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.

CBN To Ease Access To Funds For SMEs

Godwin-Emefiele-Governor-of-Central-Bank-NigeriaThe Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to streamline logistics and mechanisms to ease access to funds for the development of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs).

The Governor of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who announced the plan on Tuesday, said that of the 220 billion Naira earmarked for the sector in 2014 only about 80 billion Naira had been accessed so far.

He gave the update during the fact finding mission of the Presidential Task Force on Agricultural Commodity and Production led by the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu.

Also at the meeting was the Governor of Ogun State, Mr Ibikunle Amosun, who asked for more funds for cooperative societies in the agricultural sector to grow the state’s economy.

Earlier, the task force was taken round some of the farms in the state, where the farmers laid bare their demands, with access to financing topping their list.

The coordinator of Eriwe Fish Farm Village, Professor Olanipekun Alausa, spoke on behalf of some fish farmers in the state before they moved from farm to farm in Ijebu Ode, Kotopo Greenhouse Farm in Abeokuta and Eweje Farm Settlement.

The task force members were conducted round the farms where the CBN governor assured the farmers of easy access to SMEs funds.

The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, also reeled out some of the plans of the Federal Government for the sector for cooperative societies in the state.

Findings by this task force is expected to form the fulcrum for the extended Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Federal Government for the state.

Nigeria To Make Agriculture Arrow Head Of Economic Development

Agriculture in Nigeria The Nigerian government has announced plans to revive and reposition agriculture as the arrow head of the nation’s economic development.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told a gathering in Abuja on Monday that the government would recapitalise the Bank of Agriculture before the end of 2016.

He added that the government would lend at a single digit rate to its citizens.

Professor Osinbajo announced the plans at the public presentation of the Green Alternative Promotion Policy in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Economic Recession

In attendance with some ministers, the Vice President told the gathering that it had become necessary than ever to revive the sector owing largely to an economic recession.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, says that Nigeria was now number three in the export of cocoa, behind Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Before the discovery of crude oil, Nigeria relied solely on agriculture for its revenue and was Africa’s major cocoa exporter.

The official launch of the green alternative was projected to refocus the economy and make Nigeria food self-sufficient.

In 1960, agriculture contributed 60% to the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product but had since fallen to 23% in 2016.

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.

US Urges Nigeria To Increase Funding For Agriculture

Agriculture, US, NigeriaThe United States has urged Nigeria to increase funding of the agriculture sector to end poverty and build greater capacity.

The Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr Michael Harvey, made the appeal on Monday at a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and state representatives at the US embassy in Abuja.

Mr Harvey identified lack of capital and research among other challenges as a major hindrance to job creation and development in the sector.

He said that the neglect of the agriculture sector has given rise to hunger, poverty and a huge population of youths struggling to find jobs.

The US official expressed worry at the challenge faced by the American government in seeking to intensify partnership to assist the sector to be economically productive under the Feed the Future initiative.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, on his part commended the support of the US towards improving the sector.

He also hinted that the Federal Government would launch an agriculture fund to improve investment.

Kaduna Lawmakers Reject Creation Of Grazing Reserve

Grazing reserveAs the debate continues on government’s plan to create grazing reserves around the country, federal lawmakers from the southern part of Kaduna State say they are against the policy.

Speaking to journalists in the National Assembly, the group made up of one Senator and five members of the House of Representatives, said the move is ill-advised and they believe the move is not a sustainable solution to the recurring attacks.

The lawmakers advised the Kaduna State Government to encourage herdsmen to acquire land and establish ranches in pursuit of their endeavours.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, had suggested grazing reserve as a solution the herdsmen crisis, adding that it will create room for better livestock as well as greater yield of milk, which will cut out the 1.3 billion dollar spent annually on importation of milk to Nigeria.

He also said government has no plans to forcefully acquire any land for the proposed National Grazing Reserves in the country.

The Minister said the Ministry of Agriculture will work with federal lawmakers to fine tune the bill and also make necessary input.

Mr Ogbeh also noted that 50, 000 hectares of land have already been volunteered by 11 northern state governments .

The states that volunteered the 11, 000-hectare land are Plateau, Jigawa, Gombe, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Taraba, Niger and the FCT.


House Summons Agriculture Minister Over Genetically Modified Foods

House of Representatives, Audu Ogbeh, FoodsLawmakers in the House of Representatives have summoned the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, in a bid to address concerns being raised over the importation of genetically modified foods into Nigeria.

The summon followed a motion raised by a member of the House from Imo State, Rep. Austin Ikechukwu, on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The legislators asked the Minister to appear before them over the issuance of permits to a company, Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited, to introduce some of the foods into the Nigerian market.

The House Committees on Healthcare Services and Agriculture Products have been mandated to also meet with the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The committees are to get a list of food supplements and genetically modified foods that have been granted NAFDAC registration numbers and have 12 weeks to report back to the House.

FG Calls For Suggestions On Proposed Grazing Reserves

Audu-Ogbeh-FertiliserThe Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbe, has called for suggestions as well as criticisms from Nigerians especially those in the livestock sector, on the proposed National Grazing Reserves, to help the federal government increase the country’s livestock and diary production in the near future.

The Minister said Nigeria has no excuse to becoming self-sufficient in diary production and livestock as well as a net exporter when countries like Kenya, India and New Zealand have achieved similar feats with Uganda ranking 3rd largest diary milk producer in Africa with barely 30 million in population.

He said grazing reserve is a solution the herdsmen crisis and create room for better livestock as well as greater yield of milk which will cut out the 1.3 billion dollar spent annually on importation of milk to Nigeria.

Mr Ogbeh was speaking during a Africa Business Round Table, which brings together policy makers, private sector, commercial and development banks.

The round table also seeks to set an agenda for commercializing livestock and dairy products value chain in Nigeria through production upscale.

The Minister said the plan to set up a national grazing reserve continues as the first step towards arresting the crisis threatening to shoot out from that sector which has been abandoned over the years.

13 states have so far pledged 5000 hectares of land each and more support is expected even as calls go out for greater engagement with Nigerians and cattle breeders to ensure complete buy in to the plan.

Experts however believe that some things must be put in place first, such as a Ranching Policy to regulate the operations of the ranchers and cattle breeders to guard against future environmental degradation among other things.

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.

Agric Minister Suggests Two Year Timeline To End Cattle Grazing

Audu-Ogbeh--Agric-Minister- economyThe Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, has suggested a two year time line to put an end to cattle grazing in Nigeria .

This is part of the position put forward by the Minister when he appeared before the House of Representatives as part of the inaugural sectoral debates on the economy.

The Minister said there is no better way of resolving the ongoing crisis between herdsmen and farmers in the country.

The Lawmakers then put some questions to the Minister, with most of the questions focusing on the herdsmen/farmers conflict and when Nigerians should expect it to be resolved.

The Minister also encouraged the House to also look at the possibility of reviewing the Local Government system.

He said rural development is key to the development of the country, and the local government must function for that to happen.