The Federal Government of Nigeria has officially awarded contract for construction of 10 large rice milling plants, The states would have them for production of large quantity and quality rice towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice. This was disclosed by the Minister Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Monday, as he signed ECP Contract Agreement on establishment of 10 Integrated large-scale rice processing plants in Nigeria, along with the Minister of State, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, on behalf of the federal government with management of Messers MV Agro Engineers Nigeria Limited and MV Agro Engineers PVT Limited, India, led by Movi Baba, in Abuja. According to Ogbeh government will advertise for those who want to off-take the rice milling plants from the states identified, which they will come and show they capacity to off-take them, and have the capacity to pay 10 per cent down payment, along with the technical capacity to own a unit before it will be given to them. He further stated that when the contractor arrives they will install the mills and then Bank of Agriculture, BoA, will take over the repayment of the loan over a period of 10 years. The benefiting states include Benue, Bayelsa Anambra, Ogun, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Kogi and Zamfara. He said: “We are using this method of agro-industrialization because of the reality of the economic situation in our country. It is extremely difficult for any individual in Nigeria now to walk to the bank and raise a loan in less interest rates for long-term investments, and these interest rates have been like this for the past 30 years, standing weigh 25 per cent on the average, is impossible for any investor to go and raise money of this size and put in investment and hope to make a success of it. “We will advertise those who want to off-take from the states identified, which are Bayelsa, Benue, Anambra, Ogun, Bauchi, Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Kogi and Zamfara. They will come and show they can off-take, and have the capacity to pay 10 per cent down payment, and have the technical capacity to own a unit then we give them. When the contractor arrives they will install these mills and then Bank of Agriculture will take over the repayment of the loan over a period of 10 years.” The Minister also charged MV Agro Engineers Nigeria Limited and MV Agro Engineers PVT Limited, India to make good machines and deliver the best, “Because if you do well now you will do more in future. We assure you more mills would be bought in the future. Supply adequate stock of spare parts”, he said. The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sen Lokpobiri Heineken, in his remarks urged the contractor to deliver the project as planned by December 2019. “We express gratitude to the President and Federal Executive Council, FEC, for unanimously approving the Memo that was approved by council. We have been ministers for three years no memo has enjoyed that level of acceptability as it happened to this memo we presented. “That is essential because rice has become a staple food and rice produced in Nigeria is one of the best in the world. Before now Nigeria has been a dumping ground of all types of parboiled rice reason being that Nigerian rice is filled with stones. But today those who are eating Nigerian rice can attest to the fact that Nigerian rice is fresh and best in the world in terms of quality because of the sweetness. “We are happy that today that we are adding another capacity of milling rice for the benefit of Nigerians. We don’t have large scale rice mills in Nigeria, but with we have very limited number, which government decided to be increasing the capacity from time to time. We are happy we have gotten to the point of signing the agreement. I call on the contractor ECP India-Nigeria Group for the delivery should be done as planned”, Lokpobiri stated. Giving an overview of the project, Director of Agribusiness and Marketing, Muyiwa Azeez, said documents supporting the realisation of the mills have been put in place, and also adverts will be placed for bidding to get the plants installed in the states that are benefiting. “The Minister calculated through a survey that Nigeria requires 50-70 large scale rice mills. It was against this backdrop the current administration in the Ministry submitted to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, the need to facilitate the acquisition of 10 large scale rice mills which will be made available to the off-takers in the country. “Business proposals are being expected, all arrangements have been concluded. Like the contractor has said all of the parts are to be procured from Olam, which is the best rice mills manufacturer in the world. The rice mills will be ready by December 2019. We have also constituted implementation committee that would work with the Bank of Agriculture, BoA”, he added.
Egypt’s agriculture exports to France record $40 million annually, Head of French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Egypt Mahmoud el- Kaissy said.
This came during the meeting held by the chamber in the presence of the members of the Chamber of Agriculture and representatives of the Export Development Authority to prepare for the participation in the French Sial exhibition specialized in agricultural production.
Kaissy announced the launch of a number of new programs to involve the largest number of workers in the Egyptian agricultural production, whether farmers or manufacturers, to participate in the French exhibitions specialized in that field.
He affirmed that there are promising opportunities which may promote to double Egyptian agricultural exports to the European markets, as international reports indicated that France alone spends an estimated $9 billion annually on imports of agricultural products.
“Despite the weakness of the volume of Egyptian exports, the Egyptian product presents great opportunities to multiply these figures, especially that the Egyptian product enjoys many competitive advantages, including the low price, compared to the same products of European origin,” he stated.
Kaissy clarified that the chamber is going to send a trade mission on the sidelines of the exhibition to visit the largest European wholesale markets, see all the variables and requirements of the markets, and sign the actual transactions to achieve the desired economic development.
For his part, General Manager of the chamber Hassan Behnam said that SIAL exhibition is considered to be one of the most important exhibitions specialized in the agricultural production and industry.
He clarified that participating in international exhibitions is the perfect way to develop the Egyptian exports as they provide opportunities to conduct business transactions and identify the nature of foreign markets and conditions for their access.
SIAL PARIS (The Global Food Marketplace) is a trade fair held every two years, which specializes in the food processing industry. This event was first held in 1964 in Paris. It will take place this year from October 21 to 25.
Manager of Business France Office in Egypt Ludovic Prevest said previously that the trade exchange between Egypt and France recorded $2.5 billion (LE 44.18 billion) in the fiscal year 2016/2017.
According to Prevest, Sial Paris Exhibition targets to increase the trade exchange between the two states and strengthen the economic relations between Egypt and the European Union.
He said that 109 Egyptian companies participated in the last edition of the exhibition, expecting this number to increase in the upcoming event.
Former Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Tarek Kabil said earlier that Egypt’s exports to France increased 36.4 percent in 2017 to record €572 million (LE 12.42 billion), compared to €420 million in 2016.
Kabil added that trade exchange between Egypt and France rose 21.8 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year
Ecocert Group, a global leader in conformity assessment and certification, is now in Nigeria to help develop the agricultural value chain by ensuring Nigeria products meet international standards.
Speaking yesterday at the ongoing Nigerian Organic Agriculture Business Summit in Lagos, the Chairman of NICERT Limited, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, announced that his company, NICERT was now the Nigerian partner of ECOCERT and that they had opened offices in Nigeria to serve Nigerian farmers.
He stated that organic agriculture was the high end of Agriculture around the world and the demand for organic products was enormous.
He said it was overdue for Nigeria with its natural capacity for organic agriculture to take its own share of the market.
He said the partnership between NICERT and ECOCERT now provided Nigerian producers the affordable opportunity to have their products assessed and certified as being in conformity with these commercial and legal international standards, including organic standards.
He explained that with this certification the international markets will welcome Nigerian goods and we will no longer have the decayed Nigerian yam to US and banned Nigerian beans in Europe experience of recent times.
He said organic agriculture practice in Nigeria will grow with 3rd party certification by NICERT-ECOCERT which will enable such products attract higher prices than conventional products.
He said even now certified organic rice, for example, was being bought by Nigerian based consumers at prices up to 3 times the price of conventional rice, because people are becoming more careful about their health and the well-being of their environment which certified organic farming guarantees.
Indications have emerged that Nigeria faces drastic food shortage and price hike in the nearest future if herders-farmers’ clashes in the North Central Nigeria continue unabated.
These are hinged on displacement or killings of farming households in the conflict zones.
The UN Commission for Refugees said in April that over 2,193,769 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had been recorded in the region as a result of the insurgency.
The number keeps rising because the crisis has escalated.
Job loss and dependence of the IDPs across the states have ripple effects on household economies, food availability and disposable incomes of not only the IDPs but also every Nigerian.
In the North-east geo-political zone comprising Adamawa, Yobe and Bornu states, intensive farming and food production have been truncated because of terrorist activities of the Boko Haram sect.
The states were known for production of grains, beans and animal husbandry before the crisis started in 2009. The situation has deteriorated since then.
The North-Central, for several years, have also been enmeshed in clashes between cattle herders and farmers, with killings and displacement of hundreds of settlements and communities.
Benue State, renown for massive agricultural production, has been engulfed in the clashes with heavy causalities and mass burials for farming households, able men and women, as well as children.
Nasarawa State is not spared. Farming activities have been hindered in several local government areas flanking Benue State and in the hinterlands, making experts to raise the alarm of food insecurity
Views are that if the country fails in taming the crisis, and farming activities are continuously hindered, Nigeria’s food security drive is heading towards failure.
Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations defines food security as “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
FAO adds that “Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern.
Food insecurity, the UN organ said, exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above.”
Early in March, a new report from FAO had listed Nigeria as one of the 37 countries in need of external food assistance.
It said food insecurity persisted in the world due to conflicts. Also listed, among others, were Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi and Mali.
Executive Director, National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Dr Sunday Aladele, said the danger is obvious because there is no farming activity in the north-east and some states in the North-central.
Implications of these are one, food will not be sufficient and seed security is lost because they have lost their seed banks.
Moreover, army warms are ravaging maize farms and this will negatively affect food availability, animal feeds, and industrial materials. Importation may intensify and foreign reserves will be depleted.
Professor Samuel Olakojo, a maize breeder at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ibadan, said the clashes had been affecting food production for almost a decade, but got intensified in the last three years.
“It affects food, feeds and confectionery production, and companies may lay off more staff, produce below capacity, and lose revenue to the trend,” he added.
Olakojo added that the food security threat was escalating.
For example, he stopped cultivation of 350 acres of land this year because he suffered devastation of about 15 acres last year.
“I have stopped maize and cassava cultivation because of this,” he said, saying that if 10 farmers of his capacity pulled out of farming in one city, one could imagine the quantity of food that would not be available.
Mr Adeniji Lucas, an agro-allied machinery fabricator and processor, said the crisis had been taking tolls on food production.
Tomatoes, beans, yam and other food items had become scarce, reducing disposable income of households in Nigeria.
Boko Haram crisis/north-central crises
Professor Olakojo said over 90 per cent of annual crop production in the North-East geo-political zone was already lost, and the North-Central is closely following the trend. These states are the food baskets of the country.
“If we do not suffer food crisis, then we must be importing food massively, and we will deplete the national foreign reserves. This will be self-contradictory,” he said
A political economist, Professor Femi Mimiko, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said Benue State as a hub of food production had been the most wracked in recent times.
As Mimiko said, “displaced farming families have been forced to relocate; farmlands that were destroyed have not been replanted; and farming communities that were sacked have not been rebuilt.”
“My hunch is that general insecurity can only get deepened by reason of the impending possibility of collapse of agriculture,” he added.
He said adding the reality of food insecurity to the bouquet of security challenges, the situation of the country in the months ahead could only become more critical
Poor funding of agriculture
Poor access to financing has been contributing to inadequate farming activities in the last few years. Farmers have complained of inability to obtain loans due to stringent conditions attached to loan application in the specialized and commercial banks.
Some of the farmers said conditions such as certificates of occupancy, owners’ equity and existing cash-flows, among other requirements, make it practically impossible for the majority of small-scale farmers to obtain credit facilities from banks.
Managing Director of Oluji Cocoa Products Ltd, Mr. Akin Olusuyi, recently described Bank of Agriculture (BOA) as too far away from real farmers, contending that having branches in the state capitals implied lopsidedness and remoteness of the bank activities.
One of the other factors affecting farming activities, apart from clashes, is the climate change.
This has been evident in the forms of erratic rainfall patterns, and scorching sunshine. Poor rainfalls affect not only the crops’ growth but also yields.
Extremely hot whether affects poultry production, leading to bird mortalities and losses.
Aladele attributed climate change charcoal production, saying it had been depleting the forest, causing climate change which might also aggravate the Nigerian food production.
Adding his voice to the call for actions against impending food crisis, a Lagos-based farmer, Mr Babalola Orodeji, who has crop farms in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, revealed to The Guardian that in the past few weeks, rainfall patterns in the agrarian area had been very unstable, causing crop stress and pest infestation.
Orodeji said farmers in the area could not plant maize in the first planting season around April to May, and that the dry season planting season starting around June was also being affected by the rainfall patterns.
He added that people of the area had been buying fresh maize from Ogbomoso area because of the inability to produce. This, he said, pointed to imminent food shortage.
As part of the way forward, the NACGRAB boss advocated the use of mechanised farming in the crisis-free zones to enhance productivity per hectare of land. This, he opined, could mitigate the situation.
In addition to mechanised farming, he recommended the use of improved seeds, especially of maize, that can give times three of what farmers have been getting per hectare, emphasising intensification of research to adapt crops cultivated in the troubled zones to crisis-free areas.
Olakojo said the government must be sincere about its willpower to check the herdsmen and the attendant killings of farmers, expressing pessimism that ranching might not work because herders are naturally nomadic.
He frowned on the idea of the government to secure land for ranches to be used by the herders who are running private cattle businesses.
He said if the government would do that, it should be ready to provide land and feeds for poultry, fish and pig farmers too.
He suggested that the Abacha loots being recovered should be given to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), and herders, who want to own ranches, should approach the bank for loans, buy land, cultivate pastures for their cattle, and repay the loans.
The police at the various checkpoints, he suggested, should be redeployed to the crisis-torn areas to protect farmland and farmers, and maintain law and order.
Former Executive Director, Institute for Agricultural Research, Samaru, and Vice Chancellor, Al-Qalam University, Katsina, Professor Shehu Garki Ado, a plant breeder, said that the crisis has lead to the death of humans, animals and the implications are that protein available is reduced and human capital available for farming is drastically affected.
Professor Mimiko said though it was not clear what the government was doing to mitigate the effects on food availability, incentivising the unaffected areas to produce more might mitigate the impending crisis.
At least 300 farmers are to undergo a training programme on mechanized farming, which is being organised by the Edo State chapter of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association in conjunction with the Dizengoff Nigeria, an agricultural technology company.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Economic and Development Planning, Mr. Joseph Eboigbe, yesterday said that the state government was interested in supporting farmers in the running of commercial farms.
In fact, he expressed the government’s support for the training session, which is billed to hold on Thursday in Benin City, the state capital.
According to him, agriculture has remained the major fulcrum of the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration, which informed the increased interest in attracting and sustaining investments in the sector.
“The programme will present the opportunity for farmers to be exposed to equipment and tools for commercial agriculture and provide them with options for expansion,” he noted, saying the programme, tagged “Farmers’ Open Day,” will feature exhibition of tractors and implements, greenhouse, agro-consumables, knapsack sprayer and open filed irrigation, among others.
Chairman, Edo State chapter of the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Mr. Donatus Imaghodor, who said the governor would declare the event open, however, added: “The Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, which is an umbrella body of Cassava Farmers in Edo State is partnering with Dizengoff Nigeria, an Agriculture and Communication Technology company in organizing the one-day training for 300 farmers in Edo State.”
Ghana’s agriculture sector will get a boost in August, when the country hosts the Value Added Agriculture Expo and co-located Value Added Aquaculture Expo West Africa for the first time at the Providence Events and Recreation Centre.
Value Added Agriculture Expo West Africa is West Africa’s biggest exhibition to promote solutions for value added agriculture and aquaculture. Featuring three days of in-depth practical training covering everything from crop and horticulture care to livestock care; as well as over 70 exhibitors and an opportunity to learn and network.
The expo aims to fast-track development for farmers and agro-processors in the region.
The “live demo” area will not only demonstrate to farmers and processors the use of equipment, but tractor handling and commercial truck test drives will be available daily at the show. We would like to welcome Agro Positive, BABCO, AFRGI Ghana, CropLife Ghana, Dizengoff, Interplast, Irrigate, LK International, Mac Ghana, Mechanical Lloyd, OCP and RST who will be leading these daily demo programmes.
Frederick Boampong, Programme Manager of CropLife Ghana says, “CropLife Ghana is excited to partner Reed Exhibitions the Organisers of the Value Added Agriculture Expo, which enable our members to increase their market share at this premium expo. CropLife Ghana will also run extensive training workshops on crop nutrition and protection over the 3 days at the expo, all farmers are welcome to attend. CropLife Ghana is affiliated with CropLife Africa Middle East (CLAME) which a regional association is representing leading global manufacturers of crop protection products, seeds and biotechnology products in more than 26 national associations spread throughout Africa and the Middle East. CropLife Ghana association is legally fully independent but maintains strong link with the Global CropLife network.”
With an endorsement by the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Value Added Agriculture Expo and Value Added Aquaculture Expo West Africa will support the government’s goals of helping the sector move from subsistence to big business.
“Everyone from farmers and agricultural associations, through to buyers, distributors and agro-processing businesses will benefit from attending the Value Added Agriculture Expo and Value Added Aquaculture Expo West Africa,” says Adele Eloff, the Africa Manager of expo international organisers Reed Exhibitions. “The show brings together all the major players in offering product services and products in the agri- business industry. More than just showcasing products and solutions, the expo will actively teach farmers, processors and industry stakeholders how to overcome common problems and improve the volume and quality of their outputs,” she says.
Dr Gyiele Nurah, the Minister of State in charge of Agriculture, has welcomed the Expo, saying it will bring out the best in the industry and create a good platform for exchange and networking among industry players, and offer the opportunity to foster business relationships and partnerships.
He said the introduction of modern technology had also been acknowledged as a very important factor in doubling agricultural productivity. He therefore expected the Value Added Agriculture Expo West Africa to help bring about a lasting turn-around result in the agriculture sector.
The Minister says the event is in line with the President’s policy to modernise agriculture. The country’s ongoing efforts to bolster the sector also include its Planting for Food and Jobs programme, which has created 745, 000 jobs and empowered 200, 000 farmers with improved seed and farming inputs.
Hon Dr Gyiele adds that in addition to improved farming techniques, economic growth also depends on enhanced value addition. “We must develop value chains that will make all the difference in our earnings for the rich resources of our land,” he says.
Cherrylyn Ruiz Emarketplace and Operations Manager of Ecommodity says “As a global business to business (B2B) platform, we are honoured to be one of the sponsors of Value Added Agriculture Expo. We believe in this event as an opportunity to inspire farmers to grow and produce more crops and see how taking their fruit of labors to global trade would benefit them and the consumers. This is a milestone event that everyone in agriculture community shouldn’t miss.”
The event is presented by Diamond Sponsors Barclays and Interpalst, Platinum Sponsors Kingdom of Netherlands, Mel Consulting, Gold Sponsors Interplast, Ecommodity Express and Bronze Sponsors AFGRI and Irrigate, in partnership with Reed Exhibitions.
The Value Added Agriculture Expo West Africa and co-located Value Added Aquaculture Expo West Africa and SMARTFactories expo will be held at the Providence Events and Recreation Centre, Accra, Ghana, from 2 – 4 August 2018.
Visit www.valueaddedagri-wa.co.za for more information.
Limited exhibition space is still available at this premier event. For further information, place contact Adele Eloff Africa Manager Reed Exhibitions at email: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: 0027 84 658 6551.
The just ended one day 2018 Malabo Montpellier Forum, Malawi hosted on Tuesday has set the benchmark of mechanizing the entire Africa continent by 2025.
This comes as about 85 percent of farm activity in Africa is carried out manually – this includes ploughing, seeding and mowing.
Addressing the news conference at the day of the forum, Josefa Sacko, Africa Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture said agriculture mechanization will increase food production eradicating food crisis that most countries in Africa are into.
Sacko said it was the wish of the forum to set agenda that by 2025 the continent should be mechanization for food basket.
She assured the continent that the forum will provide necessary equipment to those having interest in agriculture business who might go through legal process to access the mechanization.
“Agriculture mechanization will reduce the burden of manual work. If they do not get these opportunities, they will continue to walk away. We want the entire continent to be mechanized by 2025”, says Sacko.
Echoing on the same, Malawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano said his country was ready to take the challenge on mechanization when opportunities rise.
The Malabo Montpellier Panel consists of 17 leading African and international experts working promote evidence and dialogue to help advance the African under the Malabo Declaration’s expanded Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
It is hosted by the West and Central African Office of the International Food Policy Research Institute, the University of Bonn and Imperial College London and is headquartered in Dakar Senegal.
It is co-chaired by Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director at IFPRI and Professor Joachim von Braun, Director, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn.
The Malabo Montpellier Forum provides a platform for decision makers at the highest level of government to review the evidence on progress that is being achieved on the ground towards meeting key agriculture and food security goals and exchange on lessons and strategies to foster positive change across all African countries. Meetings of the Forum are guided by the technical reports prepared by the members of the Malabo Montpellier Panel.
It is co-chaired by Saulos Klaus Chilima, Vice President of Malawi and Abdoulaye Bio Tchané, Minister of State for Planning and Development of the Republic of Benin.
The Consul General of Switzerland in Lagos says the Consulate will continue to strongly support sustainable organic sector development in Africa.
Yves Nicolet, Consul General, represented by Mrs Ngozi Anyanso said this at the 3rd National Organic Agriculture Business Summit, 2018 organised by the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in Nigeria in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture.
The summit’s theme is “Organic Agriculture: Abundant Opportunities for Health and Hospitality Businesses”.
He said the Consulate would support development that embraces holistic production systems, sustains the health of humans and the ecosystems and relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions.
“Switzerland is very concerned about healthy agricultural development that can be sufficient for the whole population.
“We are committed to supporting the implementation of the AU declaration on organic farming in Africa and the EOA initiative as a continental initiative supports farmers, practitioners and policy makers alike.
“This commitment extends to designing effective and efficient technologies, practices and strategies to improve welfare and livelihood in a healthy environment that contribute to food security and poverty alleviation.”
According to him, this continental initiative holds noticeable promise for increasing the productivity of Africa’s smallholder farms with consequent positive impacts on food security and ecological sustainability.
“We recognize the need for stronger partners with resilient institutional structures for EOA initiative to be mainstreamed by 2025 into national policies and programmes.
“We also encourage and acknowledge efforts and results achieved by Nigeria in engaging more partners in order to spread out EOA nationwide.”
Dr Olugbenga Adeoluwa, the Country Coordinator of EOA said that the overall goal of the EOA Action Plan was to mainstream ecological organic agriculture into national agricultural production systems by 2025.
Adeoluwa said that the aim of the summit was to improve collaboration among stakeholders and increase knowledge on organic agricultural practices, and to enhance the promotion of organic agricultural practices in Nigeria.
“Organic agriculture reduces cost of production in the long term due to non use of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides.
“Organic farming controls pests through the natural way called biological pest control, the procedure which utilizes living organisms to control pests rather than hazardous pesticides.
“It has higher nutritional value, and food free of unhealthy elements, organic fruits and vegetables, taste even better, and moreover, the shelve life of organic produce is longer than those from the conventional system.”
He said that research had discovered that organically produced meat processes better combination of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids good for heart conditions.
“It also helps lessen the greenhouse effect through the fact that it promotes the retention of carbon of the soil,” he said
We have always paid lip service to the issue of youth engagement in agriculture. The necessary information on how best to do this has been with government; but for inexplicable reasons, those in power have failed to act on several recommendations.
However, we will not keep quiet, we will keep reminding them. Like other aspects of human life, agriculture is not static. About 15 years ago, it was quite a feat for one hectare of land to produce seven tonnes of maize; but today, we are talking of 20 tonnes of the same produce within the same land area. At the time, a cow producing seven litres of milk per day over here is considered normal but now, people are talking about a single cow producing 250- 300 litres of milk per day. All these are products of good research. Research that will help farmers appreciate agriculture better must be given priority by those in government. Crops suffer from diseases just like human beings and most of the chemicals we use here to treat these diseases were prohibited in other climes about 15 years ago because they are not safe for humans.
We must reintroduce proper extension services to attract youths into coming in and remaining in agriculture. This is necessary because if scientists bring out the best research findings and such is not properly communicated to the farmers, the product of the research will amount to nothing. If you give farmers the best seedlings or livestock and they do not have the needed information to manage them, they won’t achieve optimal production.
We must also make good use of innovative technology which without doubt can attract and motivate our youths to come into and remain in agriculture which in most parts of the world today is a very lucrative business. We cannot run away from mechanisation be it in crop or livestock farming. The issue of funding is another area which must be looked into because agriculture is capital intensive. We should have a system where loans for agricultural purposes will not attract more than a single digit interest of say two to five percent. There must also be a deliberate policy to encourage value addition to curb the high rate of waste when farmers mass produce. Government must also address the issue of power and basic infrastructure such as roads and access to water and arable land for interested persons. •Prof. Clement Adeboye (Agronomy and Crop Physiology / Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), Osun State University)
The first thing the Federal Government should do is to make an arable expanse of prepared land available for our youths in the six geo-political zones. The land area must be such that is suitable for mechanised farming; it must be free from encumbrances. I will also suggest that the farm settlements be equipped with modern facilities. Access to the Internet, potable water, good roads and health facilities should be provided to encourage interested youths to remain, grow their crops and animals, raise their families and contribute meaningfully to the society. These settlements should be such that inhabitants can leave for the farm in the morning and return late in the afternoon or evening and have a place to rest, refresh and return to the farm the next day. People can also go there to buy fresh food, fruits and milk as the case may be.
If this happens, it will be possible for industries that need say maize to add value to their products either for local consumption or export to approach youths in these areas to produce to meet their specifications. That way, these youths may not even need to apply for loans to stay in business. •Segun Dasaolu (Chairman, South West Farmers’ Forum)
Sadly, agriculture which used to be the main stay of our economy is not what it used to be before. Our youths have not been trained to take over from the aging population of farmers. We have a growing population and unless we take agriculture seriously, we will have problems feeding ourselves in the near future. We can stimulate the interest of our youths in agriculture through modernisation of the system. First, since the attention now is more on formal education, we can integrate the practical side of agricultural studies into our regular school system in such a way that students will be involved in growing the food they eat in school.
We must also get local and state governments involved, they can help with the provision of farm implements and seedlings.
There is nothing wrong with schools owning poultry farms and other businesses that help to develop and promote the agricultural value change. When we are able to develop interest among schoolchildren, we can take it further to other levels of education. We can also stimulate interest of young people who have graduated from institutions of higher learning by providing incentives that will encourage them to embrace farming at a higher level. Government can also help by making policies that make farming and allied professions attractive. •Alhaji Tanko Yakasai (Elder statesman)
During my secondary school days at Government College, Umuahia, now in Abia State, we had a system where pupils were encouraged to go into agriculture. At the beginning of the farming session, they provided us with seedlings, tilled the land for us and gave us implement to work.
After the harvest season, they deducted their input costs and the profit was ours. If you adopt that method in today’s modern day, it will be good. Young people do not have the facility or infrastructure for farming. Government can come in by providing the land, seedlings, tilled the land and give them implements so that all the youths will have to do is to provide the human resources or their labour which is a great asset. After the farming, the government will now deduct the cost of their investments.
Even if you want to provide cash to them, provide all those things I mentioned earlier for them. A situation whereby they give loans for agriculture and money is diverted into other ventures may not be the best approach. Let us target agriculture. Let us go to the scene of the action.
Government should also provide tractors for them so that they can engage in mechanised agriculture. There is also the need for government to initiate and implement good and sustainable policies.
The former premier of the Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and also a prominent Igbo leader, Dr Michael Okpara, implemented farm settlement scheme. The government provided water, land and other infrastructure so the beneficiaries did not see themselves as being in the bush and that was a great attraction.
- Mr Truelove Njoku (An Ilorin-based agriculturist)
We need to boost mechanisation for our youths to embrace and remain in the agricultural sector. Mechanisation should commence from land clearing, modern farm equipment such as tractors should also be made readily available for interested young farmers; we should also have a system where a ready market is made available for what farmers produce. This will go a long way to encourage youths interested in farming. In order not to leave the burden for the Federal Government alone, states and local governments should also buy into this. It will not be out of place for government to provide start-ups with tokens to enable them stabilise on their farms. The provision of farm implements, inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and extension services will also be a good idea.
Youths who have graduated from universities or polytechnics can be encouraged to go into farming with the provision of these and other incentives. At the end of the day, the youths and their communities and by extension government at all levels will be the beneficiaries. There is also the issue of financing, it may not be in cash, it could be in kind. Farm inputs can be given out to them and a repayment arrangement can be worked out in such a way that they are made to repay after their harvests. Apart from some parts of northern Nigeria where we have open land; from Niger State coming down through Kwara to Lagos State, we have a big forest which will require bulldozers to clear and make available for farming.
The government should also take an interest in helping to market farm produce. We have been talking of anchors borrowers scheme, which the Federal Government is aware of, whatever investment you make in agriculture, there must be a ready buyer standing by. For years, they have been importing rice and maize, so today we can go into cultivation of rice and maize on our own. We can also do more in the area of value addition by increasing the number of our rice mills and similar services. •Mr. Olawale Ajibola (Kwara State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria)
Source : The punch Newspaper,