2021 World Food Day : FG sets aside N600bn loan support for 2.4m farmers – Buhari

Source: The Guardian

The Federal Government says it has, through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS), set aside N600 billion as loans to support 2.4 million farmers across the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed this at the opening of the National Agricultural Show/Exhibition of the 2021 World Food Day, on Wednesday, in Abuja.

The theme of the 2021 edition of the Agricultural Show is: “Our Actions are our Future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.

Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Abubakar, said his Administration was not resting on its oars in addressing the challenges of the country’s agricultural sector.

” The Federal Government, through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS), has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country.

” No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest.

” The gesture will support farmers in the country, to improve their productivity aimed at boosting the country’s food security, improving farmers’ production and increasing exports.

” It is gratifying that the sector is being treated as a business, no longer as a development project, with massive distribution of high quality farm inputs, dissemination of appropriate research results and significant enhancement of the agricultural commodity value chains.

” I would wish to reiterate and it is clear that if the agricultural sector must be made more productive and food systems sustainable, we must all be prepared to invest massively in the sector and rise to the call against looming food crisis as predicted by the World Bank, FAO, AfDB and other key actors in food and agriculture,” he said.

The president noted that since the beginning of the 2021 farming season, the Federal Government had distributed inputs to states, across the country to boost food production.

” Nigeria recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops especially, maize and rice, which rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT).

” The same is obtainable for cassava, whose production rose from 58.47 MT in 2018 to 73.91MT and is even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023.

” Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, dairy and fish production also rose by 166 per cent, 146 per cent, and 11 per cent, respectively between 2020 and 2021.

” The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicates that Nigeria’s national agricultural import bill also reduced from 1.2 to 1.1 billion Naira,” he said.

Also speaking, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, said that the Buhari- administration had initiated programmes and polices towards agricultural development and food security in the country.

Adamu, who thanked God for the World Food Day which comes up on Oct. 16, 2021, noted that it was a very important day on the calendar of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)

Empowering Oyo youths through agribusiness initiatives

Two years into his four-year tenure, Governor Seyi Makinde’s efforts to take youths off the street through the Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Project (YEAP) have begun to give signals of possibility.

No fewer than 300 youths in Oyo State graduated under the YEAP scheme after completing their training at the CSS Integrated Farms, Gora, Nasarawa State, recently.

YEAP’s objective, done in collaboration with CSS Integrated Farms, is to empower youths through agriculture based on the governor’s policy of addressing youth unemployment and channelling them towards productive ventures.

The trainees had learnt the nitty-gritty of agribusiness within two weeks and had been exposed to innovations in cassava value chain, poultry farming, chicken processing, livestock rearing, fish farming, irrigation system, ICT application in agribusiness and farm management, among others.

Makinde said the outcome of the programme was impressive and the initiative was to make multiple young millionaires in the state.

He noted that the initiative was a result of his commitment to empowering youths so they could empower others, thereby lifting Oyo from poverty to prosperity.

Chairman of CSS Farms, Prof. John-Kennedy Opara, said it was going to run for six months, during which about 600 participants would be trained monthly.

The governor, however, disclosed that the number of trainees would soon be increased to 10,000 yearly. While addressing the beneficiaries recently, Makinde said: “The training will go on till the end of next year. If we finish training the 10,000 and we are able to successfully empower you, if each of you can turn in over N10 million yearly in terms of businesses, that is a N100 billion economy for Oyo State and I know it is possible.

“If you are raising a thousand chickens, it’s about N230,000, which is about the cost of one motorcycle.
“How much can one Okada give to one individual in one year? But in three to four months, you can turn that N230,000 to N2.5 million. And if you do that four times in a year, that is N10 million.”

Director-General of the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency and Coordinator of the YEAP, Dr. Debo Akande, said though the state was already building an agribusiness incubation centre in Awe, its choice of CSS Farms was due to integrated farming approach employed by the outfit.

“We discovered this particular training centre in Nasarawa is integrated, meaning that it has all you can talk about from farm to fork,” he said.

Meanwhile, a beneficiary, Ogundiran Omosalewa, commended the governor for the opportunity provided for the youth and promised that he and his colleagues would return to Oyo to make impact.

Another beneficiary, Rabiu Rahman, from Oorelope Local Government, Igboho, said: “I am a postgraduate student of Bayero University, Kano. After my programme, I started a little livestock business. So, I am an entrepreneur. A friend sent me the link to apply for this programme on WhatsApp, I applied and got it after an interview.”

How commodity market, exchange can develop agric sector, by Osinbajo

Source: The Guardian

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has expressed how focusing on developing Nigeria’s agricultural value chain, particularly the business of creating a proper commodity market with logistics, would be mutually beneficial to farmers and consumers, ensuring food security and industrial growth.

The vice president said this while receiving a delegation from Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange. The delegation was led by the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Muhammad Rabi’I Elyakub.

Prof. Osinbajo stated that “we need all the focus that we can on developing our agricultural value chain, especially the business of ensuring that we create a proper market so that there is value,” adding that ‘’we must make sure that we are able to resource that chain well.”

The vice president acknowledged that in Nigeria, “we are top producers of so many different agricultural products, as well as minerals.

“In adding value, ensuring the value chain works effectively, ensuring that we can process, store and trade, is really where the missing link is.”

Emphasising the importance of the agricultural value chain, Osinbajo reiterated that “I don’t know of any society that has been able to develop the whole value chain from the farm to the table without a very vibrant commodity exchange.”

He commended the commodity company for making “very quick progress in a very short time,” adding that the company had covered substantial ground.

He continued: “I am impressed with what you have done so far. I think the idea is that there is only one way to make agriculture profitable for the average farmer and that is by creating a market that is systematic and recognises value and you can’t do that without establishing a proper market.”

While giving a presentation, the Chief Financial Officer of Gezawa Commodity Exchange, Dr. Abdullahi Ya’u, highlighted the importance of having a commodity exchange market.

He stated that without an exchange, “it would take Nigeria ages for the farmers, producers, traders in commodities to discover their potential, but with exchanges, we can be globally seen and standardised based on international best practices. I believe this is one of the core anthems of this government.” 

Imo govt trains youths on agro farming

Source: Vanguard

The Imo State Government has commenced yet another empowerment program for the Youths of Imo State and this time, a Master Class Training on Agro Farm.

The training which is aimed at equipping our Youths with the resources necessary to venture into the Agricultural industry on a commercial basis is a pet project from the Office of the Imo State Governor, Youth Affairs. Industry specialists and resourceful entrepreneurs have been engaged for this purpose.

This empowerment program with the theme: “One Youth, One Farm” would run till Saturday, 9th of October 2021. Speaking during the flag off, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Youth Affairs, Hon. Eric Uwakwe stated that having drawn the participants from the 27 Local Governments of the State, it is believed that the impact of the project would greatly be felt in the economy of the State once judiciously applied by the participants.

He urged Imo Youths to key into this program because Agriculture remains the next sector that would grow the world.

Nigeria to increase oil palm production by 67 percent

Source: The Nation

Nigeria’s oil palm production is set to rise beyond two million metric tonnes per annum (MMTA) in the next three years.

This is buoyed by the development of specialised fertiliser which may be introduced to farmers next year. The country’s palm oil production stands at less than 1.2MMTA.

Consequently, OCP Fertilisers Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) are  working on trials for the specialised fertiliser that will increase production by 40 per cent per hectare, beginning from 2022.

To this end, The Nation learnt researchers at Institute of Agricultural Research and Training(IAR&T) and NIFOR are  testing  fertiliser formulation at various agro-ecological situations across oil palm production states.

The Country Manager, OCP Fertilisers Nigeria Limited, Mr. Caleb Usoh, said the company, in partnership with NIFOR and IAR&T, conducted a soil mapping survey, to facilitate the development of specialised fertiliser recommendation for oil palm nationwide, so as to address complaints of low yields by farmers.

The Chief Executive, NIFOR, Dr. Celestine Ikuenobe, explained that oil palm output has failed to keep pace with rising demand, so millions of dollars on imports has put a strain on state foreign currency reserves.

Ikuenobe explained that characterising soils of the oil palm belt has helped to determine limiting nutrients based on new fertiliser formulations tested on farmer’s fields in validation trials across the country.

He noted that the soil test- based application of nutrients would help oil palm farmers to realise higher response ratio and, in turn, higher yields.

Head of Agronomy Services & Farmer Centric Projects, OCP Africa Nigeria, Dr. Donald Madukwe, reiterated the commitment of the organisation to work with researchers to introduce specialised fertiliser to change the fortunes of oil palm farmers.

The premise behind an on-farm trial, according to him, is to evaluate production practices under growing conditions.

Nigeria grants approval for genetically modified maize

Source: Premium Times

The government of Nigeria has granted environmental approval for evaluation and open cultivation of TELA Maize, a new maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, that resists fall armyworm, stem borers, and tolerate moderate drought.

The government’s decision was contained in a certificate issued to IAR by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), the federal government agency mandated to regulate genetically modified products in the country.

The Certificate dated October 8, 2021, with permit code no. NBMA/CM/003, was issued to IAR for General\Commercial Release of TELA Maize Genetically Modified for Drought Tolerance, Resistance to Stem Borer and Fall Armyworm. It comes into effect from October 8, 2021, to October 5, 2024.

A decision document accompanying the certificate from NBMA said that in arriving at the decision to grant the permit, the agency took into consideration the advice of the National Biosafety Committee, the National Biosafety Technical Sub-Committee, and the risk management report provided by the applicant.

“The Agency was convinced that there are no known adverse impacts to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account risk to human health. The permit, pursuant to this decision, is without prejudice to other extant legal requirements.

“This permit authorises the permit holder and persons covered by the permit to commercialise the TELA Maize genetically modified for drought tolerance and insect resistance,” the decision document from the NBMA stated.

Reacting to the decision, Professor Ishiyaku Mohammed, Executive Director, IAR, said It is really inspiring for IAR to secure NBMA approval for the commercial release of the drought-tolerant and insect-resistant Maize (TELA MAIZE).

“This goes to further highlight IAR’s capacity and commitment to providing effective solutions to agricultural problems facing our farmers and optimizing food security for Nigerians. The approval will open the way to combating the devastating effects of both drought and insect pests through the deployment of this new variety of maize into our farming system.

“The next step is to further evaluate the performance of this new variety by farmers on their fields in all the major maize growing belts in Nigeria. Thereafter we shall seek another approval by the National variety release committee before making the seeds commercially available for farmers to plant in the 2023 cropping season.

Agriculture: Sokoto state plans to create 100,000 jobs from Sesame production

Source: Nairametrics

In a bid to boost earnings and benefit from rising agriculture commodity prices of sesame seeds, the Sokoto state Governor, Aminu Tambuwal announced that the state will provide farmland to farmers for Sesame cultivation to create over 100,000 jobs by 2022.

The Governor disclosed this during an inspection of the produce cleaning and standardisation process on Monday, reported by the News Agency of Nigeria.

What the Governor said

“It is now clear that sesame can grow in Sokoto state and the government of the state is willing to continue to support the farmers generally and specifically those that are involved in sesame farming as we did last year,” he said.

“We have seen the positive impact and we are ready to do even more. If you don’t have a farm, go back to your local government area and register.

“Government is ready to provide more farmlands now to farmers. I hereby direct the Commissioner for Agriculture to liaise with the overseer of the ministry for local government affairs. This scheme should start immediately,” he added.

The State Governor revealed that global prices for sesame seed, which shrunk from 2017-2020 increased and currently fetches 1,075 USD per metric tonne, due to economic reopening and rising diversified use of the seed.

“Therefore, all our farmers who are interested in having farmlands should go and register with the department of agriculture of the local government, in order to see how best we can encourage our people to go back to farm. It is very important,” Governor Tambuwal said.

Nigeria’s agric export surges to highest on record.

Source: Nairametrics

Nigeria exported agro-food items worth N165.27 billion in the second quarter of 2021, representing a 112% increase compared to N78.03 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020. This is also the highest on record, according to data tracked from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The recent value also represents a 30% increase when compared to N127.18 billion worth of export recorded in the previous quarter (Q1 2021). Recall that Nairametrics had reported that Nigeria’s foreign trade increased by 89% year-on-year to N12.03 trillion in Q2 2021.

The report had also highlighted that Nigeria continued with a foreign trade deficit of N1.87 trillion having recorded an import value of N6.95 trillion as against an export value of N5.08 trillion.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s agric imports also increased by 56.9% year-on-year in Q2 2021 to N652.08 billion, indicating a trade deficit of N486.8 billion, quite huge for a country blessed with vast land and an agricultural sector that employs a huge chunk of its labour force.

Nigeria continues to expand its ability to earn foreign returns from agricultural export, especially during a time when oil revenue is not as robust as it used to be, due to the OPEC production quota and oscillating crude oil prices.

However, the local production is still not enough for local consumption, hence the need to export food items from other countries, which in turn affects Nigeria’s balance of trade and by extension the exchange rate.

In a recent article by Nairametrics, the Chairman, Board of Directors of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr Asue Ighodalo while discussing at the 4th Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) 2021 organised by the bank, stated that Nigeria’s agricultural productivity, which is currently growing by 1.3% is still insufficient to meet food and raw material demands.

Sterling Bank holds agriculture summit, September 22

Sterling Bank Plc, in collaboration with Leadway Assurance, Saro Africa, Thrive Agric, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, GIZ AFC, Mastercard Foundation and Stears Data Arrangement, has concluded arrangement to hold the fourth edition of Agriculture Summit Africa (ASA) between September 22nd and 23rd, 2021.

The event is expected to draw participants from across the African continent. According to a release made available to Sunday Sun, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Saro Africa, Mr. Rasheed Sarumi, will deliver the keynote address at the Summit.  

A statement issued by Group Head of Agric and Solid Minerals with Sterling Bank, Mrs. Bukola Awosanya, said the summit with the theme: ‘Building The New Agro Order,’ would hold remotely simultaneously in Abuja, and Lagos between September 22nd and 23rd. 

Awosanya described Sarumi as an accomplished entrepreneur who spearheaded the growth of Saro Agro Sciences as the pioneer Managing Director from inception in 1991 till 2010. “He is currently the GMD of Saro Africa International, a group made up of companies with an interest in agro-input solutions, heavy agro-industrial processing and consumer goods,” she said.

Giving further outline of the activities lined up for the summit, she said Professor Benedict Oramah would also present a keynote address on the Green Mile – AfCFTA, Trade and Africa’s Agribusiness Economy on the opening day of the summit, while Dr. Gerald Smith, Consulate General, Nigeria, Benin and Cameroon at the US Embassy, would present another keynote address on the closing day of the summit with the sub-theme: All-Inclusive Agriculture (Food Security, Raw Materials Production and Innovative Funding Solutions).

The session will be moderated and led by Kanayo Awani, Vice President of AFREXIM and Managing Director and CEO of Intra-African Trade and Dr Ikechukwu Kelikume, Head of Agribusiness Management Programme at the Lagos Business School.

The second session will discuss the theme ‘Non-oil Commodities Export as a Game Changer in the African Economy.’ Discussants include Dr Vincent Isegbe, DG, NAQS; Ebenezer Idachaba, representative of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA); Ayodeji Balogun, MD/CEO of AFEX; Kenneth Obiajulu and Serge Seudieu, Country Manager of ACE Global. It will be moderated and led by Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, ED/CEO, Nigeria Export Promotion Commission (NEPC).

Issues of food security, building a resilient food production system as well as innovative value chain financing in Africa are expected to engage the minds of discussants.

Why US, EU countries reject foods exported from Nigeria

source: The Punch

Stakeholders in the Nigeria agricultural food subsector, have decried the rejection of locally produced food crops exported to Western countries.

The stakeholders lamented the situation during the launch of agrochemical Safety Ambassadors in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, an initiative of Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, jointly implemented by Mercy Corps and Save the Children.

Stakeholders who are mostly farmers lamented their produce for export had been rejected because the produce contained high residues of agrochemical substances.

This is just as the Adamawa State Commissioner for Agriculture and Livestock Development, Daware Iya-Umar, also lamented that locally produced food crops for export get barred from European markets because agrochemical residues arising from wrong use or application of agrochemicals.

He said, ” Most of our goods were returned while exporting, based on the fact that they could not pass the test of quality control. That quality control might entail, the chemical content in our products due to lack of adequate knowledge on the application of agrochemicals.”

Other stakeholders including agricultural extension agents, agrochemical dealers who spoke through their representatives, all blamed the improper use and application of agrochemicals for making it difficult for Nigerian food produce to pass standards set for food safety.

Raymond Abogonye, acting deputy chief of party, Feed the Future Initiative, the United States government’s global hunger and food security initiative, said the United State government is very concerned about safety of the food we eat as well as who produce the food for, as motive behind the launch of agro-safety ambassadors.

He noted that the US and it’s European allies have food safety standards which must be adhered to from crop production up to storage but which had yet to observed by most farmers, particularly in their application and use of agrochemicals.

He said, agro-safety ambassadors which is the first level of awareness in addressing the challenge, in the pilot scheme, is expected to reach 500,000 farmers in the four states of Adamawa, Gombe, Borno and Yobe, where the activity is being implemented in the North East.

“Since we can’t reach everybody we want to use the facilitative market approach to include those who sell the chemicals themselves as those preaching the message of awareness to the farmers.

With over 1,000 agrochemical dealers on our register recruited for the campaign and each targeting 50 farmers on the safety use and application of agrochemicals,” he added.