The Chairman of Delta State Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Mr. Sylvanus Ejezie, has tasked the Delta State Government to reduce the cost of hiring tractors in the state.
Mr, Ejezie revealed this while speaking during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He explained that this decision will help to enhance rice cultivation, and ensure food security in the state.
According to him, the expenses farmers incur during land preparation are set to be compounded significantly by the cost of hiring a tractor, to speed up land preparation during this planting season.
He added that the state government needs to take drastic actions to ensure that the cost of hiring a tractor is reduced to the lowest level that will support optimal rice cultivation during the farming season, as the reduction in this cost would serve as an incentive for farmers to cultivate more farmlands.
Ejezie stressed that this move is necessary as farmers in the state hire tractors for land preparation at N20,000 per day, in addition to other expenses
What they are saying
The chairman of RIFAN, Delta State chapter said:
“We expect that each of the 1,000 farmers in the state will produce four tonnes of rice per hectare. No fewer than 1,000 farmers have been profiled to benefit from the agricultural loan under the CBN anchor borrowers programme. All the materials were promptly supplied last year.
“Following our devastating experience last year when a flood washed away almost everything we planted, we took advantage of the dry season farming and are already harvesting. I want to commend Gov. Okowa for his support to farmers. He provided me with the first borehole in my farm when he (Okowa) was Commissioner for Agriculture in the state.
“To increase our effort in dry season farming, I dug extra two boreholes in order to provide irrigation cover for the eight-hectare of rice that I cultivated this dry season. In order not to suffer the same fate we suffered last year, we have advised our members to commence land preparation for this year’s farming season early enough.’’
What you should know
Delta State chapter revealed last year that it would be targeting 28,000 MT of rice from this year’s dry season farming, the chairman of the association disclosed that no fewer than 7,000 farmers registered to take part in the dry season farming in the state.
This ambitious move is expected to cushion the shortfall in rice production in the country, as farmers incurred huge losses during the wet season farming last year, due to the heavy flood which washed off a sizeable amount of their cultivation.
Timi Oke secured the first client for his fledgling Nigerian export trading business through LinkedIn. At the time, in 2012, the Nigerian-born Oke was working a nine-to-five job at a bank in the UK and decided to follow the advice of an import-export trader he had become acquainted with.
“I had always been interested in agriculture and trading from a young age. Even while I was working at the bank, I would research different agricultural products that could be viable for trade,” he says.
The trader told Oke to attend as many trade fairs as he could and recommended a few industry groups on LinkedIn to join.
“For about six to twelve months, I was constantly on these groups, asking questions, eliciting responses and then contacting those individuals directly. Eventually an importer from Mexico asked me if I could supply five containers of dried hibiscus flowers.”
Oke took a career break, not officially quitting just yet, and asked his brother and a good friend to join him in the newly registered company called AgroEknor.
It was a scramble to deliver that first order. The partners crowdfunded and used their own money to raise enough working capital to purchase the hibiscus flowers from middlemen who procured it from small-scale farmers in Nigeria’s northern states.
Oke emphasises the importance of integrity in business. He was upfront with this first client, admitting that the company had not done a deal before.
“What I could assure him of, though, was that he would not face any issues getting his product out of the ports. We had connections at the Nigerian Ports Authority. At the beginning of every business, you always need one person to believe in you. Either your investor or your client,” Oke notes.
The shipment was dispatched. Oke still remembers the day the first payment for 60 tonnes of dried hibiscus was transferred into the company’s account. “It was a celebration. I gave notice at the bank and settled permanently in Nigeria to do this full-time,” he says.
The importance of research
One mistake many entrepreneurs make when trying to start a trading business, says Oke, is not having adequate industry knowledge.
While working at the bank, he read up and learnt everything he could about hibiscus and the industry, not just in Nigeria.
“Hibiscus is not the product I originally wanted to go into. I liked the drink, but did not know that it is a cash crop which is in demand worldwide and that people paid good money for,” he says.
He learnt about the international hibiscus market, the main importing countries and the biggest producers.
“Organic hibiscus is grown in Africa – mainly in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Sudan. When we started, there were a lot of trade restrictions in Sudan. They were in the middle of a civil war. Essentially there was a global supply gap,” he says.
Oke also knew that the big hibiscus growers in northern Nigeria were unable to get their products out of the country as local traders did not want to deal with the tension and unrest in the area. It was a gap AgroEknor could capitalise on.
“We essentially said: Let’s be brave about this. Let’s go into the north, get it packaged and get it out,” he says.
His investment in getting to know the industry has delivered results.
“Sometimes I feel like a walking hibiscus encyclopaedia, but knowing the product helps. When you can speak about your product and industry with a lot of knowledge, clients are more inclined to trust you with supply contracts.”
Defining target markets
Oke says it was beneficial that the company’s first client was from Mexico.
“I have discussions with newcomers all the time who just want to get products into the EU or US. In the beginning, you cannot target the most sophisticated countries.”
Oke explains that a mistake in a shipment’s documentation or an issue with fumigation, could, in some ports such as the US, lead to the destruction of the entire cargo. A start-up cannot accommodate such losses.
“There are other countries where you can refumigate or reprocess the cargo elsewhere in the harbour, for example, Mexico or China. If you don’t know this and simply aim for the US market first, you are doing yourself a disservice.”
The company was fortunate, says Oke, to grow quite quickly. From 60 tonnes in year one to 120 in year two and 540 tonnes in year three. The growth came from clients in Latvia, Germany and Belgium which he secured at the Anuga Trade Fair in Germany in 2013.
The team came back from the fair and raised another round of finance from family and friends to be able to deliver on the orders. Oke started the process to get certifications in place to be able to export to the EU.
At the fair, Oke also met a Mexican trade broker who helped facilitate more Mexican deals. He used their track record of delivery to their first client to secure 30% payment upfront from eight new Mexican clients.
AgroEknor was steadily building its client base and in 2016, in its fourth year of operations, it penetrated the US market. The company received one order from a US company who wanted the hibiscus packaged for retail under the AgroEknor brand. Oke and his business partner soon started fielding calls and emails from other potential clients in the country who found their contact details on the packaging.
“We got proper demand in the US in 2017, and in 2018 I moved there for about seven months, essentially selling our product from door to door. We were able to establish our reputation and secured longer-term contracts,” he says.
AgroEknor exports hibiscus products throughout the world.
Adding value and the right sourcing strategy
On its website, AgroEknor lists hibiscus as well as cashew nuts, sesame seeds and ginger as its trade products. The main focus, however, says Oke, is growing the formats of its hibiscus exports.
After the success of the first Anuga Trade Fair, the company paid a visit to a few of its overseas clients. “We found out that while we exported the cleaned and packaged raw flowers, there also was a market for both hibiscus powder and concentrate,” he says.
AgroEknor joined forces with a chemist from Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology and began processing the flowers at a facility in Kano.
“Right now, we have clients in the EU who purchase the powder, while the demand for concentrate is huge in the US,” says Oke.
He believes that it is imperative to be involved at both ends of the production cycle. Even before the company had an outgrower scheme with smallholder farmers cultivating hibiscus for direct supply, it had boots on the ground near the farms through an agronomist consultant who checked the quality of the crop.
“Importers currently are focused on the traceability of a product. This means that, as an exporter, you have to be involved in the entire value chain and we are talking to three state governments to see how we can replicate our outgrower programme there,” says Oke.
The planned scheme across the three states will push the number of outgrowers up from 2,000 to over 15,000
“We currently have a supply deficit. The demand is high, especially with the renewed focus on healthy living due to Covid-19. We’ve had a lot of health and wellness multinationals approaching us as hibiscus has been proven to be an antioxidant.”
While Oke had promised his first Mexican client that port and logistics challenges will not be a problem, he admits that the company has had to deal with some of these obstacles along the way.
“Certain infrastructure has to be in place for you to have a seamless supply chain and Nigeria does not have it. We have port congestion and if a client wants his product on a specific day, you may struggle to get clearance.”
In 2018, AgroEknor secured substantial funding from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (Nexim). “At a high level, Nexim has always been able to connect us with the right authorities to be able to negate some of these challenges,” Oke says.
“In any business, your network can help you to solve problems and you have to make it a point of duty to actively grow that network, especially with regulatory stakeholders,” he says. “It will be help you to go further than the next guy who does not invest in relationships.”
The chief executive officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo has expressed delight over the attainment of Global Organic Certification status for Nigerian sesame seed by WACOT Nigeria from ECOCERT International.
He disclosed this in his Abuja office when he hosted the National Sesame Seeds Association of Nigeria (NSSAN) led by the president, Mr Sheriff Balogun and his deputy, Mr Sadiq Kassim.
According to Awolowo, this marked a landmark achievement for Nigeria as WACOT Nigeria Ltd attained the Global Organic Certification Status of the Nigerian Sesame Seed by ECOCERT INTERNATIONAL, the first of its kind in the history of the country. He said this places Nigeria on the world map of organic product producers and marketers.
The association acknowledged NEPC’s role in promoting and supporting the NSSAN through stringent emphasis on quality product standards and various collaborations in capacity building of rural farmers in good agricultural practices along the value chain.
he said: “”It was indeed an honor to be presented with the certificate by the President of NSSAN.
We spoke about the establishment of commercial Hulling Facilities for the seeds to support the growth of the sector. NEPC looks forward to supporting NSSAN.”
In the same vein, the NEPC boss, hosted the CEO of Shea Tribe, Ms Kanyinsola Demola-Seriki, an an indigenous company, proudly made in Nigeria that creates 100% organic and handmade skincare/grooming products.
Materials for products are sourced locally in Saki, Oyo State. Her mission is to promote healthy living, introduce African beauty and health formulas to the world. She decided that in order to do this she needs the support of NEPC to grow her business exponentially.
Awolowo added that NEPC is a strong supporter of women and youth in export development and in her, NEPC has found both. “NEPC looks forward to accompanying her on her journey to the international market place.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has commissioned the yam storage facility at the Faculty of Agriculture, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
He said the facility has capacity to store between 45 – 50 Metric Tonnes of yam seed and is estimated to cover 16 hectares of land when planted.
Speaking during the ceremony, the minister noted that the huge output of using clean seed yam would boost production, increase earnings of yam farmers and enhance the export of yam from the state.
He said the location of the facility inside the university would immensely add value to teaching, research and income generation for farmers in the state, adding that the facility will generate about 200 jobs to the value chain.
However, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed, commended the minister and his team for commissioning the facility.
He pointed out that the sum of N35 million was released by the state government to establish an aeroponics system for seed production – a component of yam value chain.
He added that the facility would be harnessed to support the federal government’s efforts towards improving agricultural productivity, promote research and enhance the economic diversification agenda of the federal government.
Separately, Nanono, also visited Shabu Integrated Farms, Kokona where he expressed satisfaction with the storage facilities displayed by RIELA International, an organisation that specialised in manufacturing high quality storage and processing equipment, planning, engineering, assembling and services for efficient and cost effective solutions of grain handling and preservation.
Earlier, he paid a visit to the Dangote Sugar Farm housing 68,000 hectares of sugar farm in Tunga, Nassarawa State. The project is expected to change the sugar narrative when operational.
Agriculture commodities despite experiencing a dip in activities did not fall as steeply as other asset classes and witnessed a faster recovery amidst the recession and COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX Nigeria disclosed this at the presentation of the “AFEX 2021 Commodities Outlook” organized to provide insight on the direction of the commodities market to stakeholders.
Continuing his review, Balogun said that the current policy stance of the government would sustain increased production and encourage growth in the agricultural sector in the short to medium-term.
“Nigeria’s easing of restrictions on some borders across the country has had a significant impact on cross border trades,” Balogun said.
The CEO, AFEX, explained the contrast in the behavior between gold and crude oil, post-pandemic, noting that there were capital reversals between the two asset classes. He believed the success of a COVID-19 vaccine would guarantee a rally of crude oil prices.
He informed stakeholders that Coffee and Cocoa were affected by the pandemic and lockdowns across countries. “People believe that the upswing in cocoa prices are arbitrary and traders are currently trading at a discount to international prices”.
Balogun mentioned the fact that food prices continue to rise because many countries are imprisoned in protectionist mindsets as they strengthen their strategic reserves. From available data, analysts note that the agricultural sector’s contribution to GDP in Q3 was 31%, and was primarily driven by crop production. The data suggests that between 27% and 28% of GDP revolves around the success of farmers cultivating on their farmland and includes factors such as climate-induced risk, “availability of fertilizers, and quality of seeds,” Balogun said.
From a recent survey which was a result of AFEX interviewing 10,000 farmers, the following trends and developments were highlighted:
Increased land use contributes to the volume of the output.
More fertilizer usage to yield more productivity.
Allocation of land between smallholder farmers and larger farmers.
Balogun’s presentation focused on a review of 2020 global commodities positions, the Nigerian commodities landscape-the state of play, and the 2021 commodities outlook (see chart 1 below showing trends in 2020 commodity prices).
Chart 1:M-0-M Price Movement for Maize, Cocoa, and Ginger(Jan- Dec)
Source: AFEX, Proshare Research
Balogun observed that the current domestic inflation rate has been caused by the expansionary stance of monetary policy centred on getting Nigeria out of a COVID-19-induced recession. He equally argued that increase spending by the private sector and the fiscal and monetary policy stand of driving funds to the bottom of the population pyramid increased aggregate consumption.
According to him, factors that would shape the commodities market in 2021 include:
Cross border and trade policies
CBN dry season cultivation of maize and rice
Cash liquidity and availability of alternative investment instruments.
Balogun said AFEX supports a market-led approach to achieving a competitive commodities market. He also spoke on flooding and noted that due to global warming ocean, sea, and river water levels were rising and this was posing a palpable threat to arable land farming, he said AFEX had designed climate-based insurance products that cover nature-induced losses farmers may incur, he, however, advocated for the effective use of natural resources sustainably.
The federal government introduced Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project to boost food production in the country.
Gawuna stated this at the inauguration of the Pre-6th Implementation Support Midterm Review of the APPEALS Project and Zonal Wrap-Up meeting on Wednesday in Kano.
He said more than 10,000 rice, wheat and tomato farmers would be trained on modern techniques to encourage productivity, processing and farmer enterprising skills to add value to the produce.
The deputy governor said that 6,344 farmers were also trained while 1,700 youth and women as well as persons with disabilities exposed to poultry and fishery productions.
The trainees, he said, would be supported with economic strengthening equipment to enable them to set up their businesses, encourage agricultural activities and boost state revenue base.
“APPEALS is designed in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) of the Federal Government, it is contributing to the agriculture policy thrusts of the Kano State Government.
“It is centered on food security, support to local production, job creation, economic diversification and improved revenue generation through agriculture.
“Kano State Government is committed towards supporting local production through provision of improved inputs to achieve increase productivity and marketing of agricultural produce,” he said.
While urging the beneficiaries to use what they learnt to improve their production, Gawuna reiterated continued government support to the programme to enable it to achieve its objectives.
The APPEALS National Project Manager, Dr Salisu Garba, said the programme being implemented in six states across the country was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the World Bank.
Garba said the project has recorded significant successes in terms of technology adoption and farmer support services in Kano state since inception in 2016.
He explained that the 5-day meeting was designed to appraise project implementation in all components, adding that the participants were drawn from Cross River, Kano and Kogi states.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the deputy governor accompanied by the project officials inspected a 50-tons capacity preservation facility at Tomato Aggregation Centre, Kwanar Ungogo, and a wheat bakery cluster in Dala Local Government Area of the state.
The Federal Government of Nigeria and the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD) are working together to lessen the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on small-scale farmers’ activities and domestic food supply in northeastern states of Nigeria.
IFAD has provided a first grant of US$900,000 through its Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) to support the worst affected small-scale producers and rural households in the North through the COVID-19 crisis, as well as to rebuild and recover in the post-crisis period. The grant agreement, signed by Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance, budget and National Planning and Nadine Gbossa, IFAD’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, will help vulnerable small-scale farmers in seven northern states (Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara).
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, more than 8,000 vulnerable smallholders in Northern Nigeria will receive an agricultural stimulus and resilience package composed of climate resilient seeds; these are high yielding, and high nutritional value varieties that will help farmers achieve good production and secure their incomes. IFAD’s support complements the United Nations Nigeria COVID-19 Basket by earmarking resources to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on smallholders’ farming activities and domestic food supply.
“We both recognize and appreciate IFAD’s support to our quest to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy, particularly on the agricultural sector,” said Mohammed S. Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria. “This support strengthens my Ministry’s COVID-19 Agricultural Mitigation and Sustainability Plan, which aims to address the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian agriculture and food security.”
The government will procure 80 metric tons of seed – maize, rice and vegetables – and 722 metric tons of fertilizer that will support the most affected small-scale farmers. About 50 per cent are women, 25 per cent men and 25 percent young farmers who are already participating in the ongoing IFAD-funded Climate Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme.
“I am very happy to be among the beneficiaries who will collect rice seed and fertilizer. This will enable me to cultivate the half hectare of rice I have under irrigation for this year’s dry season. I will be able to increase my income and food security despite the COVID -19 pandemic,” said Ige Abdullahi Yarkofoji, a farmer from the Rini Community, Bakura area in Zamfara State.
There will also be training for communities on improved food production practices, including effective application of fertilizer and agro-chemicals, farm management and climate-smart agriculture. These activities are intended to safeguard smallholders’ pre-COVID gains in food security, better market access and increased income. Activities would also sensitize small-scale producers to COVID-19 security measures they should follow to stay safe during their farming activities.
“This funding from IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will ensure that farmers have timely access to inputs, information, and markets. By supporting smallholders to mitigate this crisis through a market-led approach, basic farming activities will be sustained, facilitating post-COVID-19 crisis recovery and resilience,” said Nadine Gbossa, IFAD’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “IFAD is committed to leave no one behind and will ensure that women and youth in Nigeria have an equal opportunity to benefit from this funding.”
Since 1985, IFAD has financed 11 projects in Nigeria for a total of $ 1,136.8 million, including $ 510.5 million from IFAD’s own resources, directly benefitting nearly 3.9 million Nigerian rural households.
In December last year, Ogun State helmsman, Prince Dapo Abiodun, breezed into the conference room of Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, in a blaze of glory. And local and international stakeholders in agriculture stood still as he was decorated with the Best Governor of the year award in Agriculture, a fitting tribute to months of endless toils and triumphs in a pandemic year. The innovations in farming, farming techniques and technologies and agribusiness deriving from Governor Abiodun’s (ISEYA) mantra of infrastructure, social welfare and wellbeing, youth empowerment, culture and religion had not gone unnoticed. The year had been rough but as the old saying goes, a golden fish has no hiding place…
As is well known, the state is very competitive in arable crops like cassava, yam, maize, sweet potato, and cash crops like cocoa, oil palm, timbre, kolanut, cashew and rubber. In actualizing its objective, the government embraced an integrated approach to production, processing and marketing through land provisions/inputs distribution, processing and marketing with individuals and corporate organizations. There is of course the African Development Bank, World Bank/Ogun State Economic Transformation Project (OGSTEP) for 40,000 farmers in nine priority value chains cassava, maize, rice, soybean, tomatoes and pepper, sesame, fishery and poultry), among many others.
During the 2020 planting season, 40,000 smallholder farmers were supported with inputs such as seeds, cassava cutting, insecticide and herbicide, just as 10,000 farmers were given fertilizers palliatives and continued support across the state. The administration supported young farmers with over 900 hectares of land preparations in 17 locations, with some 2,500 unemployed youths and farmers engaging in cassava production. In addition, it set up strategic partnerships with international development partners and farmers in large-scale cultivation of rice and cassava in 36 locations in 11 local government areas.
It cannot be a moot point that the broiler scheme of the state empowered 54 pilot youths who had successfully completed three cycles of broiler production with each making profit of N150.000 per cycle for three cycles. If the administration achieved success with the linkage of 4,462 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N700 million in the cassava value chain, and 1,065 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N300 million in the rice value chain through the CBN/Ogun State Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the linkage of 800 participants to inputs and credit to the tune of N360 million under the Ogun State Government/Federal Government/IFAD Assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) took things to another level entirely. But that was not all: 394 maize farmers, 54 rice farmers and 21 poultry farmers benefitted from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) through the CBN.
To be sure, the construction of 20km access roads in Obafemi-Owode, Yewa North and Ijebu North East, 14 solar-powered water schemes in Ijebu North East, Obafemi-Owode, Yewa North, Ifo, Ijebu East, Odeda and Odogbolu LGAs, four cassava processing centres at Baara, Alapako-Oni, OkeIyemi and Ayetoro, not to mention the rice processing centre in Eggua, is all part of the scheme to make farming great again in Ogun State.
What is more, innovations such as the CBN Cassava 5-Star Programme, Cocoa Development Initiative and Oil Palm Expansion Programme) and the Federal Government/Ogun State Government/IFAD Assisted Value Chain Development Programme for over 3,000 farmers in 11 local government areas in the state are gradually turning the fortunes of farmers and farming around in the state. This, of course, is in addition to the World Bank COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Project; World Bank-Assisted Agro-Processing, Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement (APPEALS) Project; EU/GIZ/Federal Government/Lagos State/Ogun State Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP) for 3,000 farmers including youths, in tomato and chilli pepper value chains; International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)’s technological innovations and support to farming and related activities, including technical backstopping, demonstration farms and enterprise development in Ogun State. The list is virtually endless.
But here’s the real deal: the glory season is in fact only just beginning. For one, irrigation farming and weather-smart agricultural practices are in the pipeline.
The Ogun State Economic Transformation Programme (OGSTEP) targeted at empowering over 40,000 farmers is scheduled to take off even as the administration has concluded plans to link farmers with tractors, planting material palliatives and help them reduce the cost of production. An Ogun-Kebbi Joint Commision on Rice Production is set to be unfolded to meet the increasing demand for the staple food across the country.
That is not all: rice farmers in the state are set to experience a marvel as the government deploys drone technology to scare away predatory birds, and will be linked with mechanical rice harvesters at the mere payment of a pay a token.
Given the foregoing, it did not come as a surprise that a delegation from the Federal Capital Territory Agricultural Development Programme (FCT-ADP) and the Agric and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS) recently visited Ogun State on a share-learning mission.
According to the leader of the delegation who doubles as the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, ARDS, Yahaya Hussaini, the seamless land acquisition process, land management, farm settlement and farm estate operations of the state informed the choice of Ogun.
His words: “We are here because of the various success stories of Ogun State in terms of agriculture. It was indeed a fruitful visit, we have been to other states but what we saw in Ogun State is a wide margin, and we came to the conclusion that agriculture is the way out of our challenges.” Yahaya added that the Ogun Broiler Project and fisheries production would be replicated in the FCT-ADP. The Ogun State government is in fact working with the Federal Government and the private sector to promote the consumption of the Vitamin A and bio-fortified food.
As noted by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Adeola Odedina, “We are privileged to be in charge of food security, industrial linkage and land administration, among others, accounting for the influx of investors into our dear state.”
Given the innovations highlighted above, you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing further is in the offing. But you would be wrong: this month, Prince Dapo Abiodun disclosed plans by his administration to have an agro-allied based airport—yes, airport– to aid the development of the state as a destination of choice for agriculture in Nigeria.
Speaking during the inauguration of Agbeloba Aquaculture Hub in Owiwi, Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of the state, Abiodun said the agricultural sector remained a sure way out of poverty and the unemployment ravaging the country. As he pointed out, this year, at least 5,000 young people in the state would receive mentoring, support, and linkage to profitable agro-investment firms, as a prelude to setting them up in their respective businesses. In his view, “We now need another Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) more than ever before.
This time, it has to be urgent and with home-grown initiatives.” Nothing could be more apt at this time when the nation faces threats to food security in form of bandits and terrorists exterminating farming communities in the North-East and cutting down farmers in cold blood across the country.
Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has promised to improve the agricultural sector to attain food sufficiency and revenue generation.
Governor Bello stated this in a message to the inauguration of Kogi State Executive members of the AMANA Farmers and Grains Supplied Association of Nigeria (AFGASAN).
The Governor who was represented by the State Head of Service, Mrs Deborah Ogunmola, said agriculture is one of the major priority of the present administration noting that farmers in the state have been assisted with farm tools and other imputes to assist farmers at both subsistence and mechanised level.
While congratulating the newly elected executive members of the group, the Governor promised to partner with them for the realisation of their objectives.
He further explained that his administration recognises the position of women in the society noting that the party has mandated women to contest as Vice Chairman across the twenty-one Local Government Area of the state.
In a remark, the national President of (AFGASAN), Alhaji Haruna Hamed, said the Association which cut across the thirty-six states has assisted farmers in the aspect of finance and modern farming be the technique to improve their yielding.
He said the state is suitable for both cassava and cashew production emphasising that efforts will be heard towards improving production capacity.
In a paper presentation, an APC Chieftain from the Eastern Senatorial District of Kogi State, Doctor Halima Alfa, said the Association with over eighteen million members has continued to promote agriculture both nationally and internationally.
She commended the State House of Assembly for giving Governor Bello the impetus to contest Presidential election in 2023 emphasising that nobody in the north-central has been by elected to the exalted position.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Ohinohi of Ebira Land, His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, who recalled that agriculture was the mainstay of the economy before the discovery of fossil fuels urged Nigerians to revert back to the old order to tackle the realities of the century.
To further strengthen the economy of the state, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has engaged the United States government in the oil palm and cassava sub-sectors of the state for the manufacturing of high-value Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG). The governor is also partnering with the private sector for optimal actualisation of the objective.
Obaseki unveiled the plan at a virtual meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Honorable Mary Beth Leonard and some foreign and local agribusiness investors in Abuja on Thursday. The meeting which held on the heels of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as US President and Vice President respectively attracted the presence of the U.S. Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, U.S. Embassy Economic Officer Richard Michaels and Brandon Hudspeth, U.S. Embassy Political Officer. Obaseki said that efforts to galvanize the sector began by instituting the framework for Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) in his first term. He said: “At the sub-national tier of government, we focus on moving from lamenting to executing; we are focused on getting the job done. “This paradigm shift in the establishment of the ESOPP will now include a move towards a renewed focus on Cassava Industrialisation Programme through our land administration and civil service reforms.
“We want to build the capacity of our people to attract private investments in agro-industrialisation”. The Governor expressed satisfaction with the support and commitment of the ambassador to the plight of farmers and value chain development in the state. He committed to continued support for Fayus Inc, an agro-processor and distributor based in Sacramento, California for its investments in Edo and Nigeria. He, therefore, pledged additional allocation of 5000 hectares of land for the firm, emphasizing the need for human capacity development to engage the people of Edo. On her part, Amb. Leonard who led the team of U.S. officials commended Obaseki for his expression of interest to attract U.S. agri-business investors in the cassava and oil palm value chains. She pledged to spur other U.S. food and agribusiness companies to invest in Africa.
“Fayus Inc.’s $43.7 million investment commitment in cassava new food products development serves as an example of the synergy of goals in value creation to drive food security, economic diversification and jobs creation under the Prosper Africa Initiative and DFC project financing in support of US-Africa investors,” the ambassador said. Leonard also thanked Fayus Inc., AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS), ShineBridge Global (SBG) and local partners in Nigeria for investing in the country. In his remarks, the Chairman of Fayus, Inc, Mr Fatai Yusufu said they were ready to revolutionize oil palm and cassava value chains in the state. “We are ready to get the job done in Nigeria and in Edo; over the next four years, I promise you, we will be milling palm oil in Edo from our investment in the 5,000 hectares of land recently allocated by Governor Obaseki’s administration. “Fayus, Inc. is one of six new oil palm investors in Edo with state-of-the-art nurseries boasting of over 600,000 high-performance seedlings ready for planting in 2021.
“Fayus, Inc. is committed to sustainable cassava supply chain infrastructure development and value creation in Nigeria to meet the company’s latent demand of 50,000 tonnes of High-Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) for in-country manufacturing of CPG in Nigeria and export to North American, European, and Australian markets. “U.S. companies, Fayus Inc., AfGS and SBG committed to investing $43.7 million in industrial food ingredients and CPG cassava value creation, food science and technology knowledge transfer and increased trade and investment inflows between the United States, Nigeria and other ECOWAS countries. “Fayus, Inc. plans to invest over $32 million in cassava value creation in Nigeria and an additional $18 million in Ghana and Togo, and has approached the USAID funded West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH) for support,” he said. Also, the Chairman of Shine Bridge Global Inc., Dr Tony Bello, said that the market size of gluten-free and grain-free CPG is estimated at $4.5 Billion by 2025. Bello said that value-added HQCF or tapioca flour served as functional food ingredients for making ready-to-eat consumer new food products.
He explained that Fayus, Inc. was the manufacturer of the famous “Ola Ola” brand of poundo yam flour and is expanding the brand to include Cassava Flour Mixes for making baked goods such as crackers and pizza crusts, snacks, shawarma, noodles, and the likes. The aim, according to him was to meet the growing demand for gluten-free and grain-free consumer food products in North America and the world. Similarly, Dr. Mima Nedelcovych, the Chairman of AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS), an agro-industrial company operating in Africa commended Obaseki for the opportunity to invest in the state. He said the job will be done by leveraging on US Departments and Agencies such as USAID, USTDA and the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). Nedelcovych also underscored the need to take advantage of the U.S. Exim Bank, African Export-Import Bank (AfreximBank) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for food and agricultural industrialisation.
According to him, the aim was to rapidly reach 15 states of Nigeria on large scale commercial cassava production, HQCF processing and CPG manufacturing with planned investments of $250 million up to $500 million. Nedelcovych who is also a co-facilitator of the meeting appreciated all the participants and Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Agriculture and Food Sustainability, Prince Joe Okojie, for their efforts in developing the state. Other participants at the meeting included Pacific Ring West Africa, Elephant Group Plc., and Von Foods Limited under the Project BOLT initiative on “Industrial Cassava Manufacturing Programme” in Africa.