Cross River secures N500m loans for farmers

Cross River State has set aside the sum of N500 million as loan to farmers in preparation for post-covid-19 era.The state governor, Senator Ben Ayade, disclosed this in Calabar at the inauguration of input distribution to farmers as part of palliatives against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ayade, who said this in a statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Christian Ita, declared that “Cross River State has made a choice of agro-industrialization and the project pathway is organically connected with a kind of syntax that allows you enjoy the pleasure of the income stream that we have provided by making available a five per cent interest loan for all farmers in Cross River State by leaving the sum of N500 million with the Cross River Microfinance Bank.”

Ayade has described farming as a veritable leeway to prosperity, urging Cross River people, especially women, to go into farming. Ayade said: “Let me use this opportunity to say it very loud and clear that the future prosperity lies with farmers. If you don’t have a farm, you have no business in the 21st century.

“The post-COVID-19 pandemic has become very clear that only farmers have the capacity to survive even if all the doors are closed, and so I challenge everyone of you to own a farm and to show me indeed that your farm is working.

Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji, Sabo Nanono, disclosed that the ministry was frantically working to ensure that Nigeria becomes self-sufficient in food production.

“This gathering is one of our efforts to work hand-in hand with state governments and other relevant stakeholders to assist in ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in the face of COVID-19 Pandemic,” he said.


‘Agric insurance, challenge of women farmers’

ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has identified low level of awareness on how to access agricultural insurance services in Nigeria as part of the challenges faced by small-scale women farmers in the country.

This was disclosed by Halima Oiza Sadiq, Executive Director, Participation Initiative in Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID), during a one-day stakeholders’ meeting organised by AAN at New Age Modern Hall, Lokoja.

According to the report, other challenges include lack of knowledge on how to access agro-insurance, non-involvement in its design and implementation, weak synergy between Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Cooperation (NAIC) and extension agencies, ministry of agriculture and the targeting of only elites/political farmers in the services.

The report equally lamented the poor government funding of yearly remittal of premium subsidy to NAIC as well as bank delays in remittal of farmers’ premium on time to NAIC.

Collaborating the report, Sadiq said there were inadequate number of staff in NAIC at the state level, stressing that the stringent conditions for agricultural insurance make access very difficult.

Other challenges associated with the policy include non-coverage of agricultural crops destroyed by cattle, poor publicity of NAIC activities, non-compensation by NAIC to women farmers who were insured and suffered losses, non-representation of women in Anchor Borrowers’ programme project management team, mostly for those that have accessed loans.

Speaking also ActionAid Programme Officer, Friday Ogezi, noted that some smallholder women farmers were not aware of their rights, saying that in most cases when they suffered losses, they were back to square one. He assured that the report would serve as a guide for these smallholder women farmers to have easy access to NAIC activities and services.


Lagos empowers 800 rice farmers to boost production

The Lagos State Government ( LASG) has empowered no fewer than 800 rice farmers in the state with preferred high yielding Farrow 44 seeds, new high quality knapsack sprayers, rain boots and farm coats.

The State Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, presented the tools to the farmers  at the opening ceremony of a three-day sensitisation, capacity building and empowerment programme on Tuesday in Araga, Epe.

Olusanya said that the empowerment was also geared toward ensuring sustainable supply of paddy by the farmers, bearing in mind the imminent completion of the state-owned Imota Rice Mill project.

She said that the training was necessary to bridge the rice demand deficit of the state and the Federal Government’s current ban on importation of rice.

According to her, the training is to expose farmers to  current production practices in the rice value chain.

Olusanya said that  the state government’s intervention was also informed by the need to boost rice farming.

“It is expected that if these techniques are adopted by the farmers in the next planting season, it will result in an  increase in paddy production to an expected average yield of four tonnes per harvest,” she said.

The acting commissioner explained that the capacity building and training was expected to give participants the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in modern and improved rice farming techniques.

She noted that the training would also expose the farmers to efficient harvesting methods by using the most up-to-date agricultural practices to ensure maximum output, improved yield and derive maximum return on investment.

“Because the government has limited agricultural cultivable land area and with the increasing rate of small and large scale rice mills across the nation, there is a strain on the state getting constant supply of paddy to feed the mill when it becomes fully operational.

“It is to this end that the Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on sensitising rice farmers to train and disseminate the current production practices and empowerment geared toward sustainable supply of paddy,” Olusanya said.

She noted that the 32 metric tonnes per hour rice mill at Imota was nearing completion, stressing that at full capacity, it would produce 115,200 metric tonnes of milled rice which required about 280,000 metric tonnes of paddy per year.

She said hence the need to stock enough paddy to ensure a smooth take off of the mill.

”This is an important component of making Lagos State a 21st century economy in which agriculture and food security have critical roles to play.

”The commitment of the government  is to construct the 32 metric tons per hour rice mill at Imota, to bridge the rice demand deficit; especially; due to the current ban on importation of rice into the country,” she said.

The acting commissioner also  said  that the training would take place in 20 locations that would  cut across: Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Gboyinbo, Idena, Obada, Itoikin, and Ise for the next three-weeks.

She said that farmers would be trained on global best practices and in  the most effective ways to grow their rice.

“We wil be monitoring the farmers to see how their yields improve, then take the training forward while also empowering  them on land clearing, tractorisation and swam buggies which we will be able to provide for them.

“The rice will be very healthy. A lot of what we import is over-processed and what we end up getting is the white rice, which means that the bran is completely off which is the most proteineous part of the rice grain.

“What we are going to be producing here is local rice but it is going to be of very high quality and that is why we will be getting the improved seedlings from the IITA,” Olusanya said.

In his remark, Mr Segun Atho, the National Deputy President of  Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria, commended the state government for the training and, especially, on rice farming.

Atho noted that the capacity building would go a long way in providing the needed paddy for rice production while simultaneously improving the economic status of rice farmers in the state.

Another farmer, Mr Micheal Ojo, said that  rice farmers were ready to partner the state government to increase production.

Ojo urged the government to provide more tools such as tractor and other mechanised tools to assist rice farmers. (NAN)


IFAD to Empower 1.7m Farmers in Nigeria, Others

About 1.7 million small-scale farmers in Nigeria, Kenya and Pakistan will soon receive personalised agricultural advice through their mobile phones as a means to improve their incomes, food security and resilience to economic shocks caused by COVID-19, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has disclosed.

According to a statement, the initiative is one of the 11 proposals to receive initial funding under IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF), comes as a result of a new partnership between IFAD and Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD), a global non-profit organisation co-founded by Nobel Prize winning economist Michael Kremer.

It pointed out that using mobile phone technology, farmers would receive low-cost, customised advice to improve on-farm practices, input utilisation, pest and disease management, environmental sustainability and access to markets.

IFAD’s RPSF, which was launched recently by IFAD’s UN Goodwill Ambassadors, the actor and humanitarian Idris Elba and the model and activist Sabrina Dhowre Elba, aims to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods and food security of rural poor people.

“Funding for these first 11 initiatives, amounting to $11.2 million from the RPSF plus $5.2 million in co-financing mainly from governments and implementing partners, will benefit an estimated 6.7 million small-scale farmers in developing countries who are adversely impacted by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Among the proposals financed are two regionally focused initiatives in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa that will provide emergency livelihood support through local farmers’ organisations, and eight country-level initiatives in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine and Rwanda.

“The majority of these initiatives, which are embedded in national COVID-19 response strategies, will be implemented through IFAD project teams and other strategic partners to ensure fast delivery,” it stated.


Post-COVID-19 prosperity lies with farmers –Ayade

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, has described farming as a veritable leeway to prosperity, urging Cross Riverians, especially women, to go into farming.

The governor spoke in Calabar at the flag off of inputs distribution to farmers as part of mitigation measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. At the event was also the Minister for Agriculture, Sabo Nanono.

According to Ayade, his administration’s commitment to agriculture was the reason farmers in the state enjoy five percent interest loan.

“The post-COVID-19 pandemic has become very clear that only farmers have the capacity to survive even if all the doors are closed and so, I challenge everyone to own a farm and show me that your farm is working,” he said.

He urged the minister to increase fund set aside by the Federal Government for women farmers to encourage them.

Earlier, Nanono disclosed that his ministry was working to ensure Nigeria become self-sufficient in food production.

He said: “This gathering is one of our efforts to work hand-in-hand with state governments and other relevant stakeholders to assist in ensuring food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is my pleasure to be here with you today to roll out the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and avert food scarcity in 2021.”


Farmers gets 20,000 cocoa seedlings, others for 2020 Farming season

As part of effort to ensure farmers are adequately provided with farm inputs for the 2020 farming season, the federal government has distributed 20,000 cocoa seedlings, over 5,000 oil palm sprouted nuts and 1,500 kg cashew seeds to farmers in Imo state.

In addition, yam farmers through their national association and other cooperative groups will be supported with 20,000 node of vine cuttings and 10,000 foundation seeds of yam as well as 200 litres of pathway organic growth enhancer also the Potatoes farmers will benefit from 1,500 bundles of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and 200 litres of pathway organic solution was also given to the yam farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono during the roll-out ceremony of the distribution of free agricultural inputs to farmers at New Owerri, Owerri, Imo State reiterated government commitment to ensuring that Smallholder farmers across the country have access to quality seeds, stating that it is a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security and industrialization of the agricultural sector.

Alhaji Sabo Nanono explained that “through this effort and other complementary interventions by different stakeholders, the government hopes to increase quality seeds, the resilience of farmers, accessibility and the national food systems in general.”

The Minister noted that “the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers.”

He stressed that “coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr. President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.”

The minister informed that ‘’ the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of seeds, seedlings of cocoa, sprouted nuts of oil palm, vines of orange flesh, sweet potatoes, one node vine cuttings of yam and its seeds and groundnut seeds as part of the Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and prevent food scarcity in 2021.

Nanono said the Ministry “is also supporting groundnut farmers through the Groundnut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association (GPPMAN) with improved 3 mt groundnut seeds. These seeds, seedlings, nuts, vines and other inputs are being given to farmers free’’.

He disclosed that in the roll out distribution exercise, “at least 35% of the agricultural inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly.”

The Minister informed that “the next major roll-out of support to farmers will take place in Borno State, where improved wheat, groundnut and rice seeds, as well as gum arabica seedlings, will be distributed to farmers nationwide along with their inputs.”

In his remark, the governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma lauded the Agricultural policies and visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari’s in the sector geared towards job creation, food sufficiency and economic growth.

He said, “Imo State will buy into the Agriculture policy because the state has Agricultural potentials which will create jobs for its teeming youth population and boost the Internally Generated Revenue of the state and Nigeria in general.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Imo State Dr. Lambert Orisakwe noted that “Imo State is predominantly an agrarian society where every family is engaged in one form of agricultural practice or the other”. He said the coming of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to distribute agro palliative to farmers in the state is a welcome development. This August and memorable occasion is very refreshing and calls for celebration.”

In her Goodwill message the Commissioner of Livestock Development, Imo State, Hon. Obiageri Ajoku called for a robust synergy relationship with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development towards achieving food and nutrition in Nigeria.

While giving the vote of thanks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Mrs Karima Babangida thanked the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma for gracing the occasion and flagging off the seed distribution exercise of oil palm, cashew, rice, yam, potatoes, groundnut, and cocoa to farmers; and the organic growth enhancer for higher yield of the crops especially yam and orange flesh potatoes.


Revving up yam production, farmers’ profit with technologies

Yam has been described as the most important source of dietary calories in Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria, ranking as the third most important source of protein supply.

Hence, yam is important for food security and income generation, just as 31.8% of the population in Nigeria and 26.2% in Ghana depend on yams for food and income security, according to Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

In Nigeria, yam is a food and cash crop, and plays an important role in food security and in the livelihoods of 60 million people in the West African region. The crop is cultivated mostly in the derived, humid, and southern Guinea savanna agro-ecologies.

About 48 million tonnes of yam (95% of global supply) are produced on 4 million hectares annually in the region, mainly in five countries of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo; Nigeria alone accounts for 70% of global yam supply.

However, despite its importance in the economy and lives of many Africans and Nigerians in particular, yam faces several constraints that significantly reduce its potentialities to support rural development and meet consumers’ needs as an affordable nutritional product.

The constraints to yam production include poor value addition technologies, scarcity and high cost of quality yam seeds, and on and off farm post-harvest losses. YIIFSWA also lists “low soil fertility, unexploited potential of yam markets by smallholder farmers, unavailability of adapted varieties to stress environments of the savannah agro-ecologies, diseases and pests, and limited opportunities for smallholder farmers, mainly rural women, in yam production and marketing” as additional challenges.

“Globally, Africa’s contribution to supplies of grains is modest: maize, about 5%; rice, 3%; and wheat, 3% in the late 2000s (FAOSTAT 2013). But Africa is the lead player in the supplies of cassava with 50% of world production and yam with 95%.

Africa’s two predominantly world food crops, yam and cassava, are produced at a high cost because of low technologies,” YIIFSWA said in a document.

Dr Robert Asiedu, IITA’s former Director for West Africa, said: “The unavailability and high cost of high quality seed yam is the primary constraint in West Africa with the food security of millions of people heavily dependent on the availability and affordability of seed tubers.”

Therefore, high ratio propagation technologies developed to make yam seeds available at competitive prices and to address the constraints of quality, rapidity, and multiplication in seed yam production should be explored by the current administration in Nigeria.

Traditionally, farmers use tubers as seeds, which is inefficient and costly. High production costs are attributed to the use of seed yam tubers, which account for about 30% of the total yield and as much as 63% of the total variable cost incurred per season of cultivation. Moreover, most of the tubers are of low quality, containing pests (nematodes) and pathogens (virus) which decrease the yield of yam tubers.


NIRSAL supports 2,872 farmers in South-South

In its efforts to attain food security, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc) has supported 

2,872 farmers of various crops in the South-South region of the country under the Anchor Borrowers Programme designed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Specifically, it is empowering 475 female farmers in Uyo for cassava production during the 2020 wet season farming.

NIRSAL in a statement said the women farmers empowerment programme was in strict adherence to the principles of all-inclusive growth.

According to its Agro Geo-Cooperative® (AGC) model, NIRSAL structured the farmers into a group which was aptly named the Uyo Women Agro Geo-Cooperative. Thereafter, the 475 female farmers were trained on good agronomic practices and received various inputs for their use.

In addition, all 475 hectares of land will be mechanized throughout the planting season to enhance yields and profits and eliminate the drudgery of farming with crude implements.

Furthermore, members of the Uyo Women AGC will receive finance through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) for which NIRSAL Plc is playing a critical role as a Participating Financial Institution (PFI) in ensuring that the CBN’s and indeed the Federal Government’s developmental and economic diversification goals are met.

To officialize the activities, NIRSAL Plc flagged-off the distribution of inputs to the farmers during a ceremony held at Anang People Primary School, Obio Ndot, Oruk Anam LGA of Akwa Ibom State where Mrs. Theresa Thompson Akpan, the President of the Uyo Women AGC, described the CBN’s support through NIRSAL as a milestone in enhancing cassava production in the state.

She tasked farmers under the Uyo Women AGC to embrace NRSAL Plc’s approach of farming as a business in order to move from peasant farming to sustainable agribusiness. She thanked NIRSAL Plc for harnessing the female farmers’ potential and for its continued support of agribusiness in Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking through Helen Akula, the Head of NIRSAL’s Akwa Ibom State Project Monitoring, Reporting and Remediation Office (PMRO), Aliyu Abdulhameed, the organization’s Managing Director, noted that NIRSAL’s support of Uyo Women AGC will not only empower the 475 farmers of the AGC but will create jobs for many families in the community, thereby achieving NIRSAL’s mission of forging partnerships between finance and agriculture while achieving food security, creating jobs and spurring economic growth.

He added that through the ABP, the farmers’ door to commercial financing had been unlocked, thereby paving the way for a better-quality life. He, however, reminded the farmers that “the input you received today is not a grant but a loan that must be paid back for other farmers to also benefit from.  I have faith in you all that together as a team every kobo will be repaid with ample profit left in the bank for you to enjoy the fruits of your labour.”

Also speaking at the event, Desmond Ushe, the Acting Head of the CBN’s Akwa Ibom State Development Finance Office, noted that with the integration of NIRSAL’s AGC concept, risks will be reduced significantly, and the participation of farmers in the ABP would be boosted.

Ushe solicited for sincerity and commitment from the farmers to match that of Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the CBN, whom he said possesses the utmost passion for the ABP and for economic growth through agriculture.

The event in Akwa Ibom fits into NIRSAL’s regional and nationwide support for farmers under the ABP. A total of 2,872 rice, maize and cassava farmers belonging to Uyo Women AGC, Pemo Anegbette AGC, Upalibuisi AGC, Southern Basin AGC, Integrated AGC, Ijeoma Aibiokula AGC, Green Money Initiative AGC and God’s Own AGC are receiving NIRSAL’s support in the South-South states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta while a total of 44,670 farmers cultivating on 68,771 hectares of land are benefiting nationwide.

Rice, maize, cassava, sesame and soybean farmers in Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi states and the FCT were recently positioned for an increase in yields and improvement in livelihoods following NIRSAL’s support for their 2020 wet season farming activities also under the ABP.


NALDA partners Abia to boost agriculture

The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) says it is committed to boosting agriculture in Abia.

Mr Paul Ikonne, Executive Secretary of NALDA, made this known in a statement issued in Abuja by Mr Tope Ojeme, the agency’s Director of Communications.

Ikonne  gave the assurance when he led a delegation to the Government House in Umuahia.

He expressed the readiness of the agency to partner with the state government to resuscitate the Ogwe Golden Chicken farm.

Ikonne said that the mandate of the agency was to ensure availability of food, adding that it had rolled out the Back to Farm and National Young Farmers Schemes.

Ikonne stressed that Abia had been selected as one of the pilot states for the schemes in the country.

He gave an assurance that NALDA would provide technical support, training and inputs to encourage farmers to produce enough food for the country.

The executive secretary, however, urged communities to make land available for farming,

Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, on his part, said that the state was willing to partner with NALDA to revive the Ogwe Golden Chicken farm.

Ikpeazu noted that his administration was building cottage industries in the 17 local government areas of the state.

He also said that his administration was working toward making the state a major food processing hub.

The governor added that he was already mainstreaming agriculture for job creation and provision of raw materials.

He pledged to work with NALDA in critical areas that would ensure value addition.

Ikpeazu, however, called for urgent intervention to tackle the gully erosion increasingly ravaging arable lands in the state.(NAN)


Mechanization, digital solutions‘ll boost agricultural production in Nigeria — AATF

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, said mechanisation and digital solutions will boost agricultural productivity, accelerated market access, informed pricing, financing opportunities, and result-oriented extension services in Nigeria.

AATF made this known in its agricultural programme overview for African farmers, where it pointed out that the agricultural sector of Sub-Saharan Africa remains the least in terms of mechanized agricultural system compared to other parts of the world. The overview of mechanization and digital agriculture by the Foundation also highlighted factors that need urgency by African governments to adopt mechanized and digital solutions to tackle them, which include population growth and changing lifestyles, rapid urbanization, reducing the agricultural workforce, and others.

AATF believes that technology can be a catalyst for the transformation of the agriculture sector in Africa, as it has been in other parts of the world. AATF said: “The agricultural sector of Sub-Saharan Africa is the least mechanized in the world; farmers have on average a tenth of the mechanized tools of their peers in other developing regions. This lack of mechanization has undermined the competitiveness of African farmers, reducing their productivity and exacerbating a vicious cycle where they are unable to invest in modern machinery and in digital technology they require. “Population growth and changing lifestyles are creating a surge in demand for food, well beyond the current capacity of the sector. The rapid urbanization of African societies adds to the urgency. As individuals increasingly move to the cities, rural labour rates are likely to rise and farms will need to do more with fewer available hands and produce ever more food to meet the swelling demand.

“Mechanisation and digital solutions offer geometric production increase, accelerated market access, informed pricing, more financing opportunities, and results-oriented extension services required to drive radical change of the sector. It is critical to not only identify appropriate mechanization and digital technologies to markets to enhance their availability, access, and proper application by smallholder farmers for improved returns”, but it also stated. The Foundation also maintained that “The lack of mechanization is a key bottleneck to the transformation of African agriculture, which is why AATF is working to give farmers the tools to increase their productivity, investment in their farmers and access new markets.”