How Improved Seeds Can Boost Nigeria’s Food-sufficiency Drive

Agriculture-in-Nigeria-and-farmingThe availability and effective use of improved seeds are the most important requirements for the success of crop productivity and achievement of food security in any nation.

While the Nigerian government has continued to push for diversification of the nation’s economy through agriculture and other untapped sectors, the need to ensure that farmers [both large scale and small scale] get improved seeds that will increase yield is equally vital.

Boost Crop Productivity

According to the Director General of the National Agricultural Seeds Council, Dr. Olusegun Ojo, Nigeria can only become less import dependent when Nigerian farmers adopt the use of improved seeds.

Addressing a meeting in Abuja over the weekend, Dr. Ojo said that while the nation’s economy is in recession, farmers could leverage on improved seeds to boost crop productivity, create jobs and improve their income.

If there is any time the nation needs to grow its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it is now. The nation’s GDP had contracted in the second quarter by 2.06%, according to a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

This drop had officially dragged the nation’s economy that is largely dependent on crude oil sales into recession, the worst that has been witnessed in over two decades.

Rice-Production-in-Nigeria
Rice farmers in most communities lack processing facilities, forcing them to rely on crude processes

The economic recession has resulted in the loss of jobs, poor return on investment and less activities in the socio-economic sector, but agriculture experts believe that now is the time to embrace the use of high quality seeds to improve the quality of agricultural produce by farmers.

Agriculture that the government is pushing for more involvement of young Nigerians that are without jobs, due to high rate of unemployment, is only contributing 24.18%, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

This percentage is relatively low for a nation that had sustained its economy with agriculture prior to the discovery of crude oil.

The National Agricultural Seeds Council, however, believes that the tide could turn, if farmers would embrace the use of improved seeds.

It says crop yield will increase, thereby boosting the economy with its income generation capacity while creating jobs for seed producers and distributors.

Seed Tracking System

Nigeria is blessed with arable land that could help lift its people out of poverty, but despite the huge potential improved seeds hold for crop yield, its distribution systems in Nigeria is poorly developed.

While the Council is promoting improved seeds usage, the challenge for small scale farmers, which are more in Nigeria, is that they cannot afford the cost of the high yielding seeds which usually comes in large quantity.

Agriculture-tomato-farming
Small scale farmers lack funding needed to procure improved seeds which come in large packs more than what they actually need

They need small amount of such seeds to plant but they are not usually available in such small amount, a situation that should be addressed.

To improve distribution of improved seedlings, Dr. Ojo said the council was looking at a seed tracking system.

The latest technology would be deployed first in the tracking of cassava seeds. He says it will help in checking the spread of fake cassava seeds that do not yield much.

On the part of the government, an Anchor Borrowers Programme has been launched under the control of the Central Bank of Nigeria, aimed at providing farmers with credit facility. This targets youths’ involvement in farming to reduce unemployment rate.

The programme has been launched in different states, but how accessible the programme is will be seen in the contribution of agriculture to the nation’s GDP in the next few quarters’ report.

While the gains of adopting the use of improved seeds in Nigeria is also said to be key in boosting food production and making Nigeria less import dependent, it remains to be seen if Nigerian farmers will key into this lofty idea in the interest of the nation’s socio-economic development.

Agriculture Remains Our High Priority – Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari and Hoang Ngoc Ho on Agriculture development President Muhammadu Buhari says agriculture remains his administration’s high priority for creation of jobs, economic revival  and attainment of food self-sufficiency in Nigeria.

He said that his government would continue to accord agriculture premium importance through programmes and initiatives designed to motivate the citizens to produce enough food to feed the nation.

Active Involvement In Sector

At a farewell meeting held at the State House on Tuesday with the out-going Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr Hoang Ngoc Ho, President Buhari said the high profile of agriculture in the priorities of his administration was primarily to achieve food self-sufficiency, economic revival and jobs creation.

“We are hoping to motivate fellow Nigerians to work hard in this regard.

“We will continue to work closely with other countries to reorient Nigerians towards their active involvement in the sector.

“We believe that the impressive agricultural developmental strides achieved by countries such as Vietnam, especially after the 1975 war, will be replicated here,” the President said.

President Buhari’s spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, in a statement said the President congratulated Vietnam for choosing the correct priorities that have led the country to feed itself and feed the world.

“Your country deserves to be congratulated on this achievement”, the President told the Ambassador.

Ambassador Ho expressed satisfaction with the growth the bilateral relations between his country and Nigeria recorded during his tenure, citing especially the cooperation with several Nigerian states in the area of agriculture which was producing excellent results.

He said his country was ready to play a big part in the economic diversification schemes of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Anambra Targets Top Spot In Rice Production

ICOAST-AGRICULTURE-RICEThe Anambra State government says it is increasing efforts to close the gap in Nigeria’s rice production and emerging as the third largest producer of rice in the nation making efforts to shift its revenue source away from crude oil sales. 

It is another season of rice planting and the state government is assessing farms in Anaku, Ayamelum and Nnewi South Local Government Areas of Anambra State.

At least 800 out of 2,500 hectares of land given to an investing farm and being run under a Public-Private Partnership involving the Anambra State government and the investor have been cultivated.

The farm production target is 5,000 metric tonnes this year, as against 3,000 metric tonnes produced last year.

Arriving Anaku in Ayamelum Local Government area of the state, the Governor was heartily received by the traditional ruler of the Anaku and some government functionaries.

The itinerary of the Governor of the State, Mr Willie Obiano, began with the inspection of the 1.9 kilometre road where earthwork had been done up to seventy per cent.

The road is part of the equity contribution of the State government towards the partnership which would make for easy movement in and out of the farm.

The General Manager of the farm, who conducted the Governor around said the seeding commenced on the May 23 and that harvest would be in October, with 4,000 metric tonnes of rice expected.

The Governor expressed satisfaction with both the road construction and the rice farm, observing that the technology used in the farm was advanced and computerised.

He spelt out the certainty that rice production in the state would significantly be boosted.

From Anaku, the Governor moved to Stine Rice Mill in Amichi Nnewi South Local Government Area, where Anambra rice is processed and bagged, Governor Obiano expressed delight at the growth of the mill within a short period of time especially with the “Best Rice Brand in Africa” award won with Anambra rice.

The operations of the mill had been reinvigorated through a loan provided by the Anambra Small Business Agency and it presently mills approximately nine thousand bags of rice a day.

The Managing Director of the Mill who took the Governor on facility tour of the plant acknowledged that the agricultural revolutionary policy of the Governor had given a boost to rice production in the state.

The Commissioner for Agriculture also remarked that the mill had become the biggest in West Africa by virtue of its production capacity.

Governor Obiano expressed joy that the paddy used for production in the mill was sourced 100 per cent from farms across the state and announced that the increased yield expected from rice farms across the state through his administration’s intervention would ensure the state was headed for sufficiency in rice production.

He also believes that the development will bridge the gap in consumption.

Governor Obiano further directed that construction of the Umunwehi Road leading to the milling plant be kick started immediately.

Nigeria Commits To Zero Hunger By 2030

AgricultureGlobal Partners, major stakeholders in the Sustainable Development Goal agenda on Friday began intense deliberation on ways of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 in Nigeria and the African continent.

To this end, high powered committees have been set up with precise terms of reference and timeline for deliverables in all ministries necessary to stamp out hunger in Nigeria.

The chairman of the strategic group, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while briefing journalists at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (ITA) in Ibadan explained that the achievement of Zero Hunger by 2030 must be done with sincere commitment from all concerned.

Mr Obasanjo added that the lessons of the success and failure of Millennium Development Goals would go a long way in helping the group key to the pedestal already created by United Nations target of Zero Hunger by 2025.

He stressed further that all key ministries – health, education, agriculture and relevant parastatal – have target specific goals that must be achieved through renewed commitment and leveraging on established protocols of international agencies committed to Zero Hunger programmes globally.

Abia State Begins ‘Return To Farm Programme’ With Oil Palm Plantations

Oil-Palm plantation in Abia StateThe Abia State Government has commenced the ‘Return to Farm Programme’ with a plan to plant 7.5 million oil palm trees in three years.

The state plans to re-direct organic farming with focus on large scale commercial quantity.

According to the Commissioner for Agriculture, Uzo Azubike, the idea is to plant crops that are acceptable globally.

“This is why the state is embarking on massive plantation of palm trees across all the local government areas.

“The communities will be co-owners, thereby creating wealth, reducing unemployment and encourage Abians to grow edible plants,” he said.

Mr Azubike said that steps had been taken to restore school farm system in every public schools.

He further stated that the agricultural development programme would ensure that all the old trees planted in the 60s were replanted.

The Commissioner also told reporters that some of the Cashew plantations in the state had been leased out to private investors to make room for government to focus more on the crops that would bring in the estimated huge Internally Generated Revenue for the state.

Ogun Govt. To Benefit From $104million Loan From IFAD

ogun stateThe Ogun State Government says it has paid its counterpart fund in order to benefit from a $104.4 million loan agreement between the Federal Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

This is towards developing the agriculture sector for food security and employment generation,especially through rice and cassava production and its value chains in the state.

The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun, made the disclosure in Abeokuta, the state capital, during the inauguration of the state steering committee.

The committee is saddled with the responsibility of giving direction to the programme’s management unit, as stated in the project document.

Addressing members of the steering committee, the Commissioner asked them to make their experiences to bear on the effective oversight and monitoring of funds to be disbursed.

Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Taraba are currently being listed among beneficiary states and Ogun State remains the only state in the South-western part of the nation to benefit from the loan scheme.

Imo State To Create 12,000 Jobs In 2 Years Through Agriculture

agricultureThe Imo State Government has promised to create over 12,000 jobs for its unemployed youths within the next two years through agriculture.

The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, disclosed this in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, after a 4-day business trip to Turkey.

Leading a delegation of businessmen from the state and some other top government functionaries, the Governor said that cardinal in his industrialization plan for Imo State, is to develop agriculture as a viable alternative to oil.

“It is necessary at this point to think more of agriculture as the mainstay of the economy which can serve as the only alternative to oil which keeps falling in value every day”, the governor said.

The Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Honourable Acho Ihim, who was also part of the delegation, said lawmakers in the state have put in place relevant laws that will be suitable for investors to partner with the state government in her industrialization programmes.

Some other top government functionaries and Imo businessmen, who were also on the delegation, commended the Okorocha-led administration for the initiative of partnering with Turkey to industrialize the state and create more jobs for unemployed youths in the state, especially through the development of sustainable agricultural programme in all the communities of the state.

With a population of a little above 77 million as at December 2014, the agricultural sector of Turkey has been the largest employer of labour.

According to recent publication by IMF and the Economist, Turkey has become one of the few countries in the world that is self-sufficient in terms of food and also one of the largest producer and exporter of agricultural products in Europe and around the world.

Nigeria Targets 75 billion Naira Non-oil Revenue

AgricultureThe Nigerian government says it has set a target of 75 billion Naira, as revenues to be generated from the non-oil sector in 2015.

 

At a meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, said a target of 75 billion Naira had been set, as revenues to be generated from the non oil sector, excluding revenues from the Nigeria Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

According to him, the target  excludes revenues from the Nigeria Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

He said that the target would further show the government’s commitment to diversifying the nations economy through revenue generation from the non-oil sector.

Ambassador Yuguda said that the alternative sources of revenue would help shore up the nations economic base in the face of the dwindling price of oil at the‎ international market.

Some of the areas that the government would be focusing on is Agriculture and manufacturing.

The Nigerian government has been making efforts to diversify its economy, exploring agriculture, which was the mainstay of the country’s economy before crude oil was discovered.

 

 

Nigeria Is Few Years Away From Ending Rice Importation – Adesina

Cassava BreadNigeria is few years away from ending the importation of rice, a government official has said.

At a leadership forum at the University of Oxford, England, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, said that “Nigeria’s future and that of the rest of Africa, lies in rural development through agriculture”.

Domestic rice production for Nigeria, if effectively realised, could change the fortune of local farmers and create the much needed jobs for the nation’s teeming youth population.

It was an engaging moment on Saturday with emerging African scholars and leaders from the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship at the Said Business School in Oxford University, England.

Dr Adesina shared with the group milestones in Nigeria’s bold policies and institutional reforms aimed at transforming the agriculture sector into a revenue and job spinning sector.

He stressed the need for Africa to focus on innovative mobilisation of its land and labour capital as a means of achieving inclusive growth. He urged the future leaders to champion this cause.

Low human capacity development amidst infrastructural deficits is a shared challenge across Africa.

The scholars at the forum, looking to reshape Africa’s economic future, agreed that a rising GDP does little for actual poverty eradication.

Nigeria’s Federal Government has a target of creating millions of jobs from agriculture by 2015, four months from now.

Part of this includes changing the general perception about agriculture as an unfashionable means of livelihood to a business venture that could create more jobs for Nigerians.

Bank Says 53 Billion Naira Loan To Farmers In 2012 Yielded Results

The Bank of Industry in Nigeria says it disbursed a total of 53 billion Naira (about 331.3 million dollars) as loans to the agribusiness value chain in 2012, as part of measures to boost agriculture.

The chairman of the shareholders committee of the Bank of Industry, Mr Mohammed Dikwa, gave the figure while presenting a review of the success and challenges of the 2012 financial year at the bank’s annual general meeting held in Abuja on Friday.

Mr Dikwa said another 333 million Naira was disbursed to the creative industry, making the bank achieve a 70 per cent improvement in the quality of its risk assets.

The chairman of the shareholders committee listed major interventions carried out by the bank in the agriculture sector, small and medium enterprise sector and the film industry.

Aside from the 70 per cent recorded improvement in the quality of risk assets, the bank created over one million jobs in 2012 up from 150,000 in 2011.

The bank officials promised not to relent in boosting the businesses of entrepreneurs in 2013.

“You know you can only lend money to those who can repay.  One of the things is that if a banker feels that you don’t have access to market, no matter how good your product is, it is very difficult to sell it in the local community where there is limited economic activity.  So, we are trying to work with the Nigerian Youth Service Core to ensure that most of the agriculture produce coming out from rural areas can be transported to urban areas where they are needed to stimulate economic growth in the rural area,” the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Evelyn Oputu, said .

With the feat recorded by the bank of industry especially in the area the provision of loans to owners of small and medium businesses, it is expected that the bank’s intervention will result in the socio-economic transformation of the country.

#WEF14: Africa Holds Solution To Global Food Problem – Adesina

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the African continent holds the major solution to global food problem.

At the world Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Adesina told Channels Television on Thursday that bulk of the land available for farming around the world was in Africa.

“The issue of global food security is very important. Nine billion people need to be fed by 2050 and there is no doubt in my mind that that requires that we significantly increase agricultural productivity.

“But if you look at where the land really is, most of the land is not in the United States, it is not in South Asia or anywhere in the world. It is in Africa and a bulk of it is in Nigeria.

“We have 84 million hectares of land,” the minister said.

Agriculture As Business

He said that he would continue to push for the optimisation of the level of land in Nigeria to enable the country raise productivity with modern technology.

“Africa and in particular, Nigeria, is going to be part of the major solution to global food problem and that requires that we change our approach to Agriculture – Agriculture as a development activity and agriculture as a business.

“And that is what has been happening throughout this world economic forum and it is resonating because it is only when you grow wealth that you can get lots of people out of poverty.

“When you don’t do that, you just normalise everybody over poverty.

“Poverty is not an industry you can’t trade in it and Nigeria and other African countries got to change that,” he said.

The minister also pointed out that women would be carried along in the process, as women form the bulk of the farming population not just in Nigeria but in other African countries.

“As far as the women are concerned, we need to be quite radical when it comes to this issue.

“But when you look at access to finance and access to information, you find that the women don’t have that much to do it,” Mr Adesina explained.

He said that the Electronic Wallet Scheme has been put in place to address these issues.

The scheme was rolled out to ensure that fertilizers and seed get to its end users under the Nigerian government’s Growth Enhancement Support Scheme. It also provides farmers with necessary information that will aid them in their farming activities. It involves the use of the mobile phone to send electronic vouchers to farmers, reaching them directly.

Nigeria Must Sustain Economy Diversification Policies – Economist

Sustaining Nigeria’s economy diversification policies is important to ensure a reversal of the nation’s dwindling revenue, an economist has said.

Mr Bayo Durodola, on Tuesday, said that the fact that the Nigerian government was facing challenges in its revenue should constitute a major concern for an average Nigerian.

Revenues generated in Nigeria has been dwindling and the government had attributed it to oil theft.

An average of 87 per cent of the revenue generated in Nigeria comes from crude oil sales.

Mr Durodola also said that the dwindling revenue is affecting, directly, the fiscal sustainability of the economy.

“The public sector contributes an estimated 26 to 30 per cent of the value addition per annum to the nation’s economy.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria statistics suggest that about 17 per cent of revenue loss come directly from losses in oil revenue.

“Losses from non-oil, especially from customs is also 17 per cent,” he explained.

Mr Durodola pointed out that the government was also losing money to the activities of smugglers, which has been on the increase since the government announced some policies that would reduce importation of goods into the country.

The economist pointed out that the government had good policies that would ensure that the economy was diversified.

He said that the backward integration and self-sustainability policy of the government was affecting the country’s ability to generate customs’ revenue.

The Next World Power

“The Agriculture Transformation Agenda of the government is one policy of the government  that is yielding results,” he said.

“The policies are affecting the amount of revenue generated from customs, as some of the goods that are no longer imported into the country because of the policies are heavily smuggled into the country,” he said, urging Nigerians to be patient as the nation was going through the ‘J’ curve.

“The policies at the moment will have negative impact on the purchasing power of Nigerians but after a while, when the policies have taken full force on the economy, there will be improvements, he said.

The Nigerian government recently initiated a new automobile import tariff plan aimed at boosting the nation’s automobile industry.

The government is also looking at banning the importation of rice by 2015 to boost the production of rice in the country.

The policies are beginning to yield positive impact as the country has been listed among countries considered as the next world powers.