Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Muhammad Badaru Abubakar has said that the over N4 billion Agric loan disbursed to Jigawa State farmers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will boost agriculture in the state.
Gov Badaru stated this while speaking at the flag off for the distribution of 2021 agric loans to dry season rice farmers in the state.
He commended the effort of the CBN governor Mr Godwin Emefele for effectively handling all federal government financial intervention to agriculture, which so far made difference.
“Everyone in Nigeria can bear witness to the significant improvement recorded in the country’s agricultural sector which saved the country from falling into food crisis even with the incidence of corona virus pandemic.”
Governor Badaru also commended Jigawa farmers for their compliance to the loan repayment modalities. He also charged the new beneficiaries to utilise the the grant properly and also ensure timely repayment.
In his speech coordinator of Anchor Barrows programme CBN, Dutse branch, Alhaji Abdu Amadu said, over N4 billion was so far distributed to the Jigawa State peasant farmers.
He explained that, the success of the program can be seen by the high increase of agricultural outputs in the state and also the way farmers repaying the loan.
THE Federal Government, Wednesday, disclosed moves to galvanize mechanized farming and other aspects of agriculture with $1.2 billion loan under the Green Initiative project in order to boost food security, availability, affordability and job creation across various value chains.
This was made known by the Special Senior Adviser to the President on agriculture, Andrew Kwasari, at a press conference held in Abuja.
According to Kwasiri in his explanation the Green Imperative is an agricultural bilateral project that has been agreed upon to be delivered in Nigeria, between Nigeria and the government of Brazil.
He said: “This project has been in the making for some time now; we have reached the point where we are completely ready for its takeoff. The green imperative will address two twin issues with agricultural modernization in Nigeria; provide mechanization, and provide agro property and these two works hand in hand through what we call service centers and these service centers will be created in each local government across the country to compliment and support the primary production through mechanization and value addition through agro properties.
“These have carefully been designed over the years and we are happy to have update today because we have been waiting for the national assembly to give a go ahead to activate this loan.
“The most important thing is that it is private sector driven so all the study centers will be on and operated by private entrepreneurs and they would have the responsibility of servicing the loan.
“So if we are to summarize the green imperative, it is a project that will engage foreign direct investment of €995 million or $1. 2 billion that has been structured financially to allow the government of Nigeria use her bilateral provision and arrive at a financing that will develop three per cent per annum interest rate and also have a long gestation period of about 15 years to repay, and then subsequently structured so that this loan having secured, Nigerian insured it in the insurance market. “So we have financing coming from Dutsche Bank, Development Bank of Brazil and then it is reinsured by the Islamic Development Bank, the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Export Credit.
“This removes the risk of this loan; we have reinsured this loan in our international insurance market. Subsequently then, the loan would be structured with a monetary policy from Central Bank which has been developed jointly; Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Agriculture to allows the unlending of this loan to entrepreneurs and these entrepreneurs will be given a loan at domestic level so what comes to our local entrepreneur is Naira denominated loan with a monthly policy the draft of which has been finalized by the Central Bank and participating financial institution that we allow our entrepreneurs take up this loan and utilize it and pay back effectively.”
He also added that “Nigeria is leveraging its bilateral understanding to secure a very cheap loan for entrepreneurs that are private sector people and the private sector will run the business of the private sector.”
The federal government has said it is targeting five million jobs in the agricultural sector.
The initiative is to engage youths, women and the vulnerable in order to integrate them into the nation’s economy.
The Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri stated this at the weekend, when he led a delegation of executives of the ministry on a courtesy visit to the Bauchi State Governor at Bauchi.
According to the Minister, so far, 1,138,000 farmers have benefited through the initiative on job creation in agriculture, in all the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, under the first phase in the 2020 farming season.
He said owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers across the country received massive support from the government in terms of funding, agro-chemicals and small scale equipment in all the states extension services outreach to farmers.
“In partnership with the state governments, the federal government is employing one million youths to serve as village agents. In Bauchi state, over 15,000 youths were employed to serve as enumerators. The plight of poultry farmers and the high cost of poultry feeds was a source of concern to the government. Thus, the federal government has directed the release of 5,000 metric tonnes of maize to the poultry industry from the strategic food reserve.
“I am aware that Bauchi State has potentials in the cultivation of rice and the state should expect more of federal government intervention to assist farmers. “As a follow up support, the aggregation centers were established to support the rice farmers.
“In all, a total of 234 aggregation centers have so far been established nationwide and five aggregation centers are in operation in Bauchi State” he said
Responding, the State Governor commended the federal government initiative in boosting agriculture and rural development, saying the minister’s ministry is so critical in the diversification of the economy as well as enhancing growth and development in the country.
“Mr. President has done so much to show that the way to go is to develop agriculture and rural development because majority of our people are engaged in agriculture and those who voted him into power are living in the rural areas.
“Your ministry is so critical in developing the GDP in a manner that we can exit over dependence on government contracts and patronage and therefore your youth empowerment support to Agriculture, extension services that you are giving is so critical to us in the state” he said.
The Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth held an outreach programme in the state Capital, Ado-Ekiti.
Ellah Lakes Plc were sponsors of the event, as part of their engagement programme with stakeholders in Ekiti State, and were represented by Chuka Mordi, Chief Executive Officer and Jamie Rixton, Chief Agronomist.
The very successful outreach event was also attended by H.E. Kayode Fayemi, the Executive Governor of Ekiti State. The Governor emphasised his commitment to encouraging the private sector to participate in Agriculture in Ekiti State.
Mordi in his remarks thanked the Governor of Ekiti State for his sterling efforts in encouraging private sector participants in the state.
“With the intense focus on the commencement of the Special Processing Zones for Agriculture, as soon as possible, and the state’s commitment to completing the cargo Airport for export, I’m convinced that we can optimise the Agri value chain, for our crops, in Ekiti State,” Mordi said.
Jamie Rixton stated that “Engaging the youth in Agriculture, is one of our strongest strategies, as we come into Ekiti. More and more young people want to be in the Agricultural sector & are interested in learning the commercial and technical aspects. However, our investment isn’t just about Agriculture, it’s about uplifting communities by creating an Ecosysten of small businesses selling goods and services and encouraging economic growth.”
The Chairman of Delta State Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Mr. Sylvanus Ejezie, has tasked the Delta State Government to reduce the cost of hiring tractors in the state.
Mr, Ejezie revealed this while speaking during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He explained that this decision will help to enhance rice cultivation, and ensure food security in the state.
According to him, the expenses farmers incur during land preparation are set to be compounded significantly by the cost of hiring a tractor, to speed up land preparation during this planting season.
He added that the state government needs to take drastic actions to ensure that the cost of hiring a tractor is reduced to the lowest level that will support optimal rice cultivation during the farming season, as the reduction in this cost would serve as an incentive for farmers to cultivate more farmlands.
Ejezie stressed that this move is necessary as farmers in the state hire tractors for land preparation at N20,000 per day, in addition to other expenses
What they are saying
The chairman of RIFAN, Delta State chapter said:
“We expect that each of the 1,000 farmers in the state will produce four tonnes of rice per hectare. No fewer than 1,000 farmers have been profiled to benefit from the agricultural loan under the CBN anchor borrowers programme. All the materials were promptly supplied last year.
“Following our devastating experience last year when a flood washed away almost everything we planted, we took advantage of the dry season farming and are already harvesting. I want to commend Gov. Okowa for his support to farmers. He provided me with the first borehole in my farm when he (Okowa) was Commissioner for Agriculture in the state.
“To increase our effort in dry season farming, I dug extra two boreholes in order to provide irrigation cover for the eight-hectare of rice that I cultivated this dry season. In order not to suffer the same fate we suffered last year, we have advised our members to commence land preparation for this year’s farming season early enough.’’
What you should know
Delta State chapter revealed last year that it would be targeting 28,000 MT of rice from this year’s dry season farming, the chairman of the association disclosed that no fewer than 7,000 farmers registered to take part in the dry season farming in the state.
This ambitious move is expected to cushion the shortfall in rice production in the country, as farmers incurred huge losses during the wet season farming last year, due to the heavy flood which washed off a sizeable amount of their cultivation.
Timi Oke secured the first client for his fledgling Nigerian export trading business through LinkedIn. At the time, in 2012, the Nigerian-born Oke was working a nine-to-five job at a bank in the UK and decided to follow the advice of an import-export trader he had become acquainted with.
“I had always been interested in agriculture and trading from a young age. Even while I was working at the bank, I would research different agricultural products that could be viable for trade,” he says.
The trader told Oke to attend as many trade fairs as he could and recommended a few industry groups on LinkedIn to join.
“For about six to twelve months, I was constantly on these groups, asking questions, eliciting responses and then contacting those individuals directly. Eventually an importer from Mexico asked me if I could supply five containers of dried hibiscus flowers.”
Oke took a career break, not officially quitting just yet, and asked his brother and a good friend to join him in the newly registered company called AgroEknor.
It was a scramble to deliver that first order. The partners crowdfunded and used their own money to raise enough working capital to purchase the hibiscus flowers from middlemen who procured it from small-scale farmers in Nigeria’s northern states.
Oke emphasises the importance of integrity in business. He was upfront with this first client, admitting that the company had not done a deal before.
“What I could assure him of, though, was that he would not face any issues getting his product out of the ports. We had connections at the Nigerian Ports Authority. At the beginning of every business, you always need one person to believe in you. Either your investor or your client,” Oke notes.
The shipment was dispatched. Oke still remembers the day the first payment for 60 tonnes of dried hibiscus was transferred into the company’s account. “It was a celebration. I gave notice at the bank and settled permanently in Nigeria to do this full-time,” he says.
The importance of research
One mistake many entrepreneurs make when trying to start a trading business, says Oke, is not having adequate industry knowledge.
While working at the bank, he read up and learnt everything he could about hibiscus and the industry, not just in Nigeria.
“Hibiscus is not the product I originally wanted to go into. I liked the drink, but did not know that it is a cash crop which is in demand worldwide and that people paid good money for,” he says.
He learnt about the international hibiscus market, the main importing countries and the biggest producers.
“Organic hibiscus is grown in Africa – mainly in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Sudan. When we started, there were a lot of trade restrictions in Sudan. They were in the middle of a civil war. Essentially there was a global supply gap,” he says.
Oke also knew that the big hibiscus growers in northern Nigeria were unable to get their products out of the country as local traders did not want to deal with the tension and unrest in the area. It was a gap AgroEknor could capitalise on.
“We essentially said: Let’s be brave about this. Let’s go into the north, get it packaged and get it out,” he says.
His investment in getting to know the industry has delivered results.
“Sometimes I feel like a walking hibiscus encyclopaedia, but knowing the product helps. When you can speak about your product and industry with a lot of knowledge, clients are more inclined to trust you with supply contracts.”
Defining target markets
Oke says it was beneficial that the company’s first client was from Mexico.
“I have discussions with newcomers all the time who just want to get products into the EU or US. In the beginning, you cannot target the most sophisticated countries.”
Oke explains that a mistake in a shipment’s documentation or an issue with fumigation, could, in some ports such as the US, lead to the destruction of the entire cargo. A start-up cannot accommodate such losses.
“There are other countries where you can refumigate or reprocess the cargo elsewhere in the harbour, for example, Mexico or China. If you don’t know this and simply aim for the US market first, you are doing yourself a disservice.”
The company was fortunate, says Oke, to grow quite quickly. From 60 tonnes in year one to 120 in year two and 540 tonnes in year three. The growth came from clients in Latvia, Germany and Belgium which he secured at the Anuga Trade Fair in Germany in 2013.
The team came back from the fair and raised another round of finance from family and friends to be able to deliver on the orders. Oke started the process to get certifications in place to be able to export to the EU.
At the fair, Oke also met a Mexican trade broker who helped facilitate more Mexican deals. He used their track record of delivery to their first client to secure 30% payment upfront from eight new Mexican clients.
AgroEknor was steadily building its client base and in 2016, in its fourth year of operations, it penetrated the US market. The company received one order from a US company who wanted the hibiscus packaged for retail under the AgroEknor brand. Oke and his business partner soon started fielding calls and emails from other potential clients in the country who found their contact details on the packaging.
“We got proper demand in the US in 2017, and in 2018 I moved there for about seven months, essentially selling our product from door to door. We were able to establish our reputation and secured longer-term contracts,” he says.
AgroEknor exports hibiscus products throughout the world.
Adding value and the right sourcing strategy
On its website, AgroEknor lists hibiscus as well as cashew nuts, sesame seeds and ginger as its trade products. The main focus, however, says Oke, is growing the formats of its hibiscus exports.
After the success of the first Anuga Trade Fair, the company paid a visit to a few of its overseas clients. “We found out that while we exported the cleaned and packaged raw flowers, there also was a market for both hibiscus powder and concentrate,” he says.
AgroEknor joined forces with a chemist from Nigeria’s Federal University of Technology and began processing the flowers at a facility in Kano.
“Right now, we have clients in the EU who purchase the powder, while the demand for concentrate is huge in the US,” says Oke.
He believes that it is imperative to be involved at both ends of the production cycle. Even before the company had an outgrower scheme with smallholder farmers cultivating hibiscus for direct supply, it had boots on the ground near the farms through an agronomist consultant who checked the quality of the crop.
“Importers currently are focused on the traceability of a product. This means that, as an exporter, you have to be involved in the entire value chain and we are talking to three state governments to see how we can replicate our outgrower programme there,” says Oke.
The planned scheme across the three states will push the number of outgrowers up from 2,000 to over 15,000
“We currently have a supply deficit. The demand is high, especially with the renewed focus on healthy living due to Covid-19. We’ve had a lot of health and wellness multinationals approaching us as hibiscus has been proven to be an antioxidant.”
While Oke had promised his first Mexican client that port and logistics challenges will not be a problem, he admits that the company has had to deal with some of these obstacles along the way.
“Certain infrastructure has to be in place for you to have a seamless supply chain and Nigeria does not have it. We have port congestion and if a client wants his product on a specific day, you may struggle to get clearance.”
In 2018, AgroEknor secured substantial funding from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (Nexim). “At a high level, Nexim has always been able to connect us with the right authorities to be able to negate some of these challenges,” Oke says.
“In any business, your network can help you to solve problems and you have to make it a point of duty to actively grow that network, especially with regulatory stakeholders,” he says. “It will be help you to go further than the next guy who does not invest in relationships.”
The chief executive officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo has expressed delight over the attainment of Global Organic Certification status for Nigerian sesame seed by WACOT Nigeria from ECOCERT International.
He disclosed this in his Abuja office when he hosted the National Sesame Seeds Association of Nigeria (NSSAN) led by the president, Mr Sheriff Balogun and his deputy, Mr Sadiq Kassim.
According to Awolowo, this marked a landmark achievement for Nigeria as WACOT Nigeria Ltd attained the Global Organic Certification Status of the Nigerian Sesame Seed by ECOCERT INTERNATIONAL, the first of its kind in the history of the country. He said this places Nigeria on the world map of organic product producers and marketers.
The association acknowledged NEPC’s role in promoting and supporting the NSSAN through stringent emphasis on quality product standards and various collaborations in capacity building of rural farmers in good agricultural practices along the value chain.
he said: “”It was indeed an honor to be presented with the certificate by the President of NSSAN.
We spoke about the establishment of commercial Hulling Facilities for the seeds to support the growth of the sector. NEPC looks forward to supporting NSSAN.”
In the same vein, the NEPC boss, hosted the CEO of Shea Tribe, Ms Kanyinsola Demola-Seriki, an an indigenous company, proudly made in Nigeria that creates 100% organic and handmade skincare/grooming products.
Materials for products are sourced locally in Saki, Oyo State. Her mission is to promote healthy living, introduce African beauty and health formulas to the world. She decided that in order to do this she needs the support of NEPC to grow her business exponentially.
Awolowo added that NEPC is a strong supporter of women and youth in export development and in her, NEPC has found both. “NEPC looks forward to accompanying her on her journey to the international market place.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono has commissioned the yam storage facility at the Faculty of Agriculture, Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
He said the facility has capacity to store between 45 – 50 Metric Tonnes of yam seed and is estimated to cover 16 hectares of land when planted.
Speaking during the ceremony, the minister noted that the huge output of using clean seed yam would boost production, increase earnings of yam farmers and enhance the export of yam from the state.
He said the location of the facility inside the university would immensely add value to teaching, research and income generation for farmers in the state, adding that the facility will generate about 200 jobs to the value chain.
However, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed, commended the minister and his team for commissioning the facility.
He pointed out that the sum of N35 million was released by the state government to establish an aeroponics system for seed production – a component of yam value chain.
He added that the facility would be harnessed to support the federal government’s efforts towards improving agricultural productivity, promote research and enhance the economic diversification agenda of the federal government.
Separately, Nanono, also visited Shabu Integrated Farms, Kokona where he expressed satisfaction with the storage facilities displayed by RIELA International, an organisation that specialised in manufacturing high quality storage and processing equipment, planning, engineering, assembling and services for efficient and cost effective solutions of grain handling and preservation.
Earlier, he paid a visit to the Dangote Sugar Farm housing 68,000 hectares of sugar farm in Tunga, Nassarawa State. The project is expected to change the sugar narrative when operational.
Agriculture commodities despite experiencing a dip in activities did not fall as steeply as other asset classes and witnessed a faster recovery amidst the recession and COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX Nigeria disclosed this at the presentation of the “AFEX 2021 Commodities Outlook” organized to provide insight on the direction of the commodities market to stakeholders.
Continuing his review, Balogun said that the current policy stance of the government would sustain increased production and encourage growth in the agricultural sector in the short to medium-term.
“Nigeria’s easing of restrictions on some borders across the country has had a significant impact on cross border trades,” Balogun said.
The CEO, AFEX, explained the contrast in the behavior between gold and crude oil, post-pandemic, noting that there were capital reversals between the two asset classes. He believed the success of a COVID-19 vaccine would guarantee a rally of crude oil prices.
He informed stakeholders that Coffee and Cocoa were affected by the pandemic and lockdowns across countries. “People believe that the upswing in cocoa prices are arbitrary and traders are currently trading at a discount to international prices”.
Balogun mentioned the fact that food prices continue to rise because many countries are imprisoned in protectionist mindsets as they strengthen their strategic reserves. From available data, analysts note that the agricultural sector’s contribution to GDP in Q3 was 31%, and was primarily driven by crop production. The data suggests that between 27% and 28% of GDP revolves around the success of farmers cultivating on their farmland and includes factors such as climate-induced risk, “availability of fertilizers, and quality of seeds,” Balogun said.
From a recent survey which was a result of AFEX interviewing 10,000 farmers, the following trends and developments were highlighted:
Increased land use contributes to the volume of the output.
More fertilizer usage to yield more productivity.
Allocation of land between smallholder farmers and larger farmers.
Balogun’s presentation focused on a review of 2020 global commodities positions, the Nigerian commodities landscape-the state of play, and the 2021 commodities outlook (see chart 1 below showing trends in 2020 commodity prices).
Chart 1:M-0-M Price Movement for Maize, Cocoa, and Ginger(Jan- Dec)
Source: AFEX, Proshare Research
Balogun observed that the current domestic inflation rate has been caused by the expansionary stance of monetary policy centred on getting Nigeria out of a COVID-19-induced recession. He equally argued that increase spending by the private sector and the fiscal and monetary policy stand of driving funds to the bottom of the population pyramid increased aggregate consumption.
According to him, factors that would shape the commodities market in 2021 include:
Cross border and trade policies
CBN dry season cultivation of maize and rice
Cash liquidity and availability of alternative investment instruments.
Balogun said AFEX supports a market-led approach to achieving a competitive commodities market. He also spoke on flooding and noted that due to global warming ocean, sea, and river water levels were rising and this was posing a palpable threat to arable land farming, he said AFEX had designed climate-based insurance products that cover nature-induced losses farmers may incur, he, however, advocated for the effective use of natural resources sustainably.
The federal government introduced Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project to boost food production in the country.
Gawuna stated this at the inauguration of the Pre-6th Implementation Support Midterm Review of the APPEALS Project and Zonal Wrap-Up meeting on Wednesday in Kano.
He said more than 10,000 rice, wheat and tomato farmers would be trained on modern techniques to encourage productivity, processing and farmer enterprising skills to add value to the produce.
The deputy governor said that 6,344 farmers were also trained while 1,700 youth and women as well as persons with disabilities exposed to poultry and fishery productions.
The trainees, he said, would be supported with economic strengthening equipment to enable them to set up their businesses, encourage agricultural activities and boost state revenue base.
“APPEALS is designed in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) of the Federal Government, it is contributing to the agriculture policy thrusts of the Kano State Government.
“It is centered on food security, support to local production, job creation, economic diversification and improved revenue generation through agriculture.
“Kano State Government is committed towards supporting local production through provision of improved inputs to achieve increase productivity and marketing of agricultural produce,” he said.
While urging the beneficiaries to use what they learnt to improve their production, Gawuna reiterated continued government support to the programme to enable it to achieve its objectives.
The APPEALS National Project Manager, Dr Salisu Garba, said the programme being implemented in six states across the country was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the World Bank.
Garba said the project has recorded significant successes in terms of technology adoption and farmer support services in Kano state since inception in 2016.
He explained that the 5-day meeting was designed to appraise project implementation in all components, adding that the participants were drawn from Cross River, Kano and Kogi states.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the deputy governor accompanied by the project officials inspected a 50-tons capacity preservation facility at Tomato Aggregation Centre, Kwanar Ungogo, and a wheat bakery cluster in Dala Local Government Area of the state.