Nestle Nigeria, FG Collaborate to Boost Agriculture

The quest by Nestle Nigeria Plc to continue to ensure good nutrition for Nigerians and indeed the West Africa sub-region has seen it engaging the federal government in a collaboration that will boost agriculture and enhance quality of life.

The need for the collaboration came to the fore recently, when the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, undertook a familiarisation tour of Nestlé Nigeria Plc’s headquarters at Ilupeju, Lagos State.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), for over 58 years, Nestle, one of the largest food and beverage companies in Africa, has been delighting consumers in Nigeria with high quality nutritious food products.
Receiving the minister, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria, Mr Mauricio Alarcon, said: “We are very pleased with the visit of the minister.’’

“It is through this type of interaction that we can make a difference. We thank you for this opportunity to share some of our contributions toward developing the agriculture value chain.
“What we need now is the support of your ministry to scale the successes we have recorded in local sourcing and in farmer capacity building.

“We believe that this collaboration with you will make a great difference in the agricultural sector.’’
He added that the company was convinced that there were great opportunities in Nigeria, especially in the agricultural sector.

“We source 80 per cent of our products locally; 100 per cent of the maize and soya in Golden Morn are sourced locally even though it is cheaper to import.
“We do this because we believe that this is the right thing to do to ensure sustainable supplies at the right quality in the long term,” Alarcon said.
Taking the minister further through Nestle’s activities in Nigeria, he explained the company’s principle of Creating Shared Value (CSV).

He noted that CSV was built on the belief that the company would be successful in the long term by creating value, both for its shareholders and for the society.
According to Alarcon, in line with this principle, Nestle was committed to providing high quality nutritious food options while investing in rural development programmes, farmer capacity building and youth empowerment.

In his remarks, the minister underscored the need for collaboration between the ministry and Nestle, saying that he believed the company had the capacity to help Nigeria address the unemployment challenges while increasing productivity of the agricultural sector.
According to him, what Nigeria does in agriculture is not only important for the country but also for the sub-region.

“Nigeria controls over 70 per cent of the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so what we do in the agricultural sector is not only critical but also important to our country and neighbouring countries,’’ Nanono said.
He added: “With the population of Nigeria said to be about 200 million people today and projected to reach about 400 million people in the next three decades, we must find a solution to the challenge of feeding the ever-growing population.

“Subsistence farming is not a solution to being self-sufficient as a nation. What is important is linking up the agricultural sector with the agro-allied industry to increase productivity, while helping to address the unemployment challenges we are faced with.

“Without these linkages, we will not make much progress. This is why I am happy to have selected Nestle, a key player in this sector, as the first company I will visit and I have a reason for doing this.

“It (Nestle) is a key agro-allied industry that I think can save the country from the huge unemployment gap.”
The minister explained that the government sought to embark on the mechanisation of the agricultural value chain from input to harvest and from the farm gate to market.

He said this would be the first step toward addressing the current challenges in the agricultural sector.
Nanono, noted that the intention was for this to be a private sector-driven initiative to ensure that it worked and then solicited Nestle’s involvement in this project to ensure its success.

“The next step will be to create a platform for long-term sustainable value chain development, which is what Nestle is doing right now with value chain focused local sourcing and farmer capacity building programmes.
“This is why l like this company, because this is the type of initiative that will help the country to grow,” the minister said.


Africa’s agric sector to worth $1 trillion in 2030 – AfDB

The President of the African Development Bank President (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the continent’s agricultural business will worth $1 trillion by 2030.

He explained that this foresight is due to the fact that there would be a higher need to feed the expected continent’s increased population that is estimated to hit 2.5 billion by 2050, double its current 1.2 billion.

While speaking at an event in Abeokuta where he received a honorary doctorate award, Adesina said that the higher the population, the higher the need to increase food production.

“The size of food and agriculture in Africa will rise to $1 trillion by 2030. The population of Africa, now at 1.2 billion, will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. They all must eat. And only through food and agribusiness can this be achieved.

”What Africa does with food will determine the future of food, given that 65% of the arable land left to feed the world is here, Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world,” he said.

Speaking further, Adesina commended the Nigerian Government for its promotion of agriculture and agri-business through schemes and platforms set up for the farmers. While assuring the youths of his support for Nigeria’s agricultural sector, he urged them to continue to engage in the sector and its practice in order to transform it.

Adesina spoke on how it delights him to see so many young people taking advantage of the opportunities that abound in the agriculture value chain which can be seen in the success of the Youth Employment in Agriculture initiative which was launched while he was a minister.

”From their innovations in the use of drones, food processing, packaging, transport and logistics and marketing, they are already unlocking the opportunities in agriculture,” he said as reported by New Telegraph.

He ended by calling on agricultural universities to optimize their role in linking research, innovations and technologies to farmers and the food and agriculture industry.

Nigeria: FG to provide 240 tractors under IT driven mechanisation programme

Sabo Nanono,  Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development says about 240 tractors will be provided nationwide as part of  ongoing agricultural mechanisation programme.

Nanono made the disclosure on Thursday in Gusau during a courtesy visit to Zamfara Governor as part of his one day inspection tour to the grain reserve in the state.

Nanono said the programme, which would be private sector driven, would help consolidate federal government’s efforts at ensuring food security.

He explained that the federal government’s role in the programme would be to help secure the loan for the project as well as act as guarantor.

“We are going to embark on a massive agricultural mechanisation and this will touch on 632 local governments.

“Attach to this, there will be processing tractors, about 240 of them across the country.

“I believe all the local governments in Zamfara will be affected by the innovation.


Business man Tasks Govt On Youths Participation In Agriculture

A business executive and Chief Executive Officer of ‘Farm 4 me’, Adams J. Adama, has urged governments at all levels to encourage youth participation in agriculture through Public Private Partnership.
He said that time has come for the country to embrace mechanized and large scale agriculture and deemphasize white collar jobs, saying Nigerian youths are daring, enterprising and adventurous.
Adama who made the call on Tuesday while speaking to airport correspondents, at Port Harcourt Intentional Airport, Omagwa, said that it is myth to assume that Nigerian youths are not interested in agriculture.
“They are not interested in subsistence farming as their ancestors and fathers, but are interested in mechanised and digital agriculture.
“Agriculture is one of the ventures that can truly engage Nigerians. Our youths are anti-poverty and ambitious, they would not want to end up poor like their ancestors, hence the reason for running to urban areas in search of better life.
“The duty of government is primarily to create a conducive environment for the citizens to live up to their full potentials, and it is time to beam the searchlight on the investment opportunities in agriculture in Nigeria”, he said.
On how government could encourage youths in agriculture, the agriculturist said government should finance farm equipment procurement for private companies to manage, as well as give remarkable tax exemptions to farmers and agrictech companies to encourage large scale farming.
“Free advert slots should be given to agrictech companies, farming cooperatives and farmers association to advertise their farm produce. Platforms should be created to enable farm produce be sold directly to large scale buyers at good prices.
”Government should also give financial grants to NGOs and social enterprises engaged in training small holders farmers on modern farming techniques based on global best practices.
“ Efforts should be intensified to woo foreign investors to Nigeria’s agricultural sector, and also come up with policies that give competitive advantages to local food production over imported foreign foods”, Adama said.
The agro business executive expressed optimism that Nigerian youths would embrace agriculture in their numbers if government can do all, or some of the recommended tasks.


Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world – AfDB president

AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina has reminded students at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta that agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world.

“I am delighted to see so many of our young people engaged in agriculture arising from the Youth Employment in Agriculture initiative launched when I was minister to get the youth into agriculture as a business,” Adesina said at the university on Tuesday during its convocation ceremony.

From their innovations in the use of drones, food processing, packaging, transport and logistics and marketing, they are already unlocking the opportunities in agriculture,” he said.

The AfDB president was decorated by the university with the Doctorate of Science in recognition of his works in agriculture and food security in Africa.

He emphasised that youths have an important role to play in the continent’s economic development.

“Agriculture is the most important profession and business in the world,” Adesina said.

Adesina praised the Nigerian government on its continuous effort in targeting agriculture as one of the target industries to be self-sufficient in Nigeria.

He also pledged to continue the work of transforming Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

“The size of food and agriculture in Africa will rise to $1 trillion by 2030. The population of Africa, now at 1.2 billion, will double to 2.5 billion by 2050. They all must eat. And only through food and agribusiness can this be achieved,” he said

Adesina said the African Development Bank was spearheading efforts to feed Africa and was investing $25 billion over a ten-year period to transform the continent’s agriculture sector.

“What Africa does with food will determine the future of food, given that 65 percent of the arable land left to feed the world is here,” Adesina said

Lauding the choice of Adesina as the institution’s 2020 awardee, the Chancellor, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu, described him as a global household name whose exploits in promoting value chain addition in agricultural produce have remained unparalleled.


Agric mechanisation programme begins April

The Federal Government on Wednesday announced that it would commence its agricultural mechanisation initiative in the next three months.

It was also gathered in Abuja that the government of Turkey planned to invest $15m in the Nigerian agricultural sector in two years.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, explained that the mechanisation policy would involve a full technology package transfer to cover all stages from agricultural production to industrial processing, packaging and marketing.

Nanono, who spoke at a meeting with the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, described the agricultural mechanisation programme as the solution to achieving food sufficiency and job creation in Nigeria.

“The programme will be private sector-driven and government will only create a conducive environment and offer assistance where necessary,” he stated.

The minister said Ogun State was notable for cocoa and rice production, adding that there was a need to revive the cocoa industry in particular.

“We must develop new cocoa varieties in Nigeria because the new cocoa varieties will yield in two and half years,” Nanono said.

He said the programme would have service centres across the country, 140 processing stations and would enhance production, create jobs and grow the nation’s Internally Generated Revenue.

Abiodun described Ogun State as the food basket of the nation and told the minister that the state was investing massively in capacity building, especially in extension services.

According to the governor, the aim is to improve yields in farm products such as cassava, maize, cotton and rice, among others.

On plans by Turkey to invest in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, appreciated the gesture shown by the Turkish government to invest $15m in the industry.

Shehuri said this when he received a Turkish investment delegation led by the Commercial Counsellor, Turkish Embassy in Nigeria, Onur Akgul, in Abuja on Wednesday.

The minister said Nigeria would gain more from the experience of Turkey in the agricultural value chain as there were a lot of areas of collaboration between Nigeria and the Turkish government.

He noted that both countries could collaborate in the areas of subsistence and mechanised intervention farming in order to achieve food security for the development of Nigeria.

Shehuri assured members of the delegation of the full support of the ministry, adding that the government would come up with a document to guide investors in the agricultural sector.

He promised that a portal would be created where all the information needed by investors about the achievements of the ministry and its agencies would be provided.

Akgul said the $15m would be invested in areas such as mobile solar system, mechanisation, skill training, food supply security, agricultural infrastructure and rural development within two years of commencement of the collaboration.


Nigeria to benefit from $67b cocoa market

THE Federal Government is working round the clock to benefit from the projected $67.22 billion global cocoa market this year, The Nation has learnt.

The  cash projection, it was gathered, covers between this year and 2025

A senior official of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), who craved annonimity, said President Muhammadu Buhari is collaborating with the governors of cocoa producing states and other stakeholders to reposition the industry so that the country could benefit from the multibillion dollars global cocoa market and chocolate market this year.

NEPC is an agency of the Federal Government saddled with the development and promotion of non-oil exports.

“The global cocoa market size was $43.13 billion 2018 and is anticipated to be worth $67.22 billion in the next five years. With its demand from the chocolate confectionery sector, the global market is expected to rise at a healthy CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 5.7 per cent during the forecast period. The demand scenario of cocoa and chocolate is escalating, which is expected to increase the cocoa and chocolate market revenue in the next few years and that why there must be synergy between the government and the stakeholders in the cocoa industry.

“I am happy to inform you and the  public that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has continues to drive the diversification process. Also, efforts to reposition the country’s cocoa export with a view to increasing production and meeting the requisite internationally accepted standards for export into European Union and the US is gradually yielding results. At present, cocoa is the leading major agricultural export of our nation.

“The commodity is one of the 13 National Strategic Export Products (NSEP) of the Federal Government and very prominent in the NEPC’s Zero Oil Plan initiative.  It was integrated into Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), 2017-2020 because the government is serious with its diversification agenda.

“But unless the state government supports  the efforts of the Federal Government, the country may lose its global ranking, due to poor production practices and non-compliance to Importing countries’requirements, among others,” the source said.


Nigeria to begin rice exportation in 2022 – Minister

Nigeria’s agriculture and rural development minister Muhammad Sabo Nanono said the country will begin exportation of its locally produced rice in 2022.

Nanono made this disclosure during a press conference after a working visit of the Nestle Nigeria Public Limited Company (PLC) Office in Lagos on Tuesday.

“If we maintain the momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries,” Nanono said.

He stated that despite the annual three months- November to January when rice is not planted, the nine-month cycle is enough for Nigeria to process sufficient rice for local consumption and exportation.

“As at today, we have 11 rice milling plants with the capacity to produce from 180 tonnes to 350 tonnes of rice per day,” Nanono said.

“In a few months, another mill with a capacity to produce 400 tonnes of rice per day is going to be opened, with another upcoming 34 smaller mills; then, we have clusters in different areas.”

He added that the local rice farmers were fully engaged and used between 200 farmlands and 300 farmlands directly.


Consortium tackles standardisation in Nigerian produce export

Piqued at the prevailing challenges in the Nigerian agricultural export market, a consortium of private investors under the platform of Agricultural Bureau Association of Nigeria (ABAN), has unveiled plans to ensure standardisation of quality of agricultural produce that are exported from the country. 

The Convener of the Bureau, and Managing Director, Green Sahara Farms, Suleman Dikwa, during the ABAN inaugural meeting yesterday, in Abuja, disclosed that the aim of the group is to set up a structure wherein they are able to create quality within the agro system such that Nigerian agricultural products are accepted both locally and internationally. 

While decrying that poor quality control on most of the exportable produce has been the major challenge militating against the acceptance of local produce at the international markets, Dikwa highlighted good policy articulation, adequate working capital, appropriate technology and adequate infrastructure as key to sustainable agribusiness development in Nigeria.

Dikwa added that being a lobby group, ABAN intends to protect member business interests whereby it would engage government institutions in constructive discussions with a view to achieving set goal of creating sustainable agribusiness in Nigeria. 

An agriculture expert, and ABAN member, Dr Tony Bello, identified non-availability of funds, low quantity of inputs, and reduction of participants in the agribusiness as major challenges hindering the growth of Agriculture, and called for intensified efforts toward boosting the nation’s economy through the development of  Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).

While explaining that ABAN comprises agribusinesses investors working towards uplifting smallholder farmers to drive inclusive growth for youths and women, Bello urged government at all levels to as a matter of urgency intensify awareness on sustainable agribusiness development, build agribusiness skills and technological capabilities among firms, to enhance Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributions.

“Our trajectory is taking our destiny into our own hand; we are driving the consumer market, and for the supply of food through the value chain. We want to solve our own constraints as investors. If we focus on the waste alone, we will bring in the right capital.”
Also speaking, the Founder, Women Farmers Advance Network (WOFAN), Mrs Salamatu Garba, highlighted the major challenges to market acceptance to include standardisation, and poor quality control.

She also identified poor packaging as an inhibiting factor, which must be addressed by key players in the sector, saying: “issues like aflatoxin and too much pesticides have constituted a lot of problems in goods we are producing in this country.“We will reduce a lot of waste by transforming it into wealth. This will create job to encourage youths to come into agriculture.”


Nigeria: Ecobank to invest $193mln in agricultural businesses in the next two years

(Ecofin Agency) – In Nigeria, the pan-African bank Ecobank has announced a plan to inject $193 million (70 billion naira) in agricultural businesses over the next two years. The project targets companies that have strong impact in the different value chains of the sector.

This strategy aligns with the Agribusiness and Food Summit the bank is organizing in the country next month, in partnership with Vanguard Conferences. “We are delighted to be partnering with Ecobank Nigeria on the conceptualization, strategy, and execution of this high profile event in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s agriculture policy and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government,” Jude Ndu, Co-Founder at Vanguard Conferences, said.

According to Mojisola Oguntoyinbo, who heads the agribusiness division at Ecobank Nigeria, the summit is part of the bank’s contribution to the growth and development of agriculture in the country. She stressed it is an opportunity for sector players “to exhibit their products and services within the agriculture value chain.”

Agriculture plays a key role in Nigeria’s economy. The sector sustains about 36% of the working population and contributes over 20% to GDP, according to official statistics.