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Many policies, less impact

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Many policies, less impact

2017 is a very interesting year for Nigeria’s agric sector, which was geared towards rejuvenating the economy. It was, however, marred with lots of controversies and was less impactful. TAIWO HASSAN reports in retrospect

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari had emphasised while assuming office as the President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria Army Forces that Nigeria is still an agrigarian economy where agriculture should form the larger bulk of the country’s revenue generation
This perhaps informed why the year 2017 was an historic period for the country’s agricultural sector as it once again received special attention from the Federal Government in its bid to diversify the economy into non-oil sector.
Consequently, all eyes were on agriculture in 2017 with various decisions taken, policy statements released, Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed, programmes launched and committees setup at various time as part of efforts to revive the sector and make it a major revenue generating segment of the Nigerian economy.

Floating of rice mills
One of the major events in 2017 was the establishment of many rice mills in the country. This is in line with the administration’s determination to create wealth and employment, ensure food security and sustain livelihood in the country.
The rice mills, according to the Federal Government, were meant for the domestic market in order to embrace self-sufficiency.
One of the turning points in the floating of this year’s rice mills was the participation of private sector operators in revolutionizing the country’s agricultural value chain.
Indeed, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari has justified that Nigeria is a net exporter of rice in the continent.
Basically, it has opened more opportunities for states, rice merchants and farmers to embrace investment in rice production, which is ideal for the country’s growth and development.
Since the commencement of the CBN ABP, Nigeria’s investments in rice production has been growing rapidly, thus the quest to establish more rice mills has become imperative.
In addition, the floating of these rice mills factories has further re-echoed the resolve of the Federal Government to leverage on agriculture to grow the economy and create jobs.

FG’s Home-Grown School Feeding
Controversy however, trailed the establishment of the National Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) by the Present Muhammadu Buhari-led government in 2017.
The school feeding programme also played a key role in the year under review as we saw the expansion of the programme to other states nationwide, apart from the identified states for the pilot scheme.
Ideally, the Federal Government’s HGSF programme was designed to improve Nigerian children’s standards of living especially school pupils, but inadequate funding resulted to the late kick-off of the programme and this attracted lots of criticism among agric stakeholders.
During the year, the Presidency, in a statement issued by the spokesman to Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, Laolu Akande, gave breakdown of the total number of meals served so far in the piloted states.
However, as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to extend the school feeding programme to other states, the Presidency also revealed that Delta and Abia states had been captured in the HGSF programme.

Yam rejection saga
Again, one of the key events in 2017 was the embarrassing news that Nigerian yam exports to the United States and United Kingdom were rejected at the point of entry at the ports.
This issue was greeted with mixed reactions among agric stakeholders. This, once again, showed the true state of the Nigerian agricultural produce export market, especially as it relates to yam produce.
Particularly, on June 29, Nigeria began to export yams to Europe and the United States, as part of the moves to diversify her oil-dependent economy and earn the much-needed foreign exchange so as to compliment the effect of the crude oil crash at the international market.
The initial purpose of the yam programme was to earn foreign exchange in the region of $10 billion annually over the next four years by the Federal Government.
Beyond all these arguments, nothing can be more embarrassing than getting to know that 72 tonnes of yam that left the shore of Nigeria through Apapa port to United States last June were also rejected.

GMO beans
The issue surrounding the sudden acceptance of Genetically Modified Organic (GMO) almost let the roof opening in the year under review as mass protests and criticism trailed the news of the approval of GMO beans by the National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA).
Controversially, the GMO beans acceptance in Nigeria divided the country’s agric sector into two schools of thought; as there were some category of researchers, scientists, farmers and academicians rooting for GMOs, while others were against it because of its harmful effect to Nigerians.
Like a storm that rocked the boats on the ocean, Nigerians were alarmed to hear that the Federal Government, through the NBMA, had concluded plans to introduce GMO beans (Bt Cowpea) into the market for consumption.
Amid the GMO beans (Bt Cowpea) news, a section of Nigerian academicians called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to wade into the matter urgently in order to stop the GMO beans (Bt cowpea) take-off.
Speaking at an agric forum on GMOs in Lagos, the Chairman, Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), Dr Philip Njemanze, revealed that government, through the NBMA, should apply caution over its intention to roll-out GMO beans (Bt Cowpea) into the Nigerian market, despite its certification and ratification as food consumption for Nigerians.
He explained that the work on the Nigerian GMO beans (Bt Cowpea) was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a $4,000,000 grant through the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), which had already identified the Nigerian market as the hub for the consumption of the GMO beans.
According to him, millions of Nigerians eat beans and the foreign biotechnology companies have long wanted to gain access to the production of this local staple food in Nigeria.

Maize imports saga
Another critical event that shaped 2017 was the Federal Government’s refusal to ban maize importation into the country and, this was marred with wide spread protests and criticism among agric stakeholders.
Besides, the Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society urged the Federal Government to urgently set a time line to ban the importation of maize into the country.
The group also raised the alarm that non-refusal of the Federal Government to stop the importation of maize would lead to mass job losses among Nigerian farmers.
The group’s National Coordinator, Mr Redson Tedheke, said in an interview in Abuja that the suspension of the import would protect local farmers and encourage massive production of the commodity.
According to him, unchecked importation of maize remains a major threat to local production and President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural revolution drive.
He said the continued importation of maize is a danger signal to Nigeria’s food productivity.

Foreign domination of agric
Another shocking event in the year under review was the news that foreigners had taken over Nigeria’s agric sector.
This news was met with raised eyebrows from the Federal Government and local stakeholders in the sector, who predicted doom and danger for the country in future.
Particularly, the Federal Government reported that it had discovered that more foreigners were doing business in the country’s agricultural sector.
According to government, this could be traceable to the high interest rates banks demand from local agriculture entrepreneurs.
Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri, was quoted saying that low access to finance was a major challenge impeding the development of the agricultural sector from within.

Rice smuggling alarm
As 2017 winds down and also because of the yuletide celebration, the Federal Government raised the alarm that smugglers have perfected plans to import over one million tons of rice from Benin Republic through the country’s land borders.
At the peak of yuletide celebration, one of the commodities that top smugglers’ choice had been rice.
Indeed, statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that the country’s total rice consumption is estimated at 6.9 million metric tons.
However, the inability of local farmers to meet the aggregate demand for rice production locally opened the doors for an increase in rice smuggling into the country in order to curtail the wide shortfall in its consumption by Nigerians.

Last line
For 2017, stakeholders in the country’s agric sector expected a lot of turnaround in the sector, but continued government’s policy summersaults stifled availability of food in abundance for Nigerians.

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Agric

Border closure: Spurring rise in rice milling plants

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Border closure: Spurring rise in rice milling plants

It is reported that the Federal Government’s decision to partially close the country’s land borders since August this year is already yielding fruits in rice value chain with more rice milling plants springing up nationwide. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

 

The Yuletide season is around the corner and all eyes are on the country’s rice sector as processors and merchants are going to step up to meet demand for the number one staple food of many Nigerians. 

There is no doubt that the border closure has cleared the way for rice millers and producers in the country to produce abundant rice for consumption at a period smuggling of the commodity has drastically reduced.

However, against all odd, reports have, however, showed that hundreds of rice milling plants have sprung up in the country, while those that were moribund are now being reactivated in many rice-producing states.

A number of rice millers are now floating milling plants by adding to their production lines in a bid to ensure sufficiency and also key into government’s diversification agenda to promote agriculture.

Genesis

For the record, Nigeria is now a rice producing nation following Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (APB), which has opened gateway of opportunities for the development in the country.

The current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would be remembered for the active role it played towards sustainable development of rice production in Nigeria.

At the launch of ABP scheme on rice development at Birni Kebbi, Kebbi State in 2015, there were lots of doubts among some sections of Nigerians about government’s capability to deliver on its promises on developmental project in the country.

Emphatically, the Anchor Borrowers Programme has been a success story in all ramifications and it is even being replicated in some neighbouring countries.

In 2015, at a Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) in Abuja, it was agreed that to float rice APB to be managed by the apex bank, with focus to attain self-sufficiency in rice production.

Rice millers’ impact

Following Federal Government’s intention to ban rice importation in favour of local rice production, there has been aggressive move by private sector–led firms to invest in rice mills.

Particularly, many rice millers have commenced rice cultivation in line with government’s policy to ensure sufficiency in the country by year end.

Some of the major rice milling companies in the country that have heeded the clarion call have intensified their efforts to see that more rice mills are established in the country to meet national demand.

These rice companies include Olam Nigeria Limited owned by Stallion Group, WACOT rice mill, Dangote rice mill, Sunti Rice Limited, a subsidiary of FMN Plc, Miva rice mill and BUA rice mill.

Others are Umza Rice, Ebonyi Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Mill Limited, Coscharis Farms Limited and others.   

Dangote Group is also planning to establish a multi-billion naira rice processing mill in Hadin, Jigawa State. The Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, who laid the foundation stone for the construction of the mill, said it had the capacity to process 16 metric tons of paddy rice per hour when completed.

He said that in a year, the mill would process paddy rice worth N14billion, bought directly from famers in Jigawa at market rate.

Apart from the large millers, there are many medium-scale ones upgrading their facilities to strengthen production. They include NFG-CS Rice Mill in Ga’ate and many more in Lafia and Doma in Nasarawa State; Ogoja Rice Mill in Cross River.

Recently, the management of Tiamin Rice Mill Limited disclosed that about $13,370,500 was invested to boost its production capacity from the current 320 tonnes to 1,520 tonnes per day.

The Managing Director of the company, Aminu Ahmed, explained that the policy of the current administration, especially the ban on smuggling and the interventions given to them by CBN, had helped immensely in boosting local production of rice.

He also revealed that the company was established in 2016 in Kano and started production of rice in 2018 with 320 tonnes per day.

Ahmed disclosed that the existing production line in Kano would be expanded from 320 tonnes to 920 tonnes next year, just as a new production line would start production of 600 tonnes per day in Bauchi by May 2020.

New rice mills

In order to sustain the momentum in rice production, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the sum of N10.7 billion for the construction of 10 new rice mills to sustain the actualisation of rice-sufficiency programme last year.

Speaking at the press briefing after the council’s meeting, a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Heneiken Lokpobiri, said FEC approved the establishment of 10 rice mills with capacity to produce 100 tonnes per day, which would be managed by private rice millers.

Lokpobiri said the FEC approved the construction of 10 large rice mills to boost the milling capacity of rice value chain in the country.

“A few years ago it was reported that this country needs a minimum of 100 large rice mills. As of today we have about, 21, but the Federal Government in its wisdom decided that today we should approve the establishment of 10 at the total cost of N10.7 billion,” he added.

According to the former minister, the rice mills would be given to the private sector for proper management as they would pay back within a given time frame as agreed between the Bank of Agriculture and the rice millers.

Lokpobiri noted that the mills wouldbe located in Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Bayelsa, Anambra, Kaduna, Ogun, Niger and Bauchi states.

Last line

With brisk business at full swing for local rice millers at this period despite challenges of sophisticated equipment to improve on paddy processing, some agric experts still doubt the capacity of the rice millers to meet national demand.

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ABP: Association begins N4bn loan recovery from cotton farmers

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ABP: Association begins N4bn loan recovery from cotton farmers

Prior to the disbursement of a N4 billion loan to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) across some cotton-producing states, the Cotton Producers and Merchants Association (COPMA) has said it is setting out to recover the loan from beneficiaries.

The National President of COPMA, Alhaji Lawal Matazu, explained during the inauguration of the recovery committee that the programme was part of government’s policy to revamp the nation’s agricultural sector to enable farmers get economic freedom.

Matazu stated that recovery of the loan from his members was critical at this period because it shows that government has confidence in cotton farmers to pay back the APB loans. 

He said: “The programme is aimed at providing an opportunity for the common man, the peasant farmer especially, to have access to an agricultural loan at its doorsteps without any collateral or all those conventional protocols and at cheaper rate charges.”

He said the programme engaged 22,000 farmers across the country, and it covered 24,000 hectares of farms with an expected yield of 36,969 metric tonnes of cotton that will cost N4 billion.

“The minimum guaranteed price for the produce is agreed at N150 per Kg. The price is believed to be a reasonable one for the farmers to make a profit after repaying their loan. In the event that the market price of the produce is above the minimum agreed price, the produce will be collected at the rate of the market prevailing price,” Matazu explained.   

The association’s president admonished the recovery committee to use all available and peaceful avenues to recover the loans for the sustainability of the programme as it was designed as a revolving loan.

On his part, National Secretary of the association, Alhaji Kamilu Sheikh Munnir, stated that the programme was initiated by the Federal Government in 2016 for cotton farmers to easily access inputs, as it is designed as a simple loan.

He said: “COPMA came into the programme in 2017 and each farmer/beneficiary was allocated three hectares. All that was distributed to them were in the form of seeds, pesticides and other inputs and the repayment is expected to be with the cotton produced by the farmers, not in cash.”

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NASC: Gunning for quality seed economy

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NASC: Gunning for quality seed economy

Recently, the hierarchy of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) disclosed that about N1.1 billion would be required to execute its programmes under a five-year strategic blueprint to improve seed system in Nigeria. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

To make Nigeria’s food sufficiency programme a reality to guarantee sustainable food security and safety in the country, there is need for quality seed availability for farmers.

However, it is regrettable that Nigeria is yet to possess quality seed in her agriculture space following widely adulterated or fake seeds in circulation.

In a bid to correct the wrong, the Federal Government saddled the National Agricultural Seed Council with the responsibility of regulating seeds in circulation and to ensure that Nigerian farmers get high quality seeds and also reduce fake ones in the country to the barest minimum.

Curbing fake seeds

In many fora, stakeholders have raised concern over increased circulation of adulterated seeds, a development that is posing a threat to Nigeria’s gross domestic product.

Ideally, curbing fake seeds in circulation has been very challenging as statistics showed that over 70 per cent of people who have no business with seeds jump into the business without getting certified by the Seed Council- National Agricultural Seed Council.  They end up selling junk to farmers.

Consequently, this has resulted to farmers being at the receiving end by buying fake seeds, thereby truncating the actualization of food sufficiency in the country.

With this menace in place, it is important that the only agency empowered by law to regulate the seed industry in Nigeria, NASC, plays its role to deal with the challenge.

As part of the strategies to combating fake seeds merchants and helping farmers access quality seeds, the Director-General of NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo, told journalists in Abuja that his council had perfected arrangement to provide farmers with a call centre and a helpline.

He explained that “the helpline will serve a platform to address the concerns of farmers and the general public on seed related matters.”

Ojo noted that to achieve the desired food security in the country, farmers need to be properly guided in their dealings in the seed market, as that would help them to make informed decision towards improved yields and bumper harvest.

Funding

However, to realise the dream of eradicating fake seeds in the country’s agriculture space, the issue of funding to NASC is important.

To achieve this, Ojo disclosed that N1.1 billion was required to execute its programmes under a five-year strategic blueprint, spanning from 2019 to 2024.

Ojo, in a chat with newsmen in Lagos recently, decried the low funding from the statutory budgetary allocations, saying that the council intends to leverage technology to develop improved seed system for farmers, ensure greater access to quality seeds, and position Nigeria as the seed hub of Africa.

Despite the fact that Nigeria already accounts for a large number of seeds used in West Africa, the DG stated that the endgame was not only to sustain food sufficiency in the country but to also improve agricultural produce for exports.

2019 NASC Act

Speaking on the 2019 NASC Act, Ojo said that the council had been enabled by its enactment in line with changing trends in the global seed industry, adding that the Act will ensure adulterated seed peddlers face stiffer sanctions.

In his words: “It is important to have a new Act because there are changing trends in the global trade industry, and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind. There are also other things that were not in the old Act, which has been added; one major issue is that of doing the wrong thing in the seed industry because, in any other professional business, there are also fraudulent and deceitful people as well as regulation that should not be broken.

“The penalties in the Seed Act before were very minimal, example; if anybody runs afoul of the law in the old Act, he or she was to pay a fine of N50, 000 for a first time offender, N100, 000 for a repeat offender as well as a jail time of six months.

“Under this new Act, if the first time offender is found guilty he or she will pay N1 million and jail time of one year, while a repeat offender would pay N2 million and jail time of two years.”

Last line

Agric stakeholders hope that the proposed N1.1 billion to execute the country’s seed programmes under a five-year strategic blueprint will come to reality.

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Kebbi farmers: ‘Strange’ diseases destroying our onion farms

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Kebbi farmers: ‘Strange’ diseases destroying our onion farms

The National Association of Onions Farmers, in Kebbi State, has said that it has lost over N1 billion worth of onions to two strange diseases affecting farms and storage facilities in the state.

The Chairman of the association, Bello Uba, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday that no fewer than 20,000 farmers were affected.

“We have lost over N1 billion to two strange and unknown diseases that emerged and affected the seeds we used as well as the shells of the already ripened onions that we put in our local storage facilities.

“We have never witnessed such kind of diseases in decades as no fewer than 20,000 farmers are now affected by the bizarre scourge,” he said.

According to him, the farmers believe that the two diseases, coined Zazzalau and Raba, have no remedy for now.

The chairman, however, said the association had not reported the outbreak to relevant government agencies for intervention but would do so immediately.

The Acting Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Agriculture, Muhammad Lawal, said the ministry was not aware of the outbreak.

“We have no information on the outbreak of any strange disease. We don’t have any information in our records on the disease.

“I urge farmers to write to their local government councils of any outbreak of a strange disease for onward transmission to us and we assure that we are going to take necessary action,” Lawal said.

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Malaysia to cut export duties for crude palm oil in 2020

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Malaysia to cut export duties for crude palm oil in 2020

Malaysia will reduce duties on exports of crude palm oil, its first review since the current tax rate was imposed in 2013, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Monday.

Under the new tax regime, the export duty rate will be set at 3% when prices are between 2,250 ringgit ($538.54) and 2,400 ringgit per tonne, down from the current duty of 4.5%, reports Reuters.

The export duty rate will go up to 4.5% at the next price tier of 2,401 ringgit to 2,550 ringgit, and rise at 0.5% increments to a maximum of 8% should prices reach over 3,450 ringgit per tonne.

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Border closure: Contending with spiraling prices of goods

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Border closure: Contending with spiraling prices of goods

Following the continued closure of land borders over smuggling of weapons and agricultural produce, the multiplier effects are already being felt by Nigerians in their daily lives, as prices of some food items have skyrocketed. Taiwo Hassan reports

 

 

 

As a matter of urgency, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has urged the Federal Government to re-open its land borders around Seme, as it hampers the implementation of free trade movement within the ECOWAS sub-region.

Already, the effect has crippled many business activities around the border towns amid tales of sudden increase in prices of food stuff.   

Part of the reasons for the closure was to control smuggling of foreign rice as a way of boosting presence of the locally milled ones in the market.

No doubt, Seme border is strategic for ECOWAS in terms of implementation of free trade movement within the region.

Despite this, the Federal Government is concerned with the economic effects smuggling has done to the national economy and local investors.

Prices of food items

Findings in states where Nigeria shares borders with neighbouring countries show that prices of rice, poultry products, brands of vegetable oil, sugar, beans and even fairly used cloths have increased by between 10 and 30 per cent.

For instance, a bag of 50 kg foreign rice, which sold for between N13,000 and N15,000 before the closure now goes for N16,000, N18,000 and N20, 000 depending on the brand in many towns and cities across the country.

Also, there is a sharp increase in imported flour due to restriction of import from Cameroon.

A transporter, Bala Jumallah, explained that it was difficult to transport flour from Yola due to bad roads and broken bridges; hence bakers opted for a cheaper alternative from Cameroonian side of the border, which is closer.

Similarly, a fruit dealer, Muhammad Bello, said the restriction had prevented export of orange into Cameroon, thereby causing drop in price.

He said the price of a sack of orange crashed from N9000 to N7000 as supply surpassed its demand.

Adamawa, being one of the three front line states in the war against Boko Haram, had been placed under a form of border restriction since 2015, but renewed control in the last few weeks has caused public outcry at the border.

But the partial closure has heightened smuggling around Lagos border communities too.

The smugglers have now resorted to using waterways to bring contraband items such as rice, frozen poultry products and fairly used clothes, shoes and bags into the country.

Despite the increase in smuggling activities, prices of some basic food items have skyrocketed, with traders and consumers complaining of limited stocks.

Frozen poultry is the most affected in Lagos as a kilogramme of frozen chicken, which before now sold for N1,200, now costs N1,600, while a kilogramme of frozen turkey now sells for N1,700.

A trader at Alaba Rago, a major market in Lagos, Tawa Ibrahim, said that the border closure was affecting his business.

She said: “Lake Rice (locally produced rice) would have been a better alternative for us, but we are not getting it to buy. Even the volume of okra needed to feed this nation cannot be produced in Nigeria.

“We rely so much on Cotonou for okra. That is why its price has also shot up since the border was closed. A big basket of okra, which sold for N4,000 or N5,000, is now N8,000.”

Further findings showed that in Kebbi, the closure of borders with Niger and Benin Republics was causing economic hardship to people around the border areas of Dole Kaina, Lolo, Kamba and Bachaka as some of the border town residents, particularly farmers and merchants, also complained.

While lamenting the situation, a farmer, Abdullah Salalah, said: “The situation is becoming unbearable. As you are aware, our people are into farming and they cross the border to trade. Since they closed the borders in Lolo, we cannot do our farming and we cannot trade. The prices of commodities are increasing by the day.”

He added that the situation was becoming more pathetic because people have family, cultural and trade ties with people in Benin and Niger republics and because of the border closure people in Kebbi, Niger and Benin Republic are suffering.

Pressure mounts on FG

Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo, at the opening of the 2nd Extra Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Monrovia, Liberia, this week, appealed to the Federal Government to reopen its closed borders for free trade movement. 

Cisse Lo explained that the border closure posed a threat to the implementation of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons at a time when Africa needed to intensify efforts for effective abolition of barriers within the communities.

Cisse Lo, however, urged the government to find a permanent solution to the challenge of smuggling, rather than closing the borders, which was not a lasting solution.

“In the same vein, the closure of the Nigerian borders with Benin more than a month ago and Niger recently is a hindrance to the achievement of the community’s main objective, which is to achieve the creation of a prosperous, borderless West African region where peace and harmony prevail.

“The ECOWAS Parliament calls for compliance with community provisions and, thus calls for the reopening of borders and a coordinated fight against smuggling in the region.”

“The root causes of this recurrent situation must be studied with a view to finding a permanent solution.” he added.

FG’s stance

Recall that the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Retired Col. Hameed Ali, had insisted that Nigeria’s borders would remain closed until the country and its neighbours agree on existing ECOWAS protocol on movement.

Ali said government would no longer condone smugglers taking over the country’s economy. 

“But there is no specific time for opening the borders. However, if they agree with us tomorrow on the existing laws, then we sign and update the existing protocol of transit, that’s all.

“And we are looking forward to meeting with them and there are moves to sit with them to make them understand why we are doing what we are doing and what we want to achieve by doing what we are doing,” Ali said.

When asked about the consequences of closing the borders, he said, “if you check our website, you will see the seizures and interception we’ve made.”

He said that by closing the borders, Nigeria was able to completely block the importation of contraband.

“We are able to completely block the influxes of illicit goods, and most important, stopped the exportation of petroleum product which is the biggest problem we have,” Ali said.

According to him, through the measure, the importation of foreign rice has stopped and the market for local varieties has risen. We’ve also stopped the influx of rice and our rice is now selling.

“Even those selling garri that have been abandoned because there was cheap rice are making brisk business.

“This is because people are now buying garri as food. So, I think the economy is now picking up and we are grateful for that,” he said.

Last line

With the current scenario, many Nigerians are yet to see and feel the positive effects of the situation, as it has only led to lamentations and agonies all over the country with increasing prices of foodstuff and some other items in the market.

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Egypt won’t import rice this financial year – Minister

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Egypt won’t import rice this financial year – Minister

Egypt’s supply minister said on Sunday the country had enough strategic rice reserves to last until February 15 and there would be no need for imports in the current financial year.

Egypt’s financial year 2019-2020 ends on June 30.

Ali Moselhy told Reuters local rice production was sufficient to last until then and there would be no need for further imports.

Once a rice exporter, Egypt reduced its rice cultivation in an effort to conserve Nile river resources as Ethiopia builds a $4 billion dam upstream that Cairo fears could impact its water supply.

The move turned it from an exporter to an importer in 2018.

Still, in March Egypt’s agriculture ministry said it would grow about 1.1 million acres of rice in the 2019 season, up from 800,000 acres in 2018, in an effort to reduce the country’s import bill.

Rice is a heavily discounted staple in Egypt’s subsidy program, under which the state purchases foodstuffs that are offered to subsidy card holders.

Moselhy on Sunday reassured the public that the price of rice would remain stable.

The agriculture ministry has not released local production figures for the current season yet.

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Agric

Egypt won’t import rice this financial year – Minister

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Egypt won’t import rice this financial year – Minister

Egypt’s supply minister said on Sunday the country had enough strategic rice reserves to last until February 15 and there would be no need for imports in the current financial year.

Egypt’s financial year 2019-2020 ends on June 30.

Ali Moselhy told Reuters local rice production was sufficient to last until then and there would be no need for further imports.

Once a rice exporter, Egypt reduced its rice cultivation in an effort to conserve Nile river resources as Ethiopia builds a $4 billion dam upstream that Cairo fears could impact its water supply.

The move turned it from an exporter to an importer in 2018.

Still, in March Egypt’s agriculture ministry said it would grow about 1.1 million acres of rice in the 2019 season, up from 800,000 acres in 2018, in an effort to reduce the country’s import bill.

Rice is a heavily discounted staple in Egypt’s subsidy program, under which the state purchases foodstuffs that are offered to subsidy card holders.

Moselhy on Sunday reassured the public that the price of rice would remain stable.

The agriculture ministry has not released local production figures for the current season yet.

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Agric group announces merger, invests $12m

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Agric group announces merger, invests $12m

Farmcrowdy Group, Nigeria’s first digital agriculture platform, has disclosed that about $12 million have been invested in its agriculture value chain business to boost food security and availability in the country.

The company also announced a unification merger of its sister companies in Farmgate Africa and Agricsquare as one entity in order to create a bigger Farmcrowdy in line with its business strategy.    

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Farmcrowdy, Onyeka Akumah, made these known while briefing journalists on major updates of the company’s activities in Lagos recently.

Akumah explained that the $12 million agricultural investment by the company had allowed it to venture into different parts of agriculture value chain businesses and also empowered many local farmers to boost their productivity.

He stated that as a company, FarmCrowdy operates in 14 states across Nigeria and has signed up over 25,000 farmers into its programme, who have cultivated over 16,000 acres of farmland across the country.

According to him, the cultivated 16,000 acres of farmlands cut across maize, rice, soybeans, cassava, gingers plantation, Livestock and poultry farming.

He said: “We have invested about $12 million through the platform to put into the farms and that allows us to cultivate 16,000 acres of farmlands across maize, rice, soybeans, cassava, ginger. Also, our livestock system sits around 2,000 cows, while we’ve raised 2.2 million chickens in our poultry farms.”

Speaking on the merger and restructuring of the firm,he said: “This is a very significant step for Farmcrowdy as it will allow the combined entity to have a stronger foothold in the agriculture value chain, by dealing with core crop farming processes, production and trading side of commodities as well as marketing media for agriculture.”

Akumah stressed further that the combined companies would now be referred to as Farmcrowdy, and with the announcement, all sponsorship options available from both platforms (Farmcrowdy and Farmgate Africa) will now reflect on the combined Farmcrowdy platform, sponsorship options such as; beef processing, ginger farms, cattle farms, Poultry farms, etc, previously only available via Farmgate Africa and Farmcrowdy will now be open to sponsorship on the Farmcrowdy platform to sponsors from both entities.

According to him, Agricsquare will however continue to be run as a product of Farmcrowdy – the largest community of agriculture enthusiasts in the country with over 20,000 people engaging daily to discuss agriculture-related topics.

He disclosed that the Managing Director of Farmgate Africa, Kenneth Obiajulu, would oversee the trading aspect of the new entity while the Chief Operating Officer, Temitope Omotolani, would continue to oversee the production side (crop production, feedlot production, etc) of the company.

Akumah added further that the process had always been in the plan to attract more talent, expand Farmcrowdy’s reach in the agriculture value chain and provide more options for sponsors on its platform.

“The new Farmcrowdy will now be looking for new partnerships to continue to grow more crops as it targets expansion into four new states while increasing its current supply of over 50 cows fit for slaughter per day to a supply of 100 cows per day by the end of the year made available to top retailers, hotels, and eateries across the country,” he stated.

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Pesticides control as catalyst for Nigeria’s cocoa boost

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Pesticides control as catalyst for Nigeria’s cocoa boost

The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) has released a list of pesticides that should not be used for cocoa production in a bid to accelerate the growth of Nigeria’s cocoa. Taiwo Hassan writes

 

The importance of applying pesticides and herbicides on planting crops has been there for ages in Nigeria because of infested diseases that feast on crops during harvests.
Particularly, many farmers have acquainted themselves to the use of chemicals during planting of crops so as not to suffer post-harvests loss, which has caused huge losses to the country’s agricultural fortunes and economy in general.
Indeed, the application of these agricultural chemicals- pesticides and herbicides by farmers on crops have been abused in the country since government’s agency such as Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service have failed in its oversight function to regulate the use of chemicals.
For instance, last year, CRIN reported that high cost of chemicals importation into the country forced about 16 cocoa processing firms to shutdown their factories out of the 20 firms, leaving just only four firms in business.
The major reason for the shutdown in cocoa production by these processors was attributed to the cost of buying chemicals at the international market with foreign exchange (forex), which was too high for them since they cannot cope with the forex challenge.
“The chemicals are coming in at an exchange rate of N360 to one dollar. None of those chemicals are produced in Nigeria. Now don’t forget that many Nigerians don’t consume cocoa,” the Institute said.
“Many Nigerians don’t eat cocoa products. If you produce a hundred tonnes and only eight per cent of that is consumed locally, that means your local farmers and factories are not producing for local consumption”.

Banning pesticides
However, in order to tame the use of chemicals, especially in the country’s cocoa sector, CRIN said it has released a list of pesticides and herbicides that should not be used for cocoa production in the country.
The institute, which has research mandate on cocoa, kola, coffee, cashew and tea, announced this in its bulletin recently.
According to the institute, these insecticides include Acephate, Amitraz, Aldrin, Azinphos-methyl, Carbaryl, Carbofuran, Carbosulfan, Cartap, Terbufos and Cyhexatin. Others are Dichlorvos(DDVP), Dieldrin, Dioxacarb and Endosulfan.
It said fungicides such as Benomyl, Captafol, Hexaconazole, Pyrifenox, Triadimefon, Tridamorph, Zineb, Copper-Sulphate, Carbide and fumigants such as Allethrin, Fenitrothion, Isoprocarb, Permethrin, Resmethrin and Tetramethrin also should not be used.
The institute said that herbicides such as Ametryn, Atrazine, Diuron, Fomesafen, Methyl arsenic acid and 2,4, 5-T had also been banned.
It said, “For fungicides, we have approved Ridomil Gold 66WP with Cuprous Oxide + Metalaxyl-M ingredient, to tackle black pod, Ultimax Plus, with Metalaxyl+Copper Hydroxide to tackle black pod.
“There is Funguran-OH with Copper Hydroxide ingredient to tackle black pod, copper nordox 75 wp, with cuprous oxide, champ DP with Copper Hydroxide, Kocide 101 with Cuprous Hydroxide.
“We have Cabrio Duo with Pyraclostrobin + Dimethomorph, Red force with Copper Oxide + Metalaxyl-m, Pergado with Metalaxyl-m+ Mandipropamid ingredient, all to tackle black pod.
“For insecticides, we have Actara 25 WG with Thiamethoxam, Esiom 150 SL with Acetamiprid+ Cypermethrin, Proteus 170 O-tec with Acetamiprid+ Cypermethrin ingredient, all to tackle Mirid.
“For herbicides, there are touch-down with Glyphosate, clear weeds with glyphosate and round up with glyphosate ingredients, all to tackle weed.
“Then for fumigants, we have Phostoxin with Aluminum Phosphide for storage pests.”

Challenges
Apparently, this is not the best of times for the country’s cocoa industry despite the role being played by the Federal Government to promote the development of the country’s non-oil sector after the slump in the price of crude oil at the international market.
Nigeria’s cocoa industry is still facing adverse challenges amid the uncertainty in the sector; the low production output target at international scene, state of neglects and lack of agricultural inputs for farming.
Following these myriad of challenges, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been at the vanguard of re-positioning thr country’s cocoa industry but, their efforts have not yielded the desired results to turn around the fortunes in the sector
Regrettably, in spite of the abundant cocoa in the country, Nigeria is occupying the seventh position among cocoa producers in the world, according to the International Cocoa Organisation, due to her failure to meet its 500,000 metric tons (mt) of processed cocoa production target.
Following the country’s struggling to meet her cocoa production target, this has consequently resulted to huge lose in revenue running into $1 billion yearly.

Farmers’ woes
Speaking with the New Telegraph in an interview in Lagos, the President of the Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Saiyani Riman, lamented that his members are experiencing qualms in production of cocoa.
He listed unfavourable weather conditions, lack of support from the government as well as the use of fake chemicals by farmers as major factors that are affecting cocoa production in the country.
Riman also identified economic woes orchestrated by Federal Government’s policy summersaults and other farm droughts as other reasons for the inadequacy in attaining growth among cocoa producers in the world.

Last line
With the banning of the cocoa chemicals by the sector’s regulator, stakeholders believe that the procurement of fake chemicals would reduce drastically and enhance productivity.

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