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Expert advises cassava farmers to avoid delayed planting



Expert advises cassava farmers to avoid delayed planting


Lagos, March 11, 2019 An Agriculture Consultant, Mr Mba Agu, on Monday advised farmers to plant cassava stems immediately it got to the farm sites to ensure better yield.

Agu, who gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, said that cassava stems often yielded better results when planted in time.

“Cassava stem has a life span of between five and seven days.

“We have always advised farmers to ensure that they plough and harrow their lands before coming to collect the cassava stems they have ordered.

“Farmers, who complained of low yields or problems with the stem, had such complaint because they did not heed to instructions,” he said

Agu maintained that farmers should prepare their fields and ensure that the land was ready before placing orders for the cassava stems.

“After ploughing and harrowing of the field, ridging follows; the farmer can collect the materials for planting.

“It is always good to plant as the ridging is going on,” the consultant said.

Agu, a former employee of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia, said that cassava stems were not materials that could be displayed on shelves like grains and seeds.

He said that once a farmer indicated interest for cassava stems, they could liaise with agriculture consultants or contract growers; place orders and pay.

“Then, they would be given a date for collection,” he said.

According to him, a bundle of improved variety of cassava stem sells for N1, 000, while the yellow roots specie, fortified with Vitamin D, sells for N5, 000 per bundle.

Agu said that 50 sticks of one metre-length each, made up a bundle of cassava stem.

He said that the collection date was to ensure that the stems were ready for the farmers, adding that those who wanted them sent to their farms; would incur the cost of transportation.

He further advised farmers to always seek expert advice to ensure improved yields.

Agu said that cassava stems were also available at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), National Agriculture Institute, Umudike, National Seed Council and Agriculture Development Project (ADPs) and Cassava Growers nationwide.


Ethiopian expert says Africa can learn from Chinese pandemic management system




China is an able and willing partner of Africa and countries in the African continent can learn from the Chinese development and pandemic management system, an Ethiopian expert said on Saturday.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, noted that the African continent currently accounts for a small fraction of the infections globally.

However, Costantinos told Xinhua that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, stressed that China is probably the only nation that can address the challenges faced by the global South in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption.

According to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent had surpassed 171,206, as the death toll from the pandemic surged to 4,766.

The continental disease control and prevention agency, which noted that the virus has so far spread into 54 African countries, also disclosed that more than 75,083 people who had been infected with COVID-19 had recovered across the continent so far.


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COVID-19 : Expert warns against overdose of vitamin C



Mr Paul Okoh, a nutritionist, has warned against the overdose of Vitamin C, to boost immune systems against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Okoh told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja that such overdose could cause undesirable effects.

NAN reports that Vitamin C is one of the many water-soluble nutrients found naturally in fruits and vegetables.

Many people also take supplements to ensure that they get enough of it.

However, this has raised concerns over the likelihood of an accidental overdose.

The nutritionist said that it was wrong to take an overdose of vitamin C to prevent being affected by the virus.

According to him, Vitamin C is a type of antioxidant that helps protect the body from free radicals that damage and destroy healthy cells.

“In this respect, getting enough of the nutrient is just one way you can support your body’s natural defenses against illness.

“This is how it gained its reputation as a virus-fighting vitamin.

“It also helps increase iron absorption, which is essential for growth and overall body functions. Not having enough vitamin C can lead to a potentially deadly condition known as scurvy.

“Oranges and orange juices are perhaps the best-known sources of vitamin C, but other items in the produce aisle are bell peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi
potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes.’

The patients may probably not need vitamin C supplement if they eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

“In fact, just one serving of any of the above foods could get you to your daily quota,” he said.

Okoh said that the average adult woman required 70mg of vitamin C per day, while the average man required 90mg.

He recommended that the amounts were higher for pregnant and nursing women.

According to him, it’s important to discuss your individual nutritional needs with your doctor.

“The maximum recommended amount or upper limit is 2,000mg per day for all adults.

“Taking more than the upper limit for vitamin C is not life-threatening, but you may experience side effects like: abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, headaches, nausea and possible vomiting, and also sleeping problems.

“People with hemochromatosis are in danger of a vitamin C overdose.

“This condition causes your body to store excessive amounts of iron, which is exacerbated by taking too much vitamin C. This condition can lead to body tissue damage,” he said.

Okoh stated that Vitamin C supplements may also interact with certain medications, especially medications for heart disease and cancer.

“Be sure to check with your doctor before taking a supplement,” he advised.

He said an overdose of vitamin C may also result in undesirable health conditions such as gall bladder stone, kidney stones and pelvic ulcer.

”You know vitamin C is good for the body but its important people should take it moderately, at least only once in a day.

“But unfortunately some of our patients take double or triple dose in a day and one of the side effects of this drug is that it causes peptic ulcer, which will create other problems for them.

About 10 of our patients were discovered to have taken the overdose of these drugs.

He advised Nigerians to desist from self-medication, adding that drugs should be taken based on doctor’s prescription.

Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)



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Polio eradication expertise backs Africa’s COVID-19 response –WHO



The World Health Organisation (WHO) says expertise in polio eradication that has put Africa on the verge of being certified free of wild poliovirus has been brought to the frontlines of COVID-19 fight.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo disclosed this in a statement posted on its website and also on its twitter handle on Friday.

“À network of responders from WHO Polio Eradication Programme and partner organisations is providing critical resources and skills to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While testing is the core of any strategy to contain the virus, the region has had a relatively low number of tests performed.

“Since the outbreak started, nearly two million tests have been carried out in the WHO African Region, with an average test rate of 15.3 per 10 000 population.

“To boost diagnosis, the WHO-coordinated polio laboratory network comprising 16 laboratories in 15 countries is now dedicating 50 per cent of its capacity to COVID-19 testing.

“Hundreds of tests are carried out every day using polio testing machines in Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.’’

The statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying: “in Africa, no one has the footprint of the polio programme nor the expertise for mounting effective response campaigns.

So with COVID-19 threatening to overwhelm health systems, the extensive polio response network is once again lending crucial support as countries build up systems to contain COVID-19,’’ she said.

Contact tracing has been a central pillar of the WHO polio programme’s support to the COVID-19 response.

Mobile phone applications originally developed for health workers to use in polio outbreak response and disease surveillance have been adapted by WHO to be used against COVID-19.

In Zimbabwe, for example, over 100 disease surveillance officers are using these tools for case investigations and contact tracing in many provinces where COVID-19 has been confirmed.

In addition, WHO Geographic Information System (GIS) centre in Brazzaville is using its huge experience in outbreak response and disease surveillance to support countries with a range of GIS and software technology and manual solutions to respond to COVID-19.

The GIS team is now working around the clock supporting countries to take up the technology for COVID-19 response.

More than 2,000 polio response experts from WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, as well as STOP consultants from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supporting the COVID-19 response in the African Region.

A quarter of WHO polio staff are dedicating more than 80 per cent of their time towards COVID-19 efforts, with 65 per cent anticipating a commitment of six months or more.

Alongside the support to the COVID-19 response, WHO polio staff are also maintaining critical functions and planning to resume mass polio immunisation campaigns once the situation permits.

The statement further quoted Moeti as saying: “It is important that the support to COVID-19 response does not jeopardize the progress made in stopping all forms of polio transmission in the region.

“The fight against the pandemic should not come at the detriment of other health emergencies.’’

Across the continent, COVID-19 has disrupted mass polio vaccination campaigns in line with the global physical distancing recommendations that limit COVID-19 transmission.

The suspension of high-quality immunisation rounds may risk new polio outbreaks due to low coverage.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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General news

Make Lagos more natural, greening, Expert urges Govt, corporate bodies



Prof. Babajide Alo, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), has called on Lagos State Government, corporate bodies and individuals to embrace greening as a way of improving the health and wellbeing of the citizenry.

Alo made the call on Friday in Lagos, at a Virtual conference organised by the University of Lagos Green Club to commemorate the World Environment Day 2020 (WED).

He also urged the state government to return and improve on the parks and garden beautification era to provide and make the state more natural and greening.

The topic of the conference was: “Nurturing Nature Between the Town and Gown.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the World Environment Day was observed annually on June 5.

It stresses on the importance of active participation in environment conservation and sustainable living.

The theme was: “Celebrate Biodiversity.”

Alo said that greening has a great impact on the health of citizens and the environment, by reducing the emission of carbon dioxide.

He said biodiversity was important to man as an ecological life support, providing functioning ecosystem that supply oxygen, clean air, water and other ecosystem services.

The expert, however, noted that biodiversity was under threat due to human activities.

“Universities have opened up more to the external world, and have given much attention to the diffusion and economic exploitation of their research.

“There is need to focus more on making the gown assist the town, our communities to conserve nature to protect biodiversity,” he said.

Alo said biodiversity and the ecosystem loss had generated tremendous concern globally, as the extinction of plants and animal species were decreasing earth’s biodiversity, thereby depriving humans of potential resources such as food, medicine and enjoyment of nature.

He identified global trade in wildlife and global shipping as issues affecting and destroying nature and biodiversity.

Alo said with the COVID-19 experience, there was need for action for nature.

“The outbreak and experience of Coronavirus disease has left a significant environmental and health impact in the world.

“The pandemic is teaching us to take biodiversity conservation and protection seriously, and it reminds us that biodiversity degration leads to destruction of Mother Earth and planet gets impacted.

“Hence, this pandemic must, therefore, be teaching us a lesson that it is time to re-build for people and the planet,” he said.

Alo called on the universities to develop systematic environmental and biodiversity data collection for improved management and application.

He said: “Universities can join in the vanguard to reverse the degration; we must encourage all experts in biodiversity.

“We must fund them and make our curricula to have compulsory courses in biodiversity conservation and protection.

“Universities should make our teaching and research at all levels incorporate nature studies, inclusion of studies and text on biodiversity conservation into the national primary and secondary education as stipulated in the 2015 National Implementation document.”

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Interview: CABI expert sees “strong commitment” in ecological conservation in China




China, with its “strong commitment” in ecological conservation, has achieved some “remarkable outcomes” in its long-term national strategy for promoting sustainable development, an expert from Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) said.

“We applaud the Chinese government for its strong commitment and increasing investment in ecological conservation in recent years,” Dr Hariet L. Hinz told Xinhua in an interview ahead of World Environment Day, a UN campaign celebrated every year on June 5 to raise awareness about the protection of the environment.

China has highlighted ecological civilization as a long-term national strategy for promoting sustainable development, aiming at achieving harmony between people and nature, and by pursuing green development and guiding the transformation of production methods and lifestyle of the entire society,” said Dr Hinz, co-director of China MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs)-CABI European Joint Laboratory.

China‘s immense efforts in fighting pollution, restoring forest land and protecting wildlife are commendable,” said Dr Hinz, who is also the country director of CABI Switzerland.

To conserve the environment, China has adopted measures including massive tree-planting and coral restoration campaigns, clamping down on illegal wastewater discharge, treating polluted rivers and launching public education activities.

“Some of China‘s national ecological sustainability and protected area programs are among the world‘s largest, and they together have achieved remarkable outcomes,” said Dr Hinz.

“What other developing countries can learn is that to make these programs succeed requires strong political will and foresight to balance economic development with environment protection, the development of a sound policy and legislation framework, substantial financial commitment, mindset change, and public education and awareness-raising etc,” said Dr Hinz.

Dr Hinz also believes that international collaboration is “of paramount importance” to the development of greener agriculture in China and beyond.

CABI, headquartered in Britain, is an international, inter-governmental, not-for-profit organization that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

With a close partnership for over 30 years, China and CABI have achieved outstanding results through the establishment of joint laboratories in China and Switzerland and implementation of many joint research and development cooperation projects.

“In addition to those projects benefiting China directly, the joint labs have also assisted in introducing China‘s green plant protection products/techniques to developing countries under the umbrella of South-South cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative,” Dr Hinz said.

Many of these programs have helped pave the way for more sustainable crop production, as well as establishing a better environment and healthier lives for the farm households in the target region, according to Dr Hinz.


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Roundup: Experts root for deepening South-South cooperation in fight against COVID-19




Developing countries in Africa and beyond should strengthen partnership and solidarity under the South-South Cooperation modality to jointly address common socio-economic impacts imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, experts argued.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Friday that the South-South cooperation platform as a viable way to deepen technical and financial cooperation among developing countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South-South cooperation refers to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South. It is a tool used by the states, international organisations, academics, civil society and the private sector to collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas,” the scholar said.

Noting Africa in particular accounting for a small fraction of the infections globally, Costantinos stressed that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”

As the COVID-19 hits countries under the global south, the South-South cooperation platform can help collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas such as agricultural development, human rights, urbanization, health, and climate change,” Costantinos said.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Antonio Pedro, Director of the UNECA’s Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, also stressed that the global community, mainly countries in the developing world, should strengthen solidarity in order to effectively contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe as well as to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic.

Pedro mainly underscored the South-South collaboration scheme as an important global partnership platform in addressing the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis given to addressing the negative impacts of the pandemic on the socioeconomic and healthcare aspects of the African continent.

The South-South collaboration, as part of the global partnership, is important to address this pandemic, especially in the context of Africa because of the vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” Pedro said.

The ECA director also stressed that the global solidarity against the COVID-19 “goes beyond the short term imperative of curing people that have been affected and ensuring that people don’t infected, but also building back better.”

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, mainly singled out China as an important player in propelling global partnership and solidarity under the South-South cooperation platform, as he emphasized the Chinese engagement in propelling the development of countries in the Global South.

China is at a historical crossroads today when it comes to the economic recovery and global health with the United States withdrawing from most global development and security initiatives,” Costantinos told Xinhua.

The scholar emphasized China‘s role in in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption in the Global South and addressing the impact of climate change adaptation in the global south, among others.

Pedro, who emphasized the crucial imperative of deepening global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, also singled out China as a major player in propelling the much-needed global partnership and collaboration towards combating the virus.

“We see the Chinese engagement and the support that it is providing to African governments and to the African Union in terms of access to medical supplies, masks and other things as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ECA Director told Xinhua.

“We very much look forward to see more and more countries to emulate the Chinese example because it’s only through global partnerships, with collaboration, and with supporting each other that we will be able to combat this virus,” he affirmed.

According to a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report entitled “South-South Cooperation at the time of COVID-19: Building Solidarity Among Developing Countries,” for many developing countries, where up to 90 percent of the workforce engages in informal activity and lockdown is a difficult proposition, the first effects of the crisis came through economic contagion before the health shock.


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Data & Analysis

Expert urges journalists to embrace data journalism



A Leader, Centre for Open Data Research, Dr Patrick Enaholo, has urged Nigerian journalists to embrace Data Journalism to enhance their reporting, particularly on issues like health, nutrition and wellness reports.

Enaholo made the call at an online programme tagged: “Advancing Nutrition, Health and Wellness through the Media’, organised by Nestlé Nigeria Plc, in collaboration with the Lagos Business School.

He described data as well reasearched and objective facts based on reality, which could be in form of numbers, words or letters.

According to him, embracing Data Journalism is the way to go and the way to remain relevant in the industry.

“These days, stories are not just about the text or words, but also about data and visuals.

“This can keep the readers hooked to your news story.

“Journalists need to invest time and resources to equipping themselves with hands-on data journalism skills.

“Learning these skills will start you on the path to adding that extra punch to your news story by teaching you how to create data visualisations using available tools such as Google spread sheet, Excel, charts, infographics among others,” he said.

Enaholo, who also works at the School of Media and Communications, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, said such knowledge would help journalists to understand how to find, interpret and analyse data to tell a news story in a clear, simple, compelling and appealing way.

He, however, urged media organisations to also embrace data visualisation in their reports to tell deep an insightful stories and for easy understanding by readers.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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World Environment Day: Expert calls for actions in biodiversity protection



An environmental activist, Mr Emmanuel Emechete, says there is the need  for more proactive actions in biodiversity protection in the country.

Emechete made the assertion  in  an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Lagos,  in commemoration of the 2020 World Environment Day (WED).

NAN reports that WED is aimed by the United Nations to encourage worldwide awareness and actions to protect the environment.

It is celebrated every June 5.


The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Biodiversity: Time for Nature“.


Biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life on land and below water.

According to him,  biodiversity is a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world.

He added that about one million plant and animal species risked extinction largely due to human activities.

The expert called on Nigerians to take biodiversity serious and stop seeing nature only as a source of foods, raw materials and extra income.

”We need to do more about biodiversity as a country; we must take definite and proactive actions in protecting our environment and wildlife.

”We do not understand the importance of protecting species of animals and plants. All we think about is what is good for food or can bring in income. This ought not to be so.

”What we basically perceive nature for in Nigeria is food, medicine and basic source of raw materials.

”We fell trees without replanting  and poach wildlife without a thought of the specie going into extinction. We basically do not take enough actions to protect biodiversity,” he told NAN.

Emechete, who also called for the enforcement of policies to protect the environment and nature, said that more actions toward protecting the environment would be to the benefit of all.

”We need to do something significant in terms of actionable plans to protect nature  and the environment from our end.

”We have not done any significant work in biodiversity in Nigeria. I am not talking of paperwork and reports,  but meaning practical actions.

”We have a few polices against tree felling, but the question is: Are they being implemented?

”Sometimes some forest guards  even take bribes to allow people to  fell trees,” he said.

Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu (NAN)Ijeoma Popoola

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Post-COVID-19: Experts call for review of Bilateral Air Services Agreement



Some aviation experts have called for an immediate review of Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to create an enabling business environment for airlines.

They made the call at the third edition of the aviation webinar organised by a law firm, AELEX partners, on Friday in Lagos.

Mr Nick Fadugba, the Chairman of African Business Aviation Association (AFBAA), said the multiple entry points and the frequencies of foreign airlines had been a disadvantage to Nigerian airlines as opposed to the advantages the agreement was supposed to present.

“At the time the bilateral agreement was made, Nigerian airlines in play at the time were relatively new, and now to ensure the growth of the airlines, there’s a need to review the agreement to properly incorporate the airlines as the agreements do not favour the average Nigerian carrier.

“The  multiple entry points have diluted the domestic market for the carriers,” he said.

Fadugba noted that there was need to overhaul the current business plans of the airlines with emphasis on unit cost, load factor and yield.

He said that for the airlines to rise above the current situation, there should be cooperation among airlines through joint training, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), spares pooling, joint operation, interlining and code-sharing.

Another panelist at the webinar, Ms Iyabo Sosina, an international aviation expert and former Secretary General of African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), stated that the future of air transport in Nigeria was bright inspite of all the challenges at play now.

Sosina advocated the need for rebuilding and repositioning of the industry.

According to her, there is a need to focus on the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) without unnecessary political interference with the authority.

She, however,  advised that airlines in Nigeria should be reduced to about four, adding that these airlines must be able to boast of between 10 and 20 aircraft each.

Sosina also noted that more than ever before, there was a need for airlines to initiate collaborative ways of doing business as mergers could not be forced.

This, she said, would make the industry stronger to be able to compete on not just the domestic level but also on the regional and international scenes.

Also speaking, Dr John Arthur of Ghana Airport Company, said  that airports need to start afresh by collaborating with each other and aviation stakeholders.

Arthur advised that African countries should come together to share expertise in order to make the aviation industry viable.

He also noted that countries should look at investing in non-aeronautical inclusions such as building malls in the airports.

Sindy Foster, the Principal Managing Partner at Avaero Capital Partners, stated that the Nigerian aviation industry had been in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Foster, the lack of capitalisation and the low propensity of Nigerians to fly has been a major issue.

“There is need to look into the factors frustrating the airlines business, one of which is the ticket prices. Multiple taxations should be removed to encourage airlines growth,” Foster said.

Foster, however, disagreed with the Nigerian government over social distancing on flights by reducing load factor to between 50 and 70 per cent.

She said the airlines were already in a dire situation when they were operating at full capacity and asking them to reduce the load capacity was another way of putting down airlines striving to get back on their feet post COVID-19.

The Regional Director, Advocacy and Strategic Operations at International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ms Adefunke Adeyemi, said the airline industry in Africa had experienced a revenue loss of about 6 billion dollars and flights were down by 94 per cent at the end of April.

Adeyemi  stated that inspite of government implementing significant relief measures across the globe, there was need to do more.

According to her , IATA has advocated financial support for Africa from various organisations like UNWTO, World Travel and Tourism Council and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA).

Adeyemi, however, advised that in order to restart the aviation sector, it was necessary to restore public confidence in air travel, putting adequate health and safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring aviation essentials to jump start economies.

In his contribution, Mr  Richard Gimblett, a Partner at Holamn Fenwick Willian, a UK-based law firm, while supporting the points made by other panelists, stated that governments across the world were devising measures to restart the aviation sector.

He said that the Nigerian government should not be left behind.

Gimblett advised that the government could restart the industry by providing direct financial support to passengers and cargo carriers, ensure relief on fees, charges and taxes, make forex available for technological innovations, while also engaging with the leasing and financial community.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Webinar panel of discussion was moderated by Theophilus Emuwa.

Emuwa, who is also the Managing Partner and Head of Tax at AELEX, said there was need for transparency in the management of funds for the aviation industry to grow.

NAN also reports that AELEX is a full service commercial law firm.  

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)

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