The Central Bank is seeking the cooperation of state governors in revamping the nations economy which has been described as fragile owing to the increasing numbers of unemployment and growing population.
speaking at a meeting with some state governors in Abuja,the governor of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele explains that addressing the twin problem of unemployment and population explosion can only be achieved through more investment in the nation’s agricultural sector.
Mr Emefiele appealed to the governors to key into CBN’s policy which is aimed at revamping the agricultural sector through the ten commodities of rice,maize, tomatoes, cotton,cassava,cocoa,palm oil,sorghum,millet yam rubber and the diary sector.
On their part, the governors pledged their support towards making the policy a reality.
Paris and four other French cities on Thursday banned the use of synthetic pesticides within their boundaries, as an anti-chemicals movement that began in the countryside gains momentum.
Lille in the north, Nantes in the west, Grenoble in the southeast and the central city of Clermont-Ferrand joined Paris in implementing the ban, citing the need to safeguard biodiversity and public health.
The move is mainly symbolic given that the 2017 law already bans the use of synthetic pesticides in public parks and spaces.
And since January, home gardeners countrywide have also been banned from using synthetic pesticides. They may use only those made with natural ingredients.
The few urban areas not included by the bans include green spaces managed by private property owners, such as in apartment blocks, or by companies such as state rail operator SNCF which use the controversial weedkiller glyphosate on train tracks.
Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne slammed Thursday’s announcement by the five cities — all of which are run by left-wing or Green opposition parties — as a “publicity stunt”.
President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government has proposed banning the use of pesticides to within 5-10 metres (15-35 feet) of residential areas — a proposal slammed by environmentalists as not going far enough.
The head of the Greens group in Lille city council, Stephane Baly, said the cities’ aim was “to make the government cave in”.
The current bans to not cover some 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of land in Paris, according to Penelope Komites, an MP of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s Socialist Party.
“We have to protect our city’s inhabitants,” she said.
France growing green
Dozens of small towns and villages, where houses abut fields, have already issued decrees cracking down on the use of chemical sprays.
The movement began in earnest in May 18 in the Brittany village of Langouet where a mayor banned the use of pesticides within 150 metres of a home or business.
A court later invalidated the ban, ruling that only the state has the power to ban pesticides for public health reasons.
But Mayor Daniel Cueff had by then already won legions of admirers, with villages and towns, from the Normandy town of Val-de-Reuil to the wealthy Paris suburb of Sceaux, following suit.
The bans reflect the growing concern among French citizens, particularly in rural areas, over the continued use of the weedkilling chemical glyphosate, found in herbicides such as Monsanto’s Roundup.
France is one of the EU’s heaviest users of the herbicide, which is widely used by farmers to spray crops even though the World Health Organization has described it as “probably carcinogenic”, a finding disputed by Monsanto.
The impact of chemical pollution has slowly risen up the political agenda in France as voters grow increasingly concerned about environmental degradation and climate change.
The issue is expected to be among voters’ top priorities when they go to the polls in local elections next year.
More than 821 million people suffered from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide last year, the United Nations reported Monday — the third year in a row that the number has risen.
After decades of decline, food insecurity began to increase in 2015 and reversing the trend is one of the 2030 targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
But getting to a world where no one is suffering from hunger by then remains an “immense challenge,” the report said.
“The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” was produced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other UN agencies including the World Health Organization.
“To safeguard food security and nutrition, it is critical to already have in place economic and social policies to counteract the effects of adverse economic cycles when they arrive, while avoiding cuts in essential services, such as health care and education, at all costs,” it said.
The authors said a “structural transformation” was needed to include the poorest people in the world, a move they said would require “integrating food security and nutrition concerns into poverty reduction efforts” while tackling gender inequality and the exclusion of certain social groups.
Malnutrition remains widespread in Africa, where around 20 percent of the population is affected, and in Asia where more than 12 of people experience it. In Latin America and the Caribbean, seven percent of people are affected.
Adding the number of people suffering from famine to those hit by food insecurity gives a total of more than two billion.
The FAO said current efforts were insufficient to meet the goal of halving the number of children whose growth is stunted by malnutrition by 2030.
Around 149 million children currently suffer from hunger-related growth delays.
At the same time, the report notes that obesity and excess weight are both on the rise in all regions, with school-age children and adults particularly affected.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says there is a need to invest in agriculture to take the nation out of poverty.
He made the recommendation on Thursday in Abuja while launching the Green Imperative, a project of the Federal Government in collaboration with the Brazilian government.
“Frankly, we believe we cannot bring our nation out of poverty, especially the large numbers of the poor without significant investments in agriculture and, of course, mechanised agriculture,” the Vice President was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Mr Laolu Akande.
He added, “But also because we know the sheer number of young people who are coming into our population in the next 10 – 15 years, will certainly not only need to be fed, but will also need to have jobs, and the sort of jobs that these young people will want will not be jobs requiring hoes and cutlasses.”
Professor Osinbajo noted that the young generation would need more dignified jobs while the government would be able to achieve more with mechanisation.
He stressed that the only way the nation can make the quantum leap required to advance its economy and provide the number of jobs needed was simply what the government was doing.
The Vice President highlighted the progress made so far, saying there would be a combination of service centres where technical capacity and training would take place.
According to him, the major dividends of all these are the hundreds of thousands of quality jobs that young men and women will be able to access.
“Today, we have made a significant difference in our journey, not just in self-sufficiency in food production, but also in creating the kinds of jobs that we could have from agriculture,” said Osinbajo.
“Also crucial is the fact that the private sector is an important component of this particular enterprise … we have ensured that this will be private sector driven and we have here today, both Nigerian and Brazilian investors committed to investing and working on this project.”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s dream of self-sufficiency in food production has moved closer to realisation, as the nation would be able to produce food for its people in the next couple of years.
The Vice President was also hopeful that there would be employment not just in agriculture, but in all of the agro-allied value chain and manufacturing.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report released on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has left some analysts concerned about some sectors, especially the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The report for Q2 2018 showed that GDP slowed, growing by 1.50% in the second quarter as against the 1.95% growth in the first quarter of 2018.
Chief Executive Officer Of Cowry Asset Management, Mr Johnson Chukwu, told Channels Television’s on Channels Television programme, Business Morning said although the GDP Q2 report shows positive growth, the key sectors, however, did not perform positively.
“Although the GDP grew positively by 1.95%, the sectors that should propel job creation and economic positive are not in the positive directory,” Chief Executive Officer of Cowry Asset Management, Mr Johnson Chukwu, said on Monday in an interview on Channels Television’s on Business Morning.
“Manufacturing sector compared to the first quarter had a major contraction in terms of growth rate,” he said.
Chukwu explained that although the agriculture sector is growing in Nigeria, it is also doing so at a much slower pace. The economist blamed this on the crisis in north-central Nigeria.
He said, “(The) Agricultural sector grew by only 1.19% in the second quarter. I have also said the impact of the crisis in the Northcentral will reflect on the GDP growth status. The Manufacturing sector accounts for 9.28 in the GDP. So these key sectors are not growing.”
Another analyst, Mr Rotimi Fakayejo said the figures from the report are not unexpected but show hope ahead, but, like Chukwu, he flagged the performance of the agriculture sector.
He also expects investors to be concerned about the performance, noting, however, that not many companies in the sector are listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
“I believe investors may not be able to miss out on the grey points of their investment in terms of what kind of returns they are going to get,” he said.
“So, I believe strongly that with the way it is now, the agricultural sector will draw the ire of investors and that is going to be a major focus.”
The GDP report released on Monday showed that the Agriculture sector – Crop Production, Livestock, Forestry and Fishing – contributed 18.78% to nominal GDP but the growth in the second quarter was lower than the rate recorded for the second quarter of 2017 (19.28%).
A former chairman of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Agric Sector), Mr Wale Oyekoya, believes the policies of the Federal Government has little or no effect on the average Nigerian.
The agricultural expert and farmer said this during his appearance on Sunrise Daily on Thursday.
“All these policies are not really trickling down or showing on the stomach of average Nigerians,” he said on the Channels Television breakfast show.
“Yes, there have been so many robust ideas by the Federal and state governments; but I’m here to be corrected if most of these farmers are really benefitting.”
Mr Oyekoya stressed that while the government has come up with various laws to reform the nation’s agricultural sector, there is a need to focus more on the implementation stage.
He cited the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS) initiated by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The expert claimed that less than 15 per cent of farmers benefited from the disbursement of billions of naira by the previous government under the programme.
He added that a part of the fund was benefitted by “political farmers” and more problems were surfacing as the present administration address the issue.
The farmer said, “Definitely, there have been so many policies and the problem has always been the implementation of most of these policies.
“See, it’s a game they play and it’s a bad time that we keep deceiving Nigerians in the process of achieving political points. An average Nigerian will tell you that there is a problem in this country in terms of food security.”
The agricultural expert also condemned a situation where the country still imports certain food, saying such is not good for its economy.
According to him, Nigeria is blessed with fertile soil and good atmosphere while the assertion that the nation is self-sufficient in rice production is a lie.
Mr Oyekoya accused some political leaders of supporting food importation because of greed and urged the government to come to the rescue of farmers in the country.
“We have no business importing any food into this country,” he insisted, saying, “We are doing that because of the greed of some of our leaders; because they capture some of these interventions and instead of them to spend the money here, they spend it elsewhere.”
The expert added, “Look at the price of maize today, do you believe that more than half of the maize we use in this country are still being imported? By the time you produce yours, there is no way you can compete with the importation of some of these things.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Jigawa State declared that Nigeria’s agricultural revolution is real and on course.
The President also assured Nigerians that his administration would sustain the positive momentum in the sector by implementing the right policies.
He gave the assurance an event to mark the commencement of the rehabilitation and expansion of the 6,000-hectare Hadejia Valley irrigation project in Jigawa.
President Buhari, who is in the state on a two-day working visit, promised that the government would provide the needed financial resources for people-oriented projects in the sector.
He was happy that the economic diversification and inclusive growth programmes of his administration were already yielding positive results, particularly in key food-producing states.
The President further applauded the World Bank’s assistance to the project, which when completed would increase water availability for all-season farming in Jigawa and beyond.
On his part, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said works on the first phase of the project which started in the early eighties during the administration of President Shehu Shagari and received some funding under the Petroleum Special Trust Fund had suffered frequent abandonment due to lack of funds.
Adamu, however, revealed that with N9.6 billion allocated under the $495 million World Bank-assisted Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project in five different irrigation locations in the country, the project would be completed by 2021.
“By the time the project is finished in three years, there would be about 6,000 hectares of farmland and the Jigawa State Government also plans to key into the project that will benefit over 25,000 farmers,” the Minister explained.
Following his arrival in Jigawa earlier in the day, President Buhari inaugurated the 42-kilometre Tasheguwa-Guri Road and the 32-kilometre Abunabo-Kadira-Guri road constructed by the state government to make the movement and evacuation of farm produce convenient for the people.
He also inaugurated the 250,000 solar-powered water supply scheme in the state.
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, the project is one out of nine of such projects which will add nine million litres to daily water supply in Dutse and its environs.
Scientists and experts in agriculture have converged on the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan to concretize efforts on ways to develop sustainable cassava seed systems in Nigeria.
This according to them, would enable them to solve problems of low productivity and improve the livelihood of farmers while ensuring food security.
Coordinator, Dr Hemant Nitturkar, in his address noted that the project (Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS), is aimed at setting up a sustainable system where improved seeds would be provided for farmers.
Nitturkar emphasized that it would benefit the full cassava seed value chain and ultimately Nigerian farmers, thereby enhancing their productivity and income.
According to him, the two-day annual meeting which took place from March 16-17, with the theme ‘Consolidation’ helps in developing a shared understanding of the cross-cutting dependencies among breeders, foundation and commercial seed producers.
He added that it also helps farmers agree on quantities of seed flows over the next three years.
Furthermore, he noted that it enhances and strengthens the key building blocks of seed system being developed in the project.
“Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava but the productivity is very low, Nigeria loses about N1trn yearly due to low productivity.
“We hope that this project that will last between 2016 and 2019 will address low cassava productivity issue,” he said.
Also speaking, the Director-General of National Agriculture Seeds Council, Dr Olusegun Ojo noted that the council would do its best to ensure that farmers get improved cassava seed varieties.
“The project is going on well since its inception in 2016; farmers are already excited with the contribution and provision of the seed council.
“All stakeholders in this project are working perfectly to ensure that the goal is achieved,” Ojo said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed satisfaction with the growing role of agriculture as a strategy for job creation among Nigerian youths.
While receiving the Foreign Minister of Tunisia Mr Boukekri Rmilli, at the State House in Abuja on Tuesday, President Buhari said his administration will increase its support for agriculture as a mechanism for jobs creation.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Tuesday.
“We are trying very hard to provide jobs, for our youths. We are investing heavily in agriculture.
“Following the uncertainty in the oil market and the huge unemployment situation in the country, we chose to put our fate in agriculture. I am glad that our young people are accepting agriculture instead of waiting for white-collar jobs. They are out there sweating it out in the sun, making a living. Agriculture is the way to go, even when we are realising this almost belatedly,” the President said.
He added that the administration recognises the progress Tunisia has made in agriculture, tourism and health, and will soon raise a team to visit the country to identify sectors in which the two countries can work together.
Furthermore, he expressed happiness with the resuscitation of the Nigeria – Tunisia Binational Commission which was attended by a large delegation of businessmen and prospective investors.
Mr Rmilli, who is also the leader of the delegation of businessmen, told the President that his country is anxious to grow trade relationships with Nigeria.
He also expressed satisfaction with the large number of local business men who turned up for the Nigeria – Tunisia Business Forum on Monday in Abuja.
Instead, he maintained that establishment of cattle colonies and ranches would go a long way in addressing the issue.
The minister is, however, aware of the criticism against his plan.
“It’s very nice to say ranches won’t work, they won’t work because they were not well managed. It’s not enough to cut out an area and say it’s a grazing reserve – grow the grass,” he said.
Ogbeh, who said he was widely insulted over his comments on the social media, noted that he had warned state governments to take proactive steps to prevent the ugly incidents.
He was, however, disappointed that the responses he got from a majority of the governors were not encouraging.
The Minister said: “Two years ago when I came into the Ministry, I wrote to all the state governors saying, ‘we face danger and this crisis can only get worse if we do nothing’.
“Can we have some lands in your state where we create large reserves of ranches to keep these cattle and give them the grass, the water, and the medication they need? Some replied positively, and some said no.”
He further accused the governors of being careless in addressing the crises and called for a reform in the management of livestock in the country.
Mr Ogbeh made the comments the same day lawmakers at the House of Representatives asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris.
The Federal Government has been under intense pressure over the killing of several people in Benue and Taraba among other states by suspected herdsmen.
As part of efforts to address the issues, the Nigerian Army has launched a new operation codenamed “Ayem Akpatuma”, meaning ‘Cat Race’ which would run from February 15 to March 31 in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states.