Roepke: There are Significant Opportunities for Soybean Market in Nigeria

Source: This Day

As the Regional Director of Sub-Saharan Africa for the U.S. Soybean Export Council, Kevin Roepke is chiefly responsible for the strategy and implementation of market and trade development for the organisation within the region. In this interview with Oluchi Chibuzor he speaks about the work of the council as well as efforts to strengthen relationship with Nigeria. Excerpts:

What effect will the AfCTA agreement have on the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s operations within Sub-Saharan Africa?

First, for our industries to be successful and stable, free and reciprocal trade is needed. Second, Nigeria is already one of the largest wheat importers and a rapidly growing poultry importer. The U.S. Soy industry can leverage these commercial relationships to model a robust soy supply chain.

Conversely, Nigeria is plagued with low purchasing power, low life expectancy (55 years) and a critical lack of infrastructure.

USSEC’s strategy is to create long-term relationships in the region that will enable the U.S. and partners to seize opportunities and be successful. One of the ways we plan on doing so is by establishing a SoyExcellence Centre in Nigeria. This will be the technical and policy pillar to advance the region’s soy supply chain. Currently, there is a Soy Excellence Centre in Egypt. There are significant opportunities to drive growth in Nigeria. At the end of the day, our strategy at USSEC is to create long-term and lasting relationships so that we all can benefit. And as we move ahead into 2021 and beyond, our goal in the U.S. is to continue to make our partnership even stronger and remain a consistent supplier to your industry and your customers.

How does USSEC intend to strengthen its trade relationship with African countries amidst the Covid19 pandemic; also, considering the forecast of a second COVID-19 wave, would there be expectations of increase in demand of soybeans or a reduction?

As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever that we demonstrate to current and potential international customers the strength of our farmers and benefits of buying U.S. Soy. Homeland Security deemed agriculture as ‘critical infrastructure’ amid the COVID-19pandemic, and our farmers take their jobs to globally provide food, feed, fuel and fibre, very seriously. Agriculture and farmers have weathered some of the world’s most difficult seasons and obstacles but survived and overcame. The last few years have been some of the most challenging on record, but farmers maintain their commitment to doing everything they can to provide soy for food, fibre, fuel and other products. The same applies for COVID-19, but we’re resilient and moving forward.

Soybean farmers intend to serve as an example to others. By continuing their work safely, sustainably and effectively, soybean farmers will be an example to others of how to stick to doing what they do best, even in the most trying times. Looking ahead, we are optimistic for what’s on the horizon. While our soybean farmers are doing their job of providing a sustainable and high-quality product, U.S. Soy is working tirelessly to provide stability by building demand and expanding global market access for U.S. soybean products. Amidst the pandemic, USSEC will continue to connect global customers near and far. Having virtual meetings like the African Trade Exchange is a part of our plans to connect and highlight how the U.S. is a consistent trade partner with cutting-edge sustainability initiatives, and defined quality advantages.

With virtual formats, we can continue to provide our African partners to quality content, interactive sessions and valuable experiences. While in-person meetings and face-to-face conversations will always serve an important purpose, our increased use of technology and virtual events have allowed us to build and grow relationships.

How can technology and innovation drive the soybean value chain in Nigeria and how is USSEC supporting the soy value chain in Nigeria?

At the U.S. Soybean Export Council, our global team is laser-focused both on existing relationships abroad and investing in new ones to evolve emerging markets, identifying factors like growing populations, improving economic conditions and addressing protein deficiency among populations. In addition, this farmer-led organisation works every day to ensure continued market access for U.S. soy in various markets around the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria are part of USSEC’s long-term strategy to build a strong pipeline of demand for U.S. Soy. The population of this region exceeds one billion people, with predictions to double by 2050, making it one of the most substantial frontier markets in the entire world. At USSEC, we believe this region holds tremendous potential. It is a great example of where we see a future for U.S. Soy. For Example, because of its growing population and low consumption of soy, Nigeria has been identified as a market that represents a growth opportunity for U.S. soy. Encouraging soybean and soybean related product consumption. Our partnership can turn the country into one of U.S. soy’s top three growth markets by2030. Right now, Nigeria’s population is projected to reach 264 million people by the year 2030. In 2016, Nigerian consumption of soy and soy-related products was one kg/person per year compared to an average of 55 kg/person per year in similar markets. Nigerian agriculture is also primarily rain-fed and characterised by low productivity, low technology and high labour intensity. However, the poultry and aquaculture sectors in Nigeria are projected to grow on average by 50 percent per year between 2015 –2020, while soybean production growth will average less than three percent per annum. In short, this means the country’s soybean supply shortfall will continue to widen. Nigeria will increasingly continue to depend on imports to satisfy this growing demand. While accurate data is still difficult to get, Nigeria produces around 600,000 metric tons (MT) of soybeans each year, and another 400,000 MT or so come across the border from neighbouring Benin. Depending on credit availability and many other factors, USSEC estimates that Nigeria could become a 2to 4 million metric ton (MMT) market for U.S. Soy in the medium to long-term. At this time, the country crushes about 1 MMT/year. We also estimate an almost immediate need for 50 to 100,000 MT to fill the current demand gap. In MY 2018/19, U.S. soybean meal sales to Nigeria’s poultry sector were between 31,000 and 50,000 MT. One such shipment of whole soybeans, initiated in August 2018, was valued at$15.461 million. Raw material insecurity is also causing poultry producers and crush facilities to approach additional growth to address future demand with caution. These numbers show how the need for a high-quality protein product in Nigeria, like U.S. Soy, will be vital as this region’s population continues to grow. Our soybean farmers are prepared to meet this need and demonstrate to Nigeria how U.S. Soy delivers proven, consistent quality, reliability and value to earn its role as a trusted partner around the globe. There are significant opportunities for U.S. Soy and Nigeria to collaborate and drive growth. One example is Soy Excellence Centres. With Soy Excellence Centres, we will be able to leverage relationships, conduct training and connect buyers and sellers.

Soy Excellence Centres (SECs) will play an important part in U.S. Soy’s efforts to expand markets: One of the ways we are working to build demand for U.S. Soy is through SECs. The U.S. Soy industry is working to establish these centres throughout Sub-Saharan Africa starting with one in Egypt and a future site planned for Nigeria. The goal of SECs is to have them become a one-stop shop for industry training. These centres are designed to provide training, resources and education to all members of the soy value chain. They will target farmers, animal protein integrators, feed millers, animal nutritionists and local academic resources. This includes demonstration equipment used to show the production of soy. We will be able to expose participants to all the available options in the production of high-quality soymeal and soy.

These Centres will build help awareness of the benefits of soy in animal feed, aquaculture and human consumption through teaching and highlighting best practices: There will be an emphasis on providing opportunities for stakeholders to directly experience these practices in a real-world setting that is relevant to the local market and at a commercial scale. SECs will also build and facilitate business relationships and links between local and international businesses. These Centres will not only educate and train but they will also build and facilitate relationships while also supporting the soybean value chain in Nigeria.

How is USSEC giving back to societies in which it operates?

Our work to build preference for U.S. soy is more important than ever. Soy production is growing worldwide, and we continue to work across borders, industries and disciplines to find and develop markets for U.S. soy products. The U.S. Soy industry is proud to offer reliable supply, cost-effective commodities, complete nutrition and sustainably produced soy.

Sub-Saharan Africa is currently the sixth largest destination of U.S. feed and grain exports, with Nigeria Being the largest destination within the region. According to the USDA, soybean and soybean meal feed use in the region are projected to increase by 59 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, until 2029. These numbers represent an opportunity for boosted demand in the U.S. Soy. The need for a high-quality protein product like U.S. soybean meal will grow even more vital as this region’s population continues to grow. Our farmers are prepared to meet this need and show how U.S. Soy delivers proven, consistent quality, reliability and value to earn its role as a trusted partner around the globe. Earlier this year, a new comprehensive study reinforced U.S. Soy’s reputation as a global leader in nutrient density and economic value. A meta-analysis of eighteen different studies with 1,944 samples quantified the relationship between country of origin of the bean and the chemical composition and nutritive value of the soybean meal. The analysis proves that U.S. soybean meal not only has an advantage relative to higher sucrose levels, superior amino acid profile, higher digestibility, increased metabolisable energy and lower fibre content (when compared to other origins) but it also has a price advantage. All of which can be beneficial to the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

What sort of policies and regulations would be essential for African governments to implement in order to drive rapid development of their agricultural value chains?

Lack of credit and under-utilisation of GSM credit guarantees have been long-standing constraints on sales of U.S. soy products to Africa. As part of its initiative to develop the multimillion-ton market for U.S.Soy in Africa, USSEC brought together key stakeholders this past September to address the credit issues head-on. On September 30, Nigerian banks, leading Nigerian supply chain executives, and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) administrators came together with U.S. soy industry representatives from USSEC and the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) during a virtual roundtable to discuss barriers to the use of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) credit guarantee programmes in Nigeria and other emerging African markets. USDA export credit guarantee programmes can help make commercial financing available for imports of U.S. Soy and other food and agricultural products on deferred payment terms.

Smallholder farmers are crucial to food security – NEPAD boss

Source: Nairametrics

According to a news report by NAN, the National Coordinator of NEPAD said the forum is concerned with accelerating food security in Nigeria and cushioning the effect of COVID-19 towards building long-term resilience for sustainable economic growth and development.

According to her, government needs to take more proactive steps to improve nutrition and food supply. She, therefore, called on the Federal Government to effectively address the issue of hunger and food insecurity by actively involving smallholder farmers across the country.

She explained that this would not only help in winning the war against hunger and the widespread food insecurity in the country, but would go a long way to boost food production and strengthen economic resilience, in a bid to stimulate and enhance sustainable economic growth and development.

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In this vein, Akobundu added that if the various intervention programmes were implemented, new jobs would be created, poverty reduced, while more youths would be engaged more positively.

What they are saying

The National Coordinator, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Ms Gloria Akobundu, said:

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  • “This forum is to support the ruggedness of President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 and stamping out hunger in Nigeria through various intervention programmes. I believe that the high level of commitment shown by the governors of the participating states is due to the realisation that agriculture plays an important role in the economic development of any nation. However, a fundamental requirement for achieving food security is the availability of land, We also figure that a massive investment into the agriculture sector will promote industrialization.”

The Lead Consultant of the various intervention programmes, MrHenry Semenitari, said:

  • “We shall remain ready for your demands and needs. Everyone has a role in the value chain and no one will be at a loss. The programme will start at the bottom of the pyramid. NEPAD is ready. African Union Development Agency is ready. The governors and states are also ready. We are going to use modules and techniques, including local languages, to achieve maximum results.”

Lagos APPEALS set rules for farmers’ financial contracts

Source: Vanguard

Lagos State Agro-Processing Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support, APPEALS, has revealed that it will ensure that farmers do not get into financial contracts that they will not be committed to.

The State Project Coordinator, APPEALS, Mrs Oluranti Sageo-Oviebo, disclosed this at the graduation of the first batch of 50 beneficiaries under the aquaculture, poultry and rice value chains training on accessing second level financing.

She said that the need for second-level financing for farmers, the agriculture funds via the Central Bank of Nigeria at single digits, was pertinent as the grant available under the APPEALS project now would not be able to finance large scale farmers.

APPEALS is a World Bank, Federal Government and Lagos State tripartite partnership for small scale farmers.

The training conducted in partnership with the Africa Leadership Forum, ALF, had the theme: “Entrepreneurship Accessing Single Digit CBN Agro-Credit and Export Readiness”.

According to Sageo-Oviebo, beneficiaries under the Commercial Agriculture Development Project ,CADP, who have done very well need to be trained on accessing more funds.

“We have five batches, 50 persons per batch, totaling 250 beneficiaries by the end of December. The criteria for selecting the trainees was farmers who benefited under the CADP and are doing very well, and also some women and youth who benefited and are doing very well.

“We will be facilitating and ensuring that farmers do not get into financial contracts that they will not be committed to. We will not leave them on their own; we are ready to support them all the way through.

“The truth is, we cannot support everybody with grant under this project, so for those we feel we cannot support based on the scale of their farms and all of that, we decided to bring them out and asked them to attend this training.

“Then we looked at farmers who had potential for export market because it is not everybody that can get into the international market; so, that was another criteria we looked at,” she said. According to her, after the training, the project will work closely with the Enterpreneurship Development Institute (EDI) and the Export Promotion Council on certification and export opportunities. She said:

“We will not stop there, for export we know that certification is key and that is part of what this project is looking at.

“We are looking at clusters and possible ways of satisfying them as a project, and we are not working in isolation; we are doing alliance, like farmers with processors and then the market.

“This is where we are partnering with EDI, Export Promotion, NAFDAC and other regulatory agencies.”

Dr. Olajide Bashorun, the Chairman of Rhyss Farms Limited and a former Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture said that export was important to earn foreign exchange.

Bashorun said that the training was apt as Nigeria needed to expand market by exploring international market. “

The training is timely and the entire intervention of the project to improve productivity for expanded market and export is a very important opportunity.

“Most of us have not explored the export market, so this training is timely. One laudable thing is that the project brought people who are knowledgeable and are into export business themselves.

“What we produce in Nigeria are needed overseas; looking at Nigerians in the diaspora, most of them crave Nigerian foods like catfish.

“Now, how do we take it overseas, while meeting the safety conditions, the processes of preservation, handling and packaging.

“That is what the training is all about to improve farmers’ capacity to get technical know-how, and in the long run, earn foreign exchange to develop the economy,” he said.

Also commenting on the importance of seizing export opportunities and improving farmers Livelihood, Mr Kolawole Awe, Managing Director, SPT Logistics Nigeria Limited, said that farmers needed to collaborate to be able to penetrate the international market.

Awe said a lot needed to be done in the area of exporting homegrown foods and Nigerians in diaspora had a lot to do to complete the production and export chain.

Also speaking at the event, Executive Director, ALF, Dr Olumide Ajayi, said that donor projects such as the APPEALS needed to be sustained.

He said the sustainability of the APPEALS project after the external interventions is important, “Once the donors withdraw their assistance, the enterprises who benefitted just go down.

“So, what we are doing is collaborating with the APPEALS to offer this finance known as the second level finance to ensure sustainability after the World Bank withdraws.

“So, we will train them and give them all the requisite knowledge they need beyond what the project has done for them to enable them access funding and create more jobs,” he said.

“We have done a lot in the area of capacity building in governance and enterprise development.

“We have been working with the CBN since 2008, we were made the enterprise development firm for South-West in 2013.

“It has been a continuous process with them, and under this new dispensation where they have to set up a bank for the intervention funds, the ALF has been accredited as the EDI to train and assist small business owners to be able to understand how to manage a business before giving them the loan.”

Operators Urge FG to Incentivise Farmers to Boost Food Production

Source: This Day

Stakeholders in the nation’s agricultural value chain have advised the federal government to offer incentives such as mechanised equipment, acquisition and clearing of farmland for farmers to ease production.

The experts who spoke at the 8th Annual Brand Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (BJAN) Brands & Marketing Conference, held recently in Lagos, recently, also cautioned government against frequent policy somersault like the plan to reopen Nigeria’s borders, which they argued would be detrimental to local farmers.

President, Rice Millers Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria, Dr Tunji Owoeye, who commended the effort being made by current administration to further deepen investment in the agricultural sector, said it would be suicidal for government to reopen the borders without adequate protection for local farmers.

According to him, the gains of the past few months could be eroded by smugglers who would flood the market with imported rice, chicken and other food items.

The Deputy Chairman of Lagos State All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sakin Agbeyewa, who represented the association’s chairman, Femi Oke, stressed that Nigeria’s agricultural sector needs a lot of subsidy, not just in form of cash to farmers but through the provision of a conducive atmosphere.

He said: “The subsidy we are calling for is not in form of cash to our members. The subsidy we want is ready- to- plant lands. By clearing bush for our members, by helping us interface with all types of land owners who gather to disturb during planting and harvesting period.

“In the northern part, farmers are being prevented from going to farms to harvest their crops by terrorists that are forcing them to heavy dues for them to access their farms products, subsidy is also in form of provision of bulldozers for land, swamp-dozers for swampy areas, provision of food preservers for perishable products,”

Presenting a paper at the conference, President, Organisation for the Advancement of Cold Chain in West Africa, (OTACCWA), Tunde Okoya, dwelt extensively on developing a blueprint for a national cold chain in Nigeria, pointing out that it remained the only key strategy to consolidate the expansion and growth of agriculture in the country.

“According to FAO, post-harvest loss of many agric product in Nigeria could be as high as 50 per cent so invariably, a lot of production by our farmer goes into waste along the value chain and that cannot be a very productive way for any country.

So, the result of this is poor earnings for the farmers, poor nutrition for the children, and poor hygiene for the country. Nigeria is ranked 98 out of 107 countries in the global hunger index majorly because of this.

“The problem is that, even though we are producing a lot, a large percentage of the production is going into waste. With an effective cold chain policy, Agriculture in Nigeria will soar to greater heights”, Okoya stated.

Also speaking at the event, the Senior Special Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture on Communication, Mr. Richard Mark Mbaram, called on Journalists to hold government accountable to the citizenry, especially on issues related to government intervention in the Agricultural sector.

The minister’s aide made reference to the Anchor Borrower Programme introduced by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which he described as one of the issues which journalists should bring their interrogative minds to bear. Meanwhile, in a communiqué issued after the conference the organisers recommended that in joining Africa’s free trade agreement (AfCFTA), the Nigerian government should put in place policies that will fully protect local farmers.

Government was also urged to effectively check banditry, kidnapping and killings especially in food producing areas to ensure that food insecurity does become worse in the coming years.

The communiqué reads; “the government at the Centre as well as those in the states, especially the South-West, should promote economic integration by providing infrastructure to support rice and other farmers to ensure that production cost is reduced to a manageable level.

“A policy that will deepen insurance in the agricultural sector should be put in place as many insurance companies in Nigeria deliberately avoid providing insurance coverage for farmers.

“Governments at all levels should ensure that farmers are not excluded from budgetary planning as this negatively affected the quality of budget and planning for agriculture in the last few years.”

US Soybean Export Council to Establish Excellence Centres in Nigeria

Source: This Day

The United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) and the US Grains Council (USGC) have jointly expressed their dedication towards supporting and enhancing the development and growth of the African feed industry as well as long term commercial trade development.

They said their commitment was on the back of the realisation that African feed industry is generating solutions to enhance the continent’s soybean value chain.

In addition, they disclosed plan to establish Soy Excellence Centres (SECs) starting with one in Egypt and that the site planned for Nigeria was already in the works.

They also said they plan to invest in emerging markets; identify factors like growing populations, improving economic conditions to address protein deficiency among populations.

Regional Director for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, US Soybean Export Council, Kevin Roekpe, during an interview with journalists disclosed that the centres were designed to provide training, resources and education to all members of the soy value chain, including farmers, animal protein integrators, feed millers, animal nutritionists and local academic resources.

According to USSEC, depending on credit availability and many other factors, Nigeria could become a two to four million metric ton (MMT) market for US Soy in the medium to long-term.

The Regional Director indicated that currently, the country crushes about one million metric tons yearly.

He also estimated an immediate need for 50 to 100,000 MT to fill the current demand gap within the country, adding that because of its growing population and low consumption of soy, Nigeria has been identified as a market that represents a growth opportunity for US soy and that the country could emerge as one of the top three growth markets by 2030.

Roekpe, whilst answering a question concerning the sort of policies and regulations that could be generated and enforced by African governments in order to upscale the continent’s agriculture value chain, said lack of credit and under-utilisation of GSM credit guarantees had been long-standing constraints on sales of U.S. soy products to Africa.

As part of its initiative to develop the multimillion-ton market for U.S. Soy in Africa, USSECbrought together key stakeholders this past September to address the credit issue head-on.

Hence, helping build awareness of the benefits of soy in animal feed, aquaculture and human consumption through teaching and highlighting best practices which includes demonstration equipment used to show the production of soy, thereby enabling the organisations to expose participants to all the available options in the production of high-quality soymeal and soy.

MAIZE, SOYA BEAN AND THE POULTRY INDUSTRY

Source: This Day

As federal government plans to employ 774,000 artisans and unskilled workers across the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria for three months, about five million (5,000,000) poultry jobs are already on the line, if reports in the media are anything to go by. In the last seven months, 2,000,000 poultry jobs have reportedly been lost due to acute scarcity of maize and soya beans, resulting in prohibitive cost of animal feeds.

Confirmed media reports indicate that the price of soya beans, which is a constituent of poultry feeds, has increased by 87 per cent. In comparison with the same period in 2019, the price of maize has risen by 82 per cent. Poultry feeds have increased by nearly 100 per cent. There are also unconscionable capitalist grain merchants and saboteurs who are alleged to be hoarding the small available products and intent on giving the Buhari administration a bad name.

Agriculture contributes 21 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. Poultry industry is said to be worth N10 trillion, sharing 25 percent of the contribution of agriculture to the economy. Poultry employs over 20 million Nigerians directly and indirectly through its wide value chain, from field to fork.

Earlier in July, the media was awash with the report that the Central Bank of Nigeria had through a memo directed all authorized maize dealers “to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of maize/corn with immediate effect,” as part of the effort “to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase job, which were lost as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

But the decision, according to industry players, led to excessive rise in the price of maize, which reportedly led to thousands of small and medium-sized poultry farmers with millions of their direct and indirect employees out of business. Due to outcry, the CBN relaxed the policy once by allowing importation of 262,000 tons of maize in addition to the 5,000 tons released by the federal government on the orders of President Buhari. The single window by the apex bank was described as a drop in the ocean.

A report quoted Mrs Blessing Alawode, chairman, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, as calling for immediate ban on the export of processed soya beans and intervention to end the acute shortage of maize with its exorbitant price, occasioned by poor harvest and insecurity in parts of the country, where the product is largely produced.

With the current astronomical prices of soya beans and maize, more poultry farmers with thousands of their workers across the country may soon be out of business as majority of Nigerians cannot afford the inevitable but exorbitant cost of poultry products.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, the Ogun State chapter of Poultry Association of Nigeria stands by President Buhari and is on the same page with the CBN on the need for self-sufficiency in food production in Nigeria. We want the federal government to assist the local maize growers with high-yielding seeds and fertilizer in order to increase their quantum of harvest per hectare, so that in the next seven to 10 years, the huge gap between demand and supply of maize and soya beans can be filled. But the citizens have to survive and have food to eat before we reach the desired destination. Our appeal to CBN stems from the prohibitive costs of maize and soya beans. Poultry feeds have increased by nearly 100 per cent. The price of soya beans has increased by 90 per cent, while maize in comparison with the same period in 2019 has increased by 80 per cent. Poultry farms cannot survive the current situation. Therefore, importation of maize and soya beans, in the short term, is the most pragmatic way to obviate further rising prices of the products and ameliorate the hardships of the citizens. We appeal to the government to ban the export of processed soya beans and soya bean meal, and check the profiteering activities of grain merchants,” concluded the statement.

Following the CBN announcement of ban on maize import in July, the Programme Director of the Lagos Business School Agribusiness Programme, Dr Ikechukwu Kelikume, described the directive by the CBN was “ill-timed”, with potential harmful consequences for the poultry sector. It seems the birds have come home to roost. The predictions of experts have come to pass.

“The situation spells doom for poultry farmers across the country, who are beginning to cut down on production because of the high cost of feed and imported medication for the birds. A negative spill-over effect of the high cost of feed is the scarcity of eggs and a consequent rise in its price across the country. The implications of the current challenges in the maize value chain are that the gains of employing more people in the agricultural sector will be rolled back in the coming months,” he said.

Kelikume further explained, “As it stands, there is no alternative for the poultry farmers, as the poultry sector will face a catastrophic shortage of feeds, a critical input in their business. This situation will render tens of thousands of them unemployed and undo all the gains made by this sector in the past five years. Thousands of poultry businesses will shut down in the face of high operating costs, leaving business owners and their employees without a means of livelihood. As a matter of necessity, the CBN’s decision to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of maize/corn must be revisited. It is expedient at this time for the Central Bank to allow importers of maize to import it through the CBN Foreign exchange window, to close the gap in maize shortage while preparing for a phased discontinuation of maize importation in the country.”

The supply of dry maize in the market is at its lowest in recent years. The price of soya beans continues to sky rocket. Government is not in a position to subsidize the price of maize and soya beans. The CBN governor should support the welfarist policy of the Buhari administration by crashing the exorbitant prices of maize and soya beans through controlled importation of the products or granting of waivers. And that should be done now.

The country is now in a recession. The jobs of maize and soya beans growers are not in any way threatened because they cannot even meet the huge local demand for the products. Yet the exorbitant prices of these products have put on the line the jobs of millions of direct and indirect poultry workers.

Akpan wrote from Lagos

Agric firm leads fight against hunger

Source: The Guardian

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has admonished countries on the continent to capitalise on the market opportunities by producing more food efficiently and sustainably through agro-industrialization, and in a manner that supports both the farmers and the private sector.

He gave the advice during a virtual conference held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited and Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers Limited (Sahel). The summit was tagged “Zero Hunger: Africa’s Private Sector Driving Innovation & Growth”.

Adesina described a working agricultural sector as one which is private sector-led, but government enabled. He urged that the youth must be encouraged to see agriculture as a business to be driven by their innovation and business acumen. He applauded the co-founders for their desire, hard work, and commitment to transforming the agriculture landscape.

In his remarks, Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, stressed the need for a focus on nutrition and sustainability, rather than just increasing food production. He discussed the importance of energy in achieving development goals, as well as the efforts of the Rockefeller Foundation to end energy poverty in the world and gave examples from countries such as Nigeria and India.

Shah pleaded with the conference participants to rethink existing food systems and to create innovative new businesses within the food and agricultural sector.

In her statement, Dr. Agnes Kalibata described African entrepreneurs as dynamic, vibrant and data-driven; focused on transforming Africa’s agriculture and nutrition landscape.

She encouraged all stakeholders not to relent in their commitments to double the efforts of the government and private sector to increase food production.

She stated that Africa’s private sector handled 80 per cent of food consumed on the continent and 48 per cent of food consumed in urban areas. Kalibata urged the participants to support and celebrate the successes of these businesses, and especially women-owned businesses.

The keynote addresses were followed by two sets of three-panel discussions which ran concurrently and focused on “leveraging technology”, “the impact of big data”, “agriculture development”, “economic transformation”, “women in agriculture”, and “building ecosystems of support”.

During the session on technology and innovation, the panelists emphasised the need to leverage them to leapfrog, driving productivity improvements and dramatically reducing post-harvest losses.

In the second panel session on “The Impact of Big Data on Food Ecosystems”, Simon Winter, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation discussed the need for data use and tracking in the agricultural space. They emphasized that data must be made affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers.

FG to start agric reality show, as oil palm stakeholders lament challenges

Source: The Guardian

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Startimes, Radio, Television, Theatre Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) and other stakeholders is to commence an agricultural reality show called NAIJA FARMER.

The Naija Farmer reality show is a youth empowerment project aimed at transforming unemployed Nigerian youths to employers of labour. The project, it is expected, would create over 1 million agribusiness owners within 10 years and by extension lift over 20 million youths out of poverty in the next decade.

All participants would receive seed capitals from Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and other financial institutions to establish small-scale agribusinesses after the extensive training on television.

The maiden edition of Naija Farmer reality show would include 21 housemates selected from the six geopolitical zones of the country at a located Naija Farmer House in Abuja.

It would be a 24-hour reality show on Channel 140 of Startimes Bouquet already being test run. The channel would, in addition, showcase a 24-hour reality entertainment and progress made in the agricultural sector.

MEANWILE, it has been bemoaned that in spite of palm oil being produced in 25 states, over $500 million goes yearly into its importation, restricting the country to the fifth producer globally.

Concerned that the potential of the oil palm sub-sector has not been sufficiently tapped, stakeholders in the oil palm sector identified some challenges within the sub-sector to include insufficient national and state budgetary allocations/ releases, weak and poorly articulated sub-sectoral governance structure, and weak implementation of inclusive policies.

The stakeholders, while making their submissions at a two-day workshop and policy dialogue organized by Solidaridad West Africa and attended by policy makers, staff of the legislature and key officials of front-line oil palm farmers organizations in the country, affirmed that although the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) 2016-2020, and the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN) might have proposed solutions to some of the core issues at the heart of limited food production, climate change and delivery of quality standards, they were yet to address the strategy towards agriculture-driven economy;

Dangote, Indorama benefit as AfDB okays $25bn for agriculture in Nigeria, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Sudan

Source: businessAMLive

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has endorsed $25 billion to be invested in financing agriculture projects in Nigeria and four other African countries.

Akinwunmi Adesina, president of the multilateral development finance institution confirmed the report in a statement issued by the bank, which listed Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Sudan as other beneficiaries.

Adesina disclosed that in Nigeria, AfDB is supporting Indorama Eleme Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited with $210 million for the construction and operation of two urea fertiliser plants, with an annual capacity of 2.8 million tonnes.

He added that the finance institution will make available a $300 million corporate loan to Dangote Industries to bolster its establishment of a crude oil refinery as well as its urea fertiliser plant, which has a capacity of 2.8 million tonnes per annum.

The AfDB chief who previously served as Nigeria’s minister of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that the $510 million financial support offered to Nigeria will help the continent’s biggest economy float its plan towards becoming a net exporter of fertiliser.

Adesina expressed optimism that the next set of millionaires and billionaires on the continent will be beneficiaries of the agriculture industry. He also predicted that the African food and agricultural market would exceed $1 trillion by 2030.

Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, he stated that the move is crucial towards achieving improved food production and he encouraged African countries to leverage on the current opportunities in the market by accelerating output via agro-industrialisation that backs the private sector and the public sector.

Access to loans: CBN favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending loans

Press Release
For Immediate Release
26 November 2020

Access to loans: CBN favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending loans The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says only farmers who grow improved disease-free cassava stems will have access to the N25billion facility it has created to boost cassava production in the country.

The policy aims at ensuring that beneficiaries of the facility have increased productivity and are able to repay loans and make incomes for themselves.

A senior official of the apex bank, Chinedu Ogbonnaya, who represented the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, made this known during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) BASIC-II Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs and Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).

The event, which took place at the office of the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Sheda, Abuja, was witnessed by major stakeholders in the cassava sector, including the CBN, NASC, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike Seeds, and IITA GoSeed.

Mr Ogbonaya said the CBN realized that without the use of improved varieties, cassava production would not be profitable.

“This year, we insisted that cassava growers must plant only improved seeds before they can access our loan facility,” he said.

Under its intervention in the cassava sector, the CBN is targeting more than 100,000 farmers across the states of the federation for 2020.

The amount is split into two – N11 billion allocated to five-star farmers (those growing from five hectares and above) and N14 billion to conventional farmers (those planting between one and four hectares).

The Project Manager, Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seeds System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), IITA, Prof Lateef Sanni said the project would work with the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association to ensure the adequate supply of improved cassava varieties to farmers.

“As a project in IITA with the mandate to create a sustainable cassava seed system, we are willing to assist the CBN to achieve its goals,” he said.

Professor Chiedozie Egesi of the NRCRI, on his part, assured that NRCRI would work with BASICS-II and the NCGA to ensure the availability of improved cassava stems, stressing that any cassava grower that does not get improved certified seeds from the right source was starting on a wrong footing.

Chairman of Benue State Seed Producers Cooperative Union (BSSPCU), Mr. Francis Chia, in a brief remark, thanked the major stakeholders for the opportunity given to cassava growers to be part of the cassava revolution in Nigeria. The BASICS-II project aims to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting the dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain. The five-year project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania with spin-off to other African countries.

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist

Source: https://reliefweb.int/