Water Resources Bill will boost irrigation farming system– Minister

Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, says the passage of Water Resources Bill will boost irrigation farming system and enhance food security in the country.

Adamu made this known when he appeared at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

He said that the bill would enhance both domestic and non-domestic use for irrigation, navigation, agricultural and fishery purposes as well as generation of hydro-electric energy.

He said that the Federal Government has 130,000 hectares of formal irrigation infrastructure, adding that the ministry was initiating a project with World Bank on the irrigation system.

He said that the project was tagged: Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria project (TRIMING), adding that the project was not only about rehabilitating the infrastructure but revolutionising irrigation management.

“When I came into office, more than 70,000 hectares can be used during the dry season, and about 60,000 hectares are not being used during the dry season.

“This is because there was no maintenance, the canals are blocked and therefore we have come into a new concept we are working now with the World Bank on the Nigerian TRIMING project.

“This project will enhance the farmers in various areas as well as boosting food production in the country,’’ he said.

Adamu said that the fundamental thing about Water Resources Bill already in the National Assembly was that it would empower irrigation farmers in the country.

He said that the bill was also providing opportunities to farmers to initiate Water Users Associations as such would help them manage and maintain the infrastructures for the irrigation system.

“The bill will provide for farmers to be allowed to form water user associations so that they can collect part of this money that they are supposed to be paying for water, put it in the pool and be using it to manage the infrastructure themselves, again is another empowerment on our irrigation farmers.

“So, therefore, the idea will bring about empowerment on our irrigation farmers that way, there will be more efficiency in the irrigation system.

“This means that farmers will no longer be waiting for the Federal Government to rehabilitate the system for them because they are already being empowered,’’ he said,

Adamu said that the TRIMING project was part of the government`s commitment in enhancing food security.

According to him, the project will help to take the farmers away from a manual production system of farming.

“It is time we put in place all our investment to make sure that irrigation infrastructure is working effectively.

“We cannot as a country of 200 million people continue to rely on rainfall agricultural system. We need to be producing enough food that is one of the reasons we are looking into the irrigation system as it will boost our agriculture as well as our economy,’’ he said.

The minister said that the ministry had developed a new Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Action Plan adding, that it was launched by the president in 2018.

He said that WASH was designed to promote hygiene practices to help various communities realise and achieve greater health benefits and improving sanitation and hygiene across the country.

“We have been doing studies on our water supply sector and we realised that in 1992, 30 one per cent of the Nigeria population was enjoying pipe-borne water but as at 2015, it dropped to seven per cent.

“So we have to do something, we decided to work with our development partners and within a year we developed a new WASH Action Plan, which the president launched on Nov. 8, 2018 and declared a state of emergency on WASH sector.

“We all know that water and light are the basic ingredients of life, some states have not been investing enough in water supply sector maybe because they don’t realise that water is dynamic and the population is strongly growing.

“If you want to be supplying adequate water, you have to move more two steps ahead of the population.

“So before the population get to two million, you must have an adequate water supply of 12 or 13 million and by the time the population is getting to 13 million, you are already getting the facilities that will serve about 20 million people.

“I think that is the best way to enhance water supply and the facilities, but there is a lot of breaks down in certain states that today, the existing scheme that have been there for the past 30 years are the only schemes that are still existing.

“The schemes are not even being managed well and they are operated in optimum capacities because the equipment are not being replaced or maintained and that is why the systems are not working.

“So when we analyse all these challenges, we decided to have a WASH farm and through the farm, states can now draw money from it to add to their budgetary allocations so that they can invest more in water and sanitation sector.

“In that effect, we now introduced this WASH farm 2020 edition of water resources bill.

“In that, we involve all the states and various relevant stakeholders in the WASH action plan, we decided that the country must have a WASH farm as that will help the states government to be more effective in the sector,’’ he said.

Adamu, however, advised all the states government and other relevant stakeholders to support in promoting the sector to enable it to achieve global practices in water resource management in the country.

Source: The Guardian

FG, BOA train 100 women in agriculture

The Federal Government has trained 100  women on the use of Information and Communication Technology in agriculture development.

The National Centre for Women Development, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry Ministry of Women Affairs, said the empowerment with support from the Bank of Agriculture, was to enable them adopt efficient farming techniques and boost quality food production.

The Director-General of NCWD, Mary Ekpere-Eta, during the event held in Abuja in commemoration of the World Food Day, said the women were drawn from various Local Government Aeas in the 36 states of the country.

According to her, the empowerment in ICT was to ensure that Nigeria attained the Social Development Goal Five which is gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls through ICT.

The NCWD DG said 70 per cent of the country’s population which comprises women and youths, needed to harness the power of ICT so that they could participate in the programme and benefit from the information revolution taking place across the country.

She said, “One hundred female farmers from different LGAs in the country were assembled for this intensive training after a thorough screening process.

“They have been made aware of ICT techniques that can be leveraged for business development, access to finance, marketing and networking strategies, personal security, access to modern agricultural practices among others.

“It is common knowledge that the SDG-5 is aimed at achieving gender equality to empower all women and girls through the use of ICT.

“As a result, participants were introduced to the global spatial database of land use, food prices, flooding in Nigeria and many other applications, as well as resources online, through which they can gather vital and timely information as farmers and make informed decisions on what to produce, when to produce and where to sell their products at a competitive price.”

The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, encouraged beneficiaries of the training to make the best use of the knowledge impacted on them.

Source: punchng.com

Grooming cassava entrepreneurs

THE cassava industry is growing tremendously. This follows increasing usage  and processing into various products.

Processed cassava is used in some industries, some of which include food, ethanol, paper and cardboard, textiles, pharmaceutical, glues and adhesives.

According to Cassava Processing Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024 report, published by Research and Markets.com, the  food industry accounts for around a half of the total global cassava consumption followed by feed industry.

Region-wise, the report said  Nigeria is the world’s leading producer of cassava accounting for around a fifth of the world’s cassava production followed by Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana, and Congo.

Organisations are encouraging more Nigerians to go into cassava farming and processing. One of such organisations is HarvestPlus Nigeria. The Country Manager, HarvestPlus Nigeria, Dr. Paul Ilona, said farmers could make more money from the sale of cassava stem, if properly cultivated and harnessed.

He said cassava stem business in Nigeria was estimated at over N20 billion yearly.

According to Ilona, since the country cultivates an average of seven million hectares of cassava, there is still room for expansion to end the importation of cassava and its byproducts.

“In Nigeria, a hectare of cassava farm requires a bundle of 60 cassava stems to cultivate and when multiplied by seven million hectares of cassava farm annually, that gives us 420 million bundles.

“A bundle of 60 stems of one meter-long each sells at N500. Since we plant seven million hectares for cassava annually, in monetary terms, 420 million bundles multiplied by N500, which translates to N20 billion annually.

“The cassava sector is a very profitable sector, from the stem, to the tuber and to the processed food, even to those who distribute the products.

“Farmers will make more revenue from the casava stem if properly cultivated and harnessed,” Ilona said.

He said that some investors had become major aggregators in the cassava seed sector (stem) and urged more farmers to look into it to enhance their revenue.  HarvestPlus is not alone in the campaign.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is also involved.

Under a programme, Building and Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS), the organisation has demonstrated that the cassava seeds system could be profitable for the players involved across the value chain.

The Project Director, Hemant Nitturkar, said BASICS has been changing Nigeria’s cassava seed sector and creating seed entrepreneurs for the past decade.

“In past five years, BASICS has created a viable and sustainable cassava seed system in Nigeria, opening a vista of opportunities for seed entrepreneurs and cassava farmers looking for new and improved varieties for cultivation,” he said.

Nitturkar said the project was able to link breeders and researchers, who developed improved cassava varieties and technologies; with farmers and processors who benefited from high-quality planting materials.

According to him, the BASICS project has created over 150 community-based seed entrepreneurs, who are running viable cassava stem businesses in states like Benue, Cross River, Abia and Imo.

He said it had also facilitated the establishment of two seed companies, namely IITA GoSeed located on the IITA campus in Ibadan and Umudike Seed at National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Umudike, Abia.  Last week, BASICS-II enlisted 45 farmers in Kogi State as cassava seed entrepreneurs (CSEs). The CSEs were drawn from across the state after a thorough screening process by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the BASICS-II partner leading the development of CSEs in Nigeria. The plan is to help Kogi State boost its seed demand for cassava production, create a new stream of business opportunities, improve the livelihoods of farmers and contribute to the overall food security in the country.

The coming on board of the new cassava seed entrepreneurs is expected to drive the adoption and marketing of the recently branded six released varieties and four yet-to be-released varieties. The released varieties and their new names are as follows: IBA961632 (Farmer’s Pride), IBA980581 (Dixon), CR36-5 (Ayaya), IBA070593 (Sunshine), IBA980505 (Fine face) and TME 419. The yet-to-be-released (pre-release) varieties and their new names are TMS13F1160P0004 (Game Changer), TMS13F1343P0022 (Obasanjo-2), NR130124 (Hope) and TMEB693 (Poundable). Under good agronomic practices, these varieties yield more than 20 tonnes per hectare (ha) as opposed to the current national average of nine tonnes per ha.

Kogi State Commissioner for Agriculture, David Apeh, said the development of cassava seeds system in Kogi state was a welcome development for the transformation of the state’s cassava sector.

“It all starts with the seeds. When you start with bad stems, you end with bad results. Therefore, we appreciate IITA, BASICS-II, and CRS for bringing this project to Kogi State,” Mr Apeh, who was represented by the Director of Agricultural Services, Mr Okolo Ichalla, said.

BASICS-II Project Leader, Prof Lateef Sanni,  re-echoed the importance of developing the cassava seed sector to catalyse the diffusion of improved varieties in Nigeria.

He noted that there was a huge opportunity in the cassava seed sector for farmers to utilise and transform their livelihoods, adding: “BASICS-II was willing to backstop farmers towards developing a sustainable cassava seed sector in Nigeria.”

Source: thenationonlineng.net

Why Nigeria must bridge infrastructural gaps to aid food production

As Nigeria makes efforts to ensure that agriculture plays a key role in its quest for revenue diversification, stakeholders in the sector have charged the Federal Government to bridge infrastructural gaps to aid agribusiness development in the country and ensure food security.

Indubitably, some of the greatest problems confronting rural farmers and communities in Nigeria are the absence of critical infrastructures such as motorable roads, storage facilities, and irrigation facilities among others.

Farmers continue to suffer low levels of agricultural productivity due to infrastructural deficit across the country, which reduces their profit and impact on their capacity to increase productivity.

The provision of critical infrastructure is a pre-requisite for enabling Nigeria to stimulate economic growth and to reach the targets for economic diversification and food security.

Obiora Madu, former chairman, export group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said that Nigeria does not have an effective agricultural infrastructure, stating that the country’s export drive can only be successful with adequate infrastructural facilities such as storage, good road networks amongst others, stressing that the lack of it has made the cost of food production higher.

“The costs of logistics are also very high. It is cheaper to transport a commodity to Europe than to transport the same commodity within the country,” Madu said.

After a few days of heavy rainfalls, most farming areas and markets become impassable and this has continued to impact negatively on the prices of food items across the country.

Samson Akwah, organising secretary-yam section, Mile 12 market said that the cost of transporting yam tubers using a Mercedes Bens truck (911) from the middle belt region to Lagos has increased from N350, 000 to N700, 000 due to the bad state of road infrastructures.

Despite Nigeria ranks top in the production of some crops, the infrastructures needed to store the excesses are lacking.

According to Abiodun Olorundenro, manager, Aqua Shoots, the problem with Nigeria agriculture is infrastructure, stating that the country is growing enough to feed its people but most of what is grown often rots in the field because it is difficult to move them easily from the farms and the facilities to store them are lacking.

“We can only feed ourselves when the infrastructures needed to boost productivity across the value chain are there. We can even move our foods from the farm to the market easily,” Olorundenro said.

He stated that developing agriculture is very critical in the country’s efforts to diversify, which he said can only be achieved when heavy investments are made in infrastructures.

Investments in the country’s primary agricultural infrastructures will help integrate poorer sections of the population into a sustainable process of economic growth and development, experts say.

In turn, this will reduce poverty by providing jobs, directly and indirectly, that will serve as a stimulus to the economy and the agricultural sector.

Nigeria’s population is fast rising and it’s growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent, therefore the need to bridge infrastructural gaps is necessary for food security and economic growth.

Source: www.businessday.ng

65,000 Nigerian farmers to benefit from N9bn MasterCard intervention

65,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria are to directly benefit from quality land, seeds, fertilizers, mechanization, and storage over the next two years, as part of a new program to achieve sustainable recovery and build resilience from the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched by the Mastercard Foundation, the program focuses on building food security and increasing digital and financial inclusion within the most vulnerable farming communities.

The program, which is aimed at helping the country reverse the pandemic’s impacts on food security and bolster it even further, will support more than 3 million people while helping farmers increase their farm productivity and incomes. It is expected to “tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty through a $20.4 million commitment by the Mastercard Foundation”, read a statement. Out of the 65,000 target beneficiaries, BusinessDay exclusively learnt that 80 percent of them will be women and there is also a conscious effort to ensure many new farmers are introduced into agriculture through the program.

To achieve this, Mastercard is working with Alluvia, described as a highly scalable private sector response to decades of failure by various parties to tackle one of the world’s most pressing issues: food security. It deploys an innovative business model that provides comprehensive support to small farm enterprises and smallholder farmers.

The Mastercard Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program will be implemented in partnership with Alluvial Agriculture, and enable participants to significantly improve yields, increasing from 2.5 tons of rice per hectare to 4.5, for example, or from 1.5 tons of maize to 4 tons.

“Farmers must be at the forefront of helping us recover from this crisis,” said Chidinma Lawanson, country head, Nigeria, at the Mastercard Foundation. “This is a sector where there is tremendous potential, not just to create food security, but to enable work. But this isn’t just about recovering from the impacts of the pandemic; it’s also about building long-term resilience in the agricultural sector so that it can withstand the effects of emerging and future issues—like climate change.”

Dimieari Von Kemedi, managing director of Alluvial, told BusinessDay that the organization is working with CIAT and IITA, in introducing best agronomic practices to farmers and in the case of maize and soybean, exploring new improved varieties that can be introduced in the country.

“We are going to be doing some seed multiplications around new varieties which we have brought in from Mexico for the maize,” he said.

The project provides 50 percent of the cost of mechanization and 75 percent of inputs and the balance will be paid by the farmers at the end of the season when off-takers would have also been secured to purchase their harvests.

“Assuming we were planting only rice at a modest 4 tons per hectare, this would be 260,000 tonnes of rice produced by this project in one season,” said Kemedi. “This is being done at serious scale”.

Alluvial’s innovative business model provides comprehensive support to smallholder farmers, including training, technology, land preparation, irrigation, input supplies, and market access. The company achieves this by organizing adjacent farms in community blocks. This means that tractors, for example, can efficiently plow each of the smallholdings, saving weeks of toiling by hand.

“With this tremendous support from the Mastercard Foundation, and expertise from numerous valued partners, Alluvial is transforming the approach to tackling hunger and poverty by channelling resources into sustainable food production as opposed to transitory food aid,” said Kemedi. “We invite all farmers, agriculturalists, and others to join us in one of the world’s most pressing endeavours.”

Using technology accessible from low-tech mobiles, Alluvial is also providing training and peer-to-peer advice on farm and market information, including rating providers of inputs and services. Alluvial’s Market Information and Digital Payment System also enable fast and secure electronic payment through the Farmer Network Digital Payment System. Farmers can purchase from vetted providers of seeds and other inputs and services and securely receive payments by direct transfer.

Alluvial, according to Kemedi, is hoping to sustain this beyond the 2-year support from MasterCard foundation and is already working with a group of banks who are registering the farmers. By virtue of working with on the project, the banks would see firsthand if the operations have been successful or not.

“That apart from anything else is to help the farmers build a credit history,” said Kemedi, and to be able to approach banks on their own for subsequent funding and being attractive to other groups of investors.

Source: www.businessday.ng

How kenaf value chain development can save billions of naira

Maximizing import substitution strategy using local contents, jute bags, which cost the country about N2.75 billion yearly to import, and other environment-friendly products such as vehicle parts can be developed from kenaf and save the country from economic crises. Jute bags are used in packaging and post-harvest storage of dried cocoa beans, cashew nuts, coffee and other farm produce.

Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is a multi-purpose bio-economic crop. It is a fast-growing, annual crop that belongs to the Malvaceae family.  It belongs to the genus Hibiscus that comprises about 400 annual and perennial species. Kenaf has been associated with over 120 common names, such as mesta, treal, roselle, ambary hemp, and rama, indicating how widespread and diverse the species is.  

It has been hailed as a multifunctional crop that has the potential of replacing crude oil in several applications.   
Considering the current global environmental challenges, the need to return green or bio-economy has become imperative. There are four major motivations behind this. Bio-economy will lead to improvement in the quality of the environment; improve agricultural production and productivity, national food and social security and a stronger and sustainable economy. 

Kenaf, as a renewable commodity, presents an unlimited opportunity as a promising source of energy, food and industrial raw materials.  Kenaf bio-economy represents one of the most promising ways to secure sustainable economic growth and industrial development and environmental amelioration resulting from population growth and over dependence on petroleum resources. Therefore, development of kenaf bio-economy in relevant nations like Nigeria will lead to green growth of economies.

Director-General, Raw Material Research Development Council (RMRDC), Prof. H.D. Ibrahim, said: “The industrial attractiveness of kenaf lies in its stem, whose diameter varies from 25-50mm. The kenaf stem is composed of an inner porous and woody core which consists of about 60-65% of the stem. 

“The core contains short fibers of an average length of between 0.6 mm-length, and 33 μm-width.  The outer fibrous bast consists of about 35 – 45% of the stem and contains long, strong, and valuable fibers for industry.  The average fibre length of the fibrous bast is about 2.5 mm-length and 17 μm-width.  Due to the differences in fibre anatomy and properties, the bast and core have different industrial applications.’’

He explained that they, however, have to be separated through retting, ribboning and decortication.  The traditional retting method occurs in the field, where the stems are harvested and left in the field for several days, allowing them to rot naturally by air, dew, and common bacteria.

“Often, the stems are submerged in water ponds, canals, or tanks to accelerate the process. On industrial scale, this is done by either enzymatic, chemical/ mechanical, chemical/enzymatic or steam explosion methods.
“On the basis of industrial application, kenaf is used for cordage, woven and non-woven textile products. Kenaf bast and core fibers are used as reinforcing fiber in bio-composites.  It is also used in particle, hard, and insulation boards, compression-molded products, laminates production, etc. A blend of 40% kenaf fibers could be substituted to wood flour fillers and combined with virgin plastics such as polypropylene or recycled low density polyethylene,” he added.

Analysis of kenaf indicates its core panels usually present much lower densities (218kg m-3), thermal conductivity, and higher acoustical properties than traditional wood panels, which makes them ideal for ceiling tiles, doors, or walls and furniture.  Medium density fiberboard panels made out of kenaf bast can be, therefore, used for laminated floors and cabinet doors, among others.

“The Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan uses kenaf bioplastic interior components for its Toyota Lexus GS. It reduced the weight of the vehicle, and consequently, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Also, Panasonic Electric Works makes structural wall board with kenaf to replace plywood.  Likewise, kenaf could be converted into heat, bio-power, bio-fuel and chemicals.  

“The kenaf core is very porous and is attractive for absorbent applications such as wipes, hygienic products, water filtration system, bedding for livestock, poultry or rodents. This is because kenaf acts like a sponge in terms of urine, odors and dust,” Prof. Ibrahim added.

Researchers also said oil spill cleaning is a very important area where application of kenaf could be useful.  It was used as one of the oil absorbents during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.  As a natural filter, kenaf is used to improve soil and water quality. Along with papyrus and sorghum, kenaf has been shown to present the highest nitrogen and phosphorus removal rates, especially during the summer and fall.  Nutritionally, Kenaf leaves are rich in crude protein.  The leaves contain 14 – 34% protein, while the stalk contains about 2 – 12%.  The leaves are used as human food, similar to spinach, in India, Haiti and in some areas of Africa.

In produce packaging and post-harvest handling, jute sacks are old traditional sacks made from jute and kenaf fibres. They are extensively used for packaging materials in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and many less developed countries. They are strong and coarse bags, normally used for carrying heavy produce with adequate ventilation. 
Bangladesh is the leading exporter of jute and kenaf bags, followed by India and China.  The three countries account for over 90% of the world export. The principal importers of kenaf products, especially sacks, are the countries producing large volumes of agricultural commodities like USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, some African countries, etc.

Nigeria can play a significant role in the production of jute bags, which are bio-degradable, environment-friendly and cost-effective. This can increase the gross domestic product (GDP) significantly through export and home use.  

Development of kenaf bio-economy in Nigeria is plausible and very attractive, as Nigeria has over one million hectares of land suitable for its cultivation in about 18 States of the federation, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Kwara, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and the FCT. 

Experts have said due to the collapse of the first national initiative on jute sacks production in Jos and Badagry by Nigeria Fibre Company (NIFINCO) and Nigeria Fibre Production Limited (NNFPL) around 1971 and the increase in jute sacks requirement from 2 million pieces to 5 million pieces, it is imperative that efforts be made to revisit the production of jute sacks in Nigeria.  

This is more important as the cost of jute sack importation is about N2.75 billion in foreign exchange equivalent yearly. The situation is becoming very pathetic as a number of commodity exporters have resorted to importing second-hand jute sacks from Ghana. This has contributed to further rejection of many agricultural produce being exported from Nigeria.  

To promote kenaf bio-economy in Nigeria, the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, (IAR&T) Ibadan, and RMRDC have promoted kenaf varietal development and domestication of improved varieties of imported Cuba 108, Cuba 2032, Everglades 71, Guatemala 3F. 

This was followed by multi-locational-field trials of the imported improved kenaf seeds in the South-West geo-political zone during which only Cuba 108 was found to be most adaptable to the local environment and cultural agronomic practices.

In addition, the technology for the design and fabrication of kenaf decorticating machine is now available locally. With these achievements, the country is ripe for sustainable development of kenaf bio-economy. However, this is only achievable if investors are ready to invest in kenaf processing in Nigeria.

Source: The Guardian



We’ll support farmers with interest-free loans

The Federal Government on Sunday said it would support farmers across the country with interest-free loans.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said his ministry would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria in providing the loans.

Nanono stated this while receiving the 2020 Wet Agricultural Performance Survey, according to a statement issued by an information official of his ministry, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, in Abuja on Sunday.

“The ministry would support the farmers with agricultural inputs and zero interest loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 and the recent flooding especially in Kebbi, Jigawa and Kano States,” the minister stated.

On the survey, he said the exercise had shown that effective input subsidisation would boost productivity in the agricultural sector.

He urged farmers to intensify efforts and focus on achieving more successes during the dry season farming in order to cushion the loses caused by the pandemic.

Source: Punch

UN Women, Standard Bank equip women farmers

Standard Bank has said that the bank and United Nations Women are making progress to equip women farmers in Africa with the skills and resources needed to grow their businesses and succeed over the long term.

A statement from the bank on Friday entitled, “UN Women, Standard Bank equip women farmers for long-term success,” said, this was necessary despite complications by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It stated that in October 2019, Standard Bank and UN Women partnered to empower over 50,000 women farmers in Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa through modern and environmentally-friendly farming technologies that increased productivity and incomes.

“Through the Climate Smart Agriculture collaboration, women farmers, authorities, local farmer organisations and cooperatives are addressing the structural inequalities in rural economies in Africa, starting with the difficulties that women face in securing tenure for quality farm land,” it stated.

Standard Bank said it had provided funding worth $3m as well as ongoing support through financial literacy and other programmes.

The Chief Executive, Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group, Sola David-Borha, stated that, “The CSA project supports Standard Bank’s drive to create a gender-equal Africa and aligns with our purpose of driving the continent’s growth.

“We believe it will meaningfully contribute to the upliftment of communities and the achievement of sustainable economic growth across Africa.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it said, digital technology was being used to conduct meetings where possible, and messages were being delivered via community radio stations, SMS and marketing material.

The bank said the project  closely aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with its focus on gender equality, access to decent work, and economic growth.

In Malawi, it stated, close to 6,000 women farmers had received support in the use of high-yield and drought-resistant groundnut seeds; implementation of modern farming methods that conserved moisture and maximise land use.

They also got support in the use of weather forecast information for the timely planting of groundnuts; use of market information and financial literacy sessions; and the adoption of modern farming technologies., the bank said.

In Nigeria, it said, the project was currently supporting 2,300 women beneficiary agribusiness groups and cooperatives to increase the productivity and profitability of their operations within the rice and shea nut value chains.

It would ultimately deliver assistance to 12,500 rural women in the country, it stated.

The statement said in South Africa, the project delivered agricultural inputs to 2,753 women farmers in the first half of 2020.

The inputs included drought-resistant seeds of various crops, organic manure, farming equipment, and training on climate smart agriculture, it added.

Source: Punch

150 agribusiness trainers commence business orientation training

No fewer than 4,025 Abians will, by 2026, be empowered to commence their chosen agric-businesses after training under the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises – Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) project.

The project, an initiative of the Federal Government and nine participating Niger Delta state governments, is being funded from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The project’s objective is to enhance income, food security and job creation for rural youths and women through sustainable agribusiness enterprise development in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

150 Abians who were selected for the first phase of the project from 25 communities across 10 local government areas, yesterday, commenced a one-week residential Business Orientation Training in Umuahia, the state capital.

The training focuses on business planning and management, basic entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, business cycle of specific agro-commodities, cash management, climate-smart agriculture, food and nutrition, among other areas, in agricultural entrepreneurship to guide their business operations.

Addressing the trainees, the LIFE-ND National Coordinator, Mr Sanni Abiodun, represented by the Agribusiness Promotion Coordinator, Mrs Anthonia Esenwa, said in each of the nine Niger Delta states, the project would operate in 10 LGAs and 10 communities, thus bringing the total number of participating LGAs to 90 and communities to 900.

While the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji, urged the trainees to invest their empowerment resources profitably, while the state Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) Manager, Chief Israel Amanze, described agriculture as one of the most viable sectors to invest in now.

Source: The Guardian

Africa: Gendering Agriculture So Women Take the Lead in Feeding Africa

Ibadan, Nigeria — Africa’s hopes of feeding a population projected to double by 2050 amidst a worsening climate crisis rest on huge investments in agriculture, including creating the conditions so that women can empower themselves and lead efforts to transform the continent’s farming landscape.

As we celebrate the 2020 International Year of Rural Women, Africa needs to reflect more on the role women play in food and nutrition security, land and water management.

Also, the impact of COVID-19 on women’s capacity to provide food for their families and care for their loved ones underscores the importance of strengthening their capacities by designing gender responsive actions.

We know the world has the technology and resources to eradicate hunger but finding the right policies and the will to implement them often elude us.

Fortunately, young women and men carrying out evidence-based research in sub-Saharan Africa are coming up with some possible answers on how to tackle these pressing issues.

Working with the support and guidance of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a research-for-development non-profit, these researchers are aiming to facilitate agricultural solutions to hunger, poverty and natural resource degradation in line with IITA’s goals and particularly its gender research strategy.

Bear in mind that over 60% of all employed women in sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture, and that women produce up to 80% of foodstuffs for household consumption and sale in local markets. But these women farmers are disadvantaged by a range of factors, such as laws, policies, gender-blind development programs, and entrenched norms and power imbalances within and outside their homes and communities.

Fundamental gender constraints clearly shape how women and men are involved in and benefit from agricultural food systems. Manifested as harmful gender norms, attitudes and power relations, they have a particular impact on how young women participate in value chains or have access to resources such as land, as well as their decision-making powers and how money earned from their labor is spent.

Gender-blind policies and development interventions do not take into account the different roles and diverse needs of men and women, while gender-accommodative policies confirm that gender constraints exist but can propose ways to work around them for the benefit of women.

IITA’s gender research strategy brings to the surface the underlying causes of gender inequalities to inform and guide policies to address these causes with interventions that reduce poverty and increase gender equality in low-income countries with boosts to job opportunities and economic, food and nutrition security.

In the months before the coronavirus surfaced and with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), IITA launched 80 research fellowships for young African scholars, with an emphasis on young female professionals and students aiming to acquire a master’s or doctoral degree. Grantees are offered training on research methodology, data management, scientific writing, and the production of research evidence for policymaking.

Known as CARE (Enhancing Capacity to Apply Research Evidence), the three-year project aims to build our understanding of poverty reduction, employment impact, and factors influencing youth engagement in agribusiness, and rural farm and non-farm economies.

Achieving these development outcomes requires working with multi-stakeholder groups at multiple levels to transform unequal power relations between female and male youth in various social institutions, including in the household, community, market, and the state.

For example, in southern Benin, graduate student Grace Chabi looked at why young agricultural entrepreneurs are predominately male. Among her policy recommendations are a call to remove gender biases from land ownership, credit, and employment practices. Policies should also facilitate female agripreneurship networks and target funding to agribusinesses owned by women.

Research by Akinyi Sassi in Tanzania found how stereotypes can negatively affect women’s intentions to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to access agricultural market information, but that contrary to such stereotyping, female farmers were more strongly influenced than male farmers by their perception of the value of using phones to find such information. Such gender factors can be considered when promoting ICT use.

Cynthia Mkong of Cameroon has examined the issue of role models, social status, and previous experience in determining why some students are more likely to choose agriculture as their university major. Almost a quarter of young women in Cameroon are unemployed, compared with 11% of young men. Building effective policies to improve the education of girls and household income at all levels could reverse declining youth interest in agriculture.

Adedotun Seyingbo examined employment among Nigerian youth and how gender and other issues, including land access, influence how more young people remain in non-farm employment rather than staying in farm jobs.

Also in Nigeria, Oluwaseun Oginni looked at rural-urban migration and found that 43% of youth migrants are female. A better future, educational opportunities, and marriage are among the reasons young women are leaving rural areas.

Adella Ng’atigwa examined how to empower youth to reduce horticulture postharvest losses in Tanzania and found that women have fewer losses as they are more involved in vegetable production and marketing and are more able to handle perishable crops.

All these research projects also illustrate IITA’s gender research strategy using what is known as an ‘intersectional lens’. This means an examination of deep inequities, sometimes violent and systematic, that intersect with each other: such as poverty, racism, sexism, denial of rights and opportunities, and generational differences. In this way the connections between all struggles for justice and equal opportunities are illuminated.

A gender transformative approach adopted by IITA aims to address the root causes of gender inequalities for more sustained and meaningful change for female and male youth. With such changes, Africa, with the world’s youngest and fastest growing population, will be better equipped to handle its future challenges with women at the forefront.

Source: ipsnews.net