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.


Father of Cassava, Dr. Dixon, proffers strategies on how researchers can disseminate agricultural innovations at scale

The Director of the Development and Delivery Office of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr. Alfred Dixon, has called for multiple linkages and collaborations for the dissemination of agricultural research outcomes.

He made the call recently while presenting his contract review seminar titled “Scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations at IITA – Duo for systemic change”

Dr. Dixon who is known as the “Father of Cassava” by his peers stressed that the churning out of innovations to boost agricultural productivity must be supported by strategic partnerships and collaborations in order for the farmers and the target population to feel the impact.

He explained that while “scaling out” entails linking with the private sector, the farmers and the markets, “scaling up” involves working with the governments and policy makers. He maintained that government would help create the right policy environment for the adoption of the new technologies by farmers and other stakeholders.

According to Dixon who is the project leader of the Cassava Weed Management Project (CWMP), which now operates under the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), IITA cassava projects have been able to reach millions of farmers because of the linkages made with several stakeholders including government agencies.

He gave an example of the role former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is playing in the cassava advocacy. He also cited how ACAI is disseminating its research outcomes using strategic partnerships in addition to technologies like the Akilimo application, the Six Steps to Cassava Management Videos, radio programs, Viamo’s 321-service, Cassava Matters website and many more.

He pointed out: “Just having agricultural productivity or increase in agricultural production will not necessarily lead to increase in income for farmers unless it is linked to the markets. When you have all that you still need the policy environment. You need the private sector that is, the processors, the agro-dealers, the famers. And you also need the government to give you the right policies and the powerful backing.

He went on to point out that, Africa’s increasing population growth rate poses a huge challenge as agricultural productivity remains far behind. He stressed that with Nigeria’s population expected to hit 400 million by the year 2050, there is need to double up on agricultural productivity figures.

“We are making progress but our productivity is still low,” he worried. “Our population growth keeps increasing. Therefore, no matter what, food and nutrition security is a gap. So there must be an agricultural transformation. We must increase productivity far more than the rate we are doing now.”

He stressed on the need for Research for Development (R4D) and Partnerships for Development (P4D) increase working relationships, “because both contribute to sustaining agricultural transformation for scaling up and scaling out of agricultural innovations”

“We need R4D to do the science, P4D to do the scaling. We have the multidisciplinary teams. All of them have to work together to link to the policy makers, that is the government for the scaling up. We have to link to the NARS also for the scaling up. We need to link to the private sector for the scaling out and also to the development investors for scaling up because we need the resources to work.”

He then went on to advise that future projects must consider sustainability and exit strategies before project design and implementation activities.


Nigeria to export rice in 2 years — FG

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, says with the phenomenal increase in rice production and processing in the country, Nigeria will be exporting the commodity in the next two years. The minister stated this on Thursday in Kura, Kano State, during an assessment tour of the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Nanono and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, led stakeholders and a team of journalists on inspection of cluster of cottage rice mills in Kura.

The team also visited four integrated rice mills in the state which are Al-Hamsad Rice, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd and Umza International Farms.

“The way and manner we are going in the production of rice, in the next two years, we will start exporting rice outside the country. “For those that are worried about the partial close of our borders, we are not doing this to hurt the people but to protect the future of the country, provide jobs and food sufficiency.

“Government will continue to give support to rice farmers to achieve this goal,” he said.


IITA to present digital tools in cassava and maize farming systems to policymakers

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in the framework of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) will on Monday present a series of digital innovation tools in cassava and maize cultivation to policy makers in Nigeria to empower extension workers and farmers in the country.

Commissioners of Agriculture and Rural Development, Permanent Secretaries as well as heads of Agricultural Development Programs (ADP) from more than 24 states are among the key stakeholders expected at the official presentation billed to take place at a one-day meeting on the IITA campus in Ibadan on 2 December 2019.

The theme of the event is tagged: “Digital Tools: Disruptive innovations in cassava/maize farming systems.’’

Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General, explains that the institute is sharing the digital tools with state government officials to help solve the problem of poor extension services which is one of the major reasons why Nigeria’s agricultural sector has underperformed in the last three decades. “Currently, extension- farmer ratio in some states is estimated at one extension agent to 4000 farmers,” he said. “These large numbers of farmers per extension agent undermine the effectiveness of the traditional extension system.

According to Dr Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development & Delivery, “The objective of this one-day meeting is to share these digital tools with commissioners of agriculture, permanent secretaries, and other state actors for dissemination in their various states to empower the extension system and farmers.

“Through this approach, we hope that states across Nigeria will be able to increase their agricultural productivity and ultimately the incomes of farmers,” Dr Dixon who successfully led the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project added.

In the last 5 years, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project has developed integrated weed control methods that are helping farmers to double the productivity of cassava and maize. These recommendations are being scaled out to farmers through a variety of digital platforms in the framework of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI).

The ACAI project has already distributed mobile phones and mini-projectors loaded with videos on the Decision Support Tools to extension agents. The agents, in the first phase of dissemination, are working in Oyo and Benue States using videos to educate farmers in rural areas on the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices.

“Engaging policymakers at this point will help in amplifying the use of these digital tools for the benefit of resource poor farmers,” Dr Dixon added.

The tools to be presented include videos, radio programs, cassava seed tracker, Akilimo, IITA Herbicide Calculator, e-commerce site and IITA News App.


Agric sector employs 38 percent of total working population – NACCIMA

The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has described the agricultural sector as a major and very important sector of the economy that employs about 38percent of the total working population and accounts for a large share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The National President of NACCIMA, Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, who spoke at the conference, noted that recent success in the sector had demonstrated that with the right policies, Nigeria can scale up productive activities, improve food production and food security as well as make impact within the agricultural value chain.

Hajiya Saratu, who was represented by the Chairman, NACCIMA Agric Trade Group, Chief Ade Adefeko, said that the African Development Bank stated that about $35billion is spent on food imports annually across the continent despite the fact that Africa is home to two-third of the world’s most arable uncultivated land.

She commended the collaborative efforts of the Daily Trust newspaper and the Nigerian Economic Summit  Group (NESG) for successfully hosting the 3rd edition of the conference, which she said has grown to become an important forum for Nigeria’s Agriculture and its value chain; a useful platform  that brings farmers, investors, financiers as well as SMEs together.


Nigeria targets agricultural output of N38.4tn by 2036

The Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NISRAL), has said by increasing hectarage and yield using fertilizers, seeds, adopting good cultural practices, the nation’s agricultural sector output is expected to hit N38.4 trillion by 2036.

According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NISRAL Plc, Aliyu Abdulhameed, opportunities in the agricultural space is huge with just 43 percent of 84 million hectares cultivated, while over $22 million sizes of the investment is waiting to be harnessed by business leaders and investors in the agricultural space.. He spoke at a symposium on financing agribusiness organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in Lagos.

Abdulhameed, who was represented by the Head, Balance Sheet Financing and Portfolio Management, Ernest Ihedigbo, said Nigeria must imbibe a good agricultural practice to have a share of the $5 trillion global agribusiness industry.He added: “In 2016, the value of agricultural production was N14.85 trillion, and if we are to increase yield by using fertiliser and quality seeds, we will add another N10.3 trillion. If we are to increase hectarage from the current 41 million hectares to about 48 million hectares, an additional, we will add another N7.8 trillion. All these activities if consistent would shoot the agricultural output to about N38.4 trillion by 2036.”

He said the agribusiness has been affected by broken value chains, perceived high risk, high transaction cost and inadequate funding, adding that the sector grew by 2.1 percent in an era where other sectors were struggling, and called on local and foreign investors to take advantage of Nigeria’s huge agricultural sector.

Earlier, the President, LCCI, Babatunde Ruwase, said the theme of the event tagged, “Making agribusiness bankable: Lenders and investors expectations” could not have come at a better time when there is an urgent need to diversify the country’s productive base.He said the World Bank projects that by 2030, the African food market will grow to be a $1 trillion industry, saying that Nigeria must scale up investments in improving agriculture yield and integrating the value chain over the next decade to effectively capture a significant share of the market.

He pointed out that agriculture financing in Nigeria is largely dependent on government funding, financial institutions, private investment and institutional funding.He noted that agribusiness has not enjoyed robust credit flow from financial institutions and private investor over the years partly because of the perception that projects in the value chain have longer payback period and relatively less profit margin.

Citing official data, he said agriculture attracted $169.37 million between April and June, which is mere three per cent of total foreign capital brought into the country, saying that during that period, bank credit to the agriculture sector was less than five per cent in the same period.

The Chairperson, Financial Services Group, LCCI, Mojisola Bakare, said despite laudable initiatives, credit to the sector remains largely stifled. She maintained that evidence shows that the total bank loans to the agric sector is only about four per cent of the total lending of commercial banks credit, which she said is below the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) seven per cent target.

“This outcome indicates that there are expectation gaps between the financial industry/owners of funds on one hand, and the agriculture operators/demander of funds on the other hand. Inability of the agribusiness owners to understand the metrics and risk criteria used by the financial institutions in assessing bankability and viability of agriculture and allied projects, inhibit access to finance,” she said.