Path to maximising cassava value chain in Nigeria

Source: The Guardian

Although Nigeria has attained the status of largest producer of cassava in the world with its production accounting for 21 per cent of total production of the crop globally, thanks to recent interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the agro sector, there are indications that concerted efforts are still required to effectively position the country’s cassava in regional and international markets to ensure sustainable development of the sector. These efforts will equally lead to increasing the contribution of cassava to economic transformation through key stakeholders’ involvement and building an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity for food security, exports promotion, sustainable income and job growth.

CBN’s intervention in the sector effectively began in November 2019 when its Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, announced some measures towards addressing the challenges bedevilling the cassava industry in spite of huge investment and government initiatives in the past.

He announced the measures at a meeting with governors of cassava producing states and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors in Abuja.

“This will involve support to the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association at the production level under the ‘Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and support to Large Scale Cassava Processors under the CACS and DCRR programmes,” Emefiele said.

He had disclosed that the CBN was holding consultations with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, with the aim of encouraging adoption of improved varieties and practices that would guarantee better yield, better processing efficiency, increased profit and improved standard of living for Nigerian farmers.

“We place a high premium on cassava because the commodity can generally be used for different uses along the value 11 chain.

The value chain has enormous potential for employing over two million people in Nigeria if well harnessed, due to the diverse secondary products that it offers. Some of the products include highlighting the potentials of the industry.

“Increasing cassava production is a necessity as starch, glucose, sorbitol and other products currently being imported proffers no future for the nation in the long-term, in view of the fact that Nigeria imports cassava derivatives valued at over $600 million annually.

“Permit me to share with you the gap and potential demand that exists in our cassava value chain: Demand for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in bread, biscuits and snacks is above 500,000t annually while supply is below 15,000t; demand for cassava starch is above 300,000t annually while supply is below 10,000t; demand for cassava-based constituents in sugar syrup is above 350,000t annually while supply is almost non-existent; potential demand for ethanol in Nigeria as a fuel for cooking, to power vehicles (E10) and other industrial uses exceeds one billion litres, while production is nearly zero,” Emefiele said.

Findings by The Guardian showed that despite the huge investments in the sector by the apex bank over the past 20 months, these gaps still exist even as the potential of the sector remain largely untapped.

An agribusiness expert, Bernard Olusegun Siwoku, attributed the situation to some factors like inadequate funding, insecurity and climate change.

He said: “Let’s start by looking at the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme. There are so many laudable projects by the government but most times implementation is always a challenge. If you check the number of farmers that have been able to access this scheme, it is still very low. And if there is no cassava root, there is always a challenge of raw materials to supply to processors who need these roots for their own final products. So, that is already one challenge.

“Equally, we have the problem of insecurity going on in the country now with herdsmen invading farms and the thing is that the cassava varieties we have now are the sweet varieties, which is edible to animals, not the old bitter varieties. So, you see that after consuming the leaves of the cassava plant, some herdsmen uproot the cassava and chop it off for the animals to consume. And when the farm owners confront them, it becomes confrontational to the point of attacking and maiming some of people. That is another challenge facing the sector.

“Then again if you look at funding support, farmers want some assistance for land clearing. When you have a factory in your proximity, you can decide to supply them. You have the land but the land is virgin land and you will need to clear it. One, the bulldozers and tractors are not readily available; two, when they are available they are always very expensive. As we speak now, it costs between N225,000 to N250,000 to clear just one hectare. Now, the bulk of the production we have in Nigeria is by smallholder farmers and they cannot afford this. They will rather use that money to cultivate in other places than to clear land; and that money cannot be recouped in one season. It will take them some years before they are able to recoup the cost of land clearing.

“Then there is the issue of climate change which is also rearing its head now. The rain pattern cannot be predicted as it used to. Now, that is also a concern because we are still relying on rain-fed agriculture. When the rains are not regular or according to the initial pattern, there will be a challenge. For sometime now, even maize farmers experience a serious challenge. When the initial rain came, they thought the rain was here and planted but the rain seized.”

Siwoku, who is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Spine Edge Consulting Limited, noted that on the side of the processors, the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted both negatively and positively on them.

“The positive side for our sector now is that things are not coming in as they used to. So, end users and manufacturers are now looking for alternative local sources, which would have aided a lot of processors to be working but then the raw material that is not available is affecting them. So, now they can produce locally and sell; the market is there but the challenge is the raw material, which is cassava roots. That is one area we also need to look at,” he added.

Siwoku, who was the Business Development Expert for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Cassava Adding Value for Africa Project Phase I and II implemented in five African countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania for over 11 years (2008-2019), urged the Federal government to develop a holistic policy to support the sector and enhance its value chain.

“If we have a policy that is holistic in nature, that is looking at local content, that is encouraging manufacturers to buy and utilise locally produced raw materials, that again will translate into increasing GDP, increasing employment rate and reducing rural-urban migration. So, we need to have a policy that will be holistic. But what we have is just a mention of cassava in some policy documents,” he noted.

A major player in the cassava value chain industry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, corroborated Siwoku’s view. According to the source, adopting a holistic approach to maximise the sector would help to increase the contribution of cassava to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and lead to job creation.

The expert stated that this projection for the cassava sector could only be actualised by identifying and developing new market opportunities for import substitution and export; stimulating increased private sector investment in the establishment of export-oriented cassava industries; ensuring the consistent production and supply of fresh cassava roots with high starch content to end user industries; advocating for supportive policy and institutional reforms for the development of the Nigerian cassava sector; facilitating the establishment of targeted support infrastructures that would reduce transaction cost and increase competitiveness of the entire cassava commodity chain in Nigeria and integrating the rural poor, especially women and youths, into the mainstream of the national economy.

Speaking on the investment outlook of the sector and what is required to effectively drive the vision of transforming the cassava sector into a multi-billion dollar industry, the expert said: “This will require additional investment in the establishment of processing facilities to produce food grade starch, ethanol, high quality cassava flour and glucose syrup. This will also open export market for these products in the West Africa sub-region. The establishment of additional plants will also lead to cultivation of additional hectares of land for cassava. The bulk of the investment is in the traditional food chain of gari, fufu, lafun etc. and the increasing trend of production of packaged foods for both local and international markets.

“The ethanol production facility will also have a huge investment for both set up cost and the fresh cassava root requirement. Currently, a sorbitol plant is at the stage of commissioning, and it is the first of its kind in the country and it will be using cassava as raw material. There is still an untapped opportunity in modified starches that can be produced in-country and exported to earn more foreign exchange for the country. Other investors are installing HQCF, ethanol and starch processing facility.

“Cassava processing equipment fabrication is also another area of investment in the country with some Nigeria fabricated equipment being supplied to other African countries. The equipment that has left the shores of the country include the flash dryers, automatic garri roaster, hydraulic presser, stainless steel roasting pans, graters, wet and dry hammer mills.”x

On the enabling policies required to achieve the target, the source urged the Federal Government to enforce its plan to reduce wheat importation by implementing 10 per cent HQCF inclusion in bread policy, adding that this would bring about additional investments in the establishment of large scale HQCF factories in the country.

The source also called for the promotion of local content in cassava industrialisation; promotion of crop cultivation insurance contracts policy excluding exogenous default risks; import restriction on cassava-based products and close substitutes; no Import Duties on agricultural machineries and agro processing equipment; single digit credit facilities for cassava value chain actors on clear financial products and tax holiday for new investors in the commodity value chain sector.

“For the transformation and realisation of the multi-billion US$ cassava industry, the road map should involve ensuring the consistent supply of fresh cassava roots to end user industries by targeting increased productivity per unit area and ensuring that farmers are clustered around processing factories. This should involve the commercial production of fresh cassava roots with high starch and dry matter content that will be affordable to the industrial end-users,” the source added.

Okowa and Delta Agro-Industrial Park

Source: The Guardian

x

A five-point policy thrust that connotes Strategic Wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans, meaningful peace-building platforms aimed at political and social harmony, agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization, Relevant Health and Education policies, and a transformed environment through urban renewal.

The goal of these profound agendas is to enthrone a Stronger Delta with a people-centered vision of prosperity for all Deltans.

One of the most ambitious of these broad-based objectives is an Agro-industrial park project, designed as the hub of economic development and accelerated industrialization in Delta state.

The Agro-industrial park is hence the key instrument for the fruition of the development objectives of Okowa’s Smart Agenda.

Located at Aboh-Ogwashi, a scenic suburban settlement, in Aniocha South local government area, about 20 minutes drive from Asaba, Delta state capital, it is a perfect setting for agricultural revolution with her sprawling landscape, rooted in the richest of tropical African rainforest belt.

Embedded at the confluence of two all-season rivers – River Ubu and Iyi-Ada, both flowing as a tributary into River Niger, the agro-industrial park cover a total land area of 220 hectares.

The ultimate aim is to fast track and transform the agricultural value chain towards achieving economic diversification, food sufficiency, job and wealth creation, and sustainable growth for the well-being of the present and future generations of Deltans.

The Aboh Ogwashi agro-industrial park is beyond rhetorics. It is not a white elephant project by any imagination. The facility is viable and profitable with impressive equity-Delta State Government 40%, MGA Agricultural Resources Ltd. 30%, and Norsworthy Investments Ltd. 30%.

At the height of operation, it will take about 30 agro-processing factories and agribusiness enterprises, with unprecedented socio-economic impact, creating over 4000 direct and indirect jobs, within the park. This is in addition to tens of thousands of jobs, envisaged to be generated throughout the state, as a result of the activities of the Agro-Industrial park.

Governor Okowa, sure-footed in foresight has empowered an 11 member implementation committee to develop the Agro-industrial park, with the state’s chief Job and Wealth Creation officer, Professor Eric Eboh as chairman.

Professor Eboh is an Agricultural Economist and Development Policy Expert with a robust national and international portfolio. He is joined by a team of cabinet members from the ministries of Agriculture and natural resources, Finance, Housing, Lands, and survey.

Other members of the implementation team are drawn from the ministries of Justice, Trade and Investment as well as the Chief Economic ‭Adviser,‬Director-General, Delta State Investment and development Agency, ‬Managing Director, Contemporary Design Associates ‭, and ‬Assistant Director, Delta State Job and Wealth creation bureau who serves as Secretary.x

The committee a carefully selected think -tank will operate the agro-industrial park through public-private partnership (PPP), promoting investor confidence and business competitiveness. This will enable the park as a safe operating space to leverage the twin impact of agricultural development and industrial infrastructure, in line with global best practices.

In the words of Professor Eboh the park is “conceived as a multipurpose and multiproduct epicenter of agro-processing, agro-industrial and agribusiness activities in the state” designed to serve as “infrastructure, logistics and services haven”.

Against this backdrop, the Delta State Government has been implementing measures to establish the Agro-Industrial Park since 2015.

There was a study visit to Israel for the assessment of comparative agro-industrial models and first-hand evaluation of activities of prospective technical partners.

After satisfactory checks, the State Executive Council gave approval for the establishment of the multi-purpose Park on 14th November 2017, culminating in the ratification by the Delta House of Assembly.

In the following years, national and international negotiations with investors on the PPP as well sourcing and mobilization of funds were painstakingly undertaken.

This eventually paved the way for Commencement of Construction Works by the Contractor, Sequoia Solutions and Innovations Ltd beginning from 26th October 2020. It is projected to be completed in May 2022.x

By design, the park will be endowed with clustered infrastructure, facilities pertaining to power, water (irrigation, industrial and domestic), security, research and training, quality assurance, sewage systems, and waste management. Others are marketing and commerce, packaging, product warehousing, handling and storage, equipment maintenance, administration, conferences/meetings, residential and hospitality outlets.

The agro-industrial operators at the park include Rice mills manufacturers, Cassava chips, flour, starch, and garri producers.Banana/plantain flour makers, palm oil-based products, and wood makers. Other activities are Milk processing, slaughterhouses for beef, broilers, pork, and related livestock products, dried and pickled fruits and vegetables. Part of the Park has also been mapped out for Irrigated high technology farming.

It is open to interested investors. The availability of adequate, reliable, and sustained infrastructure and services removes the most critical constraint to the start-up, profitability, viability, and competitiveness of agroindustries in the state.

Therefore, the agro-industrial park provides an investor-friendly business environment suitable for the development of the agricultural value chain.

Businesses in the park will benefit from dedicated common infrastructure including an internal network of roads, power, water, storage, packaging utilities, waste treatment, transportation, communication, export-import services, training and management, research, and security services.

The multi-faceted amenities and services will guarantee smooth and uninterrupted operations, ease of logistics as well as protection from occupational risks and uncertainties. Moreover, co-locating agroindustries will enjoy inter-firm cooperation and collaboration, mutual learning, and multilateral sharing of experiences.

The diverse gains of the Agro-industrial park are unassailable. They can not be overstated. Delta and indeed Nigeria would gain bountifully as it is a plausible elixir for poverty reduction and catalyst for economic development and wealth creation among the people.

Governor Okowa deserves commendation for the enduring vision of Delta Agro-industrial park.

A legacy project that would boost popular prestige and place Delta on the threshold of the agricultural revolution, rapid industrialization, and sustainable development.

Flood: 382, 208 Farmers to Get FG’s Agricultural Inputs

Source: This Day

Kebbi State Governor and Vice Chairman of the National Food Security Council (NFSC) Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, yesterday said no fewer than 382,208 farmers affected by flood in 2020, across Nigeria would get free farm inputs provided by the federal government .

Bagudu, who disclosed this in Birnin Kebbi during the national flag-off of the distribution of the free farm inputs said the items to be distributed include: assorted seeds, seedlings, pumping machines, agrochemicals, sprayers and other related inputs .

The governor said those engaged in livestock production would benefit from the invaluable gesture of the Federal Government through NEMA as the agency, assisted by other collaborating partners had already duly registered all the beneficiaries.

Bagud said “ For the first time, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Chairman of the Council has approved the provision of insurance covers to the beneficiaries.

“All the beneficiaries will henceforth be insured hence, they don’t need future support in case of any flood eventualities.”

He added that the president has mandated the Federal Ministries of Transport , Water Resources and Environment to come up with a National Drainage Architecture on the control of flooding to prevent threat to food security. “Happily, this is also in the bid to reduce the perennial devastating effects of flood on the economy”, he said .

While commending the president for what he descried as unparalleled gesture, Bagudu reiterated the commitment of the council to continue to support farmers, agro allied and food processing industries to bolster food security in the country.

Bagudu, who is also the Chairman Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat Production in Nigeria, thanked the president, ministers of the intervening ministries ,NEMA, SEMA and NGOs involved in the efforts to bring succour to the flood victims across the country.

In her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Saadiya Umar Faruk, said that the gesture signifies the commencement of yet another major landmark effort by the federal government to further support persons affected by the 2020 flood disaster. She said: “ Today’s event is a culmination of a follow up commitment to the initial emergency relief items distributed to the affected persons in the aftermath of the 2020 floods.

“ This intervention was approved to provide emergency agricultural inputs specifically to further support farmers that lost their crops as a result of the destruction of their farmlands and the cutting off of access to croplands during the flood disaster.

“The unfortunate flood incident resulted in the displacement of several communities, damage to infrastructure, destruction of crop lands and widespread environmental dislocation.

“The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, in response to the incidence activated the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to conduct detailed assessment of the situations and make recommendation for intervention.

“ In consideration of the severe devastation, President Muhammadu Buhari, deployed a high level delegation of Ministers, including myself, to visit some of the affected states including Kebbi State to commiserate with the people.”

She said what they witnessed during the visit was quite devastating as large swathes of agricultural investments were lost to the flood waters thereby destroying the livelihoods of the famers and threatening food security.

“The successful implementation of this intervention is therefore very important in assisting farmers with modern farm inputs and seeds that will support their speedy recovery from the disaster impact,” the Minister , added .

In his closing remarks, the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed, commended Governor Bagudu for embarking on the agricultural transformation which facilitated the attainment of self sufficiency in food production in the state and Nigeria.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Maigari Abdullahi Dakingari, expressed gratitude to federal government for its intervention to Kebbi farmers, saying that ‘ This positive development came at a better time and its commendable”, he said.

He sympathised with farmers over the monumental lost they incurred as a result of the devastating effect of the flood on agricultural produce, loss of lives , farmlands, houses and property.

NGO charges government on agricultural supports

Source: The Guardian

Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), Gombe State chapter, has lamented how insecurity in north-eastern Nigeria has disrupted farming, agribusiness and means of livelihood of thousands of households.

In its 14-point communiqué, the group, after a stakeholders meeting recently, added that insecurity in the zone had negative impacts on food production.

The stakeholders meeting towards scaling up investment in agriculture was organised by Hope Foundation for the Lonely with support from Action Aid Nigeria.

The communique, signed by the chairman, Yusuf Atiku, urged the government to strengthen security mechanism “to mitigate crises in the region.”

It also asked state governments to ensure an increase in and implementation of 2022 agriculture budget.

“Gombe State government should ensure the implementation as budgeted in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, budgetary allocation for smallholder women farmers.

“The government should ensure easy access to credit facility at single digit interest rate to be made available to smallholder women farmers across the state.

“Federal and state governments should employ agricultural extension officers to train smallholder women farmers on Good Agricultural Practice,” it said, adding:

“There should be a steady and deliberate incremental commitment to Agriculture budget such that 10% of the Malabo commitment is achieved in the yearly budget.

“Gombe State government should promote policies that enable women farmers to have land ownership,” the communique added.

Making agribusiness profitable

Agribusiness, which is a shift from food-security oriented farming to market, profit, and technology-driven farming as a business has a huge potential to provide self-employment opportunities, income generation, and secure the livelihoods of rural youth.

However, most women and youth do not find agriculture attractive due to the myriad of challenges faced in their quest to venture into agribusiness such as lack of access to adequate farmland, lack of access to finance, markets, and technology.

As part of the efforts towards making agriculture the mainstay of the economy away from oil,  President Muhammadu Buhari had directed Federal government institutions to work in synergy in lifting and diversifying the economy, and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) should be given all the support it needs to expand Integrated Farm Estate across the 109 senatorial zones in the country.

To this end, NALDA Executive Secretary Prince Paul Ikonne said the agency took advantage of the policies in the agricultural sector to make agriculture attractive and profitable by setting up integrated farm estates across the country.

In quest to produce what we eat and eat what we produce, Ikonne said the Authority under six months completed the first integrated farm estate in Suduje- Daura, Katsina State with social amenities such as school, clinic and a residential area, with 120 units of one bedroom apartments for the farmers and their families to live and work on the farm.

The integrated farm estate comprises of 40 poultry pens with a capacity of over 400,000 birds, Fish ponds with a capacity of 200,000 fishes, cow, and goat pens with a capacity of 500 animals, rabbit pens with a capacity of 3,000 rabbits, bee apiary with a capacity of 540 litres of honey per harvest, crop farming, packaging, and processing zones.

The NALDA boss said the Federal Government will be raking in over N1.7 billion in the first year from agribusiness that will be operating in the integrated farm estate.

While noting that the farm estate is established on a 100-hectare land donated by the Katsina State government, he said when replicated across the country will increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reduce unemployment and will go a long way towards achieving food security.

He explained that the program is under NALDA’s National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS), which President Mohammadu Buhari launched in November 2020.

However, President Buhari said the Integrated Farming scheme opens up more opportunities for employment, and most importantly creates a communal-based system that promotes food security, skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.

Buhari while restating his administration’s commitment to lifting 100 Nigerians out of poverty said the farm estate is a landmark in the country’s journey to achieving food security and ensuring that Nigeria eats what it produces.

He noted that with continuous effort being made in the agriculture sector, Nigeria could produce surplus that would be exported.

”No excuse will be enough to remain a mono-economy , with all the challenges in oil production and the fluctuating global crisis  when we have such opportunities in crop and livestock production.

“I am confident that Nigeria under my watch will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat, in a good harvest year we may even export our surplus and earn foreign exchange.

“Our vision of a robust agricultural economy continues to provide amazing results. Across the country today, we are seeing rising public and private interests in agriculture, especially among the youth, and a steady migration from subsistence to commercial farming,” he said.

Goal

Ikonne said the NALDA integrated farm estate is designed with a complete production chain for food and livestock, an irrigation system so that farmers will have three production cycles in a year.

“This will attract and keep young people busy in crop and livestock production all year round. We are thankful for the visionary steps the President has taken in building and protecting the economy with sound policies, particularly in the agricultural sector, and clearly, we now produce what we eat and eat what we produce,” he said.

Furthermore, Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari said with proper management of the project and a strong irrigation system the integrated farm would serve its full purpose, with benefits to the people and economy of the state.

Capacity and participating farmers

The NALDA boss explained that the integrated farm estate is deliberately designed to accommodate, empower and position a new set of 1,500 agro entrepreneurs every year.

“The integrated farm estate comprises 40 poultry pens with a capacity of over 400,000 birds, fish ponds with a capacity of 200,000 fishes, cow and goat pens with a capacity of 500 animals, rabbit pens with a capacity of 3,000 rabbits, bee apiary with a capacity of 540 litres of honey per harvest.

“We will take in new farmers every year (and farmers pass out and move on to become independent after being trained and making money). This will attract and keep young people busy in crop and livestock production all year round.”

Explaining how the Authority used the 100-hectare land donated by the Katsina government, he said: “This farm is designed as cyclical, where every process is part of a value chain. It is divided into 80 hectares for crop production and 20 hectares for animal production, processing and packaging, with growing of feeds, which include recycling animal wastes as fertiliser for plants, and growing plants to feed the animals.

”The ecosystem is best appreciated with low cost, domestically fabricated machinery like the incubators, ovens, and battery cages which can be easily understood and adapted by the farming community.”

He said the participating farmers are from 13 communities, namely Suduje, Madobi, Kaya, Sharawa, Sukwanawa, Dadin Kowa, Daberan, Benga, Kurneji, Zari, Mazuji, Tambu and Dannakola.

While explaining that the integrated farm has a processing and packaging zone for fish, chicken and pepper, he added that farmers from outside the estate will also have their products, especially pepper processed and packaged so they can get more value.

•Staff feeding birds at the Integrated Farm Estate poultry pen at Suduje-Daura, Katsina State.

“The entire farm has the capacity to generate over N1.7b in the first year. This has the capacity to engage 1,500 women and youth directly.

“The Integrated Farming System (IFS) holds a special position as nothing is wasted, the by-product of one system becomes the input for another.

“With the farm’s poultry, fishery, rabbitry and bee keeping unit, about 95 percent of the nutritional requirement of the system is self-sustained through resource recycling,” he added.

Training

On training, Ikonne said farmers are being trained on best agricultural practices in crop farming, livestock, poultry, rabbits and fish farming.

“Sustainable development is the only way to promote rational utilisation of resources and environmental protection,” he said.

Support

In providing financial support, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele said the apex bank would work with Ikonne and his team to explore the potential of providing affordable and accessible finance to the beneficiaries under the agricultural scheme to scale up productivity.

He pointed out that the strategic mandate of NALDA aligned with the current developmental priorities of the CBN.

He said CBN would integrate rural farmers into the federal government’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), which is focused on providing five million homes with electricity using renewable energy.

He explained that under the programme, farmers with good repayment records under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) would be eligible to get solar home systems (SHS) to supply electricity to their homes.

He noted that the bank would develop a repayment framework that would allow the farmers to use their farm produce to pay for electricity consumed under the scheme.

The CBN, therefore, added that the initiative was expected to improve the standard of living of smallholder farmers across the country and motivate prompt loan repayment, as well as enhance the sustainability of the programme.

Buhari said with support of public institutions, like the CBN and Bank of Agriculture, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable.

“With the support of public institutions, like the CBN and Bank of Agriculture, old tools are giving way to more mechanised styles of farming, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable. Indeed, we are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector.’’

Job creation

Ikonne said the integrated farm estate would go a long way to uplifting rural life through increased income by creating employment opportunities to the farming communities all year round.

“As the number of enterprises increase, the profit margin also increases and further generates employment opportunities for the farming communities all year round and provides better economic and nutritional security. This will go a long way to uplifting rural life through increased income.”

CBN disburses N756.5bn loan to 3.7 million farmers

Source: Punch

The Central Bank of Nigeria has disclosed that it has disbursed a total of N756.51bn to over 3.7 million farmers under the Anchor Borrower’s Programme since the inception of the initiative in 2015.

The apex bank revealed this in its communiqué no. 137 of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting released on Tuesday.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), had in 2015 launched the ABP in a bid to boost agricultural production and reverse Nigeria’s negative balance of payments on food.

Beneficiaries of this programme include farmers cultivating cereals (rice, maize, wheat etc.) cotton, roots and tubers, sugarcane, tree crops, legumes, tomato and livestock.

Loans are disbursed to the beneficiary farmers through deposit money banks, development finance institutions and microfinance banks, which the programme recognises as participating financial institutions.

The communiqué read, “Under the bank’s development finance initiatives, the bank granted N756.51bn to 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, of which N120.24bn was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

The CBN also stated that so far, the sum of N121.57bn has been disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries under its Agribusiness, Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, an initiative introduced in February 2017 by the MPC.

It added that as of May 2021, about 109,879 SMEs had benefited from its Targeted Credit Facility and National Youth Investment Fund schemes.

The communiqué read, “For the Targeted Credit Facility, N318.17bn was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.

“Under the National Youth Investment Fund, the bank released N3bn to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.”

Other sectors that have benefited from the bank’s facilities and initiatives include health, information and communication technology and film.

It said that under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, N3.22bn was disbursed firms classified as confidential beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion, and IT verticals.

“Under the N1tn Real Sector Facility, the bank released N923.41bn to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.

“On the N100bn Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility, N98.41bn was disbursed for 103 health care projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.”

Similarly, the sum of N232.54m was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme for the development of testing kits and devices for Covid-19 and Lassa fever.

NIGERIA: FAO focuses on water-saving drip irrigation

Source: Afrik21

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is granting $350,000 in funding to Nigeria. The funds are intended to promote the practice of drip irrigation in the country, which uses less water and electricity.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is promoting drip irrigation in agriculture to conserve its water resources. Abuja is supported in this approach by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which has just allocated $350,000 in funding. For the international organisation, this is a technical support to Nigeria’s irrigation policy.

The project, which will be implemented until December 2022, concerns Niger State in particular. “The project will identify and replace flood irrigation systems with water and electricity efficient drip irrigation systems,” says Suleiman Hussein Adamu, Nigeria’s Federal Minister for Water Resources. To achieve this goal, the completion of the feasibility and detailed design study for the implementation of the drip irrigation system is necessary. Officials from the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources will also support the process of installing these systems through to commissioning and testing at the project sites.

The US$350,000 funding is part of the Technical Cooperation Programme for FAO member countries. In addition to providing modern irrigation systems to farmers, the funding will help build the institutional capacity of existing river basin authorities in Nigeria.

To save water resources, the Federal Government of Nigeria is also promoting centre-pivot irrigation. This is a form of overhead irrigation, replicating artificial rainfall. It is suitable for flat land like that found in northern Nigeria. However, it is not suitable for growing certain cereals such as rice, which require a lot of water. In 2019, Kebbi and Zamfara states benefited from nine centre pivot irrigation systems. The new facilities are improving agricultural production in the Sokoto-Rima river basin.

Africa’s transformation impossible without Nigeria, AGRA insists

Source: The Guardian

Women farmers seek security for improved food production
Former Ethiopian Prime Minister and Board Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Hailemariam Dessalegn, has argued that the continent’s agricultural transformation is impossible without Nigeria.

He observed that one-fifth of the entire African population resides in Nigeria that also boasts as the largest economy on the continent.

Dessalegn, who is on a week-long visit to the most populous nation, spoke during a courtesy call on the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja.

The Ethiopian said after a painstaking study of the scheme of things in the country, Nigeria’s rapid transformation lies on agriculture, urging the current administration to prioritise the sector.

“To have a systemic and structural change in our economy, we need to change and transform agriculture,” he stated.

The ex-PM regretted that Nigeria that was renowned for livestock had receded, stressing the need for the nation to retake his pivotal position as a vibrant player in the industry.

He hinted of AGRA’s plan to expand its current reach of about 11 African nations during the next strategic period covering 2022 to 2030.

In his remarks, AGRA Nigeria Country Manager, Dr. Kehinde Makinde, said under the concluding Country Strategy Framework that began in 2017, the organisation has been able to reach 1.5 million smallholder farmers in Niger and Kaduna states.

He explained that their focus was to raise productivity in three staple crops – maize, soyabean and rice – besides linking growers to market and ensuring climate change resilience.

The country manager pointed out that AGRA has been encouraging gender and private sector participation in the sector.

Also speaking, the minister maintained that although the country had made appreciable progress in maize and rice production, there were still more miles to cover to attain food security.

She harped on the need for the country to improve its local processing capacity, provide farmers with improved seeds and train them on best farming practices to increase yield per hectare.

While acknowledging AGRA’s efforts at increasing productivity and reducing post-harvest losses, Ahmed argued that there was still much wastage in the system, hence the urgency to open up rural roads for farmers to easily access market for their produce.

IN a related development, the Smallholder Women Farmers of Nigeria (SWOFON) has charged the Federal Government to provide security for their safe return to farming.

Its President, Mary Ishaya, lamented that the prevailing insecurity in the land has shot up the prices of foodstuffs in the last few months, even as she stated that government’s interventions in the sector had not paid off.

Ishaya, who made the appeal at a stakeholders’ parley on National Gender Policy in Abuja, listed their other problems to include lack of access to and control of lands, as well as paucity of farm inputs and loans.

Empowering Nigerian Women in Farm Tractor Operations

Source: This Day

An integrated agricultural firm, Alluvial, in partnership with Mastercard Foundation has established the Tractor Operations Training Activity to empower 50 young women in Nigeria in farm tractor operations, writes Rebecca Ejifoma

Last year, Nigeria was rated 128th out of 153 countries globally and 27th out of 53 countries in Africa on the World Bank’s Global Gender Gap Index. Also, it revealed that Nigerian women account for 41 per cent ownership of small businesses in the country with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating micro-businesses. However, these businesses operate mostly on survival mode and an after-thought if their attempts to secure a formal job is futile. Thanks to this, Nigeria has one of the highest entrepreneurship rates globally.

Consequently, Alluvial and Mastercard Foundation powered the Tractor Operations Training Activity under the Alluvial Community Block Farming to up-skill these young women and enable them thrive as entrepreneurs. Its initiative is also in line with the Young Africa Works strategy of Mastercard Foundation to deliver dignified and fulfilling jobs for 10 million young Nigerians – 70 per cent of which are women – by 2030, with a focus on agriculture, digital and creative economies.

Interestingly, Young Africa Works, which is Mastercard Foundation’s strategy, is focused on addressing youth unemployment and the poverty challenge in Africa. Its strategy is to secure dignified and fulfilling jobs for 30 million young people in Africa, particularly women. This strategy is premised on the fact that securing employment is the way out of poverty and youth employment is an assured path to lift Africa out of dearth.

Indeed, women are described as indispensable in the fight against poverty. This, the duo explained, is because an empowered woman makes a capacitated family. And because the family represents the smallest unit of society, the family gains the most when a woman is educated and equipped. Thus, both Alluvial and MasterCard Foundation are certain that such a woman will also groom enlightened children who will grow into responsible and independent adults to contribute positively to the society.

Today, this project, which will train young women to operate and run a business out of tractor operations is termed an inclusion into a male dominated field. “This is a deliberate move and is part of the vision of Alluvial Agriculture to empower and impact two million farmers across Africa over the next five years,” the organisations highlighted.

According to the ESG and Commercial Manager, Alluvial Agriculture, Naona Usoroh, the training programme aims to reduce the gender gap in terms of economic enablement. “The training, which will fully sponsor 50 women, will equip these women with the skills and tools to successfully manage a tractor operations business.”

She also outlined that applications for this programme are opened to young women aged 18 to 35 years who are resident in Nigeria, adding that participants are expected to undergo a three-week boot camp and those who completed the training were presented with a certificate of completion.

The ESG further acknowledged that Alluvial Agriculture pushes to solve Africa’s food challenge through community block farming techniques. With presence across African countries, Alluvial Agriculture is said to provide support to small-scale farmers in the form of training, technology, land preparation, irrigation, input supplies and market access. This is why the need for tractor training operations has become paramount.

Listing benefits of the training, Usoroh said beneficiaries would be able to access post-training work opportunities on any of Alluvial’s various community block farms where mechanisation services are required.

She added: “It is interventions like the Tractor Operations Training Activity put together by corporate organisations that will create platforms for the inclusion of women into economically empowering fields,” while emphasising that this would help grow the intrinsic entrepreneurship abilities of women and encourage them to establish and scale up their businesses.

Undoubtedly, this programme will not only elevat female entrepreneurs in the country, it will also with time bridge the gender gap and spur women to thrive to the pinnacle of their careers – whether formal or informal.

Nigeria records N3.9tn agric trade deficit in four years

Source: Punch

Nigeria’s imports of agricultural goods between January 2017 and March 2021 surpassed its exports in the period by N3.9tn.

The total value of trade in agricultural goods in the period under review was N6.2tn, comprising N5.04tn imports and N1.14tn exports, with a trade deficit of N3.9tn.

These figures were arrived at after an analysis of foreign trade data obtained from the website of the National Bureau of Statistics.

In 2017, Nigeria generated N125.88bn from the export of agricultural goods and spent N891.87bn on imports.

Nigeria’s agriculture exports in 2017 comprised largely sesamum seeds, cashew nuts, soya beans, and ginger, which were exported to China, India, Russia and Greece, among others.

The import bill was dominated by durum wheat seeds, maize seed, and crude palm oil, which were imported from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Ghana.

In 2018, the country’s agriculture imports stood at N855.09bn, while goods worth N305.25bn were exported.

Durum wheat, not in seeds, was the major driver of agriculture imports during the year, followed by mackerel, herrings, and Faroe Island.

Canada, Russia, United States, Japan, and Chile were some of the countries Nigeria imported from, while Vietnam, Netherlands, Italy and Indonesia were the country’s largest agriculture exports destinations.

Goods exported to these countries included fermented Nigerian cocoa beans, frozen shrimps, and prawns.

In 2019, Nigeria’s agricultural imports rose by 12.18 per cent from the previous year to N959.28bn, while exports fell to N269.9bn, resulted in a trade deficit of N689.38bn.

Similar to the preceding year, Nigeria imported goods including durum wheat and mackerel from countries such as Japan and Netherlands, while sesamum seeds and fermented Nigerian cocoa beans were exported to Asia and Europe.

In 2020, agriculture imports and exports maintained an upward trajectory with import bill jumping to N1.7tn, while exports rose to N320.7bn.

The agricultural trade deficit was highest in 2020 with a deficit of N1.4tn.

In the first quarter of the year, Nigeria spent N261.38bn importing agricultural goods from the United States, Latvia, Canada and Argentina. In the last quarter of 2020, N532.39bn was spent on importing durum wheat, palm oil, and herring from Asia and Europe.

During the year, Asia, Europe, and Africa were the top agriculture exports destinations. A total of N186.16bn worth of agricultural goods were exported to Asian countries; N98.6bn to European countries; and N14.98bn to African countries.

In the first three months of 2021, the total value of agricultural trade stood at N757.4bn, consisting of N127.2bn exports and N630.2bn imports.

The Founder and Managing Director of Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, told one of our correspondents that the country had yet to start producing export-worthy agricultural products.

He said, “In the first place, most of Nigeria’s agriculture exports are goods like sesamum seeds while the major agricultural production in the country are tubers, seeds and grains. Most of these goods are for local consumption, and they don’t have a huge international market, other than Nigerians in diaspora.

“You don’t expect Nigeria to export cassava in its raw format, but when some of them are processed, we can export. But we are currently not meeting local demands. So the major thing is that we don’t produce so much – that is, sufficient quantity of exportable agricultural commodities. Also, we are not yet food-sufficient as a country; so, as long as there is food insufficiency, importation of agricultural items will be higher than exportation.”

He stressed the need for the government to ensure food sufficiency in the country and help farmers boost their capabilities.

“Eliminating the trade deficit is only possible when we become food-sufficient. Also, the Federal Government must help farmers to improve their products handling capabilities, which means better storage, transportation and preservation. If you can’t preserve your products, many of them will be destroyed, therefore limiting the opportunity to export them,” Chukwu added.

The Vice President at Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Emmanuel Ijewere, warned about the possible consequences of the trade deficit in agricultural products.

He said, “This deficit creates unemployment, increases the level of poverty, and hampers infrastructural development. Our future is being compromised as the younger generation is being told that there is guaranteed future.

“Therefore, as a means of self-preservation, these young ones will be forced to carry arms if the current situation lingers.”

He advised the government to take proactive steps to close the deficit gap.

Ijewere said, “First and foremost, the Federal Government should reorient itself to stop talking without taking actions. It is clear to everybody that Nigeria‘s future is not in oil but in agriculture. Export in Nigeria is being treated with ignominy; the entire process of exporting agricultural products is cumbersome and rife with inefficiencies that discourage exports.

“Thus, this is the time for the government to adopt a better attitude towards agriculture and create an enabling environment that will encourage local producers to export.”