Prof. Victor Chude, the Registrar, Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) has blamed the high cost of fertiliser in the country on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) restriction of foreign exchange.
Chude, also the Chairman, National Fertiliser Technical Committee, said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Thursday in Abuja.
The registrar described the apex bank’s foreign exchange restriction move as inimical to food security in the country.
According to him, the high cost of the commodity is expected as CBN no longer provides foreign exchange to anybody wanting to import fertiliser or fertiliser blending materials.
“So, importers are currently expected to source for foreign exchange from open markets. Considering the high dollar to naira exchange rate, when these fertilisers are imported, definitely the prices are going to be very high,” he said.
Chude said that the ban on the importation of fertiliser by the CBN was on the premise that the country was capable of producing all the required fertiliser by the crops and soil.
“This was the basis for the introduction of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Apart from Urea fertiliser manufactured in the country, every other raw materials for local production of the commodity for the PFI has to be imported with the foreign exchange; but unfortunately, the CBN no longer grant FOREX request to importers.
“Some of the major fertiliser blending materials imported into the country are Di-Amonium Phosphate (DAP) which contains nitrogen and phosphorus; Muriate of Potash (MOP) that supplies potassium, is usually imported from Europe.
“So, you need Urea, Di-amonium Phosphate and Muriate of potash to produce NPK fertiliser; Zinc sulphate to supply zinc and sulphur and borax to supply boron.”
The professor said that out of these blending materials, the country could only produce urea, manufactured from natural gas, describing it as insufficient for proper crop production.
Chude said that other elements of the commodity were imported.
“There have been a lot of claims that Nigeria can produce all the fertiliser it requires, if the raw materials are there; yes.
“There are about 22 fertiliser Bulk Blending Plants in the country, but they need the right type of raw materials for them to operate; these materials are not available in the country except urea and limestone.
“The limestone serves as fillers; however, it supplies magnesium and calcium when applied on the soil.
“Since these raw materials are not available in the country, but have to be imported, the restriction of FOREX by CBN makes it very difficult and expensive to import,” Chude noted.
The registrar, however, urged the CBN to lift the ban on FOREX to enable importers to import the essential raw materials for the production of NPK fertiliser.
He said that such a measure would deter unscrupulous fertiliser producers from injecting fake commodity into the market.
“Such fake products are not only destructive to our crops, but also pose health hazard to the populace.’’
Forex ban on food imports will protect local producers — AgroNigeria Boss
Mr Richard-Mark Mbaram, Managing Director, AgroNigeria, says that the Federal Government’s suggestion to divert forex to other profitable economic activities will provide protection for local producers of agro commodities.
Mbaram made the assertion while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Lagos against the backdrop of the Federal Government ’s suggestion to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop forex to food importers.
He said that the most striking implication was that it was a positive move to create hurdles on the part of food and agro commodity importers.
“There are particularly wide ranging implications for agricultural productivity and development where the government decides to go tough on importation leveraging monetary policy tools at its disposal.
“The most striking implication is a positive one in that it basically creates a situation where hurdles are placed on the path of importers of food and other Agro commodities.
“This makes it more expensive for them to finance these imports. It must be kept in mind that these commodities are not in themselves banned, but that they are merely being handed hostile terms.
“The key benefit is that it provides some measure of protection for the local producers of such commodities and its derivatives,’’ Mbaram said.
He, however, called for more secure land borders as well as the entrenched corruption in the system through which these products find their way into the country to compromise the good intentions of government.
“To this end, I advocate for a review of the customs and excise regime in the country with a view to engaging all stakeholders in the private and public sector.
“The objective will be to ensure that those private entities that have capacity to weigh in and provide ideas on mitigating the problem of our porous land borders are leveraged and mainstreamed into a nationally coordinated effort,” he said.
According to Mbaram, infrastructure needs to be addressed holistically in order to create the needed ecosystem for Agribusiness in particular to thrive.
NAN reports that AgroNigeria is the organiser of the Feed Nigeria Summit 2019 (FNS2019), an annual programme bringing together stakeholders in the agriculture space to thinker on challenges impeding the sector and proffer solutions that will guide policies.
Mbaram told NAN that the FNS 2019, tagged “Unlocking Prosperity through Partnership’’ is scheduled to hold in between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 in Abuja.
“In this regard, government’s embrace of the Africa Development Bank’s (AFDB) Special Agro-Industrial Zones Project is a massively good move as it seeks to enhance agro-industrialization through the provision of targeted infrastructure in locales of high agro-commodity production.
The SAPZ Programme is the fulcrum of this year’s Feed Nigeria Summit.
(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)
Double-digit investment needed to transform agriculture in Nigeria-IITA DG
Others are Godwin Atser, Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist; Toyin Oke, Manager, Resource Mobilisation, Protocol and External Liaison; Oludamilare Odusanya and Adetola Adenmosun, IITA Youth Agripreneur.
Eko Coconut Bread: Bakers commend LASG, produce 900,000 loaves in 11 months
Some premium bakers partnering with the Lagos State Government to produce “Eko Coconut Bread” have highlighted their successes since the production of the bread started in October 2018.
The bakers spoke with the Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Lagos during a monitoring visit to some of the bakeries by the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA).
NAN reports that on Oct. 16, 2018, the Lagos State Government announced a partnership with 10 bakeries for the production of coconut bread and gave them kiosks, tricycles and bread packages for the smooth running of the project.
The bakers, who commenced production at different times, said the initiative created more jobs and also impacted on the general acceptance of their brands across the state.
The Chief Executive Officer of Butter Burst Bakery, Mr Babajide Ladipo, said that the bakery started production of the bread three weeks ago due to some hiccups the bakery experienced.
“We started operations very recently because we had some issues which we have surmounted and production is in top gear.
“I must say that the response from our customers have been very fantastic in terms of the volume of the Eko Coconut Bread we put out every day, although it was a slow one but now, they have accepted the brand.
“I commend the government for the partnership because people are always drawn to the kiosk and the logo on the bread wraps and they are impressed and responsive.
“The partnership has positioned and given us a positive public image. Some bakeries around are even asking how to become a partner. We make at least a batch of 110 loaves of the bread daily and we sell all of them,’’ he said.
Ladipo said that the coconuts used for the bread were freshly done daily.
He, however, suggested that the government should consider a smaller size of between 200 and 250g; help bakers with promotional articles and direct customer linkages to help boost the bread.
When the team visited Regal Bakery, Gbagada, the Manager, Mr Agbaje Olaniyilokun, said that the Eko Coconut Bread had helped the bakery in several areas in terms of getting more hands and sales increase.
Olaniyilokun said: “Since we started in November 2018, we produce 3 batches of 85 loaves daily in both our Gbagada and Ikota branches. So, daily, we make almost 300 loaves.
“The tricycle and kiosk given to us have been very helpful in transporting the bread to our sales point and the brand has been accepted by residents.
“People accept our brand more now when they see the LASG logo and they are happy to buy the product. We increased labour with six direct staff and four indirect staff,’’ he said.
Olaniyilokun, however, requested that more kiosks should be given to bakeries to enable them meet more demand and be closer the people and also a smaller size of the bread.”
NAN reports that other bakeries visited included Monamour Confectioneries where Mrs Olusola Olayinka said that the daily production was 100 loaves and had created jobs for six people.
Also, Mrs Adeniran Olusola of Sollisy Food and Beverages Ltd said that 8 people had been added to the workforce so far and the bread was accepted, producing an average of 200 loaves daily.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of LASCODA, Mr Dapo Olakulehin told NAN that the aim of the monitoring was to see firsthand, how the bakeries were faring since operations started and to note their challenges.
Olakulehin noted that it was the state government’s effort to build private sector partnership and the reports got from the bakeries, about one million loaves of the bread had been produced since November 2018.
“It was a public and private sector initiative by the state government to partner with 10 bakeries for coconut bread baking. To give Lagosians a healthy meal from a staple food, hence, we introduced the Eko Coconut Bread.
“We tried to make the environment very conducive for the bakers and so we gave them some empowerment in terms of tricycles, kiosks and bread wrappers to ease production and distribution of the bread.
“So far, so good, we have been getting good stories about the initiative and that is what informed this monitoring to converse with the bakers to know their challenges.
“Also to see how the state can help to improve the challenges and consumption of coconut bread. The partnership has also improved the image of the bakeries and people now see them as standard bakeries,’’ he said.
The general manager promised that the report would be given to the governor, while adequate response will get to the bakers on the smaller size.
NAN reports that the current size of the bread is 750g sold at N350. During the monitoring the bakers were advised to adhere strictly to the agreed weight and recipe of the bread to maintain standard.
(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)
Lagos trains 955 in aquaculture to harness opportunities in agric value chain
The Lagos State Government says it has trained 953 persons in aquaculture as a step towards upscaling fish production and to harness the economic opportunities in the agriculture value chain.
The Permanent Secretary, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya made the disclosure at the closing ceremony of the 15th Annual Executive Weekend Training on Investment Opportunities in Fish Farming organised by the ministry.
Onasanya said that such programmes and projects had significantly increased fish production, created jobs and stimulated economic activities in the state.
He identified the programmes and projects to include fish farm estates development; fish cage culture system; capacity building programmes, agricultural value chains empowerment and artisanal fisheries development among others.
“Fish is a major source of protein that is low in cholesterol compared with beef, hence, its consumption is healthy and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a per capita consumption of 17kg of fish per annum.
“Lagos State with a population of 22 million people is structured to have a fish demand of 374,000 tons per annum as against the current fish production figure of 155,262 tons per annum,” he said in a statement by Mr Jide Lawal, Assistant Director, Public Affairs of the state Ministry of Agriculture and made available to the Nigeria News Agency
“The deficit in supply is being met through importation which gulps enormous foreign exchange which the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has estimated at a total sum of one billion dollars.
“Very wide investment opportunities exist within the agricultural value chain both within the country and internationally, especially now that there is the need to increase export of non-oil commodities to earn foreign exchange for the financing of the nation’s economy.”
According to Onasanya, the four-day training is carefully structured to equip participants that include aspiring fish farmers and retiring executives both in the private and public sectors among others with relevant knowledge of best practices in aquaculture.
It is aimed at broadening their practical experience in fish juvenile and feed production as well as expose the participants to investment opportunities available in the fish farming, he said.
“The training programme has a special focus on the overview of fisheries development in Lagos State; Fish Culture System and Management, Water Quality Management and Disease Control.
“Prospect of Cage and Pen Culture System in Lagos State; Hatchery Management and Fingerlings Production and Fish Feed Formulation and Nutrition.
“Fish Farming Insurance and Fish Preservation, Processing, Packaging, Marketing and Export Potential,” he said.
The permanent secretary noted that the goal of the state was to be self-sufficient in fish production as he called for collaborative efforts between the private sector and government in the development of agricultural value-chain.
NAN reports that although 43 persons participated in the training, a total of 912 people had been trained so far since the programme started in 2005 bringing to total 955 beneficiaries.
(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)
IITA boss calls for double-digit budget allocation to accelerate agric transformation
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan on Sunday called for double-digit budget investment in agriculture backed by a vibrant rural infrastructure to help states accelerate transformation in the sector.
A statement issued in Lagos by the Communication Officer of IITA, Mr Godwin Atser, quoted the Director-General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, to have made the call when he visisted Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo state.
Sanginga was quoted as saying that “no matter the good intentions, there will not be any meaningful transformation in agriculture, if the nation continues to invest less than 10 per cent of its budget in the sector.
He recalled that in 2003, African heads of state in Maputo made a commitment to invest at least 10 per cent of their annual budgets in agriculture.
“Sixteen years after the declaration, only a few countries have implemented that declaration.
“One of the countries that has fulfilled the commitment is Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia is today investing more than 10 per cent and that country is witnessing a rapid transformation in agriculture,” Sanginga said.
He made reference to the Oyo state agricultural policy framework and its investment in agriculture which, he noted, had nosedived from about seven per cent to two per cent from 1995 to 2017.
Sanginga further urged the government to pay serious attention to rehabilitation of rural roads (feeder roads) to help in transporting agricultural produce from the farm to the market.
He decried the deterioration of infrastructure in several farm settlements and called for ways to involve youths in agriculture.
The IITA boss opined that youth inclusiveness was imperative for sustainable agricultural development agenda of the state.
Responding, the governor pledged the commitment of his administration to work with IITA to achieve agricultural transformation.
He said that the state government had identified four pillars, including education, rural infrastructure, economic development (agriculture), and security to help drive development.
Makinde said that for the state to attain economic development, agriculture must be transformed.
“This is because most of our people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
“Besides, through agricultural transformation, we will be able to provide the needed jobs for our youths,” he added.
On infrastructure, he promised that construction would soon begin on one of the major agricultural roads from Moniya to Iseyin.
“On completion, the road would ease the movement of farm produce to the market,” he said.
He also said that discussions were in top gear with the Federal Government to rehabilitate the Oyo town-Iseyin Road.
(Edited by Tayo Ikujuni/Sam Oditah)