Post by colonial pikin on Jan 19, 2016 12:28:50 GMT
AfDB, Fed Govt in $300m loan deal
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Federal Government of Nigeria are planning for long-term solutions to youth employment in the agricultural sector. They will spend about US $300 million on the Enable Youth Empowerment Agribusiness Programme.
The project is to be implemented in partnership (AfDB with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) within 18 months. “AfDB’s Director of Agriculture and Agroindustry, Chiji Ojukwu disclosed this information, recently in a top level meeting with Nigeria’s agricultural authorities, in Abuja”, The Nation reported.
The scope and impact of this initiative would create 250,000 jobs; the beneficiaries would be trained at various incubation centres on all aspects of value chains, with each beneficiary of the project supported with about US $75,000.
Ojukwu said the three-year project would enable training and funding of young graduates, who are interested in farming across the country. “A total of US $300 million would be accessed to cover the three year project which would bring young graduates together and train them for 18 months as entrepreneur farmers.”
In a statement by the ministry’s Director of Information, Tony Ohaeri, the Agriculture Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh disclosed that the project would commence from the three Federal Universities of Agriculture in the country.
“The initiative would create 250,000 jobs; the beneficiaries would be trained at various incubation centres on all aspects of value chains, with each beneficiary of the project supported with about US $75,000. The project would cover the 36 states including the FCT, while the Agricultural transformation Agenda (ATA) would be expanded through the processing zones.”
The Minister, in his remark, emphasized the need for the three universities of agriculture in Umudike, Makurdi and Abeokuta respectively to revert back to the provisions of the Act that established them.
Ogbeh advised the country to re-invent her own economic strategy to revive its economy. He stated that the strength of a nation lies in the population of the youth and expressed concern on the rate of youth unemployment in the country saying, “We need to take care of them before they take care of us.”
He promised to collaborate with representatives of AfDB and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), who came to present him the concept note on the youth agriculture scheme.
However, the Minister tasked IITA to intensify efforts towards researching into the conversion of cassava leaves into animal feeds, while some components of the Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) of the ministry could be built into the youth empowerment initiative.
IITA Director-General, Nterayana Saginga, called for a change in the mindset of the young graduates, saying that the IITA’s experiment in the past on young unemployed graduates revealed that they could make good turn over on their investments. He pledged the readiness of IITA to provide necessary support to the ministry.
Post by colonial pikin on Jan 25, 2016 16:26:51 GMT
Cattle grazing: FG unveils plan for growing grass
The implementation of the Federal Government’s plan for a special grass cultivation programme across the nation as a means of stemming incessant clashes between farmers and normadic cattle herdsmen may begin soon.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, gave the hint when the he received the Surveyor-General of the Federation, Mr. Ebisintei Awudu.
Ogbeh said the resolve of government would improve agribusiness in the livestock sector by expanding it to include commercial production of grass in the southern part of the country to feed cattle.
According to him, it would bring to an end the roaming of the cattle-rearers and perennial conflicts between the pastoralists and crop farmers in different parts of the nation.
To this end, Ogbeh disclosed that some grasses that produced 28 per cent crude protein, taken from Africa to Brazil and which had been subjected to 16 years of research, would be brought in for use under this programme.
“By the end of April this year, the first grass supply may have arrived or could be on the way to the country.
“We are taking a radical step and we are beginning now. We are going to grow grass on a very large scale across the country,” he said.
The minister emphasised that the continued existence of cattle grazing and stock routes would continue to breed conflicts and deaths.
To reverse the untoward trends, Ogbeh stressed that cattle roaming had to end. “We just have to grow grass. The largest cattle ranch in the world is in Saudi Arabia with 153,000 cows, and the country sells milk to other gulf states. But they buy grass from Sudan and US, and are planning to buy more from Ethiopia.”
He noted that the north was not yet a desert, saying, “It is only arid.”
Besides, he said the north had many dams that could be used for irrigation and cultivation of grass, in addition to what would be done in the south.
“If certain countries sell grass to Saudi Arabia, there is no reason we cannot grow grass in Nigeria in the south and sell to the north of this country.”
While noting that the old grazing reserve system was no longer feasible as states were having problems with it, Ogbeh said if the grass programme was well implemented, Nigeria should have no roaming of cattle in another five years.
Meanwhile, the Surveyor-General of the Federation, Awudu, said that his office had mapped the entire country and had its satellite image at 2.5 metre resolution.
He said his office was ready to assist the Minsitry of Agriculture in survey and mapping of soils, placement of canals and other infrastructure, and site selection for animal husbandry.
On his part, a director in the office of the surveyor-general, Barde Jatau, who was also on the team, stressed the need for collaboration between the ministry and the office.
Jatau said, “The office had collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on geospatial imagery, which will play a key role in site selection for animal husbandry.”
‘Expose girl-child to opportunities in agro cultural-tourism’
A Fellow of the African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD) Lauretta Togonu Bickersteth has said there are opportunities for youths, especially the girl-child in the agro-tourim sector.
She spoke at he career fair, which has as theme Exposing the girl–child to career opportunities in hospitality, tourism and agriculture.
The event featured student participants drawn from Senior Secondary School class of St Louis Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
She said: “I am propelled by the need to nip in the bud the malaise of employment, which is ravaging the fold of employable but unemployed youths. I saw it as a mistake of the government, the parents and us as individuals of not looking inward enough at seeing the vast opportunities wasting away, particularly in the agro-tourism sector.
Resource persons at the fair included the Chief Executive Officer Mitimeth Achenyo Idachaba; Chief Executive Officer Bims’Life Gardens, Mrs Bimbola Okutinyang; Bimpe Alabi and Mrs O Oluwatoyin.
The government of Oyo State was represented by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and a Director from the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Each of the representatives praised the efforts of the organisers and emphasised the need for the students to tune their minds away from being employees to being employers.
The students, who filled the St. Louis Grammar School Hall to capacity, were not only attentive but participated actively as the methodology adopted included motivational forum which prepared their minds with documentary films and culinary demonstration of what are available and how it could be done.
These provided the students with a picture of what the resource persons were about to present which helped in the understanding of the issues at hand.
Bickersteth noted: ‘It is a collective mistake as we all look forward to bag a white collar job. Also, there has been absence of a concerted and earnest effort at exposing the students in secondary school to the reality of employment as it concerns white collar jobs and unveil where the opportunities are.’’
She said she was happy that the method employed at the fair has been effective as students are happy sharing experiences from those who have acquired numerous degrees but have never applied for work, but generate employment.
Bickersteth said: “I am, however, grateful to Bookstore, Tribune Newspapers, Inspiration FM, BCOS, Fresh FM, Fan Milk, Wavecrest College of Hospitality, Orisun School of Catering for the support and collaboration at making this event a reality.”
The Principal of the school, Mrs M. A. Ibitoye commended Bickersteth for “her sense of responsibility for bringing this eye-opening Career Fair to her alma mater. This is an immeasurable gift and a necessity, which should be hosted in all the secondary schools in Nigeria.”
To Duru Excellent, an SS3 pupil, who won the first prize in tourism essay, said: “This is an exceptional career talk and exercise. It has helped in shaping my vision and ambition in life. I am grateful to the organiser not because of the prize but because of what I have gained from this exercise. I hope this can be replicated in other schools.”
Another pupil, Asuquo Mary, said: “This is one of the best things that ever happened to me in my education journey. From the proceeding and interactive discussion by the resource persons, my mindset about job has been redefined and my mental creativity has been sharpened. Honestly, from today, there is no any idle holiday for me. I have an idea, which I have discovered from the discussions. I am going to make money but I will not reveal it now. I thank Lauretta Togonu Bickersteth who hosted this mental-sharpening career fair in my school.
Post by colonial pikin on Jan 31, 2016 13:59:08 GMT
Can Nigeria be self-sufficient in rice production by 2019?
To many stakeholders, plans by the current administration to make the country self-sufficient in rice production by 2019 though ambitious but doable given the right political will
Rice, yes good old rice is one staple food you can’t miss in any home. The reason of course, is not far to seek.
With an approximate annual demand of between 5 to 6.4 million metric tons a year, Nigeria ranks among the top 12 rice consuming countries in the world.
However, much of this consumption capacity is largely catered to by the importation of rice from other rice-producing countries. Nigeria is currently the second largest importer of rice in the world, and the largest net importer in Africa.
Nigeria spends an estimated N356 billion on importation of rice annually, the bulk of which comes from Thailand. Importers are now turning to India for supplies following the recent reentry of that country into the non-basmati rice trade.
But what if any, is responsible for the nation’s overdependence on import?
Olufemi Amoo, an agric economics offers a plausible explanation.
“The major reason the country is not yet sufficient in rice production is simply because the poor local production is not commensurate with the high consumption pattern,” he said.
Expatiating, he said: “For example, Dangote Industries, the largest rice producer in Nigeria, has a landholding of 100,000 hectares, which barely scrapes the tip of the iceberg of Nigeria’s rice needs – even if it is assumed that 9 tons of rice is produced by each hectare of land annually. This means that, although there is a clear deficiency in Nigeria’s rice-production regime, an opportunity in this problem can also be found.”
Under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the previous administration, tremendous achievement in rice production went beyond what could be wished away as millions of additional metric tons of food were added to local supplies and with rice experiencing a significant increase.
Although the Federal Government also increased the levy paid on imported rice ostensibly to curb importations with a view to outright ban in a few years, no effort was being made to encourage or develop local production just as the rice development fund was not being deployed anywhere.
But despite the positive effects of the backward integration policy, following the exit of Adesina as minister of the agric sector, the bureaucrats that took over from him drafted a new allocation that excluded rice producers, and only favoured rice millers. A situation, millers considered antithetical to their existence and which they reckoned could lead to a further decline in Nigeria’s domestic rice production capacity.
Buhari’s strategic plan for rice production
The present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that the nation’s quest for self-sufficiency in rice production will soon be realised going by the by the standard and quality of rice locally produced as well as level of commitment and vision demonstrated by local rice farmers and millers.
Thankfully, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has said Nigeria will be self-sufficient in rice production in three years if all hands are on deck.
The minister, who assured that the Federal Government was committed to ending the importation of rice and other agricultural products
“This can be made possible only if Nigerians must recognise that agriculture is no longer a seasonal but an all-year-round activity which must involve every Nigerian, both during the rainy and dry seasons.”
The minister lamented the fact that Nigeria was importing everything and denying employment to the over 100 million youth population.
“We are importing palm oil, groundnut oil, fish, and smuggling chicken poisoned with formaldehyde, among several others. Nigeria directly or indirectly has empowered foreign economies to take Nigeria hostage; and trying to free ourselves now is a tug of war,” he said. “Help us tell Nigerians that the time has come for all of us to get involved.”
Ogbeh expressed delight at the collapse of oil, saying it would allow Nigeria to focus on sustainable development.
Ogbeh said, “So we are going to go through some tough times, but the truth is we must learn to produce or perish; there is no half way out. We can’t keep shifting things around. Where are the jobs? Almost 100 million Nigerians are below 50; it’s a young society and when some of us talk about it, they say we are old and won’t be around, but on the other hand I have grandchildren and when I am gone, there will be pieces of me left and I do not want my country to perish because after I have lived my life and died, I want it to be better.”
Chief Ogbeh assured that there were to be no policy somersaults in the present government as they were committed to continuing with the E-Wallet /GES scheme, though he lamented the challenges of continuing fertilizer distribution as a result of failure of the states to meet up with the 25 per cent counterpart funding.
Private initiative to the rescue
One of the local companies that is giving hope to the government’s determined realisation of the self sufficiency in rice is Pearl Universal Impex Limited, a major importer of rice in the country that has now invested in local rice production and milling in Niger state.
The chairman of the company, Pulkit Jain, disclosed that the company has been a major importer of rice in the country with imports of 350,000 metric tonnes of rice annually in the past, but chose to invest in cultivation and milling of scientifically tested, high yielding varieties of rice in order to achieve the Federal Government’s target of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
He said to underline their commitment that the company in June this year started a pilot scheme to determine the variety of rice most suitable to the region at a 500 hectares of land in Saminaka, a community situated around Swashi Dam in Borgu local council.
The Pearl Universal Impex’s model, he explained , combines a commercial farm with a programme that works with nearby farmers, called out-growers, allowing the company greater control over its product while still leaving room to foster and train local small-scale farmers in rice production.
To this end, Jain revealed that $100million (N200bn) will be committed to the cultivation of 7,500 hectares of rice farm and construction of two rice mills in the state in the next three years.
He said the move was predicated on the successful rice yield of seven metric tonnes per hectare at the trial phase of the project, adding that the company will now move to another 2000 hectares of land for cultivation this December.
Jain added that the firm’s focus will be primarily on dry season farming as it was easier to manage, even as the company intends to grow rice three times a year on the land.
While pointing out that the equipment for the next phase of the project had already been shipped and would berth in the shores of Nigeria any time in January 2016, Jain explained that the company has not spared any effort in training the local farmers on the scientific method of cultivating rice in order to get a better yield, adding that at the moment, there were 100 workers in the company’s employ that have been well trained.
Speaking during a visit to the new Emir of Borgu, Mohammed Sanni, the company’s boss commended the new Emir for the harmonious relationship between the company and community. Jain informed the monarch that the local farmers using their leased land for farming purposes had never been forcefully ejected from the place, but that it was a deliberate policy of the company to employ and train them instead of out rightly asking them to give up the land whenever there was the need for the company to use more land for cultivation.
Jain said the company has challenges in the areas of access road to its farm and also the near- absence of network services for effective communication and the technical know-how of the community.
He therefore called on the government to intervene adding that a support from government in terms access to loans from banks like the Bank of Agriculture and the Bank of Industry (BoI) would greatly help to speed up development in the area.
Reacting, the new Emir of Borgu, Mohammed Sanni, urged the government to support rice farmers and millers in order to realise the value chain on the commodity, while commending the PJS for the project in his domain.
“Many firms came here and indicated interest in thought commitment. This PJS came and indicated stronger commitment and went into action immediately. We want the Government to support firms like PJS that goes out of their way to invest in agricultural backward integration policy. This place is very remote/far from the city which is more than six hours drive from Minna and PJS is ready to do business here,” the Emir noted with delight.
Alhaji Mohammed noted with joy that the villagers have benefited immensely from capacity building of the firm in term of knowledge, High tech in advanced rice farming and handling High tech machines.
“We will support the company to consolidate in growth. They will not regret coming this way.”
Like Pearl Universal Impex Limited, Rotimi Williams of Kereksuk Rice Farm, the second largest rice production company in country is also doing his bit to ensure that becomes more self-dependent in rice its domestic production capacity.
While commenting on what he described as the recent ‘rice revolution’ led by Nigeria’s former Minister for Agriculture and President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, Williams said the initiative allowed stakeholders in the farming process, from the rice producers to the millers, to benefit from the 2014/2015 rice allocation.
He is also convinced that the decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria to plug many of the leakages and loopholes that lead to decreased revenues in the country, especially ban of rice importers from accessing forex is indeed heartwarming.
This situation, according to Williams, is meant to encourage more investment and participation in the domestic production sector. Nevertheless, although such policies are helpful, Williams states that a more thorough understanding of the rice market would help Nigeria yield more in that sector.
“The issues of insufficient rice production in Nigeria cannot simply be narrowed down to rice importation,” Williams said. “But a failure to fully understand the rice value chain and address the issues that affect the value chain.”
He also holds the view and very strongly too that opportunities exists for Nigeria to take charge of its rice consumption capacity, reveals that if the CBN is willing to address the entire funding of the entire rice value chain, and not just ban the importation of rice, long-term sustainable systems can be formed that will contribute to Nigeria’s rice market and the economy in general.