation of land rights, with the objective of attracting investments in the agricultural sector and unlocking its potential.

Africa has, indeed, a history of disadvantaging women on land matters. Any strategy for the formalisation of land rights will have to be well thought out and transparent. The aim should be to ensure that there isn’t bias towards men and politically connected individuals as has been observed in land reform cases in South Africa.

Are you perhaps placing too much faith in technology?

To date, South Africa is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that has embraced biotechnology. This is primarily because it’s the only country in the region that has adopted the use of genetically engineered cotton, maize and soybean seeds. Other countries that have done so include the US, Brazil and Argentina. In these countries, the use of the genetically engineered seeds has seen lower insecticide use, more environmentally friendly tillage practices and improvements in crop yields.

How productive is sub-Saharan African agriculture relative to other regions of the world? What can be done to improve yields?

There is compelling evidence of the increase in yields within the sub-Saharan Africa region. Consider South Africa. It produces about 16% of sub-Saharan Africa maize, according to the International Grains Council. But it uses a relatively small area of land – an average of 2.5 million hectares since 2010. In contrast, countries such as Nigeria planted 6.5 million hectares in the same production season but only harvested 11 million tonnes of maize. Nigeria’s output equates to 15% of the sub-Saharan region’s maize production.

South Africa began planting genetically engineered maize seeds in the 2001/02 season. Before its introduction, average maize yields were around 2.4 tonnes per hectare. That has now increased to an average of 5.9 tonnes per hectare as of the 2019/20 production season.

Meanwhile, the sub-Saharan Africa region’s maize yields remain negligible, averaging below 2.0 tonnes per hectare.

While yields are also influenced by improved germplasm (enabled by non-GM biotechnology) and improved low- and no-till production methods (facilitated through herbicide tolerant GM technology), other benefits include labour savings, reduced insecticide use, and improved weed and pest control. These labour-saving benefits, also for small-scale livelihood farmers, were also observed in a research study in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa.

Other countries like Kenya and Nigeria are increasingly field-testing genetically engineered crops. They should accelerate the process, and when it meets their scientific standards, should embark on commercialisation as part of the recovery from the economic slump caused by the pandemic.

Each country will have its domestic regulatory process which safeguards consumers and farmers. But these need not be too prohibitive to the extent that they disadvantage farmers. A case in point is Zimbabwe, where the importation of genetically engineered maize has recently been permitted but planting by domestic farmers is prohibited.

But high yield – that is the amount produced per unit area – typically means high input costs, which is one reason why small-scale farmers’ uptake of these technologies is limited. Also, won’t the emergence of larger and more commercially oriented and technologically capable African farmers result in agriculture absorbing less and less labour?

Africa’s smallholder farmers will generally struggle to access some technologies because of the associated costs. But if the goal is to ensure that the African continent can compete globally with the likes of the US, Brazil and Argentina, among others, then the focus should be on commercialisation of farmers and encourage the economies of scale on the continent. There have to be trade-offs. These include job losses in certain subsectors such as grains as farmers would be adopting more technologies.

But there are potential gains in other subsectors such as horticulture. If supported and developed to scale, these could create large numbers of jobs. Again, a case in point is South Africa, where there were job losses in field crops but horticulture created many jobs.

The key is to ensure job mobility so that people can progressively move to higher paying jobs in agro-processing and other subsectors.

In sum, this is not to mean we should move away from smallholder farming per se. We need a mixed farming system. Where conditions allow, commercialisation at large scale should be encouraged. This is precisely the case in Brazil, where there is a mixed farming system.

Give priority to agriculture, minister advises Nigerians

Source: The Guardian

Mr Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says there is the need for Nigerians to accord agriculture its prime position a good replacement for the dwindling crude oil.

Nanono gave the advice on Owerri at a one-day workshop organised for maize growers and processors by the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPMAN).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme, with theme: “Post-Harvest Management of Maize Stakeholders Conference- under the CBN Maize Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP)” , had many farmers, especially maize growers in attendance.

The minister, who was represented by Mr Chris Iwuchukwu, the State Director in the ministry, said that crude oil was failing the country and a reason why agriculture should be given more priority in the nation’s affairs.

He said the ministry was making efforts to see that farmers were encouraged and that maize would become “self sustaining and available for export”.

“Crude oil is failing the country, so we need to give agriculture its prime place in the country. Since 2011 till date the Federal Government has been doing its necessary best to boost agriculture.

“There is need to make agriculture have a face by making the rural community comfortable for the youth to farm.

“There is need for the South East and South South to begin to export maize. There is need for the farmers to manage the crop well in order not to suffer losses,” he said.

Dr Edwin Uche, the National President of the association, urged the people to embrace agriculture, especially the cultivation of maize to ensure food security.

“We need to embrace agriculture as a people. We need to strengthen its value chain in our communities, environment and society.

“We need to accept the fact that technology in agriculture has come to stay and that agriculture is the sector that can boost our economy and make life more meaningful to the people,” he said.

Uche said the workshop addressed issues that bordered on agriculture not only in Nigeria, but across nations.

“It opened our eyes to the realities in maize cultivation and broadened our hearts to it as a commodity we must all grow and support.

“The farmers must not look at the challenges and gabs, but on the opportunities that exist in the cultivation of maize,” Uche said.

Mr Ikongbe Iya, a Deputy Manager, Development Finance Office of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Owerri, who represented the Maize Champion Development Finance Department, CBN, said Nigerian population was increasing day by day with a lot of concern on natural resources and the environment.

He said there was need for sustainable agriculture, hence the workshop, to build maize growers capacity to reduce losses on agricultural products and not necessarily maize.

“There is need to develop low cost technology to grow the agricultural products. The machines for today’s demonstration was locally produced,” he said.

Iya said that the Anchor Borrowers Scheme was necessitated by the need to curtail importation of goods from outside the country, adding that it was also to supply agricultural raw materials to farmers and companies.

“The workshop is also to address some issues bothering farmers in the southern part of Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Olisa Mokelu, Branch Manager, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Ebonyi State, said that agriculture engendered employment and development and urged people to embrace it.

He said that the company had been re-positioned to serve the people better and deliver the benefits of insurance.

Mokelu said the company was also working directly with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and CBN to serve the people better.

Mrs Blessing Amenze of the state Ministry of Agriculture, who represented the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said people should embark on agriculture for growth and sustainability as “oil has failed.”

She pledged the continued support of the ministry to farmers in the state to succeed.

Dr Godwin Chukwu of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia in a paper on “Enhancing Post Harvest Management of Maize in Southern Nigeria” described agriculture as a major player in the socio-economic development of southern Nigeria.

He described maize as the most important cereal crop widely grown in southern Nigeria.

Chukwu said that although major part of the region had been categorised low in maize production potential, however, effective utilisation of available opportunities could scale up maize production in the region.

Some of the participants commended the association for putting up the programme, which they said, had added a lot to their knowledge of maize cultivation and preservation.

They promised to extend what they learnt to their colleagues.

A participant, Mr George Okeke, the Chief Agroforestry Officer, Imo State Agric Development Programme, Owerri, an extension of the state ministry of agriculture, described the programme as laudable.

He harped on the need to make farming easier for farmers by ensuring that fertilisers, other farming inputs and funds were made available to farmers on time.

Mrs Mary Okoro from Okwuabala in Orlu, Imo, said she had applied for her own Anchors Borrowers’ fund to start farming and was happy for the programme.

NAN reports that the highlight of the programme was the demonstration of a way of removing corn from the cob using locally produced machine.

NASENI Transforming Agriculture And Power Sector

Source: leadership.ng

Globally power and agriculture have remained twin sisters in the development and sustainability of economic growth in both developed and developing countries. No nation of the world can boast of economic viability without investing heavily on these two sectors, especially in this 21st century where modern technology has made investment in economic activities very easy.

In developing countries like Nigeria, the survival of about 60-70 per cent of the total population is hinged on agriculture and their productivity can be enriched with steady supply of electricity in these communities.

The economic potential of Nigeria’s agriculture sector is second largest after oil and gas with an estimated 60 per cent of Nigerians employed in the rural areas. Economic activity in the sector although consist mainly primary production with limited value added through processing and agribusiness, it contributes to employment, food production, foreign exchange earnings, industrial inputs and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Therefore, there is need for the deployment of innovative technologies in all aspects of these two sectors in order to sustain their transformation and by extension the rural areas where the farmers live in line with the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.

Like in many developed countries of the world, the infusion of scientific knowledge and technologies to agricultural practice, process and business automatically endowed such economies with remarkable transformation from simple agrarian societies to high-tech mechanized farming including employment of best practices for product re-engineering and other techniques to achieve increased yields and other general improvement of economic activity in the sector. The new technologies beside increases in agricultural productivity require scientific and technological skills as a system for technology extension and other services for farmers, and commercial orientation in farm management.

But the question is, are there modern scientific and technological agricultural tools in the country to make agribusiness more attractive? Do farmers get enough incentives from the government to boost their efforts in ensuring that there is no shortage of farm produce in the country? Do they have enough water for the irrigation of their farms? Are there small dams to support their farming activities and at the same time electricity to power the dams? These are just few questions among many that need answers.

In many parts of Asia like Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Japan, etc. small farmers have shown remarkable capacities to use new technology once they are given incentives, adequate financial and infrastructural support. Also, small cash-crop farmers in Africa like Kenya, Uganda have demonstrated the potential of farmers within the continent to use technologies and in the last few years successes have been recorded in food crops also. But ecologically disadvantaged areas and land-poor rural masses in African countries like Nigeria have not benefited from advances in technology and will not until there are deliberate efforts to distribute such technology resource, machines and infrastructure among other incentives. In an increasingly globalized world, therefore the ability of African farmers to find pathways out of poverty and to contribute actively to the growth process depends on improving infrastructure and education, distributing key technologies and inputs, and promoting producer and marketing organizations that link small farmers to new market chains.

Nigeria is blessed with a wide variety of agricultural potentials, ranging from varieties of crops to varieties of animals, plants and natural agricultural-supportive factors like forests, waters,  soil and most of all human resources that are being under-used. Findings indicate that, in many African countries, only agriculture has sufficient scale to increase economic growth significantly over the foreseeable future.

Agricultural growth is also more effective at reducing poverty, even in countries that may have the potential for industrial growth driven by rich natural resources. Within the agricultural sector, there are a few countries that can generate broad-based growth without expanding the food-staple and livestock subsectors.

It is also a fact that Nigeria with vast arable land, favourable weather condition and population advantage has all it takes to feed its population. Economic analysts also believe that with the right policies in place, the revenue stream from agriculture can effectively surpass earnings from oil. However, the general consensus among the economic players is that such economic transformation can only occur when Nigerian farmers move from being mere agents of food production to being businessmen and women who enjoy the fruits of their labour.

What government is doing in agriculture and power sectors at present.

The present government came with a lot of promises to revitalize the agricultural sector of our economy which had once fed this nation and nations far and wide with her cocoa, groundnut, palm oil (not crude oil), rubber, hides and skins etc.  A vision for agriculture is expressed in the National Economic, Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) document, which was adopted in 2004. The strategic objective of NEEDS is to move the economy away from oil and to foster private sector development with community participation. NEEDS recognizes the importance of agriculture in the Nigerian economy, despite the projected dominant role of oil as the chief export. Poverty reduction in Nigeria is critically dependent on agriculture, given the share of the labour force producing rural goods, prospects for food security and the supply of industrial raw materials. Accordingly, the government is committed to increasing investment in food and agricultural production with 3 per cent of the national budget going to agriculture and a growth target of 6 per cent for the sector.

To restore agriculture to its former status as a leading sector in the economy, NEEDS envisages an increase in agricultural exports to $3 billion by 2007 and reduction in food imports from 14.5 per cent of total imports to 5 per cent by 2007. The Federal Government is at present doing a lot in the transformation of both power and agricultural sectors knowing very well that the economic sustainability of the nation depends largely on them.