By Monday Ijeh/Desmond Ejibas
Abuja, Feb. 16, 2019 (NNN) Sen. Magnus Abe on Saturday called on voters not to be discouraged by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) decision to postpone the 2019 general elections to Feb. 23 and March 9.
He said that Nigerians should give INEC benefit of doubt to conduct free, fair and credible elections on the new dates.
“The important thing about election is that it should be done well, if it should be done at all.
“If there are too many loose ends that would be unacceptable to all participants and observers; then the right thing to do like INEC has done is to postpone it.
“But I think it would have made more sense if INEC had realised whatever challenges that they had earlier rather than wait till the last minute. The signs should have been there.
Abe said that Nigerians may not have been disappointed with the postponement if they had been informed at the build up to the polls.
The senator said that many had made arrangements as well as travelled across Nigeria and from abroad only to learn of the postponement.
“So, I think INEC owe Nigerians a clearer explanation of what happened. However, there is no time that INEC will hold the election that everybody will vote.
“An election is always decided by those who vote. So, at the end of the day, those who want their contributions to count will have to come out and vote.
“Voters are the ones who will decide outcome of the election. So, my appeal to all Nigerians who wanted to vote is that they should not be discouraged by the postponement,” he said.
Abe, who is the candidate of an APC faction in Rivers, said the delay would also provide an opportunity for aggrieved parties to settle their dispute.
“Like in Rivers state, it’s a good opportunity for the Court of Appeal to deliver judgement over some of the existing contentions bordering on candidature of APC in the state,” he said.
Also, Prof. Abdulhameed Ujo of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Abuja, told NNN that Nigerians should exercise patience over the postponement.
Ujo expressed dissatisfaction over the postponement, adding that it was unfortunate after a long period of preparation.
“Nigerians must be patient, this is our country, whatever happens, we should come together and work towards salvaging it.
“For those that have the opportunity to make contributions to the success of the election, this is the right time for it.
“We must rally round INEC to ensure that things are done better and quickly because we cannot afford to postpone the election further.
“For me, we should rally round INEC to succeed because further postponement will directly or indirectly have negative effect on every Nigerian,” he said.
He said that the postponement of the election was a manifestation of INEC’s failure to plan properly and use the right people for the job.
Ujo said that the explanation of the INEC chairman that the challenge was with the distribution of sensitive materials was not cogent enough.
According to him, this is the easiest thing to do in electoral process if you know how to manage elections.
He said that the first thing to do was to get logistics ready, adding that the electoral body had taken things for granted.
“I have a feeling that they took things for granted and with this happening, they may have a serious problem next week.
“Nigerian are already facing psychological problem and coming back to tell them that the election will be postponed again will not be good.
“I will advice that by on Thursday, they should make sure that everything is ready with most of the non-sensitive materials moved to the various states.
“By Friday night and early hours of Saturday, the sensitive materials should be on their way to the various polling units.
“In doing this, there must be good security arrangement to protect the materials the night before the elections,” he said.
NNN reports that INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in a news conference in the early hours of Saturday confirmed speculations that the elections would not hold as scheduled, citing logistic challenges. (NNN)
Edited by Bola Akingbehin/Ifeyinwa Omowole
World Bank APPEALS project: 350 beneficiaries graduate in Lagos
Lagos, Dec. 15, 209 The Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, has charged beneficiaries of the World Bank APPEALS Project to access the grants and develop viable investment plans for them to become employers of labour.
Hamzat said this at the graduation ceremony of Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS Project) for Women and Youth Empowerment Programme(WYEP), Batch I, at Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe, Lagos State.
Hamzat represented by Mr Adedoyin Adesanya, Chairman, Epe Local Government, said that APPEALS project was aimed at supporting farmers’ productivity.
He added that it was also their linkage to market with a vision to assisting 10,000 direct beneficiaries with anticipated 35 per cent women beneficiaries.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the beneficiaries were the first batch of the 1,620 shortlisted participants for the Small and Medium Scale Farmers and Improve value in addition to poultry, aquaculture and rice value chains in Lagos State.
The beneficiaries were trained in two locations, Lagos and Abeokuta, for three weeks.
Two hundred of them were trained in rice and poultry oroductions at the Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe, while the remaining 150 were trained in aquaculture at the Aquatic Hub-Afrique Network, Abeokuta
The deputy governor said, “Being here today as a beneficiary of APPEALS project women and youth empowerment programme is a major feat after being selected out of the over 7,000 applicants for the available 1,700 slots.
“I wish to congratulate all the beneficiaries for your involvement in this laudable project which is aimed at supporting the unemployed and the under employed.
“I implore you all to access the grant element of the project by developing viable investment plans that will not just make you agro-prenuers but also make you employers of labour.”
He also commended the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture for achieving the feat.
“Lagos with over 20 million residents and an estimated net migration rate of 123,000 people daily, is a uniquely high pressured state,” he said.
Hamzat said that despite the relatively small land mass and some geographical limitations, Lagos accounts for over 60 per cent of industrial and commercial activities of the nation.
He said this had gone to show that the state was controlling a large share of the national economy and market segment.
“It is pertinent to note that the present administration led by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is exploring and investing in the use of innovation and technology to create competitive advantage in ensuring that Lagos attains a 21st Century economy.
“Gone are the days of our fore fathers when agriculture depended solely on cutlasses, hoes and nature.
“Today’s agriculture now uses sophisticated technologies such as indoor vertica farming, automation, precision agriculture, greenhouse practices, block chair in marketing, artificial intelligence, GPS technology and a host of others.
“These are technologies, which in turn, will allow businesses to be more efficient, safer, environmentally friendly, competitive and profitable with the aim of productivity enhancement.
“As little as our land is, we want to produce significantly more crops per acre, improve quantity and quality of produce, mitigate against risks and secure the environment,” he said.
Hamzat also said the state government would always contribute its quota to all donor /World Bank Assisted Projects through regular payments of its counterpart contributions.
He added that the state would also provide capable human resources for the successful implementation of these projects.
The deputy governor urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the grants, while assuring them of the state government’s readiness to develop regulatory framework for farmers to thrive.
He said, “Studies by the National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS) have shown that agricultural sector grew by 3.17 per cent in first quarter of 2019 in Nigeria from 2.46 in fourth quarter in 2018 and it can only get better.
“In a similar vein, to curb unemployment rate in the state which is growing at an alarming rate of 23.1 per cent in Nigeria, the state government launched a N4 billion Fund (LSSTF) for women entrepreneurs through the Lagos State Empowerment Trust Fund (LSSTF).
“The LSSTF is to empower women with ingenious business ideas which will in turn create wealth for the teeming populace.”
The deputy governor also assured the beneficiaries of the state’s readiness to come up with conducive regulatory frameworks and a business-friendly environment for commerce to thrive.
He said this would be achieved by providing support for the key economic sectors which Agriculture is a major part.
“Apart from the need to attain agricultural revolution and food security in the state, the horizon is very promising for using agriculture as one of the driving forces for repositioning Lagos as an investment destination of the nation and making her a 21st Century economy,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gbolahan Lawal, said the graduation of the Batch I WYEP signalled the beginning of a new concept to the APPEALS project implementation.
Lawal said the main thrust of APPEALS project was to increase productivity, production, improve processing and marketing of the target value chains, which would foster job creation along identified value chains.
He said that one of the primary objectives of the APPEALS project was employment generation.
He said that had formed the fulcrum of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s THEMES Developmental Agenda meant to harness the skills of youths, increase their productivity and unleash their economic potential.
“Women and youth empowerment is not new to us in the state.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has been doing that through various projects such as Agriculture based Youth Empowerment Scheme (Agric-YES), Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP).
“Today, I present to you 350 beneficiaries; 165 in Poultry value chain, 35 in Rice value chain and 150 in Aquaculture value chain as batch 1 of the APPEALS project empowerment programme.
“I wish to congratulate all the participants for their involvement in this laudable project which is designed for the unemployed and under employed women and youth with the aim of facilitating income generation and improved livelihood of the beneficiaries,” he said.
He urged them to open up their minds as agro-prenuers and make the best use of the opportunities provided to ensure that the aim of the programme is achieved.
“This is the first leg in the APPEALS empowerment.
“I also want to sound a note of warning that only diligent and serious beneficiaries will receive the grant element of APPEALS project. I charge you all to make the best use of this opportunity,” he said.
Edited by: Tayo Ikujuni
Why Bank of Agriculture is still in distress-Minister
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Malam Sabo Nanono said the Bank of Agriculture(BOA) was still in distress because no concrete effort was made to recapitalise it in spite of pronouncements in the past.
Nanono disclosed this while speaking the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.
He said it was disheartening to note that a bank established to cater for the needs of Nigerian farmers was distressed and nothing serious was done about it.
According to him, the agricultural sector is a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) and as such whatever will help reposition it should not be treated with kids glove.
“The plan was never beyond newspaper publications. I think there was no serious attempt and personally I think that is not the best approach.
“The best approach is to look at it properly and reorganise the bank and reposition it.
” If you are to sell the Bank of Agriculture now, you have to look at some portfolios. Its life assets and dead assets and see the balance between the two.
“Can you afford at that point to go to public, and are you going to privatise it? That means selling it at a go or is it going to be partial investment.
“If the private sector is keying into buying it, obviously they have to look at the portfolio investment of the bank and to me it is not a comfortable position now to go into the financial market for investment,” he said.
The minister pledged his commitment to ensuring that the bank picked up as soon as possible in order to carry out its mandate.
“We are trying to look at it seriously and reposition it. I have already appointed a committee to look into reorganisation of the agricultural bank.
Edited by: Ali Baba-Inuwa
Border closure not breaching free trade agreement, FG says
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, says Federal Government’s closure of the Nigerian border does not in any way breach the free trade agreement in the West African sub-region.
The minister said on Sunday in Abuja that the measure was meant to protect the country and its citizens from the nefarious activities which take place at the borders.
“Free trade does not mean Nigeria has to be a dumping ground for everything imported by others. These products are not even from all these countries involved. So, why should they be feasting on us?
“Nigeria controls 60 to 70 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the West African sub-region.
“So, Nigeria’s economy still remains a buffer zone for the West African sub-region.
“Besides, most of the people that come into this country and melt into the population from the West African su-region come in because this country is accommodating them.
“This happens to the extent that some of these people, when they migrate into this country, you do not even know that they are immigrants.
“Take for example, people from Niger Republic when they come into Kano State, what will differentiate them from the people from Kano, or those from Benin Republic who come into Oyo State or Osun. They look like us.
“This situation creates a problem, and the border closure is a measure that has gone a long way in solving the problem,’’ Nanono told the Nigeria News Agency .
The minister disclosed that the Federal Government was holding talks with the countries concerned to ensure that they kept to the terms of the free trade agreement.
He said the border closure was not meant to hurt anybody.
“It was a decision taken after careful deliberation and series of attempts by government to get the neighbouring countries to check the illegal activities at the borders.’’
Nanono pointed out that a lot of activities were going on at the borders which were not in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Nigeria became a dumping ground for all kinds of imports, especially rice, which used to come from these neighbouring countries.
“The unfortunate thing about it is that most of the rice being imported are not healthy and 100 per cent of these rice were not produced in these countries. They were produced elsewhere.
“From what I gathered, some of the countries were even given some forms of assistance to curb these imports, but they refused to change.
“They went ahead, with their countries becoming routes to import rice and other things into this country.
“No country in the world can tolerate what we have tolerated over the years.
“This (Nigeria) is a country that can produce rice, not only to feed itself but also to export to other countries.
“Even before the closure of border, when the government changed policy from continuous importation of rice to restriction, the Nigerian farmers have showed that they can produce rice to feed this nation,” he said.
The minister said one of the major impacts of the closure of border was that Nigerians have began to consume local rice and other locally-produced commodities.
“l am pleased to note that the consumption of local rice has now gone beyond our imagination.
“They now eat Abakaliki rice and they are happy about it. It is fresh, nutritious and healthy.
“In fact, you can perceive the local rice’s good aroma in the mill, as opposed to the one being imported into the country which does not even add value to our health and which is not even nutritious. So, why should we even bother ourselves about this?
“We have reached a level where in the next two years we will start exporting rice, based on what I saw when I visited the cluster of rice millers at Kura in Kano State, which is about a one-kilometre stretch,” he said.
Nanono also said the Federal Government had began examining all issues surrounding all other commodities, apart from rice, being imported into the country.
“Any commodity Nigeria has the potential of producing or we are currently producing will be banned from being imported.
“This is to preserve the country’s foreign exchange and ensure national development.’’
He urged Nigerians to take advantage of the border closure to invest in any of the agricultural value chains, pointing out that opportunities for investment had been created.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)
Cries about negative impact of border closure sponsored-Sen. Adamu
Sen. Abdullahi Adamu has asked the Federal Government to ignore concerns in some quarters that the border closure was impacting negatively on the economy.
Adamu, who is the Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture, gave the advice in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Saturday.
He opined that the cries were being sponsored by smugglers who were hard hit by the policy.
According to him, there is no doubt that adjusting to a new lifestyle of patronising made in Nigeria products will result in temporary inconveniences, but to say the policy is not beneficial is not true.
“The hews and cries we hear are sponsored cries.
“Sponsored in the sense that for whatever reason those who are suffering as a result of closure are those who are into the business of smuggling into this country.
”Therefore, they are being challenged and the only thing they can do is to blackmail government to say that yes they are being denied their source of livelihood but that source of livelihood of theirs is at the detriment of the greater good of the Nigerian nation and its people.
“If we allow our borders to continue to be porous. If we continue to listen to the cries of people who are shedding crocodile tears about the border closure, then we will not be able to protect our own.
“We will not be able to ensure that we develop policies deliberately to protect the interest of people that we are to protect.
“So, yes people are doing businesses with the borders opened but what they are doing is at the expense of the growth of Nigeria’s business.
“Quite a number of what is imported through these neighbours of ours are things that challenge our own ability or plans to produce. We have allowed our borders for so long to be a conduit for brining into the country what Nigerians are producing.
“And because the cost of production in the so called developed nations is not much, because they know when we produce what they are bringing into the country, our cost of production is way more than their own.
“And so in the market, their produce is cheaper than our own. The challenge we have is whether we should continue to leave our borders so porous for them to be doing brisk business at the expense of the Nigerian producers, or we contain their excesses so as to give the Nigerian business community the opportunity to brace up,’’ he said.
He further said, “Yes there is artificial increase in the prices of essential food stuff just to undermine the effort of government to say people are now suffering. Christmas is at the corner and the prices of food stuff have increased and all of that but these are all artificial.
“They are all stage managed to frighten government to say this policy is not popular, we must change it. I think they have the wrong person in their mind. President Muhammadu Buhari is very strong hearted.”
According to the lawmaker, one major impact of the border closure is changing of Nigerians’ preference for foreign goods.
“The frozen chickens they import are not healthy for consumption. The rice they import, who knows how long they have been stored.
“They just bring it and because it is foreign and we have got the mentality, the appetite of consuming imported produce they put us in the state of mind unfortunately that is making it difficult for people to change,” he said.
Adamu declared total support for government on the development, pointing out that it was one of the occasions that the Federal Government stood up to protect the interest of Nigerians.
On concerns that the development was affecting the cordial relationship Nigeria enjoyed with neighbouring countries over the years, Adamu said, while Nigerians believed in good neighbourliness, the primary responsibility of government was preservation of lives of Nigerians and protection of their property.
He said, while the borders may not remain closed forever, some lessons had been learnt.
He prayed God to continue to strengthen President Muhammadu Buhari and all his appointees in charge of the subject matter to stand up to their oath of office and protect the borders and Nigerian businesses by keeping the borders in check.
Edited by: Felix Ajide
Why CBN must transfer Anchor Borrowers Programme to Agric Ministry – Sen. Adamu
The Chairman, National Agricultural Foundation, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, has restated the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to hand over administration of the Anchor Borrowers Programme and other agricultural programmes.
Adamu, who made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , in Abuja, urged the CBN to handover agricultural programmes to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The senator said it was high time CBN allowed FMARD carry out its mandate through the various agencies under it, adding that the mandate of the apex bank was to act as referee or monitor financial transactions and not taking over the function of any ministry.
The lawmaker, former governor of Nasarawa State, is also the Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture.
According to him, the agency of government that has the mandate for the promotion of agricultural production generally is domiciled in the Ministry of Agriculture and there is a bank called the Bank of Agriculture.
“It is supposed to be the agency through which financing of agricultural loan and other facilities to empower farmers of various categories to benefit and get necessary funding be domiciled.
“The bank of Agriculture is better placed like the Bank of Industry (BOI) as development banks to take responsibility in administering money from government that is aimed at promoting agricultural production in the country.
“The Central Bank has no mandate for agriculture. Where they have these funds, the best thing to do is to give it to the ministry of agriculture to manage, because some of these out-grower programmes we are talking about, their cost to the government is more than the budget of the federal ministry of agriculture itself.”
The chairman noted that a programme like the Anchor Borrowers Programme, currently domiciled in the CBN was a mismatch, adding that it fell within the purview of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
He said while there was no doubt that the BOA was in distress, rather than CBN usurping its mandate, efforts should be made at recapitalising it to be better positioned to carry out its mandate.
He said, “the Anchor Borrowers Programme for example, if you check how much money has gone in there as from 2016, 2017 to date, you will find out that the money is over and above, about four times the budget provision for ministry of agric in its entirety.
“I believe that it is not within the mandate of the Central Bank of Nigeria as the apex and monitoring bank to get involved with loan facilities because they are the referee in financial sector.
“Now when they begin to give loans and there is default from beneficiaries of the loans, who is going to be the referee.
“The Central Bank has put itself in a very precarious situation. The same Central Bank of Nigeria as I talk to you today has not paid up its capital for recapitalising the bank of agriculture since 1974 when the agric bank was established.
“So, it is in distress, there is no doubt about it and everybody knows why it is in distress. Till this very moment, both the Ministry of Finance and the CBN have not lived up to their responsibilities of recapitalising the bank of agriculture.”
On efforts to reposition the agricultural sector, Adamu said, as chairman senate committee on agriculture, he had proposed several bills that would impact the sector positively, saying, “I have about seven bills in the mill, going through parliamentary processes to be passed into law.”
According to him, the bills are, Food Reserve Agency of Nigeria Bill, Research Council Reform Bill, Agric Mechanisation Bill and Agricultural Development Fund Bill among others.
He commended Nigerian farmers for their efforts at ensuring food security in the country despite the challenges they were facing.
He, however, challenged them to adopt new technologies to reap from the potentials available in all value chains in the agricultural process.
He promised that the legislature would continue to play its part in ensuring that the interest of farmers and relevant stakeholders were protected.
Edited by: Felix Ajide
Ministry, RIFAN collaborate to boost rice production
Ministry of Water Resources and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), on Friday, signed an MoU for proper utilisation of the irrigation channels of the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) to boost rice farming across the country.
The President of RIFAN, Mr Aminu Goronyo, told newsmen in Abuja that the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, signed the MoU.
He said that the minister described the move as his contribution toward the Presidential Initiative to make Nigeria the rice hub in Africa and to ensure food security.
Goronyo added that the minister said government was determined to reposition and strengthen the RBDAs to become major economic nerve-centres in line with government’s economic diversification policy.
He said for proper utilization, the RBDAs were undergoing structural reforms toward partial and eventually full commercialisation of their operations, as the National Council on Privatisation approved the appointment of a transaction adviser to guide the process.
The RIFAN boss said “the ministry initiated the National Irrigation Programme with the aim of establishing additional 100,000 hectares of irrigated farmland by 2020.”
Goronyo added that the move was imperative “following increased food demand due to growing population.”
He explained that since most agriculture across the country was currently rain-fed, increased availability of irrigation by farmers was essential and in high demand.
He, however, noted that “because the ministry has the capacity to speed up the economic diversification moves, RIFAN seek the assistance of the minister for the utilization of its 116 facilities, including 38 irrigation and drainage projects, 37 dams and 41 water supply projects spread nationwide.”
The rice farmers association president said that the approval would reposition and strengthen farmers to produce more “and make the country a major economic nerve-centre in rice production line with government’s economic diversification policy.”
Goronyo, who noted that a token irrigation water charge would be paid in bulk to the RBDAs, said the irrigation scheme would help farmers in rice production three times a year with bumper harvest.
He said the minister also promised to meet with heads of all the affected RBDAs to work out modalities for work to commence.
He disclosed that the move was also in line with the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari that goverrnment would revive all the 12 River Basin Development Authorities to boost agricultural activities across the country.
Goronyo added that “while irrigation is essential for rice productivity improvement, there is need for complementary services, infrastructure and institutions for greater impact on production and wellbeing.”
He, however, said that RIFAN, under the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, would accompany the scheme as others under the rain fed through the provision of institutional support services and complementary farm inputs.
These include the facilitation of access to farm inputs such as fertilizer and herbicide.
Edited by: Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu
World Bank to support SAN yoghourt boost production – Official
Dr Adetunji Oredipe, Task Team Lead, World Bank, on Friday assured the readiness of the bank to support Zaria based SAN Yoghourt company to boost its production.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the support would come through Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS).
Oredipe said: “What we are trying to do under APPEALS is to enhance productivity of our farmers to fix the value chain in this wise; dairy farming.
“And in fixing the value chain when you take from where you move it to the field till when the farmers is able to raise the animal, produce the milk, then you take it up and turn it to yoghourt as the end product.
“There is a lot of nots along this chain, if any of the nots is weak, then the final thing you get will not be optimal, so, our job as a team working with your team is to look at all the nots and fix all the problems.
“There are roles that we will play as facilitators, when I say we I mean the project, there are roles that farmers themselves will have to play and as off-takers you also have your roles,” he said.
According to him, the beauty of the relationship is in identifying those roles and everybody playing according to the rules.
He expressed satisfaction that the company agreed to work with the farmers.
“We observed that for you to work with them, they need to be better organised for it to make sense for you, we need to do it in such a way that they all meet you at a collection point and that will make the job a lot easier for you.
“So, those are the little little things that we need to do to make your own job easier and from your end you will be interested in the quality of the milk you are picking, the way the milk is handled and other expectations.
“To do that, we are happy that you have invested here and for this investment to continue to flow every other person has to play according to the rules.”
Oredipe said the programme needed to know what prompted the company to go into the business, knowledge of raw materials supply, and where the targeted farmers are located, within or outside the state.
The TTL also enquired about the company’s programme to support the farmers as well as the profitability of the business so that they could meet them at a point.
“You need to educate us on your understanding of the profitability of this business we are trying to do together, then you can be specific about some of the things you will expect APPEALS to do for you.
“In what we call productive alliance relationship, which is the type you are having between you and those farmers now, there are things that you need to do.
“For example, if because you know that the number of farmers that are willing to do business with you have increased and you need to increase your own line of business.
“May be you are using two lines or three lines, you want to add one, you can discuss that, if we partner with you in doing that, not only because of you but to be able to actually meet the needs of these extra farmers that are coming on board,” he said.
Responding, the Managing Director, SAJ Food, Alhaji Sanusi Abdullahi appreciated the team for what he described as progressive visit.
Abdullahi, who was represented by the General Manager and Dairy Manager SAJ Food, Alhaji Aminu Yahaya-Masanawa said the company was collecting milk from a lot of farmers.
He recalled that SAJ Food started producing yoghourt with powdered milk, adding that initially all their facilities were to accommodate powdered milk only.
Abdullahi said: “But as the dairy sector is changing, Nigeria is changing too, so we need to change our facilities too to the fresh milk collection instead of the powdered milk.
“In that wise, we started to organise the farmers, started to visit them and we started to collect the milk from them. Initially we had a lot of challenges transforming from powdered milk to fresh milk.
“Sometimes even the milk collected from farmers will reach us not in a healthy way, sometimes it will be contaminated, yet, the Managing Director because of his interest in it continued to invest, continued to collect the milk despite the losses we have been making.
“Thank God gradually we started achieving results, as at now we have a lot of farmers, as at today, we are collecting up to 7,000 liters of fresh milk for processing.” the MD said.
He, however, said that the company had the capacity to process 72,000 liters at a shift of eight hours, adding the company gradually grew from collecting 100 to 200 up to the present 7,000 litres.
On challenges, Abdullahi identified the scattered nature of farmers’ settlements and need for a milk bulking truck to ease collection of the product.
He assured that the company was making efforts to produce yoghurt using 100 per cent fresh milk.
Edited by: Saidu Adamu/Maharazu Ahmed
APPEALS partners Fulani community to raise milk production by 500%
Mr Tijjani Abdul-Gaffar of Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) says the programme is working with Fulani community in Dorayi, Zaria Local Government Area of Kaduna State to raise milk production by 500 per cent.
Abdul-Gaffar, who is the National Procurement Specialist, APPEALS, made the disclosure while addressing members of Dorayi cluster at Dorayi on Friday.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Dorayi Fulani cluster has over 7,000 herds of cattle.
He said the target was to raise the income of the villagers, adding that the programme would open wider market and boost productivity of the livestock.
“For the present one liter that you get from a cow, you can produce up to five liters per cow, that is the main reason why the project is here, this is what we want you to achieve.
“But before we do that we want to try to have a market because if you are producing one liter it means your market is just one liter, that’s why we came with the idea of off-takers.
“So that when we improve your yield from one liter to five liters per cow, we have already provided a market where you will sell the product,” he said.
Abdul-Gaffar appreciated Dorayi cluster for according special interest to the programme and urged them to sustain the tempo to adequately boost their productivity.
“We have seen the level of preparedness but as a national office, we want to ask how far you have gone in terms of your preparation for both the technology demonstration and also the adoption of those technologies demonstrated to you.
“We don’t want to be coming and coming for just meetings, the next time we will be here we want to see the results of what we have actually impacted in the farmers and also in the off-takers.
“The state office has explained to us that they have been able to identify an off-taker that is ready to pick all the milk that is being produced from this area.
“And they have also informed us that they have been able to form you into a cluster and that we are seeing,”the specialist said.
He cautioned them against any misunderstanding with the off-takers, so as to derive maximum benefits from the intervention.
In his speech, Dr Adetunji Oredipe, Task Team Lead (TTL), World Bank APPEALS project, said that the essence of the programme was to introduce new technologies towards increasing daily dairy production.
“This project is about achieving three major differences in what you do; it makes sure that we enhance your productivity, to fix all issues you may have in value chain and to ensure that you become competitive like any other business.
“By the time we work with you, we want to make sure that all these happen, we want a situation where those with one animal increase to two, the entire essence is to bring positive change.
“In doing this, we have to work together, as we go forward, we will require you to do a few things; we will be interested in the way you organise yourselves so that we will be bringing all sorts of trainings, ideas and information and you should be open to these.
“We may be introducing technologies to you, you should therefore accept and try the new things. I want to thank the Ardo and other leaders for creating space for women to be part of this progress,” he said.
Oredipe said that the visit was to see how to change them from the traditional means of milk production from the initial one liter per cow to five liters and later to 15 liters.
“What we want from you is the determination to accept the technologies to be able to increase your production capacity. We want those with one cattle to own two cattle and cattle breeders to become marketers.”
Responding on behalf of the community, the Ardo of Dorayi, Alhaji Shu’aibu Dorayi, appreciated the organisation for bringing new techniques toward boosting their yields.
While assuring the readiness of members of the cluster to embrace the technology, the Ardo urged APPEALS to sustain the relationship for the good of the nation.
Edited by: Yakubu Uba/Maharazu Ahmed
Maize farmers seek support on infrastructure, storage facilities
Maize growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPMAN) has pleaded with the federal and state governments to provide infrastructural and storage facilities to boost farmers’ output.
The association’s National President Edwin Uche made this appeal in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Abuja.
Uche urged governments at the federal and state level to come to the aid of rural farmers by providing infrastructure, saying this would also ease the suffering of rural farmers.
“ Infrastructure is another key to agriculture because of the difficulties involved in moving agricultural produce from the rural to urban area.
“It is a herculean task if the challenge of infrastructure is not addressed, couple with the increase cost of production.
“We are therefore appealing to government to help by intervening in such critical area so that movement of inputs, goods and services can be easier for farmers,’’ he said.
The MAGPMAN president also appealed for intervention in storage facilities for farmers, saying storage was another big challenge confronting rural maize farmers.
“We are also advocating that government should make its silos flexible for associations to make use of these silos through those who have the benefit of getting the silos,’’ Uche said.
He added that if the cost of these silos were cheaper, associations could comfortably enjoin their members to store and make food available all year round.
“Government should please support us with storage facilities,’’ the MAGPMAN national president said.
Uche said MAGPMAN “is the apex body that drives maize value chain in Nigeria and addressing issues and challenges confronting maize farming in Nigeria”.
According to him, the association is highly positioned with the necessary capacity to drive home their objectives and deliver values to farmers and all stakeholders.
“We have the MAGPMAN dry season support scheme for specific states that have access to irrigation and water.
“The scheme is designed to advance farm inputs to our farmers at a low credit of 10 per cent interest rate for six months, the idea is for them to grow within six months,’’ he said.
He disclosed this came with an off taker infrastructure they had created, which makes it easier for them to absorb what the farmers had grown, ensuring the end value for growing those commodities.
Uche also said that to achieve this they had developed partnership with quality input service providers.
“Many seed companies are already working with the association, we are also working with agro-chemical organisation that will help advance quality agro-chemical that are fully tailored to the growth of maize in Nigeria.
“This partnership is important to ensure that we have enough maize, not just for the industrial sector but also for local consumption,” he said.
Edited by: Kayode Olaitan
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