The Imo state government has resolved to establish an Agriculture Park in the six local government areas in Imo North Senatorial District, in a bid to foster a development of the sector and ensure adequate food security.
This move was disclosed by Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu representing Imo North Senatorial District.
He stated that since the Federal Government has promised to accord agriculture a top priority, the Agriculture Park will definitely address unemployment, facilitate employment opportunities in various agricultural entreprises for youths and rural dwellers as well as improve the economy.
Speaking to newsmen after a tour of designated sites provided for the take-off, Uwajimogu also disclosed that the Agriculture Parks would be located in Izunomi, Ihitte-uboma, Nzerem/Ikpem, Ehime Mbano and Umuluwo-Owerri, and Onuimo Area Councils.
He added that the first phase of the agriculture intervention would include the immediate clearing of the over 1,000 hectares of farm land, creation of access roads to the farms, soil testing and treatments, digging of mud holes for fishery, construction of new dams for irrigation farming, as well as, resuscitation of non-functional dams, among others.
According to the Senator, “The priority of this government is in agriculture and basically to provide job opportunities and create food security, especially in this period of recession.
“Agriculture is the way out, we have to think less of the oil and focus our energy on agriculture.
“The importance of this agricultural park in this zone definitely cannot be overemphasized”.
He revealed that there would be provision of take-off loans, improved seedlings, fingerlings, pesticides and modern farm implements that can help cultivate large expanse of land, while also pledging to enhance the productivity of the farmers through training programs, as well as facilitate the installation of fish drying plants, oil mills and cassava processing plants.
The Senator also stated the intention of the Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture to site two “40 tonne capacity” rice mills in the Federal Constituency with the aim of enhancing production and creating a viable market for finished agricultural produce.
He then stressed the need to support government at all levels and private organisations with empowerment programs aimed at creating food sufficiency and employment opportunities through agriculture.
According to him, the ability for rural dwellers to engage in productive agricultural activities has great social and economic benefits for the economy of the zone.
He then concluded by saying that he is aiming to achieve an on-farm apprenticeship system where young people will receive practical, on-the-job agro business training, learn skills in areas which include agricultural tool-making, feed making, farming and gain experience in managing small-scale agricultural enterprises.
Nigeria’s ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo has urged the federal government to show stronger support for farmers and build stronger institutions to end hunger in the country by 2030.
He made the recommendation while speaking on the newly developed Zero Hunger strategic review report that the federal government would need to address the reality of increasing hunger among Nigerians by 2030.
The sixty page document, which was launched in Abuja to facilitate food security, reflects Nigerians’ perspectives on effective ways to halve the number of impoverished people.
In the last few years, Nigeria has developed a reputation for evolving bold ideas to boost agriculture in the country, many of which have ended as mere paper talk.
But according to Chief Obasanjo, the latest is not just another government initiative but one that would involve intense monitoring of states to ensure rapid productivity in agriculture.
The former president also listed other important areas as recommended in the Zero Hunger Strategic Review Report.
Working with the private sector to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, and find effective ways to beat poverty and malnutrition, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said the country stands to lose over 5 million children to malnutrition in the northeast.
The promoters say the Zero Hunger road map, which has four states as pilot to monitor agricultural productivity, will be intensely monitored every six months.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, has endorsed the ban on the sale of foreign rice in Ebonyi State, with a view to encouraging local production, as the Nation strives towards rice self-sufficiency.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbe, gave the government’s position over the weekend.
He assured farmers in the state that the Federal Government would deploy agricultural equipment, including rice harvesters, threshers, and parboiling drums, to the state to encourage rice farming.
Mr Ogbe, however, asked youths to key into the initiative in order to diversify the economy.
Since recession hit Africa’s largest economy, there has been an upsurge in the cost of the staple food from about 12,000 Naira per bag of rice to over double that amount.
As a way of seeking solutions to the recession, the Federal Government as well as several economic analysts, have suggested a ban on the importation of products which the nation’s farmers can produce, though not in sufficient quantity.
The increase in prices has pushed many to resort to smuggling of rice to be able to sell cheaper to Nigerians.
Just last week, a tanker was intercepted by the Ogun State Area Command of the Customs.
Twenty-five other vehicles, loaded with smuggled bags of rice, were also intercepted along the land borders in some parts of Ogun State.
With the Federal Government’s intervention and full support in the area of local rice production, it is expected that the menace will be curbed while there would be increased supply of rice at subsidized rates.
The Nigerian government has started the process of revitalising the River Basin Development Authorities to tackle the challenges of food insecurity and environmental degradation.
There are also hopes that reviving the River Basin Development Authorities would further add impetus to the economy of the oil-rich nation that is already in recession.
The process began with the flag off of a Graduate Farmers Employment Scheme (GFES) at the Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority in Agbala, Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State.
Addressing the some trainees enrolled in the scheme, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, lamented that the River Basin Development Authorities had over the years abandoned its core mandate of supporting agricultural development.
He said that the flag-off of the GFES was another milestone in revitalising the River Basins.
Production Of Improved Varieties
According to him, 5,450 graduates across the 109 Senatorial zones of the country would be trained and empowered to set up their various agricultural ventures.
He said that the scheme would guarantee food production and provide opportunities for the graduates to be meaningfully engaged and become employers of labour.
“The scheme will be a continuous process and 50 graduates will be selected from each of the 109 Senatorial zones across the country and the beneficiaries would be empowered to set up their own agricultural ventures.
“The idea is to revitalise the River Basins and ensure that they would effectively perform the mandate for which they were established.
“The River Basin Development Authorities will no longer be involved in road building or construction of schools or markets but it will henceforth carry out its mandate,” he told the gathering.
In his address, the Managing Director of the Anambra Imo Basin Development Authority, Mr Patrick Okereafor, recalled that the Authority had in the past implemented similar programme when it commissioned about 42 Agricultural projects in the southeast.
He explained that the projects were used as seed multiplication centres for the production of improved varieties and forestry products for research institutes which were distributed to farmers in order to increase output.
Mr Okoreafor, however, noted that “the change in Government in 1985 and the enactment of Decree No 35 of 1987 saw the agricultural functions of the River Basin Development Authorities exorcised from the original functions and all the Agricultural farms were tagged non-water project”
The Managing Director commended the FG for taking measures to revitalise the River Basin Development Authorities.
According to the Act that established the River Basin Development Authorities, they are to undertake comprehensive development of both surface and underground water resources for multipurpose use with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of floods and erosion and for watershed management.
They are also established to construct, operate and maintain dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems, and other works necessary for the achievement of the Authority’s functions and hand over all lands to be cultivated under the irrigation scheme to the farmers; supply water from the Authority’s completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by the Authority concerned, with the approval of the Minister and construct, operate and maintain infrastructural services such as roads and bridges linking project sites: provided that such infrastructural services are included and form an integral part of the list of approved projects.
Another function is to develop and keep up-to-date a comprehensive water resources master plan identifying all water resources requirements in the Authority’s area of operation, through adequate collection and collation of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the River Basin.
Revitalising the agency is part of the government’s efforts to diversify the nation’s economy, with substantial engagement in agriculture which was the mainstay of the nation’s economy before the discovery of crude oil.
The Nigerian government has raised concerns about the negative effects of climate change, which it says is posing serious threat to food security, especially in developing nations, including Nigeria.
According to the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Heineken Lokpobiri, the government is poised to tackle the menace as part of steps aimed at ensuring food production.
The Minister made the remark at a forum to mark the 2016 World Food Day in Abuja.
The focus of the event was how to mitigate the effects of climate change on food production.
Prior to the Minister’s speech, the country’s representative for the International Funds for Agricultural Development, Mr Mohammed Lawal drew attention to how recent flooding in some parts of Nigeria has affected farmers.
The Chairman of the House of Reps Committee on Agriculture, also explained some intervention that mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
He said that the House has created a committee dedicated to look at issues that concern climate change.
Then the Minister of State for Agriculture reaffirmed government’s determination to tackle climate change.
“In line with global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emission, the President on September 22, 2016 signed the Paris Agreement, which essentially seeks to reduce global warming to below 2%,” he said.
The Federal Government has flagged off the Rice Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Imo State, to provide farmers with credit facility made available by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The programme was launched on Sunday at the Imo State International Conference Centre in Owerri, the state’s capital in southeast Nigeria.
Governor Rochas Okorocha explained that the aim was to provide food and guarantee food security in the country.
He added that the development was also targeted at empowering the teeming unemployed youths and create the much needed dividends of democracy to the people.
Governor Okorocha called on the people of the state, especially farmers to support the programme, which he described as a “laudable gesture by the CBN”.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace agriculture as Nigeria battles with recession, disclosing that the sum of nine billion Naira has been earmarked to support farmers in the state for the programme.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources in the state, Udo Aguoha, also highlighted the benefits of the programme.
The event was witness by the Kebbi State Governor, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu and representatives from the CBN led by the Head of Development Finance, Mrs Nkechi Osuji.
Mrs Osuji revealed that Kebbi State government had already gotten access to 20 billion Naira credit facility on the programme.
With the support, she expressed hope that the state government would harvest at least one million tonnes of locally made rice by the end of 2016.
Governor Bagudu, on his part, corroborated Osuji’s disclosure.
He commended the Federal Government for the intervention programme, saying it would help to cushion the effect of the economic recession in Nigeria.
The Rice Anchor Borrowers’ programme is an initiative of the Federal Government through the CBN and its primary aim is to provide credit facilities to rice farmers.
It is targeted at encouraging local production, reduce rice importation as well as providing food and job security for the citizenry.
The presidency in Nigeria has again said it will continue to hold a memory of Goodluck Jonathan administration’s mistakes to guard against repeating them.
It said the mistakes led to a glide of the nation’s economy into recession.
The presidency also enumerated efforts the current administration is making to reflate the nation’s economy that is in recession.
A spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Friday, said that while the government was doing its best to revive the economy, a fiery memory of the past must be kept to ensure that the mistakes of the past were not repeated.
Episodes From Jonathan’s Era
Mr Shehu said: “The future must of necessity be built on the foundations of the past.
“The Conservative Party took power in Britain six years ago from Labour. Check the British press, they are talking about Labour 24/7, is anyone complaining?
“People are still talking about who ran governments in 1865 (and) you want us to forget those who left government last year?”
“To avoid repeating the past mistakes, Nigerians must come to terms with what went wrong with the past, how bad were things, what was done wrongly, what the past government should have done, before we come to what needs to be done to right those wrongs.
“Believe me, episodes from the Jonathan era can fill books, and other possibilities such as courtroom drama thriller”.
One of the mistakes of the past which the presidency said must be avoided was what it called failure to save when crude oil price was high.
Mr Shehu pointed out that Nigeria “solely relied on oil, the price of which was as high as $140 per barrel. Government simply reticulated oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries.
“This was done rather than investing in what would grow the economy”.
According to him, the development broke the nation’s economy, reminding Nigerians that “just as they do the broken leg, you must bear the pain of fixing it.
“The current situation was caused by years of mismanagement and corruption”.
On what the current administration is doing to address the economic recession, the spokesman for President Buhari said the government was making efforts to recover stolen funds, reduce cost of governance and increase spending on capital projects.
“Today, the current civilian administration is investigating military finance and accounts which the military could not do to themselves.
“The current administration is sanitising the huge salary bill by eliminating payroll fraud. So far, the federal payroll has been rid of about 40,000 ghost workers. More than eight billion Naira stolen monthly has been saved.
“We are also saving on wasteful expenses like First Class Travel and Private jets for official trips.
“The Federal Government is not limiting the reforms to the centre but forcing State Governments to reform their spending and build savings or investments.
“Government is also increasing spending on capital projects especially on infrastructure needed to make Nigerian businesses competitive and create jobs.
“The administration is at the same time blocking leakages that allowed government revenues to be siphoned into private hands,” the presidency said.
Mr Shehu said that the government was also focusing on key sectors (apart from oil) that could create jobs and generate revenue such as Agriculture, Solid Minerals and Manufacturing.
Economic Policy Of Present Administration
Responding to critics’ comments on the economic policy of the present administration, which they said was unclear, Mr Shehu claimed that “more than any other time before, there is a clear direction and strategy for achieving growth and development.
“Revisionists may not agree, but the truth of the matter is that the previous administration only had one issue, which was how to spend money (oil revenues and borrowed money). As mentioned earlier this spending was focussed on the wrong things and even though the economy seemed to be growing it was not sustainable, it was, as described by Minister Adeosun, a classic “boom and bust” driven solely by the oil price.
“Unemployment was and remained high (never forget the NIS jobs that exploited thousands of desperate graduates in a scam that was used to fund house purchases in high brow areas and claimed so many lives).
“Inequalities were growing (our then President boasted about the highest number of private jets when most Nigerians could barely afford to eat). Terrorism and social unrest were growing. Real development was lacking. As soon as the oil price fell, these vulnerabilities were exposed.
“From its records so far, this administration is trying to reset the Nigerian economy and ensure that it attains its potential and is diverse and resilient. We are doing this at a time when the global economy is in crisis due to the oil price collapse. Even rich nations like Saudi Arabia are experiencing problems
“The Government is people-focussed and wants the economy to grow in a way that will create a more stable future which is not dictated by world oil prices (over which we have no control). No more boom and bust (thanks Minister Adeosun).
“Nigeria wants to take responsibility for its own destiny, therefore our policies will ensure that Nigeria returns to growth in a sustainable manner. No more dependence on oil. Every part of Nigeria has a role to play in contributing to our growth. We will create an environment where people can thrive and where business can grow,” he highlighted.
Re-orientation Of Agencies
Reeling out further strategies of the government to revive the economy, the presidency spokesman said all relevant agencies had been reoriented to focus government’s spending on infrastructure which will create jobs and opportunities for Nigerians across a number of sectors (not just oil), ensure that the nation reduces reliance on oil by developing other revenue streams such as taxes, efficient customs collections and other government revenues and develop key sectors in which we have comparative advantage.
Other strategies he said were to encourage development of agriculture to ensure food security for our huge population, develop petro-chemical industry on the back of the oil industry, develop solid mineral extraction and develop light manufacturing to provide locally made basic needs and reduce importation. Emphasising the current government’s drive to tackle corruption, Mr Shehu stated that the current pain Nigerians are facing is due to the mismanagement of the past. What Nigeria is currently experiencing was inevitable. How Past Deceit Caused High Food Price
Part of the pain that Nigerians are feeling is the high cost of food items , a development that the president’s spokesman in his statement said was also caused by past deceit.
“For example, the previous government purchased fertiliser in 2014, worth 65 billion Naira and left the bill unpaid.
“In 2015 the suppliers could not supply fertiliser which resulted in a low harvest, shortages and high food prices.
“This government had to pay off the debt so that the suppliers could begin to supply fertiliser again.
“Across Nigeria a green revolution is occurring as Nigerians are going back to the farms, from rice in Kebbi and Ebonyi to Soya and Sesame in Jigawa and Kano.
“At the same time Nigerians are looking inwards to identify commercial opportunities from agri-businesses,” the statement read.
He further urged Nigerians to endure the pains of the economic recession, saying that “any process that will endure, must involve some pain but things will begin to improve.
“There is always a time lag between policy and effect. That is why the bad effects of past policies are manifesting now, he said assuring Nigerians that the positive impact of the work being undertaken to fix Nigeria’s problems would soon begin to show.
“We will emerge from this period stronger, wiser and more prosperous.
“There is hope for Nigeria, a hope that was previously clouded by corruption, greed and lack of focus.
“Nigeria is starting over and everyone has a role to play. Look back, look ahead,” he added.
The Nigerian government has established a National Rice and Wheat Task Force to set up targets that will yield comprehensible and self-evident results in rice and wheat production.
At the inauguration of the Task Force on Tuesday Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said: “What we are trying to achieve is that agriculture is our main stay and we are trying to evolve a strategy for our economy, a strategy for employment and a strategy for feeding our people”.
Professor Osinbajo said that feeding the nation’s population was the focus of the Buhari administration.
“Rice and wheat is our main focus, and making sure that in one year we can show the world that we are serious,” he stressed.
Emphasising on the need to develop strategies to rejuvenate the whole value chain, he gave terms of reference to the panel.
The panel is to set up production targets for rice and wheat in the participating states, determine the scope and particulars for government support needed towards the attainment of the set targets and consider and proffer the best off-take and marketing arrangements that will encourage maximum effort among farmers and millers.
They are to also determine the rice and wheat value chain deficiencies and recommend solutions for addressing them, mobilise farmers and millers in identified target states to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and other available support facilities and establish timelines for the delivery of goals set by the Task Force.
After the Vice President listed the terms, the Chairman of the Task Force and Governor of Kebbi State, Mr Atiku Bagudu, thanked the Vice President for the consideration and stated that the disconnect between farmers and millers must be addressed.
He added that the two bodies in the value chain needed to be mobilised for maximum results.
A statement by a spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said members of the task force include Governors of Kebbi State Senator Abubakar A. Bagugu, Dr. A. U. Ganduje of Kano State, and Mr David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
Others are the Minister of State for Agriculture, Lokpobiri Heineken, the President of Rice Farmers Association, Mr Aminu Goronyo and the President Wheat Farmers Association, Saliu Mohammed.
Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, says his administration is ready to revolutionise the state’s agricultural sector and its value added chains so as to create employment and reduce poverty
The governor’s declaration is part of plans to improve Ogun State’s economic base towards food sufficiency and security.
Governor Amosun made the promise while playing host to the Country’s Programme Manager, Value Added Chains of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mrs Atsuko Toda, at his office in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital in South-west Nigeria.
While assuring farmers in the state of better years ahead, the governor also expressed readiness to partner with IFAD in agricultural development.
Director of Research and Statistics, Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, Dele Olugbebi, decried that, many initiatives introduced by the government at all levels, the sector is yet to find its level.
He emphasised that over 90% of local farmers still depend on traditional means of production and poor marketing.
Despite putting other incentives in place for farmers in the state by the government, Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, Segun Dasaolu, urged the government to do more.
The State government in conjunction with IFAD is expected to empower about 1,500 farmers and provide cluster processing centres for selected agricultural produce.
Abia state government has launched three projects, which include grants to agro based cooperatives, conditional cash transfer to the indigents and vulnerable as well as the village health workers conditional grant scheme.
The state government says this is in line with presidential initiatives on millennium development goals.
According to the State governor, Theodore Orji, the initiative is expected to enhance economic development of the rural areas, increase food security and alleviate poverty as well as create employment opportunities.
While presenting cheques to beneficiaries, he noted that the state is committed to achieving all the MDGs programne and hinted that the launch of the projects would also ensure food sufficiency, reduce crimes and provide social amenities in the rural areas.
Village health workers who were the first set of beneficiaries received cheques, medical kits and a monthly pay of 15,000 naira while 500,00 naira was given to the agro based cooperatives. A sum of 50,000 naira conditional cash transfer and a phone was given out to less privileged.
A total of 2,200 people benefited from the conditional cash transfer aimed at achieving MDG1 and MDG4, while the village health workers conditional grant would improve service delivery in health facilities in rural areas.
The agro based cooperatives grant is geared towards efforts to achieve national food security.
President Goodluck Jonathan has led other Nigerian delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to host the rest of the world’s delegates to an “Evening of Good Cheers” with the Nigerian Community.
The event which had most of the guests wearing the Nigerian green-white-green scarf to commemorate the country’s centenary, had in attendance, presidents of nations, business leaders, civil society and other delegates in attendance.
Nigerian Billionaire and Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, while introducing the Nigerian President, referred to him as the “President of the private sector and the masses” because he had been “delivering on democratic dividends and is also laying the foundation on which a lot of Nigerians have benefitted from, which is called economic revolution.”
President Jonathan in his welcome address thanked the guests for taking time out to be at the evening of fun and high end networking.
He also expressed his excitement about the opportunity to host the global gathering of the world’s business and government leaders in Abuja, Nigeria, from May 7 – 9, 2014 for the World Economic Forum Africa.
He noted that the event would present the country with the opportunity to show its economic potentials to the business world, and to tell the world that Nigeria and indeed Africa is open for business.
While reminding them of Nigeria’s status as one of the most attractive business resorts and also one of the fastest growing economies in the world, he also acknowledged the opportunity that the May 2014 event provides Nigeria to showcase its rich culture and tourism potentials.
Referring to the gathering as one of “authentic Nigerian experience”, he declared, “Nigeria is proud to be your host on this special night of ‘Ariya’ and good cheers.”
The Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab, and his wife, Hilde Schwab, were present at the event.
The federal government has again reaffirmed her commitment to address issues relating to water and food scarcity and other forms of civil unrest arising from water conflicts.
Minister of water resources, Miss Sarah Ochekpe who said this in Abuja at the inauguration of the governing board of UNESCO category two regional centre for Integrated River Basin Management stressed the need for river basin organisations to engage in increased capacity building.
While giving her address, Miss Ochekpe advised members of the board to ensure the immediate implementation of the aims of the regional centre for integrated river basin management just as she pledged the federal government’s commitment to provide a take-off fund for the operation of the centre situated in Kaduna.