Kebbi State Governor and Vice Chairman of the National Food Security Council (NFSC) Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, yesterday said no fewer than 382,208 farmers affected by flood in 2020, across Nigeria would get free farm inputs provided by the federal government .
Bagudu, who disclosed this in Birnin Kebbi during the national flag-off of the distribution of the free farm inputs said the items to be distributed include: assorted seeds, seedlings, pumping machines, agrochemicals, sprayers and other related inputs .
The governor said those engaged in livestock production would benefit from the invaluable gesture of the Federal Government through NEMA as the agency, assisted by other collaborating partners had already duly registered all the beneficiaries.
Bagud said “ For the first time, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Chairman of the Council has approved the provision of insurance covers to the beneficiaries.
“All the beneficiaries will henceforth be insured hence, they don’t need future support in case of any flood eventualities.”
He added that the president has mandated the Federal Ministries of Transport , Water Resources and Environment to come up with a National Drainage Architecture on the control of flooding to prevent threat to food security. “Happily, this is also in the bid to reduce the perennial devastating effects of flood on the economy”, he said .
While commending the president for what he descried as unparalleled gesture, Bagudu reiterated the commitment of the council to continue to support farmers, agro allied and food processing industries to bolster food security in the country.
Bagudu, who is also the Chairman Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat Production in Nigeria, thanked the president, ministers of the intervening ministries ,NEMA, SEMA and NGOs involved in the efforts to bring succour to the flood victims across the country.
In her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Saadiya Umar Faruk, said that the gesture signifies the commencement of yet another major landmark effort by the federal government to further support persons affected by the 2020 flood disaster. She said: “ Today’s event is a culmination of a follow up commitment to the initial emergency relief items distributed to the affected persons in the aftermath of the 2020 floods.
“ This intervention was approved to provide emergency agricultural inputs specifically to further support farmers that lost their crops as a result of the destruction of their farmlands and the cutting off of access to croplands during the flood disaster.
“The unfortunate flood incident resulted in the displacement of several communities, damage to infrastructure, destruction of crop lands and widespread environmental dislocation.
“The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, in response to the incidence activated the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to conduct detailed assessment of the situations and make recommendation for intervention.
“ In consideration of the severe devastation, President Muhammadu Buhari, deployed a high level delegation of Ministers, including myself, to visit some of the affected states including Kebbi State to commiserate with the people.”
She said what they witnessed during the visit was quite devastating as large swathes of agricultural investments were lost to the flood waters thereby destroying the livelihoods of the famers and threatening food security.
“The successful implementation of this intervention is therefore very important in assisting farmers with modern farm inputs and seeds that will support their speedy recovery from the disaster impact,” the Minister , added .
In his closing remarks, the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed, commended Governor Bagudu for embarking on the agricultural transformation which facilitated the attainment of self sufficiency in food production in the state and Nigeria.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Maigari Abdullahi Dakingari, expressed gratitude to federal government for its intervention to Kebbi farmers, saying that ‘ This positive development came at a better time and its commendable”, he said.
He sympathised with farmers over the monumental lost they incurred as a result of the devastating effect of the flood on agricultural produce, loss of lives , farmlands, houses and property.
Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), Gombe State chapter, has lamented how insecurity in north-eastern Nigeria has disrupted farming, agribusiness and means of livelihood of thousands of households.
In its 14-point communiqué, the group, after a stakeholders meeting recently, added that insecurity in the zone had negative impacts on food production.
The stakeholders meeting towards scaling up investment in agriculture was organised by Hope Foundation for the Lonely with support from Action Aid Nigeria.
The communique, signed by the chairman, Yusuf Atiku, urged the government to strengthen security mechanism “to mitigate crises in the region.”
It also asked state governments to ensure an increase in and implementation of 2022 agriculture budget.
“Gombe State government should ensure the implementation as budgeted in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, budgetary allocation for smallholder women farmers.
“The government should ensure easy access to credit facility at single digit interest rate to be made available to smallholder women farmers across the state.
“Federal and state governments should employ agricultural extension officers to train smallholder women farmers on Good Agricultural Practice,” it said, adding:
“There should be a steady and deliberate incremental commitment to Agriculture budget such that 10% of the Malabo commitment is achieved in the yearly budget.
“Gombe State government should promote policies that enable women farmers to have land ownership,” the communique added.
Agribusiness, which is a shift from food-security oriented farming to market, profit, and technology-driven farming as a business has a huge potential to provide self-employment opportunities, income generation, and secure the livelihoods of rural youth.
However, most women and youth do not find agriculture attractive due to the myriad of challenges faced in their quest to venture into agribusiness such as lack of access to adequate farmland, lack of access to finance, markets, and technology.
As part of the efforts towards making agriculture the mainstay of the economy away from oil, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed Federal government institutions to work in synergy in lifting and diversifying the economy, and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) should be given all the support it needs to expand Integrated Farm Estate across the 109 senatorial zones in the country.
To this end, NALDA Executive Secretary Prince Paul Ikonne said the agency took advantage of the policies in the agricultural sector to make agriculture attractive and profitable by setting up integrated farm estates across the country.
In quest to produce what we eat and eat what we produce, Ikonne said the Authority under six months completed the first integrated farm estate in Suduje- Daura, Katsina State with social amenities such as school, clinic and a residential area, with 120 units of one bedroom apartments for the farmers and their families to live and work on the farm.
The integrated farm estate comprises of 40 poultry pens with a capacity of over 400,000 birds, Fish ponds with a capacity of 200,000 fishes, cow, and goat pens with a capacity of 500 animals, rabbit pens with a capacity of 3,000 rabbits, bee apiary with a capacity of 540 litres of honey per harvest, crop farming, packaging, and processing zones.
The NALDA boss said the Federal Government will be raking in over N1.7 billion in the first year from agribusiness that will be operating in the integrated farm estate.
While noting that the farm estate is established on a 100-hectare land donated by the Katsina State government, he said when replicated across the country will increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reduce unemployment and will go a long way towards achieving food security.
He explained that the program is under NALDA’s National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS), which President Mohammadu Buhari launched in November 2020.
However, President Buhari said the Integrated Farming scheme opens up more opportunities for employment, and most importantly creates a communal-based system that promotes food security, skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
Buhari while restating his administration’s commitment to lifting 100 Nigerians out of poverty said the farm estate is a landmark in the country’s journey to achieving food security and ensuring that Nigeria eats what it produces.
He noted that with continuous effort being made in the agriculture sector, Nigeria could produce surplus that would be exported.
”No excuse will be enough to remain a mono-economy , with all the challenges in oil production and the fluctuating global crisis when we have such opportunities in crop and livestock production.
“I am confident that Nigeria under my watch will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat, in a good harvest year we may even export our surplus and earn foreign exchange.
“Our vision of a robust agricultural economy continues to provide amazing results. Across the country today, we are seeing rising public and private interests in agriculture, especially among the youth, and a steady migration from subsistence to commercial farming,” he said.
Ikonne said the NALDA integrated farm estate is designed with a complete production chain for food and livestock, an irrigation system so that farmers will have three production cycles in a year.
“This will attract and keep young people busy in crop and livestock production all year round. We are thankful for the visionary steps the President has taken in building and protecting the economy with sound policies, particularly in the agricultural sector, and clearly, we now produce what we eat and eat what we produce,” he said.
Furthermore, Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari said with proper management of the project and a strong irrigation system the integrated farm would serve its full purpose, with benefits to the people and economy of the state.
Capacity and participating farmers
The NALDA boss explained that the integrated farm estate is deliberately designed to accommodate, empower and position a new set of 1,500 agro entrepreneurs every year.
“The integrated farm estate comprises 40 poultry pens with a capacity of over 400,000 birds, fish ponds with a capacity of 200,000 fishes, cow and goat pens with a capacity of 500 animals, rabbit pens with a capacity of 3,000 rabbits, bee apiary with a capacity of 540 litres of honey per harvest.
“We will take in new farmers every year (and farmers pass out and move on to become independent after being trained and making money). This will attract and keep young people busy in crop and livestock production all year round.”
Explaining how the Authority used the 100-hectare land donated by the Katsina government, he said: “This farm is designed as cyclical, where every process is part of a value chain. It is divided into 80 hectares for crop production and 20 hectares for animal production, processing and packaging, with growing of feeds, which include recycling animal wastes as fertiliser for plants, and growing plants to feed the animals.
”The ecosystem is best appreciated with low cost, domestically fabricated machinery like the incubators, ovens, and battery cages which can be easily understood and adapted by the farming community.”
He said the participating farmers are from 13 communities, namely Suduje, Madobi, Kaya, Sharawa, Sukwanawa, Dadin Kowa, Daberan, Benga, Kurneji, Zari, Mazuji, Tambu and Dannakola.
While explaining that the integrated farm has a processing and packaging zone for fish, chicken and pepper, he added that farmers from outside the estate will also have their products, especially pepper processed and packaged so they can get more value.
“The entire farm has the capacity to generate over N1.7b in the first year. This has the capacity to engage 1,500 women and youth directly.
“The Integrated Farming System (IFS) holds a special position as nothing is wasted, the by-product of one system becomes the input for another.
“With the farm’s poultry, fishery, rabbitry and bee keeping unit, about 95 percent of the nutritional requirement of the system is self-sustained through resource recycling,” he added.
On training, Ikonne said farmers are being trained on best agricultural practices in crop farming, livestock, poultry, rabbits and fish farming.
“Sustainable development is the only way to promote rational utilisation of resources and environmental protection,” he said.
In providing financial support, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele said the apex bank would work with Ikonne and his team to explore the potential of providing affordable and accessible finance to the beneficiaries under the agricultural scheme to scale up productivity.
He pointed out that the strategic mandate of NALDA aligned with the current developmental priorities of the CBN.
He said CBN would integrate rural farmers into the federal government’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), which is focused on providing five million homes with electricity using renewable energy.
He explained that under the programme, farmers with good repayment records under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) would be eligible to get solar home systems (SHS) to supply electricity to their homes.
He noted that the bank would develop a repayment framework that would allow the farmers to use their farm produce to pay for electricity consumed under the scheme.
The CBN, therefore, added that the initiative was expected to improve the standard of living of smallholder farmers across the country and motivate prompt loan repayment, as well as enhance the sustainability of the programme.
Buhari said with support of public institutions, like the CBN and Bank of Agriculture, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable.
“With the support of public institutions, like the CBN and Bank of Agriculture, old tools are giving way to more mechanised styles of farming, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable. Indeed, we are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector.’’
Ikonne said the integrated farm estate would go a long way to uplifting rural life through increased income by creating employment opportunities to the farming communities all year round.
“As the number of enterprises increase, the profit margin also increases and further generates employment opportunities for the farming communities all year round and provides better economic and nutritional security. This will go a long way to uplifting rural life through increased income.”
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.
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.
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.
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’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.”
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.
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.”