Audu Ogbeh Advocates Research-Based Agriculture To Enhance Food Sufficiency

Killings: Why Ranching Remains The Best Solution – Agric Minister
Mr Audu Ogbeh

 

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has advocated for technology based agriculture as a means for sustainable food security and sufficiency for the nation’s growing population.

Ogbeh, at the 2019 Annual Research Review and Planning meeting held at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State, called on all stakeholders to support the Federal Government’s efforts towards re-positioning the agricultural sector.

The minister who was represented by the director Extension Services in the ministry, Dr Karima Babangida, stressed the need for the agricultural sector to truly become the nation’s ‘Green Alternative’ to Oil in promoting national economic growth .

The goal of every nation is to produce sufficient food to feed its populace in order to avert crisis or possibly export for revenue generation. However, Nigeria as the most populous black nation in the world, not only battling to sustain food sufficiency for its teeming population, but cannot export to other parts of the world.

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This annual Research Review and Planning meeting organized by the Institute for Agricultural Research is aimed at enabling farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector access the current technologies and information, to reduce farm drudgery and improve crop production.

This year’s forum with the theme : ‘ Harnessing the potentials of Agricultural Export in Nigeria; the role of key stakeholders’, is in tandem with the current drive by the present administration to re-position agriculture as a major alternative of revenue generation than over dependence on crude oil.

Deliberations at this forum are expected to focus on research accomplishments and crop improvement , which include maize, cowpea, cotton, beans, sorghum cultivation among others.

The representative of the Minister of Agriculture is of the suggestion for the National Agricultural Extension system to effectively support farmers to adopt global best practices in the cultivation of the various commodities to ensure high quality farm outputs.

The Minister maintains that the support of the present administration triggered a visible shift to eating what the country grows rather than eating imported food.

‘They Have Taken Us Hostage’: Agric Minister Decries Nigeria’s Rate Of Food Imports

The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, has decried the high rate of food importation in Nigeria and how local farmers are affected by the ‘annoying situation’.

Ogbeh, who spoke during a budget defence session at the National Assembly on Tuesday, lamented that the country imports almost everything, including commodities that can be produced in Nigeria, putting the nation’s development in jeopardy.

He said, “Let nobody take it lightly, these guys have seized this country’s economy, taken us hostage and they have no intentions of giving up. Because this is a huge and very sweet market and they have taken control.

“Every time you bring in a shipload of rice, you also bring in a shipload of unemployment, because you are transferring your wealth to sustain other economies. Somehow, Nigerians didn’t notice it, so we became a nation of importers.

“Toothpick costs us $18 million; tomato paste costs us $400 million to import. Meanwhile, a basket in town is less than N2000; the farmers are losing money because the processors don’t have enough funds to set up factories.”

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The Agric minister explained that the Muhammadu Buhari administration remains uncommon due to the hard stand on growing local production.

“This regime is unpopular because it is time to cut down imports and transfer wealth to our rural people,” he said.

“Two factories have started off and I believe by the middle of next year, we can comfortably tell importers of tomato paste to stop. But when you do, you make enemies.”

Insisting that it was important to change a situation where Nigerians prefer foreign commodities over domestically manufactured ones, Ogbeh stressed, however, that the mentality was really poor but capable of being changed.

He, “We import milk, sugar, toothpick, toothpaste, pencil, items we don’t make; Vegetable, lettuce, cabbage come from South America through Dubai and arrives here for sale.

“There are also Nigerian who would rather have the imported item if it is not imported, it is not right, it shows status, class, that they only eat imported things.”

“There are Nigerians who use their cell phones to import pizza from London. That’s where we are, and it’s a very annoying situation.”

“To cure Nigerians of that malady will take a while, a strong government and that is the truth.”

Buhari Condoles With Audu Ogbeh Over Brother’s Death

Buhari Condoles With Audu Ogbeh Over Brother’s Death
File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday commiserated with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, over the death of his younger brother, Clement Ogbeh.

The President sends his condolences to the immediate family, the Otukpa community of Benue State and friends of the deceased.

He prayed that God would comfort the family of the departed and grant his soul eternal rest.

Late Clement, who worked at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was buried on March 30.

President Buhari’s condolence was conveyed in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

Killings: Creation Of Grazing Routes ‘A Recipe For More Chaos’ – Ogbeh

Killings: Why Ranching Remains The Best Solution – Agric Minister
Mr Audu Ogbeh

 

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, has ruled out the creation of routes for open grazing as the solution to the clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria.

Speaking on the crisis during his appearance on a special Channels Television programme – The Core on Wednesday, Mr Ogbeh described such recommendation as “a recipe for more chaos”.

READ ALSO: Army Launches ‘Exercise Cat Race’ To Tackle Killings In Benue, Other States

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.

Nigeria Has Over 50million Hectares Of Land, Yet Imports Rice – Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh has lamented over the rate at which agricultural products are imported into the country saying that the Nigeria has a huge expanse of arable land.

Speaking at a convocation lecture organised by the University of  Agriculture Abeokuta (UNAAB) as part of its convocation ceremonies, Ogbeh said Nigeria largely depend on food imports which account for about $22 billion per annum.

“We have over 50 million hectares of land, we can’t grow our own rice, we can’t produce our sugar, we can’t produce our milk, we import apples, honey, fish and frozen chicken, the list is endless.”

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Ogbeh said this huge range of import will only contribute to poverty and unemployment rate in Nigeria.

“What we are doing is importing products, exporting dollars. Alongside the food that we are importing, we are importing unemployment and poverty into our country.”

He said for this situation not to get worse, universities of agriculture across the country must rise up to the challenges of providing the necessary impute in the areas of research and development  and to address the  shortcomings in food production

He also said the federal government is committed to providing the necessary environment to attract younger farmers to the system through modern ways of farming and agricultural businesses.

Passengers Applaud Timely Rehabilitation Of Abuja Airport

Passengers Applaud Timely Rehabilitation Of Abuja AirportDomestic flights have resumed operations into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, following the re-opening of the runway to traffic.

Passengers aboard a domestic flight expressed delight at being able to fly directly into the capital city, and applauded the timely rehabilitation of the facility.

They, however, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently consider the construction of a second runway for the airport, in addition to regular maintenance of the newly rehabilitated one.

Speaking to Channels Television, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, lauded the prompt decision of the government to rehabilitate the airport.

“We must thank the agencies: The Ministries of Transport, Aviation, Works, and other Nigerians who gave the support. The greatest thing is we thank God that we didn’t wait for a disaster to happen in Abuja before we took that decision,” he said.

The spokesman for the All Progressives Congress, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, also said: “The last couple of weeks have been quite challenging for some of us who fly quite frequently, the logistics of having to go to Kaduna and all that; but I think it has been managed quite effectively”.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, said the Abuja Airport had been certified to accommodate international and local flights, ahead of the date scheduled for its re-opening, April 19.

The Ethiopian Airline Airbus 8350 was the first major airline to land at the airport.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the efforts of key agencies on the successful completion of work on the runway of the airport.

He also thanked foreign airlines for their cooperation with the Nigerian Government during the period of the closure of the airport.

FG Trains 200,000 Youths In Agribusiness

FG To Train 200,000 Youths In AgribusinessThe Federal Government has commenced a training for 200,000 youths across 33 local governments in seven states on rice, sorghum and cassava production.

The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said this while launching the training at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Abuja.

According to him, over $170 million has been earmarked, of which $152 million would be loaned from the Africa Development Bank.

Mr Ogbeh said 120,000 jobs would be created and 20,000 metric tonnes of selected crops produced during the five-year agricultural programme on seed production.

The National Programme Coordinator of Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program, Haruna Akwashiki, highlighted some of the feats the programme recorded in 2016.

He said youth groups were trained while a total of 3,240 tons of rice seeds were produced for distribution to farmers in 2017.

Mr Akwashiki added that the training was replicated in the sorghum and cassava value chain.

Young people at the event noted that agriculture has become a significant force in economic transformation.

Through the chain of activities that add value to agricultural products, government says it will empower more youths to have their own businesses.

FEC Approves Funds To Boost Power, Agriculture Efficiency

FECThe Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved 701 billion Naira payment assurance for power generating companies in Nigeria.

The fund, kept by the Central Bank of Nigeria, is to enhance evacuation of power by the Transmission Company of Nigeria to the various power distribution companies in the country without wastage.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, briefed State House correspondents on the approval after the FEC meeting presided over by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osibabjo.

He said the guarantee is an instrument meant to resolve liquidity problems encountered by the power generating companies in payments to gas suppliers.

Also approved by FEC was the sum of 263 million Naira for the growing of gum arabic seedlings in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said the fund was approved to strengthen the capacity of Nigeria in producing the gum, as the country ranks second in the world behind Sudan.

He said $43 million was earned from the export of gum arabic in 2016, and that 17 states are involved in the gum’s cultivation across Nigeria.

Mr Ogbeh added that the FEC also approved the distribution of improved cassava stems to farmers in the southern part of the country.

The cassava stems, to be provided by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, are to improve Nigeria’s cultivation of cassava which is a primary source of ethanol and industrial starch production.

We Cannot Sustain Rice Importation, FG Says

Benue Reduces Rice Production Deficit By 1.5 Million Metric TonsThe Nigerian government says it can no longer sustain the importation of foreign rice which has continued to hamper the growth and development of the nation’s peasant farmers who are into local rice production.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, made the statement during a visit to the Ettem Amagu Rice Farm in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

The minister was accompanied by the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Rice Production, Governor Abubakar Bagudu, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele.

It was undertaken in a bid to ascertain the agricultural potentials in the state and explore possible partnerships.

The team was taken to the Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi to the Ekaeze Rice farm in Ivo Local Government Area, Ettem Amagu Rice Farm in Ikwo Local Government Area, Ikwo irrigation dam and the Abakaliki Rice Mill.

Governor Umahi while enumerating the efforts of his administration in the development of local rice production in the state, solicited for the efforts of the Federal Government and the CBN in improving agriculture and the value chain, noting that there is no way agriculture will develop without support.

He said that with the Rice Anchor Borrower Programme of the Central Bank, Nigeria would be positioned to be one of the rice growing nations in the world.

While addressing some group of local farmers at the Ettem Amagu Rice Farm, Mr Ogbeh disclosed that there had been tremendous pressure on the government to import rice in order to meet the demand for the commodity, but stressed that with the downturn in the nation’s foreign reserve the country cannot continue to import rice.

Rice-Production-in-Nigeria
Most rice farmers in Nigeria adopt crude ways of production

He said that President Buhari had issued a directive to the Ministry to focus on Agriculture especially rice production.

He said the country had huge potential to grow rice in commercial quantity.

“Each ship load of rice imported into the country displaces 12, 000 farmers from employment,” he said.

The minister insisted that it does not make any economic sense to continue to spend scarce foreign exchange resources on rice importation.

On his part, the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Rice Production said with the support of the Federal Government and the CBN through the Rice Anchor Borrower Programme of the Federal Government, which has brought about successful testimonies in Kebbi State, Nigeria would become one of the top nations in rice production.

However, the governor of the CBN said machines and financial support would be made available to farmers to help address challenges they face.

He, however, commended the Ebonyi State government for their commitment to encouraging local rice production and suggested a partnership between the CBN, Federal Government and the Ebonyi State Government’s in rice production.

Mr Emefiele said the partnership could produce 400,000 metric tonnes of rice per cropping season, amounting to almost a million metric tonnes a year to be actualised.

The Federal Government has expressed high hopes that the Anchor Borrower Programme would lift thousands of small farmers out of poverty and generate millions of jobs for unemployed Nigerians as well as make Nigeria a top rice production country.

Ebonyi State is one of the most agrarian in all states in Nigeria and made up predominantly of farmers, with savanna and semi-tropical vegetation. Its major agricultural potentials is in the local production of the famous Abakaliki rice which has made the state so popular and a commercial hub.

President Buhari Meets With Dogara, Nigerien Speaker

Muhammadu Buhari,Yakubu Dogara, Ousseini TinniPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday held a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the Nigerien counterpart, Ousseini Tinni.

The meeting, which was held behind closed doors, took place in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, inside the President’s office at the Aso Villa and lasted for about an hour.

Speaker Dogara and his partner refused to brief State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting.

The lawmakers insisted that it was a private visit.

The meeting is coming hours after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a document road map, outlining the policies and objectives it has for food sufficiency in Nigeria.

The Council also approved the takeover of two federal roads in Kaduna metropolis by the state government for rehabilitation, as requested by the Kaduna State government.

FG Flags Off 2016 Cashew Expansion Programme

cashewThe Federal Government has commenced the planting of 2,000 cashew seedlings to kick start the 2016 cashew planting season and Cashew Expansion Programme in Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.

The Federal Government commenced the programme in line with its goal of reviving the agriculture sector and creating jobs for the youths,

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, who flagged off the programme in Ogudu Village in Ife, Osun State said the government is determined to build the future of Nigeria by reviving cashew farming to make it earn more foreign exchange.

The Minister assured that the government will roll out two million cashew seedlings annually to sustain the programme.

Speakers at the event harped on the need for all to return to the farm especially the youths to help revive the sector as well as provide and create jobs for the unemployed.

Governor Rauf Aregbesola and others spoke about the health and financial benefits derivable from planting cashew should be the driving force to sustain the programme.

Mr Ogbeh re-affirmed the readiness of the Buhari – led administration to improve the lives of Nigerians through agriculture.

He assured that a cocoa and banana plantation programme will also be unveiled very soon .

‎The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, while speaking blamed the nation’s ailing economy on the total abandonment of agriculture, stressing that agriculture remains the largest employer of labour in the world.

The cashew plant is expected to begin to yield it’s fruits three years from now.

The event was graced by several traditional rulers, officials of the Bank of Industry and the Bank of Agriculture‎ and a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Agric Minister Recommends Arrest Of Herdsmen Carrying Arms

herdsmen, Audu OgbehThe Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, has asked security agencies to arrest herdsmen who move about with guns while grazing their cattle.

The Minister says the arrest of such individuals who violate the nation’s law regarding possession of arms and ammunition will be a short term solution to the recent killings by suspected herdsmen.

Mr Audu Ogbe was speaking at a prayer session at the National Christian Centre in Abuja, organized by Idoma indigents from Benue State.

Natives of Agatu in Benue State, where a recent massacre occurred, had gathered to pray for their departed relatives.

From the north to the south, recent killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen continue to generate debates by various groups, asking the government to act.

An estimated 800 persons were reported killed by the attacks in Agatu in Benue State and Nimbo community in Enugu State in the two recent attacks by suspected herdsmen.

Aside from the prayer session, the group also asked government to identify those responsible for the killings and also rebuild the affected communities.

At a separate briefing, a group from the eastern part of Nigeria also asked the federal government to stop further killings by herdsmen in the region.