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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Agriculture, solution to Nigeria’s economic crisis –Expert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFAN President Advises Youths To Use ICT To Drive Agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Untapped Shea Butter in Nigeria can Yield $2bn yearly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Future of Nigerian cocoa production lies in Niger Delta – Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


U.S. Tasks Nigeria To Leverage On Agriculture For Wealth, Economic Growth

Mr John Bray, the U.S. Consul General in Lagos has urged Nigeria to leverage on its vast agricultural potential to create wealth and boost its economy. Bray said this on Friday in Lagos during the African Food and Products Conference and Exhibition (AFPE) with the theme, “Sustainability and Innovation: Pathway to Business Success for SMEs’’. Bray represented by Brent Omdahl, Commercial Counselor, U.S. Commercial Service, said that the world knew Nigeria as an oil country not as an agriculture rich nation.

The task before Nigeria is to show the world its enormous potential in agriculture. “Nigeria needs to use agriculture to create wealth, employment and grow its economy, U.S. is doing that and Nigeria can do that too. “In the next 50 years, what produce will be known around the world as a signature product from Nigeria.

“Would it be shea butter, tiger nut, cashew or palm oil; Nigeria has the comparative advantage in these produce and more and should explore it the same way the U.S. explored cranberry potential to create wealth,” he said. Also, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director, Sterling Bank, said that achieving sustainable growth in the country was about the ability to reduce poverty, boost employment and improve citizen’s welfare. Suleiman, represented by Mr Shina Atilola, Divisional Head, Retail and Consumer Banking, Sterling Bank, said that any initiative or policy that did not lead to employment creation would not catalyse development.

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Farmers should embrace smart agriculture for Food Security

Experts in agriculture and climate change made the call in Abuja at an event put together to educate Nigerian youths on the need to embrace climate-smart agriculture to enhance capacity and support food security in Nigeria.

Most of Nigeria’s agricultural activities are rain fed and highly susceptible to climate vulnerability. farmers are being encouraged to embrace climate-smart agriculture in order to combat the waving effect of climate change on food security.

At a mock parliament put together by the fresh and young brains development initiative and the Open Society Initiative For West Africa, Osiwa, youth were encouraged to channel more energy into food production through climate-smart agriculture for better living and promote food security.

According to reports, sub-Saharan Africa faces the largest food insecurity in the world and Nigeria with its growing population may end up importing more than half of its food consumption, owing partly to climate-related activities and poor youth participation in agriculture.

The experts say climate-smart agriculture aims to enhance the capacity of agricultural systems to support food security, improve productivity and incomes from smallholder crop, livestock, fish and forest production will be key to achieving global food security over the next 20 years.

In Nigeria, climate change is emerging as the most serious threat to agriculture.

To address the challenge, the fresh and young brains development initiative in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative For West Africa, Osiwa, to educate and voice out a campaign for climate-smart agriculture.


FAO unveils 5-year strategic plan for agric in Nigeria

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has given a breakdown of its 5-year strategic Programming Framework for Nigeria (CPF), spanning between 2018 and 2022.

Suffyan Koroma, FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, said in a press statement in Abuja on Tuesday that the framework was to assist Federal Government develop its agriculture sector.

He listed some priority areas which included: Strengthening national food and nutrition security through enhanced nutrition sensitive and climate-smart food systems.

Others are: supporting appropriate and operationally effective agricultural policy and regulatory frameworks, supporting Nigeria’s Economic Diversification Agenda and the promotion of decent employment for youth and women in the agriculture value chains.

It also included improving the efficient and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems and enhancing disaster risk reduction, resilience building and emergency management towards strengthening the Humanitarian-Development Nexus.

He also said the framework would ensure efficient management of the country’s natural resources.

He also spelt out a set of medium-term support objectives and results as approved by the FAO’s Regional Office for Africa (RAF).

He said the areas of action were defined in consultation with government ministries, agencies and departments, as well as related stakeholders from academia, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and private sector.

He said FAO also considered the humanitarian needs of Nigeria, as contained in various development strategies the government had put in place.