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2019 Anchor Borrowers Programme targets 100,000 cotton farmers nationwide — Minister




Zaria (Kaduna State), March 13, 2019 The Federal Government has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) for 2019 is targeting 100,000 cotton farmers across the country.

Hajiya A’isha Abubakar, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, disclosed this on Wednesday in Zaria, Kaduna State, at a one-day Stakeholders Forum on Good Cotton Seed Production to Enhance the Cotton Value Chain in Niger

The theme of the forum was: `Increasing the Production of Good Quality Cotton Seed for Sustainable Growth of Nigeria’s Cotton, Textile and Garment Sector’.

The minister, who was represented by Mrs Omololu Opeewe, the Director, Commodities and Products Inspectorate Department (CPID), said that the Federal Government placed much emphasis on how to improve cotton production in Nigeria.

She said that it was in furtherance of its economic diversification agenda, that the Federal Government developed the Cotton Textile and Garment (CTG) policy.

She said that the primary aim of the policy was to boost local production and the processing of cotton.

Abubakar explained that in implementing the policy, the ministry had over time engaged relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other stakeholders to design and develop specific programmes and projects for the CTG sub-sector.

“Presently, the ministry is working with NACOTAN to facilitate access to the anchor borrowers programme of the CBN.

“The strategy is to increase cotton production and link it to a ready market to achieve self-sufficiency and create jobs.

“In this respect, it is proposed that a minimum of 100,000 farmers with two hectares each are expected to participate in the 2019 wet season of the anchor borrowers’ programme.

“On this note, a target yield of 1.5 metric tons per hectare, 300,000 metric tons of seed cotton will be processed by the ginning companies, while 114,000 metric tons of cotton lint will be available to the textile mills,” the minister stated.

The minister observed that the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) would play an important role through the provision of good quality planting seeds.

She said that the National Agricultural Extension, Research and Liaison Service (NAERLS) would provide training for the cotton farmers to supplement the actualisation of the aforementioned target.

Earlier in an address, the Director, IAR, Prof. Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar, noted that cotton was one of the most important commercial and industrial crop in Nigeria.

According to him, the growth of Nigeria’s economy depends on the contribution of agriculture to GDP and the growth of agriculture largely depends on cotton.

“In this country there are many cities that owe their growth to cotton; you cannot mention the growth of Kaduna, Kano, Lagos without mentioning cotton or textiles.

“There are satellite towns like Funtua, Gusau and others.

“Cotton is so versatile that it affects the lives of an average Nigerian, be you a farmer of cotton or a textile, garment or ginnery worker or even if you are in the business of marketing cotton or cotton seeds.

“Cotton is so important it affects one of the fundamental human needs. As humans, we need food, we need shelter, we need clothing – these are fundamental human needs.

“And cotton has successfully fulfilled one, which is clothing, and it is even into shelter now.

“Most of the emergency shelters produced for Internally Displaced Persons are now made from cotton,; we use trampoline and several other cotton materials,” the IAR director said.

Umar-Abubakar said that when people talked about cotton, they only thought of brocade, super Hollandaise, English wax and so on, arguing that “these are not all, we use cotton in various ways such as in making blankets.

“Even if we are going to specialise in the production of blankets alone, we will make a name globally.

“Rugs, carpets and prayer mats, you can imagine the amount of foreign exchange being used annually to import such products, especially prayer mats from Saudi Arabia,” the IAR director said.

NNN reports that the forum drew participants from the cotton farming areas and beyond.


Law to ban donkey export, slaughtering coming — Minister



Alhaji Mohammed Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Rural Development, says he is working with the National Assembly on a bill to prohibit the killing and exportation of donkeys or its derivatives.

Nanono said such legislation would prevent donkeys from extinction.

Nanono said this at the Global inauguration of “Under the Skin” the impact of the global trade in donkey skins in West Africa by the Donkey Sanctuary, a UK-based International NGO in collaboration with the Nigeria Now, an NGO, on Thursday in Abuja.

The minister represented by Dr Bello Umar, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, noted that the bill when passed would further complement the import and export of raw animal skins and hides especially donkey currently on the Customs Prohibition List.

He specifically noted that the export of donkey skin had increased in recent years due to increased demand and utilisation of donkey skin in Chinese health products that had been assumed as effective in the management of some health conditions.

Nanono identified the assumed  health conditions as preventing aging and increasing libido.

He, however, noted that “the indiscriminate slaughtering of this species of animals if not controlled will lead to extinction of donkey population in Nigeria.

“In addition, recent research has revealed a worrying trend in the growing trade and demand of donkey skin and its potential effects to global donkey populations and their welfare.

“As part of measures to check these unethical practices, the Federal Government through the  Ministry of Agriculture in the 42nd Regular Session of the National Council of Agriculture in 2017 noted the need to preserve donkey and re-classified it as endangered species to prevent its extinction.

“The government at the meeting also encouraged research on the development of donkeys and a sustainable breeding programme for donkey species.”

The minister identified the donkey as playing vital roles in the livelihood support of rural smallholder farmers that could not afford mechanised equipment.

According to him, due to such challenge of mechanisation they use donkeys for heavy lifting needed for cultivating land, transporting hay and silage, hauling water as well as firewood.

Nanono emphasised that the significance of donkeys in West Africa region especially in Northern Nigeria could not be overlooked describing them as playing important roles in the sociocultural and economic life of most rural populace.

“They also use their donkeys which have been shown to be more resilient during droughts than other livestock like cattle as an extra source of income, using them to carry goods from one location to another,” Sabo said.

Earlier, Mike Baker, the Chief Executive Officer, the Donkey Sanctuary, frowned at the global crisis affecting donkeys.

Baker emphasised that never before had donkeys faced ”this level of threat, as their local populations in some countries collapse due to relentless demand for their skins.

“It is a crisis that demands immediate action and we are calling for urgent halt to the global trade in donkey skins,” he said.

Edited by Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Don calls for revival of research institutes on West African Dwarf Goat



Prof. Francis Ahamefule has called on Federal Government to take urgent measures to resuscitate the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), Zaria and the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Jos to discharge their mandate.

Ahamefule, a professor of Animal Production at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Umuahia on Thursday.

He said that the institutes were saddled with the responsibilities of small ruminant research and training in the country.

He said that the inability of the institutes to rise up to their responsibilities had affected the country’s production of West African Dwarf (WAD) goat.

“NAPRI had the initial mandate to breed, select and supply improved males to interested farmers. Not much progress has been made in this direction.

“NVRI researches into sheep and goat diseases and develops appropriate diagnostic and investigatory services as well as producing vaccine for disease control.

“Unfortunately, the services and influence of these institutes are hardly felt at the rural environment where the WAD goat is reared,’’ he said.

The lecturer, who said that he had carried out an extensive research on WAD goat, disclosed that the small ruminant breed had staggering potentials capable of meeting the animal protein needs of over 60 million Nigerians.

According to him, the WAD goat milk can be higher in protein relative to milk of other goat breeds and their milk yield higher than other species, with the possible exception of camels.

He said, “Until research findings concerning the WAD goat and other livestock species begin to find expression in our smallholder animal units, mixed farm enterprises and integrated animal farms, the food security we clamour for, would continue to remain a mirage.’’

(Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Sam Oditah) (NAN)

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FGN/IFAD -VCDP to support 9, 000 farmers in Anambra in 2020



The Federal Government/International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD)-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), says it plans to support over 9,000 farmers in Anambra in 2020 under the additional financing.

Mr Nnamdi Agwuncha, the State Programme Coordinator, -VCDP disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Awka on Wednesday.

Agwuncha, who expressed satisfaction with the programme, said it had spent over N300 million as at Oct. 31, in encouraging rice and cassava production during the 2019 farming season.

According to him, VCDP added three new Local Government Areas namely: Ihiala, Ogbaru and Orumba South this year that now benefit from our services and farm inputs support in both rice and cassava crops.

He gave the previous benefitting Local Government Areas as Orumba North, Awka North, Ayamelum, Anambra East and Anambra West.

“This year, 1, 670 farmers have so far benefitted as against 1, 001 farmers in 2018.

“We have got approval for additional financing, which will commence next year. This was as a result of the improvement in the programme and performance by farmers,’’ he said.

He said the N300 million was spent on input/seedling and agro-chemical disbursement, land development/preparation, building of aggregation and cassava bulking centres, provision of water schemes and rice processing mills.

Other areas of support include building of market stalls, construction of small bridges to provide access roads to farm lands as well as provision of solar powered borehole, among others.

“In terms of yield, average yield of six tons of rice was recorded in 2019 as against 5.5 tons in 2018, while an average yield of 35 tons per hectare was recorded in 2019 as against 30 tons for cassava.

“In our 2020 annual work plan and budget, we have planned to support 3, 000 (2, 000 and 1, 000) farmers for rice and cassava production respectively.

“Other 6, 000 VCDP profiled farmers would benefit in all the VCDP training and extension services,” he said.

On border closure by the Federal Government, Agwuncha said it was long overdue, and urged farmers to seize the opportunity to excel in providing food and employment for the country.

“As a matter of fact, I had expected that to have happened a long time because there is no basis to make Nigeria a dumping ground.

“When the team visited the state in 2015, they went round and concluded that Anambra had the potential to feed Nigeria in terms of rice.

“If you open the borders, it affects the efforts of farmers. I expect the Federal Government to close the borders so we look inwards because we have the human and natural endowment to produce rice that will feed Africa,” he said.

The programme coordinator, however, advised the Federal Government to improve its support to agriculture by constructing rural roads and subsidising inputs, among other supports.

Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Jigawa women farmers solicit farm inputs, gender-friendly equipment



The Jigawa State Chapter of Smallholder Women Farmers in Nigeria (SWOFON), on Wednesday solicited for farm inputs and gender friendly equipment from government.

Hajiya Hadiza Abdulwahab, SWOFON State Coordinator, who presented a list of the requests to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, described it as a progressive step for communities where farming was their main occupation.

Abdulwahab said the provision of gender friendly equipment according to the needs and strength of women would go a long way to relieve women of fatigue.

The Coordinator solicited for 67, 915 bags of fertiliser, 10, 000 bags of rice seed, 3, 583 bags of maize seed, 2, 718 power tillers and 2, 718 hand planters.

She said the move had become imperative because the backbone of any agricultural revolution was farmers’ access to modern agricultural inputs.

The Coordinator noted that the gesture would directly improve the output of small-scale women farmers in the state and would also make them more productive, as well as ensure increased income for them.

She added that in the long run, there would be an improvement in the livelihoods of the women farmers, as they would be able to provide for themselves, their families and communities.

Abdulwahab said women were determined to end hunger; and it was a known fact that if women had equal access to productive resources, they would increase their yields and feed more hungry people.

According to her, though women make up to half of the agricultural labour force, barriers to credit, inputs and extension services, as well as land ownership and rights, limit their production.

“It is certain that women are more likely to reinvest their income into their families to improve education, nutrition and health; when women flourish, families and communities do too.

Abdulwahab disclosed that the move was an ongoing exercise in five selected states across the country and the FCT, where the priority demands of 500, 000 smallholder women farmers would be submitted.

“The five states are Jigawa, Niger, Nassarawa, Anambra and Oyo.

“Currently, we have over 500,000 rural farmers working in different communities across the 36 states of the federation,’’ she said.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that SWOFON is a coalition of women farmers associations and groups across Nigeria with the goal of advocating for and supporting women farmers, especially those in rural areas.

Edited by Hawa lawal/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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Association canvasses more investments in coconut plantation



Mrs Okoroginma Ogechukwu, the President, National Coconut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NACOPPMAN), has called for more investments in coconut plantation in the country.

Ogechukwu made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on Wednesday.

She said that the potential of the sector had remained untapped due to lack of adequate investments.

She said the available coconut plantation in the country could not produce the needed quantity for the increasing demand of the cash crop.

Ogechukwu said that the Federal, State and Local Governments, foreign investors as well as the Diaspora communities should invest more in coconut.

NACOPPMAN is an apex body, established to nurture and authorised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, to coordinate the activities of the coconut industry in Nigeria and globally.

The association was inaugurated in September 2019 in Abuja.

She said that Nigeria was faced with the challenge of going back to its own coconut plantations with the recent closure of land borders by the Federal Government.

She said the country could not promote what it did not have, saying that government must pay attention to the coconut industry by establishing more plantations.

“Thank God for the closure of land borders because we have been exposed to the reality that 90 per cent of coconuts consumed in Nigeria is coming from other African countries.

“We import coconuts from Ghana, Togo, Seme borders and other African countries.

“Now, with the closure of borders, we are faced with the reality of going back to our plantations, ’’ Ogechukwu said.

She said governments at all levels and investors should take advantage of the opportunities presented by the closure to invest in coconut plantation and its value chain.

She said the closure of land borders had exposed the reality that 90 per cent of coconuts consumed in the country were imported.

“We have to consciously invest in coconut plantations in Nigeria and that’s the only way out. We cannot promote what we don’t have.

“How can we be promoting other countries when we have the arable land for the plantation. A crop that can grow in the 36 states of the country; it is advisable to invest in it,” Ogechukwu said.

She urged Federal, States and Local Governments as well as the diaspora communities to tap into the huge market by investing in the industry.

She described the coconut industry as a good retirement benefit for investors.

“I want to call on the government, investors and those in the diaspora to invest in coconut.

“With coconut investment, you can be making 80 per cent return on investment and the coconut continues producing until the next 60 years.

“It is the best retirement benefits and investments you can imagine and with that, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow and there will be employment opportunities for our youths.’’ Ogechukwu said.

Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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Insure crops, farmlands in case of erosion, fire – extension agent advises



Farmers in Anambra have been advised to  insure their crops and farmlands to avoid losses in case of eventualities.

An Extension Agent in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Rufus Imoka, gave the advice in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Awka on Wednesday.

“For the fact that catastrophe is neither here nor there, besides the topography of the environment, farmers should insure their farms.

“Every crop should be insured for safety purposes in case  of eventualities  such as flood, erosion, wild fire.

“Insurance will go a long way in assisting victims of natural disasters in their farms,” he said.

Imoka urged farmers not to worry  about insurance premium, saying that  the benefits of insurance  outweighed the premium.

“At first, it will look as if there is nothing to gain, but it is not true.

“ and farmlands, food security will be guaranteed,” he said.

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