‘Our target is 50% increase in food production by 2025’

Source: The Guardian

Determined to achieve food security in Lagos, the state government has restated its commitment to increasing food production by 50 per cent over the next four years, thereby creating new opportunities to feed itself and other states in Nigeria, as well as stimulating economic growth and prosperity through agriculture.

The State Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, who disclosed this at an event organised to mark the 150th Cooperative Anniversary of Friesland Campina, said the present administration’s effort would boost economic growth and prosperity in the agriculture sector.

Referring to the recent launch of the Agriculture Value Chains Enterprise Activation Programme, Hamzat said the launch is a clear reference to the expansion of government’s vision, which is driven by a “Farm to Table Model” and has so far empowered about 3,000 urban and rural farmers in key sectoral value chains in the process.

He said: “Under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State, as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, has further renewed the vigour and vision to increase food production by, at least, 50 per cent by 2025, thereby creating new opportunities to feed itself and Nigeria, as well as stimulating economic growth and prosperity through agriculture.”

The Deputy Governor hoped that even after the tenure of the current administration, the vision would be carried along into the future by other administrations with more farmer recruitments.

Hamzat stated that as Lagos State celebrates this anniversary with Friesland Campina, Nigerian investors and business communities must remember that the onus of building a great brand, such as Friesland Campina, is essential to safeguarding economic, cultural and historical traditions to strengthen the country’s unity.

While congratulating the company on the milestone, Hamzat thanked them for having faith in the nation’s economy, despite the trying and challenging environment.

Osun distributes cocoa seedlings, agro-chemicals to farmers

Source: The guardian

Osun State Government, on Tuesday, distributed 100,000 cocoa seedlings to about 1,000 farmers in the state.

The state government also distributed agro-chemicals, hand-spraying tools, limes, and other inputs to farmers across the local government areas of the state.

The government also inaugurated Osun Broilers Out-growers Production Scheme III (OBOPS) to enhance the capacity of livestock production and turn around the fortune of the scheme to be more profitable and attractive to farmers.

Farmers in each local government area got 1,500 cocoa seedlings as priority was given to the cocoa-producing local government areas of the state.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola said the government efforts were aimed at actualising its set objectives to reposition agriculture and make Osun the food basket of the nation and the Southwest in particular.

Distributing the farm inputs freely to farmers at the Agriculture Demonstration Centre, Aisu, in Ede South Local Government Area of the State, Governor Oyetola noted that the initiative was aimed at actualising the agricultural revolution agenda of the government.

He said the government was committed to turning Osun into the food hub of the Southwest, as policies had been tailored towards ensuring adequate availability of fertile land, good roads, relatively good rainfall pattern, and above all, to ensure peaceful coexistence between the herdsmen and the farmers.

“I would like to remind this gathering of my inaugural speech where I promised that our administration would consolidate on the Agricultural Land Expansion Programme for the establishment of additional farm settlements.

“It is my pleasure to inform you that we have approved the establishment of 10,000 hectares of farmland to be used as a farm settlement at F3 in Ife-South Local Government in which 400 hectares of the farmland have been cleared to empower 1,000 youths in the cultivation of arable crops. Also, 23 hectares of farmland have been cleared at Ifon, in Orolu Local Government as a demonstration site for youths and women empowerment and agro-processing centres.

“To fulfill our electioneering promises in the agricultural sector, the government has embarked on a number of projects aimed at enhancing the economic base of the state and that of the farmers, especially the tree crop unit of the ministry, which is distributing cocoa seedlings freely.

“Also, the state government established a demonstration site at AISU, Ede, where greenhouse, with irrigation facilities, has been installed for all-year-round tomato production, construction of fish ponds, and milk collection centre to demonstrate good agricultural practices.

“Furthermore, the Extension Services delivery arm of the Osun State Agricultural Development Programme (OSSADEP) has been fortified to avail our farmers of new and improved up-to-date farming practices, while the Osun State Agricultural Development Corporation (OSSADEC) and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security have been repositioned with the procurement of new tractors and its implements.

300 Oyo youths benefit from agribusiness empowerment scheme

Source: The Guardian

Over 300 youths from Oyo State have graduated from the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme, held at the International Skill Acquisition Training centre, CSS Global Integrated Farm, Gora, Nasarawa State. 

The beneficiaries, who were part of the first batch of the 3,300 youths from the state were taken through a two-week intensive training across the fields of leadership in agribusiness, irrigation farming, Information/Communication Technology application in agribusiness, fishery farming and management, hydroponics farming, cassava and rice value chain and poultry farming, among others.

This is just as the state Governor, Seyi Makinde unveiled plans to expand the number of the beneficiaries from the initial 3,300 to 10,000 youths. 

He said the state would empower only 1,000 youths through the scheme.

“If 10,000 youths in the state were successfully trained and launched forward, if their annual turn over is about N10m, that means N100b economy for Oyo State.”

The Governor urged the youth to utilise what they were taught as the state government is ready to support them and also provide market for their produce. 

Earlier, the YEAP Coordinator and Director-General of the state Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Dr. Debo Akande, said the training is a starting point for the trainees, noting that everything required for the enterprises has been provided by the governor. 

He disclosed that when the youths return to the state they would be attached to various agricultural outfits like the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), among others where they would be provided additional knowledge to launch them in their Agribusinesses

He disclosed that the training programme was fully sponsored by the state government, adding that they would be provided with credit facility from Fidelity Bank that will enable them start well, perform optimally and if they move up the ladder, there will be other support. 

Buhari ratifies 2007 international Coffee Agreement 

President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed and ratified the International Coffee Agreement, 2007. This was done on the 17th of August, 2021 after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved Nigeria’s membership of the in the International Coffee Organisation (ICO).

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity confirmed this in a statement on Thursday, in Abuja.

Shehu state that “the FEC meeting has drawn a conclusion on the agreement on October 21, 2020, with emphasis on Conclusion 10, which approved the preparation of the instrument of Ratification Of Nigeria’s membership of the International Coffee Organisation and International Coffee Agreement of 2007.

“The 2007 Agreement will strengthen the ICO’s role as a forum for intergovernmental consultations, facilitate international trade through increased transparency and access to relevant information.

“The agreement is an important instrument for development cooperation and will provide the legal framework for core activities undertaken by the Organisation in the Future.”

He added that the agreement would promote a sustainable coffee economy for the benefit of all relevant stakeholders, and particularly, of small-scale farmers in coffee-producing countries.

The Instrument of Ratification was prepared by the Attorney-General of the federation and Minster of Justice, Abubakar Malami

Source: Udua.africa

TGI Group seeks cultivation of sesame to boost foreign exchange

Source: The Guardian

Nigeria has been urged to support the cultivation of sesame to boost the country’s foreign exchange.

This was the submission of experts at the International Sesame Seed Conference, which ended in Kano, yesterday.

The conference was organised by the National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria (NSSAN) in collaboration with Kano State Government and support from TGI Group, parent company of WACOT Limited, leading food and agro-allied company.

President of the association, Sherrif Balogun, said: “We are currently doing 500,000 tonnes. For Nigeria to maximise its potential, it has to first increase production, and secondly set up dehauling plants for value-addition, and thirdly to set up a sesame oil processing plant.

Also, Corporate Affairs Director, TGI Group, Sadiq Kassim, said TGI was committed to its cultivation, noting that in the last five years, sesame has progressively assumed the role of Nigeria’s leading export commodity.

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.”