Nigeria asked to double investment in the agricultural sector

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has advised Nigeria to double investment in the agricultural sector.

In addition, Dr Sanginga said this should be backed by a vibrant rural infrastructural network development.

“No matter our good intentions, we will not see a transformation in agriculture if we continue to invest less than 10 per cent of our budget on agriculture,” Dr Sanginga said during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, in Ibadan.

Speaking in Oyo State, Dr Sanginga noted that although African governments committed to investing at least 10 per cent of their annual budget in agriculture in Maputo, Mozambique in 2003, only a handful of these have fulfilled the promise.

“One of the countries that have fulfilled the commitment is Ethiopia…Ethiopia is today investing more than 10 per cent and that country is witnessing a rapid transformation in agriculture,” Dr Sanginga explained.

Making reference to the Oyo State Agricultural Policy framework, the IITA boss said that Oyo state’s investment in agriculture had nosedived from about 7 per cent to 2 per cent from 1995 to 2017, adding that the new administration needs to reverse the trend.

On rural infrastructure, Dr Sanginga said the government should pay close attention to rehabilitation of rural roads (feeder roads) to help the transportation of agricultural products from the farm to the markets.

He decried the deterioration of infrastructure in several farm settlements in Oyo state and urged the government to tackle the trend.

Dr Sanginga also called on the government to seek ways to involve the youths in agriculture, stressing that inclusiveness was imperative for sustainability in the agricultural development agenda of the state.

In his response, Governor Makinde commended the IITA DG for the courtesy visit and pledged the commitment of the state to work with IITA to achieve agricultural transformation.

The governor noted that his administration had identified four pillars: education, rural infrastructure, economic development (agriculture), and security to help bring the dividends of democracy to the people of Oyo state.

He noted that for the state to attain economic development, agriculture must be transformed.

“This is because most of our people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Besides, through agricultural transformation, we will be able to provide the needed jobs for our youths…the jobs we promised during the election campaigns,” he added.

On infrastructure, the governor said work on one of the major agricultural roads (Moniya to Iseyin) would commence soon. On completion, the road would ease the movement of farm produce to the market. He also said that discussions were in top gear with the federal government to rehabilitate the Oyo town-Iseyin road.

On the courtesy visit to the Governor were Drs Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General (Partnerships for Delivery); Alfred Dixon, Director for Development & Delivery; Tahirou Abdoulaye, Impact Economist; Godwin Atser, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist; Toyin Oke, Manager, Resource Mobilization, Protocol and External Liaison; Oludamilare Odusanya and Adetola Adenmosun, IITA Youth Agripreneurs.

The meeting with the Governor was facilitated by Debo Akande, Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agribusiness.


How to tap opportunities in Nigeria’s agricultural value chain – Experts

Development partners and stakeholders in the agriculture sector have urged Nigeria to create sustainable development from untapped opportunities in the agricultural value chains in the country.

They spoke at a one-day Agricultural Investment Summit in Abuja on Tuesday.
The event was organised by Business Innovation Facility (BIF) in partnership with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Convention on Business Integrity Limited.

BIF is a five-year (2014 – 2019) market systems development programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) with the aim to improve the lives of the poor in three countries: Malawi, Myanmar and Nigeria.

The programme tries to identify and address constraints in selected markets and provide technical assistance and grants to fund businesses and other market players.

One of the discussants at the summit was the Head of Economic Development Team and Senior Economic Adviser of the UK Department for International Development, Richard Ough.

He said the team had been applying sustainable approaches to give farmers access to tractors at an affordable rate to boost agricultural production in Nigeria. This he said the team does by partnering with tractor owners, such as Hello Tractors.

“In 2- 3 years, Nigeria would have more Agro-Tech facilities in the Agro-Tech sector than any other country in Africa,” he said.

Also speaking, Celestine Ayok of Spring Dairies said challenges and opportunities exist in livestock value chains.

According to him, the output of the livestock, water, grass and disease control are some of the challenges in this value chain. He said the challenges provide farmers with an opportunity to subscribe to commercial pasture production and artificial insemination to increase their income.

Mr Ayok said it is lack of water in the North that is making pastoralists to move with their animals towards the southern regions of Nigeria.

“If you have grass and there is no water, animals will move because almost half of their body is composed of water. An animal can stay up to 10-12 weeks without grasses, but three to four days without water is a disaster,” he said.

He said advocacy and sensitisation have to be properly executed to stop the incessant clashes between farmers and pastoralists in the country.

“If you asked me to stay at a point with my livestock not to move, then you must create a suitable environment for me,” he said.

Mr Ayok said Nigeria had functional dams in the 1970s and 80s but they are no longer capable of retaining enough water to compensate for the dry season. He called on the government to fix the dams in order to reduce the movement of livestock.

“Palletisation of grasses should be encouraged. Palletisation has an advantage, it takes care of dry season feeding and can be easily moved from region to region in bulks,” he said.

The Vice president of Lagos State catfish producers, Sejiro Oketojinu, encouraged fish farmers to feed their fishes with the nutritious feed in order to have healthy fishes.

“Lots of farmers don’t produce to meet the targeted market,” he said. “People don’t feed their fishes with their right nutrient that is why they don’t get the right results,” he said.

He unveiled some made in Nigeria properly packaged fish products in cans and advised farmers to do the same in order to add value to their produce.

In his remarks at the summit, the Country Director of BIF, Soji Apampa, said he looked forward to explaining some of the programme’s sustainable innovations to Nigerian lawmakers.

“If I have my ways, I will stand in front of the Red Chamber and explain to them how we can get a lot more out of their constituency projects and I will do the same thing at the lower chamber as well because they touch every single area of the country,” he said.


AFEX Nigeria Discusses Risk Management Approaches for Agricultural Finance and Trading

In its lineup of necessary issues to be discussed around agriculture and food security for the 2019 Agribusiness and Food Security Summit held on the 18th of July 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria, BusinessDay hosted a panel session on ‘Risk Management Approaches and Solutions in Agricultural Finance and Trading.’ Inherent in the theme for the session was a recognition of the dependency of Nigeria’s agricultural sector on collaboration between all stakeholders, who need to be supported by the right funding instruments and tools that are tailored to help deliver rapid growth and development. A key factor in this development can be identified as the various risk management approaches and solutions that are necessary to be implemented at all steps of the agriculture value chain.

Driving finance into the agricultural sector in Nigeria is a task with a high level of importance. The efficacy of interventions and solutions around agricultural finance and trading are, however, reduced drastically by the risks in the sector. Partnerships formed between industry players, banks, investors and the government reduce the risks, allow for economic exploitation of ideas and talents, and give rise to opportunities, which eventually form a risk management approach by extension. 

The panel, which was moderated by BusinessDay journalist Caleb Ojewale, included AFEX Nigeria’s Country Manager, Ayodeji Balogun alongside the CEO of NIRSAL Aliyu Abdulhameed, the ED of the Bank of Agriculture, Bode Abiyoke, the Director, Development Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Mudarshir Olaitan, and the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan. The discussion focused on investigating the current perceptions of risk management in agriculture by key stakeholders and then sketched out some of the innovative solutions currently emerging in the space. 

Addressing the risk in agricultural financing, Mr. Balogun stated that agriculture is a significant part of the Nigerian economy, which is still driven largely by fragmented crop production. Grouping the risks faced under macro and micro views, he identified food security, inflation, foreign exchange and economic diversification as concerns on a macro level while product availability, credit risks, business & cash flow risks were grouped under the micro level. Mr. Balogun also pointed out the effect of price volatility and low levels of loans/ credit to agriculture, stating that although the constraints to lending might be understandable, considering the instability and the unpredictable nature of the sector, it is clear that limited financing represents a severe impediment to the industry. 

Mr. Balogun then offered some solutions to the risk management process, listing some possible interventions that could be carried out on both the demand and supply side in the short, medium and long terms. Starting out with his proposed solutions, he explained that trades need to be logged on a trading platform for transparency and price discovery, with the application and processing systems automated for speed and independence. He also suggested that risk share facilities need to be put in place; a food security special intervention fund needs to be established; and the Staple Crop Processing Zone projects (SCPZ) need to be restructured. 

Agricultural finance and trading are a vital component of the AFEX Nigeria business model. The private sector commodities exchange firm regularly takes part in and runs a series of events to promote dialogue between the government, smallholder farmers, processors, banks and investors around driving finance to the agricultural sector in Nigeria. The Agribusiness and Food Security Summit, and other such dialogue opportunities, are needed to continually put forward the shared value that can be enjoyed by enabling a wide range of collaborative projects that help mitigate risks and drive finance into the agricultural sector, meeting the ambitions of both industry players and national authorities.


Netherlands to partner with Nigeria on oil palm development in three states

The Netherlands on Wednesday said it was concluding plans to further boost its agricultural ties with Nigeria, especially with oil palm development programme in three states.

Edo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States are part of the programme, which would start in Edo State.

Mrs Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is currently visiting Nigeria from July 9 to July 10 with over 40 Dutch companies.

In a statement emailed to the News Agency of Nigeria, Netherlands noted that she was already Nigeria’s third largest trading partner, mostly in the energy sector but now wanted to make an impact in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

“Now, the country also wants to make an impact in Nigeria’s agriculture sector through private sector development programmes in horticulture.

“The Dutch companies will transfer knowledge and technology to farmers in Nigeria, notably in Kaduna and Kano.

“In the same line, a palm oil development programme will be started in Edo, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and other states in the South.

“Most of the companies and institutions that accompany the minister are active in the agriculture sector.”

NAN reports that the Dutch minister, who gave an address in Abuja on Tuesday on private sector, knowledge institutions and civil society on the Dutch Diamond Approach; will on Wednesday officially open the new Netherlands Consulate-General on Walter Carrington Crescent.

Also, the former embassy office will be upgraded to Consulate-General to reflect the important new relations between the Netherlands and Nigeria.


Agriculture, solution to Nigeria’s economic crisis –Expert

Government at all levels in Nigeria have been urged to invest more in agriculture as it has the potential of boosting the national economy and reducing poverty through job creation.

Making the call in Lagos at a briefing with journalists, real estate expert and Chief Executive Officer of Livelihood Homes Limited, Kelly Nwogu, said that government needed to look beyond oil to grow the economy and drive large scale development in the country.

According to him, with the right kind of investment in agriculture, youths and other categories of Nigerians would be gainfully employed, thereby reducing crime in the society.

He said, “Agriculture has a lot of potential for our country especially in the area of job creation and tackling of poverty.

“It is the way out of our economic crisis and that is why we need to go back to farming and do it the way we used to in the past.

“We must begin to produce more rice, cassava and others in large scale so that we can export to other countries and grow our economy.

“I believe if we embark on massive agricultural development, the issue of poverty, unemployment and crime would be naturally reduced.”

AFAN President Advises Youths To Use ICT To Drive Agriculture

Mr Kabiru Ibrahim, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has appealed to Nigerian youths to embrace agriculture and use ICT to drive it.

Ibrahim made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that in the past, people used to think agriculture was a dirty job, “it has gone beyond that, there so many new technologies used to make farm work easy’’.

According to him, if youths with the knowledge of ICT will get involved in agriculture then the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow.

“What we have is almost subsistence but if young people will go into it, they do it very well and take it to a new level where it will be purely business.

“There are so many opportunities in agriculture that ICT can use to drive agriculture forward and take us to the next level.”

According to him, some Nigerians youths have taken into agriculture compared to what it used to be but there is still need for more participation.

“My advice to the youths is that they should embrace agriculture. I started agriculture in my 40s and I have no regret whatsoever.

“Am encouraging our youths to get into agriculture, especially today where a lot of them are being deceived into taking arms against the society.’’

Ibrahim said that it was easier to get a job with agriculture than white collar job where there would be crowd wanting to join any organisation such as the CBN, Civil Defense, Immigration.

“After the long process of applying for job that will never be given because there so many people available more than the jobs.

“In some places, over one million people will apply for a position of hundred thousand,” he said.

“Agriculture is the answer and the population of persons in agriculture is more than 50 per cent of the whole population.

“And at the end, this will bring a lot of prosperity far more than just going to work in one office where they get N50, 000 or N60, 000 at the end of the month.

“Where in some places you will only learn to be corrupt because the salary cannot keep you in Abuja for instance, where the accommodation and transformation is high.

“But if you have you own farm, one thing you are guaranteed is availability of food,” he said.



Ecobank Nigeria Enters Strategic Partnership with NIRSAL;Announces N70B Agriculture Financing Scheme

Ecobank Nigeria has entered into a strategic partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) with a N15 billion agricultural investment scheme being the first tranche in agricultural value chain financing. The partnership between both institutions is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s request that banks provide more funding to the agriculture sector. NIRSAL was set up by the Federal Governmental as an innovative mechanism targeted at de-risking lending to the agricultural sector. It is designed to provide the singular transformational and one bullet solution to break the seeming jinx in Nigeria’s agricultural lending and development.

Announcing the partnership in Lagos during a business meeting with the management of NIRSAL, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan also disclosed that Ecobank Nigeria had concluded plans to invest at least N70 billion in agriculture financing within the next three years. He noted that the N15 billion dedicated funding with NIRSAL guarantee is for an initial takeoff tranche and rollovers will be done at the completion of each cycle.

“Agriculture is pivotal to the success and development of any nation’s economy. We are therefore committed to working with NIRSAL to open up the vast opportunities that abound in agriculture. Ecobank has done it in other countries across the continent, so we can do the same in Nigeria. This will give us the opportunity to create employment and enable farmers to finance their children’s education with ease. We prefer people to see us not just as a bank, but as a partner who will help them succeed. We are part of the community and we meet the people at the point of their needs.” he noted.

Further, Mr Akinwuntan noted that with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa, Ecobank is the only bank that spans 36 African countries yet operates a truly integrated African network.

“Ecobank’s unique and largest pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent and for the continent, through standardization, fuelling regional integration, trade and investment across borders. Due to our sterling performance, we have been severally recognized; Most recently as ‘Best Retail Bank in Africa 2019’ at African Banker Awards and also as Most Admired Financial Services Brand in Africa 2019 by Brand Africa 100”.

In his remarks, the Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed urged the bank to harness the opportunities available in financing the agricultural sector leveraging on NIRSAL’s template of geo-cooperatives of 250Ha with a ticket size as much as N65 million naira, where all the players in the agricultural value chain are locked-in with an end-to-end approach and near zero cash handling system under a de-risked ecosystem to optimize agricultural value chain financing. He stated that this unique approach to agribusiness creates value for both farmers and financiers.

According to Abdulhameed, “At NIRSAL, we work primarily to create value for both financiers and farmers. It is in view of this that we have created innovative tools, techniques, methodologies and established strategic partnerships like this, to create a symbiotic relationship between all actors along the Agricultural value chain.”

The CBN led by Governor Godwin Emefiele has been at the vanguard of investment in Agricilture as a key contributor to the country’s economy.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently sought the collaboration of Ecobank Group to “institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform this region’s economic fortunes. President Buhari spoke when he had an audience with the ETI board led by the Group Chairman, Emmanuel Ikazoboh.


Untapped Shea Butter in Nigeria can Yield $2bn yearly

An Agribusiness firm, Nigerian Agribusiness Register Networking (AgNet) has come out to say that Nigeria is capable of earning $2 billion which is about ₦721 trillion annually.

This was stated by the AgNet’s managing director, Mr. Roland Oroh at a press conference in Abuja

He stated that according to the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) briefing of the 6th International Shea Industry Conference revealed that Nigeria has a large number of Shea trees which is the largest in the world.

According to Oroh, while the country host over 60 percent of Shea trees, it failed to take advantage of the full potential through value chain initiative to enter the global market.

Oroh said that AgNet is greatly concerned over the discovered value chain and has concluded plan to host a larger conference to educate Nigerians on the potential of Shea butter to the Nigerian economy.

Nigeria to provide 6.5 million ‘smart cards’ for improved seeds – Official

The Nigerian government has said it will provide 6.5 million smart cards for improved seed containers in the country.

The DG National Agriculture Seed Council (NASC), Philp Ojo, said this during a meeting with some partners in Abuja on Thursday.

The meeting had as its theme “Increasing Production and Dissemination of Quality Early Generation seeds to improve income and food security of Farmers in Nigeria”.

He said the scratch cards will be attached to the seed container and will benefit over two million farmers with a target of 1810 early generation seeds.

Mr Ojo said the electronic turnkey is a new innovation that will be used in the area of seed certification.

Last month, PREMIUM TIMES reported that NASC had continued to demand the use of quality seeds in the Nigerian agricultural sector for better yield.

They said farmers patronise seed merchants who sell them fake seeds that endanger their businesses.

Mr Ojo had warned the fake seed peddlers to desist from further sale of adulterated seeds as the effects are huge.

NASC also announced its transition from analogue to digital certification of seeds.

The aim of the transition is to monitor seeds and improve the agricultural yield across the nation.

Farmers, with the help of the seed tracker, will be able to discern adulterated seeds from anywhere in the world electronically.

Meanwhile, the official said there are specific expectations from the project, ”which will improve the livelihood of the farmers.”

”This will be through increase in their harvest,” he said.

He outlined various challenges facing the industry such as dissemination of the early generation seed which he said had been the problem of the seed industry.

Similarly, the technical adviser to the DG NASC, Folarin Otedola, said funds have been received and will be channelled to ” those concerned”.

Also speaking at the event, the Country Manager, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Kehinde Makinde, promised to ensure that agriculture has the right kind of priority that will help the sector thrive.


Future of Nigerian cocoa production lies in Niger Delta – Report

BASED on the volume of cocoa output from the Niger Delta region and the number of cocoa farmers there, a new report says the future of Nigerian cocoa production lies in the region.

The output of Nigerian cocoa beans for three years, between 2014/15 and 2016/17 was 620,000 metric tons and Niger Delta Delta states accounted for 546, 822 metric tons of the total output, revealed Cocoa Value Chain Assessment Report.

In the report unveiled by the Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), 88 per cent of the total cocoa output for those years was produced by the Niger Delta states.

“There are 120, 000 active cocoa farmers in the Niger Delta and 66 per cent of them have plantations with size ranging from one to five hectare of land,” says Executive Director of PIND, Dara Akala, while presenting the report at a Cocoa Stakeholders’ round-table held in Akure, Ondo State capital.

According to him, the report was the result of a study carried out by the Foundation to provide a detailed scoping and value chain analyses of the cocoa sector in the Niger Delta.

He explained that PIND is already implementing interventions in aquaculture, cassava, poultry and palm oil sectors adding that with some of the interventions attaining full maturity and reaching scale, the Foundation is now expanding into the cocoa sector.

“The cocoa sector has growth potential and ability to increase income and employment,” he said.

He said the Foundation’s vision, within five years, is that the cocoa industry in the Niger Delta will be characterised by improved linkages and communications between smallholder farmers and the processors and exporters, with mutual incentives.

Akala who was represented by PIND’s Market Systems Development Manager, James Elekwachi added that cocoa accounted for more than 30 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural export and generated a total of $774.6million in 2016 out of which $83.6million came from exportation of cocoa derivatives including cocoa butter and cocoa paste.

In 2016, the report said agriculture accounted for 24.2 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), noting that the sector is highly concentrated on crop production which accounts for 90 per cent output.

“Fishery, forestry and livestock, account for remaining 10 per cent,” the report said, insisting that the country’s agricultural potential is still high because Nigeria 82million hectares of arable land, out of which only 34million hectares have been cultivated.

It remarked that Nigeria cocoa production in the past 17 years has witnessed some volatility, noting that production has been fairly flat, “with peaks and valleys due to the cyclicality of cocoa tree production and weather conditions.”

“It was discovered from the study that for one hectare of a cocoa farm in Ondo State, the 7th year is the break-even point.”

On the cocoa processing industry, the report disclosed that the industry is divided between the processing industry (intermediate processors and finished good processors) and exporters.

While noting that local immediate processing companies produce cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa cake, it said a number of them are already grappling for survival and some have closed down the operation.

“Of the 17 intermediate processing companies, only five are functional with combined capacity utilisation of 50, 000 metric ton and four of them are in Ondo State,” the report said.

However, it stressed, that an estimated 90 per cent of these cocoa derivatives are exported, not including cocoa powder.

It further stated that there were 123 firms in cocoa business in Nigeria including processors and exporters, and that there are 20 regular exporters operating in the sector out of which only three of them control 50 per cent of cocoa beans export.

Small scale farmers, the report said, have no direct contact with the processors and exporters, lamenting that the awareness of sustainable production or certification to motivate better producer price among farmers in is limited to about 10 per cent of farmers in the Niger Delta region.

“If Nigerian exporters can incentivise farmers to produce more cocoa, they can sell it, so the challenge is on increasing production through increased productivity and greater area under production,” the report suggested.

“An integrated markets approach, considering economic, social and environmental dimensions is needed to improve cocoa sector competitiveness.”