US Soybean Export Council to Establish Excellence Centres in Nigeria

Source: This Day

The United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) and the US Grains Council (USGC) have jointly expressed their dedication towards supporting and enhancing the development and growth of the African feed industry as well as long term commercial trade development.

They said their commitment was on the back of the realisation that African feed industry is generating solutions to enhance the continent’s soybean value chain.

In addition, they disclosed plan to establish Soy Excellence Centres (SECs) starting with one in Egypt and that the site planned for Nigeria was already in the works.

They also said they plan to invest in emerging markets; identify factors like growing populations, improving economic conditions to address protein deficiency among populations.

Regional Director for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, US Soybean Export Council, Kevin Roekpe, during an interview with journalists disclosed that the centres were designed to provide training, resources and education to all members of the soy value chain, including farmers, animal protein integrators, feed millers, animal nutritionists and local academic resources.

According to USSEC, depending on credit availability and many other factors, Nigeria could become a two to four million metric ton (MMT) market for US Soy in the medium to long-term.

The Regional Director indicated that currently, the country crushes about one million metric tons yearly.

He also estimated an immediate need for 50 to 100,000 MT to fill the current demand gap within the country, adding that because of its growing population and low consumption of soy, Nigeria has been identified as a market that represents a growth opportunity for US soy and that the country could emerge as one of the top three growth markets by 2030.

Roekpe, whilst answering a question concerning the sort of policies and regulations that could be generated and enforced by African governments in order to upscale the continent’s agriculture value chain, said lack of credit and under-utilisation of GSM credit guarantees had been long-standing constraints on sales of U.S. soy products to Africa.

As part of its initiative to develop the multimillion-ton market for U.S. Soy in Africa, USSECbrought together key stakeholders this past September to address the credit issue head-on.

Hence, helping build awareness of the benefits of soy in animal feed, aquaculture and human consumption through teaching and highlighting best practices which includes demonstration equipment used to show the production of soy, thereby enabling the organisations to expose participants to all the available options in the production of high-quality soymeal and soy.

MAIZE, SOYA BEAN AND THE POULTRY INDUSTRY

Source: This Day

As federal government plans to employ 774,000 artisans and unskilled workers across the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria for three months, about five million (5,000,000) poultry jobs are already on the line, if reports in the media are anything to go by. In the last seven months, 2,000,000 poultry jobs have reportedly been lost due to acute scarcity of maize and soya beans, resulting in prohibitive cost of animal feeds.

Confirmed media reports indicate that the price of soya beans, which is a constituent of poultry feeds, has increased by 87 per cent. In comparison with the same period in 2019, the price of maize has risen by 82 per cent. Poultry feeds have increased by nearly 100 per cent. There are also unconscionable capitalist grain merchants and saboteurs who are alleged to be hoarding the small available products and intent on giving the Buhari administration a bad name.

Agriculture contributes 21 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product. Poultry industry is said to be worth N10 trillion, sharing 25 percent of the contribution of agriculture to the economy. Poultry employs over 20 million Nigerians directly and indirectly through its wide value chain, from field to fork.

Earlier in July, the media was awash with the report that the Central Bank of Nigeria had through a memo directed all authorized maize dealers “to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of maize/corn with immediate effect,” as part of the effort “to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase job, which were lost as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

But the decision, according to industry players, led to excessive rise in the price of maize, which reportedly led to thousands of small and medium-sized poultry farmers with millions of their direct and indirect employees out of business. Due to outcry, the CBN relaxed the policy once by allowing importation of 262,000 tons of maize in addition to the 5,000 tons released by the federal government on the orders of President Buhari. The single window by the apex bank was described as a drop in the ocean.

A report quoted Mrs Blessing Alawode, chairman, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, as calling for immediate ban on the export of processed soya beans and intervention to end the acute shortage of maize with its exorbitant price, occasioned by poor harvest and insecurity in parts of the country, where the product is largely produced.

With the current astronomical prices of soya beans and maize, more poultry farmers with thousands of their workers across the country may soon be out of business as majority of Nigerians cannot afford the inevitable but exorbitant cost of poultry products.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, the Ogun State chapter of Poultry Association of Nigeria stands by President Buhari and is on the same page with the CBN on the need for self-sufficiency in food production in Nigeria. We want the federal government to assist the local maize growers with high-yielding seeds and fertilizer in order to increase their quantum of harvest per hectare, so that in the next seven to 10 years, the huge gap between demand and supply of maize and soya beans can be filled. But the citizens have to survive and have food to eat before we reach the desired destination. Our appeal to CBN stems from the prohibitive costs of maize and soya beans. Poultry feeds have increased by nearly 100 per cent. The price of soya beans has increased by 90 per cent, while maize in comparison with the same period in 2019 has increased by 80 per cent. Poultry farms cannot survive the current situation. Therefore, importation of maize and soya beans, in the short term, is the most pragmatic way to obviate further rising prices of the products and ameliorate the hardships of the citizens. We appeal to the government to ban the export of processed soya beans and soya bean meal, and check the profiteering activities of grain merchants,” concluded the statement.

Following the CBN announcement of ban on maize import in July, the Programme Director of the Lagos Business School Agribusiness Programme, Dr Ikechukwu Kelikume, described the directive by the CBN was “ill-timed”, with potential harmful consequences for the poultry sector. It seems the birds have come home to roost. The predictions of experts have come to pass.

“The situation spells doom for poultry farmers across the country, who are beginning to cut down on production because of the high cost of feed and imported medication for the birds. A negative spill-over effect of the high cost of feed is the scarcity of eggs and a consequent rise in its price across the country. The implications of the current challenges in the maize value chain are that the gains of employing more people in the agricultural sector will be rolled back in the coming months,” he said.

Kelikume further explained, “As it stands, there is no alternative for the poultry farmers, as the poultry sector will face a catastrophic shortage of feeds, a critical input in their business. This situation will render tens of thousands of them unemployed and undo all the gains made by this sector in the past five years. Thousands of poultry businesses will shut down in the face of high operating costs, leaving business owners and their employees without a means of livelihood. As a matter of necessity, the CBN’s decision to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of maize/corn must be revisited. It is expedient at this time for the Central Bank to allow importers of maize to import it through the CBN Foreign exchange window, to close the gap in maize shortage while preparing for a phased discontinuation of maize importation in the country.”

The supply of dry maize in the market is at its lowest in recent years. The price of soya beans continues to sky rocket. Government is not in a position to subsidize the price of maize and soya beans. The CBN governor should support the welfarist policy of the Buhari administration by crashing the exorbitant prices of maize and soya beans through controlled importation of the products or granting of waivers. And that should be done now.

The country is now in a recession. The jobs of maize and soya beans growers are not in any way threatened because they cannot even meet the huge local demand for the products. Yet the exorbitant prices of these products have put on the line the jobs of millions of direct and indirect poultry workers.

Akpan wrote from Lagos

Agric firm leads fight against hunger

Source: The Guardian

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has admonished countries on the continent to capitalise on the market opportunities by producing more food efficiently and sustainably through agro-industrialization, and in a manner that supports both the farmers and the private sector.

He gave the advice during a virtual conference held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited and Sahel Capital Agribusiness Managers Limited (Sahel). The summit was tagged “Zero Hunger: Africa’s Private Sector Driving Innovation & Growth”.

Adesina described a working agricultural sector as one which is private sector-led, but government enabled. He urged that the youth must be encouraged to see agriculture as a business to be driven by their innovation and business acumen. He applauded the co-founders for their desire, hard work, and commitment to transforming the agriculture landscape.

In his remarks, Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, stressed the need for a focus on nutrition and sustainability, rather than just increasing food production. He discussed the importance of energy in achieving development goals, as well as the efforts of the Rockefeller Foundation to end energy poverty in the world and gave examples from countries such as Nigeria and India.

Shah pleaded with the conference participants to rethink existing food systems and to create innovative new businesses within the food and agricultural sector.

In her statement, Dr. Agnes Kalibata described African entrepreneurs as dynamic, vibrant and data-driven; focused on transforming Africa’s agriculture and nutrition landscape.

She encouraged all stakeholders not to relent in their commitments to double the efforts of the government and private sector to increase food production.

She stated that Africa’s private sector handled 80 per cent of food consumed on the continent and 48 per cent of food consumed in urban areas. Kalibata urged the participants to support and celebrate the successes of these businesses, and especially women-owned businesses.

The keynote addresses were followed by two sets of three-panel discussions which ran concurrently and focused on “leveraging technology”, “the impact of big data”, “agriculture development”, “economic transformation”, “women in agriculture”, and “building ecosystems of support”.

During the session on technology and innovation, the panelists emphasised the need to leverage them to leapfrog, driving productivity improvements and dramatically reducing post-harvest losses.

In the second panel session on “The Impact of Big Data on Food Ecosystems”, Simon Winter, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation discussed the need for data use and tracking in the agricultural space. They emphasized that data must be made affordable and accessible to smallholder farmers.

FG to start agric reality show, as oil palm stakeholders lament challenges

Source: The Guardian

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Startimes, Radio, Television, Theatre Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU) and other stakeholders is to commence an agricultural reality show called NAIJA FARMER.

The Naija Farmer reality show is a youth empowerment project aimed at transforming unemployed Nigerian youths to employers of labour. The project, it is expected, would create over 1 million agribusiness owners within 10 years and by extension lift over 20 million youths out of poverty in the next decade.

All participants would receive seed capitals from Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and other financial institutions to establish small-scale agribusinesses after the extensive training on television.

The maiden edition of Naija Farmer reality show would include 21 housemates selected from the six geopolitical zones of the country at a located Naija Farmer House in Abuja.

It would be a 24-hour reality show on Channel 140 of Startimes Bouquet already being test run. The channel would, in addition, showcase a 24-hour reality entertainment and progress made in the agricultural sector.

MEANWILE, it has been bemoaned that in spite of palm oil being produced in 25 states, over $500 million goes yearly into its importation, restricting the country to the fifth producer globally.

Concerned that the potential of the oil palm sub-sector has not been sufficiently tapped, stakeholders in the oil palm sector identified some challenges within the sub-sector to include insufficient national and state budgetary allocations/ releases, weak and poorly articulated sub-sectoral governance structure, and weak implementation of inclusive policies.

The stakeholders, while making their submissions at a two-day workshop and policy dialogue organized by Solidaridad West Africa and attended by policy makers, staff of the legislature and key officials of front-line oil palm farmers organizations in the country, affirmed that although the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) 2016-2020, and the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action for Climate Change in Nigeria (NASPA-CCN) might have proposed solutions to some of the core issues at the heart of limited food production, climate change and delivery of quality standards, they were yet to address the strategy towards agriculture-driven economy;

Dangote, Indorama benefit as AfDB okays $25bn for agriculture in Nigeria, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Sudan

Source: businessAMLive

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has endorsed $25 billion to be invested in financing agriculture projects in Nigeria and four other African countries.

Akinwunmi Adesina, president of the multilateral development finance institution confirmed the report in a statement issued by the bank, which listed Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Sudan as other beneficiaries.

Adesina disclosed that in Nigeria, AfDB is supporting Indorama Eleme Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited with $210 million for the construction and operation of two urea fertiliser plants, with an annual capacity of 2.8 million tonnes.

He added that the finance institution will make available a $300 million corporate loan to Dangote Industries to bolster its establishment of a crude oil refinery as well as its urea fertiliser plant, which has a capacity of 2.8 million tonnes per annum.

The AfDB chief who previously served as Nigeria’s minister of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that the $510 million financial support offered to Nigeria will help the continent’s biggest economy float its plan towards becoming a net exporter of fertiliser.

Adesina expressed optimism that the next set of millionaires and billionaires on the continent will be beneficiaries of the agriculture industry. He also predicted that the African food and agricultural market would exceed $1 trillion by 2030.

Speaking on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, he stated that the move is crucial towards achieving improved food production and he encouraged African countries to leverage on the current opportunities in the market by accelerating output via agro-industrialisation that backs the private sector and the public sector.

Access to loans: CBN favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending loans

Press Release
For Immediate Release
26 November 2020

Access to loans: CBN favours farmers using improved, disease-free cassava varieties for lending loans The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says only farmers who grow improved disease-free cassava stems will have access to the N25billion facility it has created to boost cassava production in the country.

The policy aims at ensuring that beneficiaries of the facility have increased productivity and are able to repay loans and make incomes for themselves.

A senior official of the apex bank, Chinedu Ogbonnaya, who represented the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, made this known during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) BASIC-II Cassava Seed Entrepreneurs and Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA).

The event, which took place at the office of the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in Sheda, Abuja, was witnessed by major stakeholders in the cassava sector, including the CBN, NASC, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike Seeds, and IITA GoSeed.

Mr Ogbonaya said the CBN realized that without the use of improved varieties, cassava production would not be profitable.

“This year, we insisted that cassava growers must plant only improved seeds before they can access our loan facility,” he said.

Under its intervention in the cassava sector, the CBN is targeting more than 100,000 farmers across the states of the federation for 2020.

The amount is split into two – N11 billion allocated to five-star farmers (those growing from five hectares and above) and N14 billion to conventional farmers (those planting between one and four hectares).

The Project Manager, Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Cassava Seeds System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II), IITA, Prof Lateef Sanni said the project would work with the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association to ensure the adequate supply of improved cassava varieties to farmers.

“As a project in IITA with the mandate to create a sustainable cassava seed system, we are willing to assist the CBN to achieve its goals,” he said.

Professor Chiedozie Egesi of the NRCRI, on his part, assured that NRCRI would work with BASICS-II and the NCGA to ensure the availability of improved cassava stems, stressing that any cassava grower that does not get improved certified seeds from the right source was starting on a wrong footing.

Chairman of Benue State Seed Producers Cooperative Union (BSSPCU), Mr. Francis Chia, in a brief remark, thanked the major stakeholders for the opportunity given to cassava growers to be part of the cassava revolution in Nigeria. The BASICS-II project aims to transform the cassava seed sector by promoting the dissemination of improved varieties thereby creating a community of seed entrepreneurs across the cassava value chain. The five-year project will focus on Nigeria and Tanzania with spin-off to other African countries.

For more information, please contact: Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist

Source: https://reliefweb.int/

‘Agric technologies, value addition key to achieving food security’

Source: The Guardian

Prioritising Agriculture, value addition and availability of purchasing power have been identified as factors that can boost food security in the country.

The role of the government in providing resources to encourage farmers and processors to scale up production and processing of agricultural products while promoting local contents has also been empasised as imperative.

The foregoing was disclosed during a visit by the TETFUND Committee on Research and Development, Agriculture Thematic Group, to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO).

Representing the Tetfund committee, Ogugua Aworh said FIIRO had played a role in industrial development in the country with regards to agricultural and food products.

“They have developed very useful products, which, unfortunately, have not been adequately appreciated by the nation. FIIRO has developed products in all aspects of food that can address nutritional problems. In weaning foods for children, FIIRO was the first to develop Soy-Ogi, and big multinationals then took a cue from it,” he said.

According to him, research institutes like FIIRO should be given all resources for research on how to build the economy, thereby encouraging the industry and creating the right environment for products to be displayed, produced, and transformed into commodities for the use of the community.

“Until these things are done, the impact of FIIRO cannot be felt,” he added.

Acting Director-General, FIIRO, Dr Agnes Asagbra, said the institute is into commercialisastion of new agricultural technologies that could help farmers, processors, and industrialists.

“Food processing companies acquire the technologies produced here and in turn, replicate what we do,” she said.

According to her, FIIRO carries out training in the six geopolitical zones, and she also emphasised the need for public-private partnership, which is projected to provide better coverage.

“From TETFUND, we have received some of the working documents which align with our industry. They have come to expose us to how to tap into getting TETFUND funds through collaboration with fellow research institutes and universities,” Asagbra added.

Representing Director-General of National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Deputy Director, Emeka Orji, said the country had been faced with challenges in optimising results, caused by lack of synergy in of various agencies.

He lauded the collaboration between FIIRO and TETFUND and said that it would bridge the gap between research, academia, and industry.

On the production of technologies, he said, “We need to upscale these products and ensure they are of global standards so that they can compete with other products in the world.”

Push for technology-driven growth in agriculture

Source: The Nation

THIS position resonates with those of agriculture and economic development experts, who unanimously argue that technology is key to driving growth in the agriculture sector and, by extension, the economy generally.

So, when Prof. Chiroma Maigana of the Department of Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, reiterated his position that achieving accelerated agricultural growth and improved livelihoods are only possible if technology is integrated throughout the agric value chain, he sure spoke the minds of other experts in the sector and, indeed, ordinary Nigerians.

The agriculture expert told The Nation in an interview last week that technological innovations in agriculture are crucial for boosting productivity and achieving scale, while at the same time optimising yield and reducing waste. He said the adoption of technology in agriculture, more popularly called agritech, would help in solving several challenges across the spectrum of the traditional agriculture value chain; that for Nigeria to feed itself, significant reforms, particularly those that favour the adoption of advances in technology, are needed across the sector.

Aligning with Maigana, a business development consultant, Kenneth Obiajulu, said greater attention should be given to building production capacity in the agricultural sector as well as higher value agro-processed foods by riding on the back of technology.

According to him, there are structural challenges inhibiting the agricultural sector from reaching its full potential. He listed some of them to include limited access to technology, credit and marketplaces, among others.

Obiajulu said the challenges in the sector have made technology-led interventions to disrupt the market imperative. He noted that there are lots of agritech opportunities, ranging from the offer of credit to the marketplace of inputs to logistics to transport the harvest. He maintained that the agric sector holds tremendous potential for technology adoption, considering the sheer size of the population.

Obiajulu is right. According to the United Nations (UN), the world will need to produce 70 per cent more food in 2050 to meet the growing demand, and technology can help in increasing agricultural output.

The import of the UN projection and recommendation are obviously not lost on stakeholders and the authorities in the agric sector, where the push to turn to technology to achieve a more robust and resilient food system has gained significant traction. Not a few agriculture and economic development experts believe that a total and radical revamping of the agriculture sector, through the use of technology (agritech), is required in the way food is produced, consumed and how waste is managed.

A common thread that runs through their presentations at various fora is the recognition of the fundamental role and opportunity in the agricultural sector to not only guarantee food security, but also enhance economic development.

They, however, recognise the existence of a multitude of challenges and barriers to the sector’s growth such as poor market information, lack of infrastructure, poor policy and regulatory environments, and climate change, among others.

But, the good thing is that leveraging technology, according to them, could help get round the challenges. Obiajulu said, for instance, that he anticipates a future with significant advances in farm mechanisation and automation, including farm robots taking over labour intensive tasks and reducing drudgery.

He said Nigeria needs a strong innovation climate and supporting infrastructure to make it well-positioned for agri-food technologies to take root.

For the Country Manager/Deputy Managing Director, OCP Nigeria, Caleb Usoh, applying modern technologies to the agricultural sector will help enhance food production, efficiency and revenue. He said the sector holds a huge potential for agritech start-ups.

With Nigeria  forecast to have a population of about 250 million by 2050, Usoh said overall demand for food will increase, and policy makers, farmers and investors  will have to  look to new agriculture technologies to produce better crops and  increase yields.

He supports the use of precision technology and big-data analytics by agro-entrepreneurs to drive innovation in farming, admitting using crop monitoring technologies to analyse the fields, along with smart irrigation systems, digitalised farm management systems and drone technology to map out the crops and to oversee the distribution of fertiliser and pesticides.

An international consultant in rural agriculture and Senior Lecturer, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Kola Adebayo, noted that multiple start-ups are already trying to change the agric landscape with the use of innovative business models.

According to him, some of them are working on various technologies that not only create a viable business, but also help improve income, noting, however, that the major problems faced by farmers include lack of information on farm inputs, unorganised credit and absence of market linkages.

Adebayo noted that various agritech companies have come into play to help farmers provide best value for their produce.

Indeed, a number of innovative start-ups operating in the food technology and agriculture technology sectors have merged. Some of the agritech start-ups, The Nation learnt, are working to enhance supply chains, using big data analytics and artificial intelligence to optimise farm management.

Others are focused on farm finance, storage monitoring and digitalisation of local markets. In Nigeria, food agritech firms are said to have drawn about $50 million in investment.

One of them is Farmcrowdy Limited, Nigeria’s first and leading agritech company founded in 2016 by five young Nigerians led by Onyeka Akumah. Farmcrowdy has raised $15 million for 25,000 farmers.

Akumah said agritech was becoming more and more mainstream. While pointing out that sustaining Nigeria’s growing population requires increasing agricultural production by 2050. He said this will require adoption of technologies to improve outcomes. He maintained that there is a need for a strong digital footprint to help farmers and agro-businesses find a competitive edge, enabling them to meet the changing needs of both growers and end customers.

From the outset, Farmcrowdy Limited was purely a crowd farming platform trying to solve the problem of farmers’ access to finance. Today, the organisation has taken an integrated approach, trying to disrupt whole supply chains with digitalisation.

In the light of opportunities in the agriculture value chain, Akumah said the company will focus on the use of technology to build tools and resources that farmers will need to boost food security through six business focus — Farmcrowdy Structured Finance, Farmcrowdy Insurance, Farmcrowdy Marketing, Farmcrowdy Tech and Data, Farmcrowdy Foods and Farmcrowdy Aggregation. He said  the  businesses were set up to serve individuals across the entire agriculture value chain, prioritising stakeholder access to better yields, lower costs, and smarter marketing.

Akumah said Farmcrowdy Foods is a one-stop e-commerce platform for fresh food and groceries. He said since inception in April 2020, Farmcrowdy Foods was able to complete over 3,000 orders in its first 90 days, through its  mobile app on the Google and IOS app store.

He stated that Farmcrowdy Foods is set to launch its e-commerce platform where consumers can purchase fresh foods and get value for their monies, adding that its Trader platform, a one-stop-shop, was created to provide major processors and international buyers the opportunity to purchase commodities directly from farming clusters and aggregators by optimising the market access to African farmers and improving their income and boosting their yields.

He said Farmcrowdy Trader has a mobile application that enables easy farmer’s data profiling, advisory services, procurement, agency banking, insurance, and microcredit for small-holder farmers.

This year, Farmcrowdy acquired Best Foods Limited to offer a wider livestock production and processing solution to the meat market. With the acquisition, Farmcrowdy took a majority stake in Best Foods, an agribusiness group formed 16 years ago and focused on the processing of livestock and marketing of agricultural produce.

Akumah said the acquisition provided Farmcrowdy the opportunity to continue to grow its livestock value chain with an improved process for livestock production and processing to reach the desired high standards fit for local consumption and export where necessary. He stated that Farmcrowdy’s vision is to empower the food industry to grow its comparative advantage through digital technologies. To this end, the company, he said, aims to build an ecosystem that connects all parties on the value chain, bringing together food domain expertise and technology.

The Nation learnt that when the company started in 2016, establishing two start-ups in the agritech space was a challenge, but today, there are over 30 start-ups in the space even as more are cropping up every day.

According to Akumah, an ecosystem has already emerged for entrepreneurship in the space, with Farmcrowdy amassing a network of over 300,000 farmers, cultivating across 17,000 acres of farmland and rearing three million broiler birds and deploying funds for farming projects across Nigeria.

In April 2018, Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, visited Farmcrowdy at their Office in Lekki, Lagos, as a part of his tour to start-ups and tech hubs across the country.

During the visit, Akumah presented Osinbajo with a certificate of sponsorship for his 10 maize farms on Farmcrowdy platform.

Farmcrowdy’s Co-founder & Chief Growth Officer, Ifeanyi Anazodo, said through collaboration with government agencies, the company was working to develop localised supply chains. He expressed his belief that bringing innovative technological solutions to agricultural practices holds enormous economic potential.

Perhaps, to underscore the growing agritech space in Nigeria, the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI) said it has acquired considerable experience in the area of agricultural training for industry executives and   farmers.

ARMTI Executive Director Dr. Olufemi Oladunni said agriculture technology  has become more important than ever before, adding that the use of modern technologies to increase yield, improve food quality and promote sustainability in the agri-food value chain will encourage more youths to venture into agriculture.

200,000 farmers to benefit from regenerative agricultural intervention

Source: The Guardian

No fewer than 200,000 farmers are expected to be engaged by the regenerative agricultural intervention in 10 states in Nigeria.

The regenerative initiative, the first of its kind in Nigeria would be piloted across Kano, Cross River, Jigawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Benue, Niger and Plateau states.

The new Agricultural technology is inherently enhances on-farm biodiversity and water storage capacity will enhance farmers productivity and food security in the country.

The biotechnology Agricultural project, is being anchored by Dantata Foods and Allied Products Company Limited, in partnership with RegenFARM Limited and the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office of the British Government under its Agricultural sector intervention (LINKS Project).

The tripartite partnership is aimed at increasing quality food production, enhancing export opportunities of Nigeria’s Agricultural commodities and improve the soil fertility, nutrients content and organic matter.

Besides, the biotechnology will rescue Nigeria from challenges of soil degradation through flooding, erosion and continued cultivation which reduce farmers productivity and low yield.

Speaking on the project, Managing Director, RegenFARM Limited Mr. Jason Haywarda said Regenerative Agriculture would be an all-embracing opportunity for the Agro-processing industry in the country.

Mr Jason explained that the Intervention will also enhance small holder farmer out-growers productivity, boost profitability and resilience to climate change will be greatly enhanced.

On his part, the Chairman/CEO Dantata Foods and Allied Company Limited Alh. Tajuddeen Aminu Dantata posited that the partnership has already galvanized access to markets in UK and other parts of Europe for the organic commodities produced under the Regenerative Agriculture practices.

He added that Dantata is involved in Agricultural Production, manufacturing and processing, besides the export and distribution of Agro allied products, as well as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

“Dantata Foods have aggregated and monitored farmers in the aspect of livestock and animal husbandry. With all these achievements, the Company wants to build a strong relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria to stand out as a reliable implementing partner for farmers’ aggregation and Agro-allied development projects”.

With a financing commitment from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the Prime Anchor Borrowers Programme, the consortium of private sector and government bodies, the agric solution is expected to rollout new techniques to boost food security in the country.

The use of Regenerative Agriculture inherently enhances on-farm biodiversity and water storage capacity, and therefore RegenFARM Platform offers a cross-over to other complimentary industries and sectors which are focused on, for example, conservation of wildlife and the retention of rainwater in the landscape to rehydrate arid landscapes.

General Manager, Corporate Services, Dantata Foods and Allied Products Company Limited, Sanusi Bature in the release emphasized the platform is designed to assist with the management of various food value chains and offering complete traceability from farmers to end users.

Repositioning agriculture in Nasarawa

Nasarawa state is reputed to be one of the leading agrarian states with at least 80 percent of its population engaged in one form of agricultural activities or the other. The state has all it takes for development, for instance, human resources, fertile soil and other resources. To this end, Governor Abdullahi Sule said the major part of his agenda is to encourage commercial agriculture in the areas where the state has comparative advantage and boost value addition to crops by laying solid foundation for agro-allied industries. In other words, he said he would work with interested investors to drive the sector to diverse level of growth. According to him, ” My administration is poised to place Nasarawa state on the global map as being front line rice producing state,” Sule said. He noted that the best and easiest way to get people out of poverty is through agriculture; therefore, he tasked all stakeholders to get the youths interested in agriculture, insisting that agriculture must be made attractive, particularly to the youths. On assumption of office, Governor Sule had ensured early distribution of 3,960 metric tons of fertiliser to farmers across the state for the 2019 farming season and sold at subsidised rate.  Subsequently, the state government also made available another 50,000 metric tons. Sule warned the farmers against buying the products and selling at high rates, saying government would not condone the activities of such people. He noted that his government was working hard to encourage youths to go into farming through introduction of mechanised farming. He explained further that government would provide tractors and other implements for effective agricultural practice, as well as enabling environment for farming in the state.


Signing the agreement/MoU


On July 2019, the governor inaugurated automated agro processing company, NewPal Nigeria limited in Keffi.The managing director of the company, Mr John Samuel, said he was encouraged by the spirited goodwill demonstrated by the administration in encouraging agricultural activities in the state.The state commissioner for agriculture and water resources, Alanana Otaki, said when he visited some agricultural projects sites in Akwanga and Kokona LGAs that he was so moved by the demonstration of Sule’s commitment.The governor also signed a tripartite agreement between agricultural firm AZMAN Group and a first class traditional ruler, His royal highness Alhaji Abdullahi Usman the Ohemege Opandan on 45 years land lease agreement.The land totaling 12,400 hectares in Umaisha Development Area of Toto local government area is geared towards boosting rice production in the state.Interestingly, during the handing over ceremony of agricultural equipments by the Japanese government in Azara, Awe LGA,  Sule disclosed that he has approved the release of N88 million as counterpart funds to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), for the state to participate in the value chain development programme for small farmers in the state.According to Sule, “Government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IFAD for the state’s participation in the value chain development programme, a scheme aimed at improving casava and rice value chains for small farmers.”He explained that through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP), 442 rice farmers were empowered and trained to improve rice production technologies management with 35 front line extension agents also trained in good agricultural practice to be passed to other farmers as well as 11 extension agents that were trained in Japan on improved rice production technologies and research methods. The Japanese ambassador to Nigeria, Yutaka Kikuta, said farmers in selected three local government areas of the state would benefit from Japan’s agricultural funding to boost food production through mechanised farming in the state. He thereby donated 20 rice reapers and 20 rice threshers for use in three selected LGAs of Awe, Obi and Keana, respectively.


Sule’s appeal to IFAD,World Bank and FG
Governor Sule also appealed to IFAD, World Bank and the federal government to jointly support women small holder farmers and out growers in the state. He said IFAD’s support can go a long way towards value chain addition.”We want IFAD and the World Bank to support women because women are excellent farmers of rice.”By the time most of our commercial agriculture as well as the small holder farming programme are fully incubated, Nasarawa state will take over from Benue as the food basket of the nation.”The market enterprise development advisor, Hajiya Fatima Mukthar Buhari, revealed that the state was selected by IFAD among eight other states because of its enormous agricultural potentials and support for small, medium and large scale businesses.She said that her visit to Nasarawa was part of implantation support mission of IFAD and value chain development programme which focused on enhancing productivity and profitability of small scale agro processors by improving the access to market and capacity.


Approval of counterpart fund


Governor Sule also approved N 72 million counterpart fund for two years to guarantee agricultural activities in the state to access funds from United Nations Development Programme in global environment facility in order to empower farmers in the state.He maintained that the vision of his administration is to see that Nasarawa accounts for at least 25 percent of Nigeria’s total rice production.Governor Sule is not relenting in exploring all avenues to enable farmers go into agricultural activities and access available agro-financial means. To that extent, he is encouraging the expansion of Olam Farm in Rukubi, Doma LGA of the state.He also encouraged individuals across the state to embrace agriculture as a means of livelihood as well as boost the economic prosperity of the state.He said Olam farms has over 10,000 hectares of land for the rice value chain development especially with the out growers. “Olam Farms has over 4,000 out growers with more to come from other commercial rice farmers with operators like Azman Farms and Dangote Group coming into the state.”
The state government and leadership of CBN also reached an agreement on a N1 million loan facility on youth empowerment.


Visit to water resources ministry


He as well visited the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with the aim of partnering with the federal government  on Farin Ruwa Dam project which was started by previous administration with memorandum of understanding MoU already signed between the state and federal government.The governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for approving over N8 billion for the construction of the Farin Ruwa Multipurpose Dam as well as Sisin Baki/Farin Ruwa road.He thanked the federal government for coming to the aide of the state at a time Nasarawa needed assistance, saying even though the state government has commenced the construction of the Sisin Baki/Farin Ruwa roads, the federal government has now taken over the project with the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The governor said when completed the project will generate direct employment to over 30 thousand Nigerian youths who are versed in agricultural development.The minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, commended governor Sule for awarding contract for the construction of access road to the site for Farin Ruwa multipurpose Dam project in Wamba LGA.Adamu encouraged Governor Sule to work towards making Nasarawa state Open Defecation Free (ODF) and to continue to give  priority to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) the basic ingredients of life. He assured that his ministry will remain focused and see to the completion of the Farin Ruwa project.The permanent secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ekaro Comfort said that the visit of the governor would encourage the federal government to do more for the government and good people of Nasarawa state; therefore urged Sule not relent on his efforts.The governor used the occasion by the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation to showcase some home-grown machineries that his administration is collaborating with the agency to revitalise agricultural production and processing in the state.

Source- https://www.blueprint.ng/