CBN disburses N756.5bn loan to 3.7 million farmers

Source: Punch

The Central Bank of Nigeria has disclosed that it has disbursed a total of N756.51bn to over 3.7 million farmers under the Anchor Borrower’s Programme since the inception of the initiative in 2015.

The apex bank revealed this in its communiqué no. 137 of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting released on Tuesday.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), had in 2015 launched the ABP in a bid to boost agricultural production and reverse Nigeria’s negative balance of payments on food.

Beneficiaries of this programme include farmers cultivating cereals (rice, maize, wheat etc.) cotton, roots and tubers, sugarcane, tree crops, legumes, tomato and livestock.

Loans are disbursed to the beneficiary farmers through deposit money banks, development finance institutions and microfinance banks, which the programme recognises as participating financial institutions.

The communiqué read, “Under the bank’s development finance initiatives, the bank granted N756.51bn to 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, of which N120.24bn was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

The CBN also stated that so far, the sum of N121.57bn has been disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries under its Agribusiness, Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, an initiative introduced in February 2017 by the MPC.

It added that as of May 2021, about 109,879 SMEs had benefited from its Targeted Credit Facility and National Youth Investment Fund schemes.

The communiqué read, “For the Targeted Credit Facility, N318.17bn was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.

“Under the National Youth Investment Fund, the bank released N3bn to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.”

Other sectors that have benefited from the bank’s facilities and initiatives include health, information and communication technology and film.

It said that under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative, N3.22bn was disbursed firms classified as confidential beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion, and IT verticals.

“Under the N1tn Real Sector Facility, the bank released N923.41bn to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.

“On the N100bn Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility, N98.41bn was disbursed for 103 health care projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.”

Similarly, the sum of N232.54m was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme for the development of testing kits and devices for Covid-19 and Lassa fever.

NIGERIA: FAO focuses on water-saving drip irrigation

Source: Afrik21

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is granting $350,000 in funding to Nigeria. The funds are intended to promote the practice of drip irrigation in the country, which uses less water and electricity.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is promoting drip irrigation in agriculture to conserve its water resources. Abuja is supported in this approach by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which has just allocated $350,000 in funding. For the international organisation, this is a technical support to Nigeria’s irrigation policy.

The project, which will be implemented until December 2022, concerns Niger State in particular. “The project will identify and replace flood irrigation systems with water and electricity efficient drip irrigation systems,” says Suleiman Hussein Adamu, Nigeria’s Federal Minister for Water Resources. To achieve this goal, the completion of the feasibility and detailed design study for the implementation of the drip irrigation system is necessary. Officials from the Nigerian Ministry of Water Resources will also support the process of installing these systems through to commissioning and testing at the project sites.

The US$350,000 funding is part of the Technical Cooperation Programme for FAO member countries. In addition to providing modern irrigation systems to farmers, the funding will help build the institutional capacity of existing river basin authorities in Nigeria.

To save water resources, the Federal Government of Nigeria is also promoting centre-pivot irrigation. This is a form of overhead irrigation, replicating artificial rainfall. It is suitable for flat land like that found in northern Nigeria. However, it is not suitable for growing certain cereals such as rice, which require a lot of water. In 2019, Kebbi and Zamfara states benefited from nine centre pivot irrigation systems. The new facilities are improving agricultural production in the Sokoto-Rima river basin.

Africa’s transformation impossible without Nigeria, AGRA insists

Source: The Guardian

Women farmers seek security for improved food production
Former Ethiopian Prime Minister and Board Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Hailemariam Dessalegn, has argued that the continent’s agricultural transformation is impossible without Nigeria.

He observed that one-fifth of the entire African population resides in Nigeria that also boasts as the largest economy on the continent.

Dessalegn, who is on a week-long visit to the most populous nation, spoke during a courtesy call on the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja.

The Ethiopian said after a painstaking study of the scheme of things in the country, Nigeria’s rapid transformation lies on agriculture, urging the current administration to prioritise the sector.

“To have a systemic and structural change in our economy, we need to change and transform agriculture,” he stated.

The ex-PM regretted that Nigeria that was renowned for livestock had receded, stressing the need for the nation to retake his pivotal position as a vibrant player in the industry.

He hinted of AGRA’s plan to expand its current reach of about 11 African nations during the next strategic period covering 2022 to 2030.

In his remarks, AGRA Nigeria Country Manager, Dr. Kehinde Makinde, said under the concluding Country Strategy Framework that began in 2017, the organisation has been able to reach 1.5 million smallholder farmers in Niger and Kaduna states.

He explained that their focus was to raise productivity in three staple crops – maize, soyabean and rice – besides linking growers to market and ensuring climate change resilience.

The country manager pointed out that AGRA has been encouraging gender and private sector participation in the sector.

Also speaking, the minister maintained that although the country had made appreciable progress in maize and rice production, there were still more miles to cover to attain food security.

She harped on the need for the country to improve its local processing capacity, provide farmers with improved seeds and train them on best farming practices to increase yield per hectare.

While acknowledging AGRA’s efforts at increasing productivity and reducing post-harvest losses, Ahmed argued that there was still much wastage in the system, hence the urgency to open up rural roads for farmers to easily access market for their produce.

IN a related development, the Smallholder Women Farmers of Nigeria (SWOFON) has charged the Federal Government to provide security for their safe return to farming.

Its President, Mary Ishaya, lamented that the prevailing insecurity in the land has shot up the prices of foodstuffs in the last few months, even as she stated that government’s interventions in the sector had not paid off.

Ishaya, who made the appeal at a stakeholders’ parley on National Gender Policy in Abuja, listed their other problems to include lack of access to and control of lands, as well as paucity of farm inputs and loans.

Empowering Nigerian Women in Farm Tractor Operations

Source: This Day

An integrated agricultural firm, Alluvial, in partnership with Mastercard Foundation has established the Tractor Operations Training Activity to empower 50 young women in Nigeria in farm tractor operations, writes Rebecca Ejifoma

Last year, Nigeria was rated 128th out of 153 countries globally and 27th out of 53 countries in Africa on the World Bank’s Global Gender Gap Index. Also, it revealed that Nigerian women account for 41 per cent ownership of small businesses in the country with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating micro-businesses. However, these businesses operate mostly on survival mode and an after-thought if their attempts to secure a formal job is futile. Thanks to this, Nigeria has one of the highest entrepreneurship rates globally.

Consequently, Alluvial and Mastercard Foundation powered the Tractor Operations Training Activity under the Alluvial Community Block Farming to up-skill these young women and enable them thrive as entrepreneurs. Its initiative is also in line with the Young Africa Works strategy of Mastercard Foundation to deliver dignified and fulfilling jobs for 10 million young Nigerians – 70 per cent of which are women – by 2030, with a focus on agriculture, digital and creative economies.

Interestingly, Young Africa Works, which is Mastercard Foundation’s strategy, is focused on addressing youth unemployment and the poverty challenge in Africa. Its strategy is to secure dignified and fulfilling jobs for 30 million young people in Africa, particularly women. This strategy is premised on the fact that securing employment is the way out of poverty and youth employment is an assured path to lift Africa out of dearth.

Indeed, women are described as indispensable in the fight against poverty. This, the duo explained, is because an empowered woman makes a capacitated family. And because the family represents the smallest unit of society, the family gains the most when a woman is educated and equipped. Thus, both Alluvial and MasterCard Foundation are certain that such a woman will also groom enlightened children who will grow into responsible and independent adults to contribute positively to the society.

Today, this project, which will train young women to operate and run a business out of tractor operations is termed an inclusion into a male dominated field. “This is a deliberate move and is part of the vision of Alluvial Agriculture to empower and impact two million farmers across Africa over the next five years,” the organisations highlighted.

According to the ESG and Commercial Manager, Alluvial Agriculture, Naona Usoroh, the training programme aims to reduce the gender gap in terms of economic enablement. “The training, which will fully sponsor 50 women, will equip these women with the skills and tools to successfully manage a tractor operations business.”

She also outlined that applications for this programme are opened to young women aged 18 to 35 years who are resident in Nigeria, adding that participants are expected to undergo a three-week boot camp and those who completed the training were presented with a certificate of completion.

The ESG further acknowledged that Alluvial Agriculture pushes to solve Africa’s food challenge through community block farming techniques. With presence across African countries, Alluvial Agriculture is said to provide support to small-scale farmers in the form of training, technology, land preparation, irrigation, input supplies and market access. This is why the need for tractor training operations has become paramount.

Listing benefits of the training, Usoroh said beneficiaries would be able to access post-training work opportunities on any of Alluvial’s various community block farms where mechanisation services are required.

She added: “It is interventions like the Tractor Operations Training Activity put together by corporate organisations that will create platforms for the inclusion of women into economically empowering fields,” while emphasising that this would help grow the intrinsic entrepreneurship abilities of women and encourage them to establish and scale up their businesses.

Undoubtedly, this programme will not only elevat female entrepreneurs in the country, it will also with time bridge the gender gap and spur women to thrive to the pinnacle of their careers – whether formal or informal.

Nigeria records N3.9tn agric trade deficit in four years

Source: Punch

Nigeria’s imports of agricultural goods between January 2017 and March 2021 surpassed its exports in the period by N3.9tn.

The total value of trade in agricultural goods in the period under review was N6.2tn, comprising N5.04tn imports and N1.14tn exports, with a trade deficit of N3.9tn.

These figures were arrived at after an analysis of foreign trade data obtained from the website of the National Bureau of Statistics.

In 2017, Nigeria generated N125.88bn from the export of agricultural goods and spent N891.87bn on imports.

Nigeria’s agriculture exports in 2017 comprised largely sesamum seeds, cashew nuts, soya beans, and ginger, which were exported to China, India, Russia and Greece, among others.

The import bill was dominated by durum wheat seeds, maize seed, and crude palm oil, which were imported from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Ghana.

In 2018, the country’s agriculture imports stood at N855.09bn, while goods worth N305.25bn were exported.

Durum wheat, not in seeds, was the major driver of agriculture imports during the year, followed by mackerel, herrings, and Faroe Island.

Canada, Russia, United States, Japan, and Chile were some of the countries Nigeria imported from, while Vietnam, Netherlands, Italy and Indonesia were the country’s largest agriculture exports destinations.

Goods exported to these countries included fermented Nigerian cocoa beans, frozen shrimps, and prawns.

In 2019, Nigeria’s agricultural imports rose by 12.18 per cent from the previous year to N959.28bn, while exports fell to N269.9bn, resulted in a trade deficit of N689.38bn.

Similar to the preceding year, Nigeria imported goods including durum wheat and mackerel from countries such as Japan and Netherlands, while sesamum seeds and fermented Nigerian cocoa beans were exported to Asia and Europe.

In 2020, agriculture imports and exports maintained an upward trajectory with import bill jumping to N1.7tn, while exports rose to N320.7bn.

The agricultural trade deficit was highest in 2020 with a deficit of N1.4tn.

In the first quarter of the year, Nigeria spent N261.38bn importing agricultural goods from the United States, Latvia, Canada and Argentina. In the last quarter of 2020, N532.39bn was spent on importing durum wheat, palm oil, and herring from Asia and Europe.

During the year, Asia, Europe, and Africa were the top agriculture exports destinations. A total of N186.16bn worth of agricultural goods were exported to Asian countries; N98.6bn to European countries; and N14.98bn to African countries.

In the first three months of 2021, the total value of agricultural trade stood at N757.4bn, consisting of N127.2bn exports and N630.2bn imports.

The Founder and Managing Director of Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, told one of our correspondents that the country had yet to start producing export-worthy agricultural products.

He said, “In the first place, most of Nigeria’s agriculture exports are goods like sesamum seeds while the major agricultural production in the country are tubers, seeds and grains. Most of these goods are for local consumption, and they don’t have a huge international market, other than Nigerians in diaspora.

“You don’t expect Nigeria to export cassava in its raw format, but when some of them are processed, we can export. But we are currently not meeting local demands. So the major thing is that we don’t produce so much – that is, sufficient quantity of exportable agricultural commodities. Also, we are not yet food-sufficient as a country; so, as long as there is food insufficiency, importation of agricultural items will be higher than exportation.”

He stressed the need for the government to ensure food sufficiency in the country and help farmers boost their capabilities.

“Eliminating the trade deficit is only possible when we become food-sufficient. Also, the Federal Government must help farmers to improve their products handling capabilities, which means better storage, transportation and preservation. If you can’t preserve your products, many of them will be destroyed, therefore limiting the opportunity to export them,” Chukwu added.

The Vice President at Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Emmanuel Ijewere, warned about the possible consequences of the trade deficit in agricultural products.

He said, “This deficit creates unemployment, increases the level of poverty, and hampers infrastructural development. Our future is being compromised as the younger generation is being told that there is guaranteed future.

“Therefore, as a means of self-preservation, these young ones will be forced to carry arms if the current situation lingers.”

He advised the government to take proactive steps to close the deficit gap.

Ijewere said, “First and foremost, the Federal Government should reorient itself to stop talking without taking actions. It is clear to everybody that Nigeria‘s future is not in oil but in agriculture. Export in Nigeria is being treated with ignominy; the entire process of exporting agricultural products is cumbersome and rife with inefficiencies that discourage exports.

“Thus, this is the time for the government to adopt a better attitude towards agriculture and create an enabling environment that will encourage local producers to export.”

Ministry of Agric commences training of 2000 cassava farmers in 9 States

Source: Vanguard

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Thursday, disclosed commencement of training 2, 000 cassava farmers in nine States including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to boost cassava value chain activities and create new innovations in cultivation of the commodity.

This was made known by the Director, Federal Department  of Agriculture, Hajiya Karima Babangida, in Illorin, capital of Kwara State, while speaking on the essence of the training and distribution of 60, 000 cassava planting materials to the nine benefiting States and FCT, which include Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarrawa, Edo, Rivers, Kano and Katsina, as over 10,000 planting materials already have been distributed to farmers in FCT.

 According to Babangida, the cassava planting materials been distributed to farmers are high quality improved type which are also high yielding, early maturing and resistant to pests and diseases, which also responds better to agronomic management practices.

Meanwhile, the distribution train has moved to Kwara, Kogi, Ogun, Oyo and Rivers States.

She said: “Nigeria remains the largest producer of cassava in the world and the present government is desirous to improve and strengthen the cultivation of the commodity so that Nigeria farmers can get a sustainable yield of over 25 tonnes per hectare.

 “With the improved cultivar of cassava been distributed to farmers, yields per hectare will be increased and hence an increase in the revenue to farmer and ultimately a better livelihood for the farm family.

“The training of over 2,000 farmers is to improve farmers’ capacity with the latest technologies of cassava farming, processing and marketing.”

Also speaking was the Kwara State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Yisa Aliu, who described the training of cassava farmers in Kwara State as monumental intervention from the Federal Government.

“This is the first time Kwara State cassava farmers are benefiting from such monumental intervention from the federal government and I believe the training and the planting materials supplied to farmers will produce huge results to the farmers in terms of revenue and enhanced standard of living”, Aliu said.

The Programme Manager, Root and Tuber Expansion Programme, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Deola-Tayo Lordbanjou, urged farmers to put into practice the knowledge gained for high productivity.

Some of the benefiting farmers at the training said their knowledge will increase and will be applied to their business as farmers.

One of the trainees, Dele Shittu, appreciated the Ministry for considering Kwara State Cassava farmers to benefit in the programme which will obviously make a great impact in their lives.

How Emefiele Changed The Narrative In Agriculture Sector

Source: Leadership

Recently the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) unveiled its first rice pyramids in South West Nigeria, specifically in Ekiti State.

The unveiling is a follow up to the one done in Kebbi and Gombe states where the apex bank also unveiled 13 rice pyramids which housed 50kg bags of rice numbering 200,000.

It is not only rice, recently in Katsina State, the bank working with Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) also unveiled the first maize pyramid in Nigeria.

These exercises clearly show that Nigeria is on the match towards self sufficiency in food.

This is a clear departure from what the situation was before the present governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele assumed office in 2014.

As at 2014, Nigeria was spending N1.3 trillion worth of foreign exchange on the importation of food. This was despite the huge investment made in agriculture by the immediate past administration.

That was even an improvement, between 1990 and 2011, Nigeria imported an average of ₦1.923 trillion worth of commodities per annum. In essence, the nation imported about ₦1.0 billion worth of food per day in the period. This was about $9.28 million worth of food per day in the period.

The result reveals that although the country had a positive trade balance (on the aggregate) annual food import bill was in multiples of five times of the export.

At that same time, Nigeria was also spending about $5 billion annually on the importation of textiles, money that would have been ploughed into the development of infrastructure.

A report by the Global Economic Symposium (GES), also suggested a steady rise in prices of rice between 2006 and 2014, which indicated that Nigeria had been consuming more rice than it had been producing.

“When I assumed office, I felt that that was not acceptable,” Emefiele said while justifying his policy thrust in the agricultural sector.

“My immediate question was: can we not produce these ourselves? After all, only a few decades ago, Nigeria was one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of many agricultural products like palm oil, cocoa and groundnuts.”

He said that food importation fueled domestic inflation, depleted foreign reserves, displaced local production and created unemployment.

“With the fast depletion of rice reserve in the country, it was obvious that Nigeria could not afford to sustain rice importation. We all know that import dependency especially on commodities of comparative advantage was neither acceptable nor sustainable.”

It was this stand that informed the establishment of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), a programme meant to provide farm inputs in kind and cash to small-holder farmers (SHFs) to boost agricultural production which had been neglected through years since Nigeria discovered that huge cash comes from crude oil.

The ABP launched in November 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari is re-writing the sour narrative on local agriculture.

ABP is a low-interest loan scheme which gives ample room and flexibility for payment. Interest was as low as nine percent but with the advent of the COVID-19, the interest has been adjusted to as low as five percent. The loans are disbursed through any of the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs), all of which the programme recognises as Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).

Categories of farmers captured under this programme include those cultivating cereals, cotton, roots and tubers, sugarcane, tree crops, legumes, tomato and livestock.

Because of this new push by CBN in the area of agriculture, the nation has witnessed a leverage and quantum leap in agricultural produce. Rice, yam, sundry grains, poultry and livestock among others have enjoyed increased production with some farmers exporting their produce.

With this has also come a significant improvement in the value chain. More and more farmers have upped their game by producing in the farm and processing for the table.

Through the ABP, the CBN governor did not only change the script from the old unimpressive order, he gave force of action to its performance.

The CBN ban on the importations of scores of goods, some of which can be described as low-hanging products for Nigerian entrepreneurs, and Emefiele’s determination to follow the ban through showed the character and the will of a central banker committed to rescuing his local economy from the treacherous vagaries of a globalised marketplace.

So far, according to CBN, the programme has financed over 3.1 million farmers to the tune of over N492 billionfor the cultivation of 3,801,397 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 states of the Federation and FCT, from the inception of the programme till date.

To mitigate against the risk of farmers not being able to pay back the loans, the CBN created the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), which also serves as a micro-finance bank to handle the loan disbursement.

No doubt, the ABP has been of tremendous assistance to farmers which is why those in other crop groups that are not captured in the programme are crying for attention, the problem however, is the implementation which appears to be flawed in some areas.

Commending the efforts of the CBN governor through the anchor borrowers programme, Dr Edwin Uche, National President of Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MGPMAN), the ABP has given us hope. He noted that the pyramids are simply symbolic and to show that efforts are being made.

According to him, “the pyramids signify a lot depending on how you define it. It tells you the level of efforts being put in place to ensure that maize is grown and that the challenges associated with maize farming is being addressed gradually. It also shows you that the farmers are working hard to support food security in Nigeria.

“It is also to motivate people within the value chain that it is possible to attain self sufficiency in food if we all work together. Yes there are questions about why the pyramids when there is scarcity, of course we have to do the pyramids to show the world that we are doing something to address the scarcity.”

One discernible result, according to operators in the nation’s textile industry, is that in 2019, textile industries had enough supply of cotton produced within the country for their raw materials with some still lying in their warehouses.

CBN’s Director, Development Finance Department, Yila Yusuf, said CBN is trying to bring back the glory of textiles of those days where the industry used to employ 10 million people across the country.

“In the 80s, we lost that glory because of smuggling where our country was turned to a dumping ground of textiles materials.”

Bayelsa State to work with South Korea on agriculture, infrastructure development

Source: Nairametrics

The Bayelsa State government has disclosed that it plans on working with South Korea for the development of maritime, agriculture and infrastructure in the South-South state.

This was disclosed by Governor Douye Diri after a meeting with the ambassador of South Korea to Nigeria, Kim Young-Chae, in Abuja on Friday, adding that the state was also interested in improving education, science and technology, as well as oil and gas.

What the Governor said

“The purpose of this meeting is to explore areas of economic partnership and seek the expertise of South Korea in developing our state and its economy.

Bayelsa has huge potential in agriculture and marine resources. We seek foreign investments in aquaculture and deep-sea fishing.

Our terrain is good for aquaculture to thrive, as well as rice cultivation and production with the large expanse of land already in Peremabiri and Sampou.

We are trying to revive the culture of farming in our state. The government is interested in commercial farming as against the culture of subsistence farming that a lot of our people engage in.

South Korean expertise is also required in the production of plastics, in science and technology and the oil and gas sector.

Our administration is taking deliberate steps to open up the state. This can be done through massive road construction and development of infrastructure, including how to control the perennial flooding in our state.

We seek your partnership and expertise too in these areas,” Governor Diri said.

USAID awards $500,000 co-investment grant to boost agric in Nigeria

Source: Premium Times

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday announced that it has awarded a $500,000 (N205 million) co-investment grant through its West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade hub) to PYXERA Global to boost Nigeria’s agricultural systems and food security pursuit.

This was disclosed in a statement by Michael Clements, Trade hub’s chief of party.

“The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub has awarded a $500,000 co-investment grant to PYXERA Global, a not-for-profit with extensive experience designing training and capacity-building programs, to support the launch of its West Africa Agriculture Resilience Program (WAFARP),” the statement partly reads.

It said the programme will assist 10,000 farmers cultivating rice, maize, and soybean within Nigeria’s Kebbi, Cross River, and Benue States.

According to the statement, these states are focal areas for the Trade Hub in Nigeria, whose work aligns with and supports the mission of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative.

It said the smallholder farmers PYXERA Global is assisting have faced numerous challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including income loss from not producing crops as planned, and that their challenges have resulted in disrupted market channels and food supply chains.

Based on this, Mr Clements said the initiative would be leveraging on the existing agribusiness systems of Dantata Foods and Allied Products Company Limited (Dantata Foods), while PYXERA Global will provide an avenue for smallholders in its programme to increase crop yield and boost their incomes.

“Nigeria’s agricultural sector has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, negatively impacting smallholder farmers and the communities of people who depend on their success in growing crops,” Mr Clements said.

He said; “We are excited about the potential of PYXERA Global’s West Africa Agriculture Resilience Program to bolster agricultural systems and expect to co-invest in other such programs as part of our COVID-19 rapid response initiative.”

Ann Oden, the programme’s team lead was quoted to have said; “Under the West Africa Agriculture Resilience Program model, we have designed a program that is based on strengthening systems for three agricultural value chains—rice, soybeans and maize,”

“This initiative leverages private sector resources to deliver a strategic program, with the goal of bringing economic prosperity to smallholder farmers while ensuring sustained food security,” she said.

How the initiative would be implemented

Mr Clements explained further that the goal will be achieved by first bringing all the smallholders into Dantata Foods’ outgrower programme, as the company will both assist the smallholders to increase crops yields and buy from them as well.

He said to ensure quality output for the crops it buys, the company will supply the smallholders with quality seeds and other farm inputs.

While being supported by PYXERA Global, the statement noted that Dantata Foods will also provide training programs to help the smallholders produce higher-quality crops that command better prices.

“The crops produced through the program will be taken to Dantata Foods’ aggregation centers already located in the three target states of Kebbi, Cross River, and Benue, where the smallholders will be paid by the company at prevailing market rates,” the statement noted.

It said to assist Dantata Foods and the smallholders it is supporting within and outside the program, PYXERA Global, will further fund upgrades to the aggregation centers to allow for state-of-the art cleaning and sorting equipment.

Dantata Foods chairman, Tajuddeen Dantata, said, “It is our greatest aim to support and improve the livelihood of everyone in the society, especially the underrepresented women and youth in the agricultural sector.”

Through the program, he explained that the smallholders which will include 50 per cent women or youth are anticipated to produce 25,000 metric tonnes of each of the value chains in the first season and an additional 5,000 metric tons in the subsequent seasons.

Sesame seed, cocoa, cashew nuts top Nigeria’s agricultural exports in Q1 2021

Source: Nairametrics

Nigeria’s agricultural export stood at N127.2 billion in the first three months (January – March) of 2021. This represents a 128% increase compared to N55.8 billion recorded in the previous quarter (Q4 2020).

Sesame seeds, fermented cocoa beans, and cashew nuts led the list of top agro-food exports in Q1 2021, jointly accounting for 66.5% of the total agric exports.

This is according to the foreign trade report for Q1 2021, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

  • In contrast to the N127.1 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020, this represents a 0.07% increase and the highest on our tracker, since Q1 2016.
  • However, as agric export increased in the review period, importation of agricultural items also surged by 140.5% year-on-year, and an 18.4% increase quarter-on-quarter.
  • Although crude oil still accounts for the larger part of Nigeria’s export earnings with 66.38%, agriculture still remains the base of Nigeria’s economy, providing the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians.
  • The sector remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs about two-thirds of the entire labour force in the country.

However, expected growth has been significantly impeded by production hurdles despite government interventions in the sector. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, over the past 20 years, value-added per capita in agriculture has risen by less than 1% annually.

It is also estimated that Nigeria has lost about $10 billion in annual export opportunities from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, and cotton alone as a result of the decline in the production of these commodities.

It is worth noting that Nigeria exported agricultural products worth N321.5 billion in 2020, representing a 19.16% increase when compared to N269.8 billion recorded in 2019 and a 6.27% increase compared to N302.28 billion recorded in 2018

Top Agro export in Q1 2021

  • Sesame seeds – N41.94 billion

Top on the list is Sesame seeds with an estimated export value of N41.94 billion in Q1 2021. Sesame seed comes from a flowering plant mostly grown in Northern Nigeria due to the drought-resistant nature of the seed.

It has many uses, but perhaps, its most important use is as a source of sesame oil which is the most demanded vegetable oil in the world because of its zero cholesterol content.

Nigeria has been one of the highest sesame seed-producing countries over the years, making the seed an important component of the country’s agricultural export. Recall that Nigeria exported sesame seeds valued at N98.27 billion in 2020.

  • Cocoa beans – N35.49 billion

Cocoa stands second on the list with an export value of N35.49 billion. It is worth noting that this estimate includes good fermented Nigerian cocoa beans and superior quality raw cocoa beans.

Cocoa is a small perennial tree crop that primarily comes from the three tropical regions in the world; Southeast Asia, Latin America, and West Africa. Cote d’Ivoire is the single largest producer of cocoa beans, accounting for approximately 31% of the world’s supply.

  • Cashew nuts – N13.71 billion

Nigeria exported cashew nuts (both in-shell and shelled) valued at N13.71 billion in Q1 2021. Cashew is a tree crop that has been cultivated for food and medicine for many years.

The various parts of the cashew fruits are of economic value, which includes apple, nut, and kernel. The primary product of cashew nuts is the kernel, which is the edible portion of the nut. Kernels are used for various end products, which include chocolates, ice creams, cakes, sweets and even for medicinal purposes.

  • Coconuts – N8.66 billion

Coconut export in the review period stood at N8.66 billion, representing the fourth-highest agro-export. Coconut is a cash crop that is grown in 22 of Nigeria’s 36 states and its production is limited to the south-western part of the country, with Lagos State having the largest production area.

Coconut serves as a raw material for numerous industries, such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food, and beverage, with limitless domestic and export potential; coconut consumption, however, has continued to rise with the growing population, especially dry coconut which is consumed in the northern part of the country.

  • Ginger – N5.57 billion

Ginger stands fifth on the list with an export value of N5.57 for the review period. According to FAO and quoted by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigeria accounts for 40% of the global ginger production, producing almost 523,000 metric tonnes annually.

Bubbling under

  • Sesame oil – N3.42 billion
  • Palm nuts and kernels – N2.75 billion
  • Shea cake – N1.79 billion
  • Soya bean – N1.72 billion
  • Frozen shrimps and prawns – N1.29 billion

What they are saying

Despite agriculture being the major primary occupation of most Nigerians, the country is yet to solidify its position in the world in terms of food production both for local consumption and export.

  • Nigeria still spends more on the importation of agricultural items compared to our export value.
  • A PWC report identified poor transport infrastructure and services (road and rail), particularly in the rural areas as a significant cause of the current state of the agriculture and agribusiness sector.
  • According to Suleiman Dikwa, the CEO of Green Shara Farms, a major problem affecting Nigeria’s agricultural sector is the ability to efficiently deliver locally produced products in the country.
  • We have to first go beyond production and have an integrated approach through the horizontal value chain whereby any increase in production capacity has a commensurate increase in primary processing, logistics and capacity,” he added.
  • Adequate processing and storage system for these agro products is also a major problem affecting the agricultural value chain, with farmers losing about 40% of their yields to poor storage facilities, according to Mike Elechi, the CEO of Vintage Farm and Products.
  • The Chairman, Governing Council of Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NIIT), Mr John Onojeharho also disclosed that Nigeria loses about N3.7 trillion annually due to improper storage of foods. He said this while speaking on the topic: “Cold Chain Logistics” at the 8th Nigeria Annual Transport Lecture.