Agriculture

Expert calls for caution in adopting GMO agriculture

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An expert in agriculture, Mr Ismail Olawale, has called for caution and adequate information before the adoption of Genetic Modified Organism (GMO) farming by local farmers.

Olawale, a fellow of the Nigerian Agriculture and Extension Liaison Service (NAERLS), made the call this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Lagos.

The expert said it was necessary to have the message of GMO well communicated to the local farmers before its adoption as a farming practice in the country.

“What we experts in the field are calling for as regards GMOs is that we should have a national framework that speaks to both the advantages and the disadvantages of GMOs.

“We do not just want a national policy which pushes everybody to embrace it because government has said so.

“Most reports say GMO farming is the eldorado to save countries like Nigeria from poverty, starvation and food insecurity. They say GMO will revitalise agriculture.

“But if we are driving revitalisation plan solely on biotechnology, are we safe? Are we not going to kill the indigenous knowledge of local farmers?

“We should not sabotage or abandon our local produce because we want to go into GMO crop cultivation.

“Whether you like it or not, throughout the whole world, the small scale farmers are the ones feeding more than 400 million people,” the expert said.

While stressing the positive effects of practicing genetically modified agriculture in the country, Olawale said there were still some shortcomings with the process.

“The argument for GMO agriculture is that small land will give you higher productivity.

“If you plant indigenous corn on two acres, you may have like 20 bags of corn. But if you plant a GMO crop on two acres of land, you can get up to 45 bags of corn.

“There are also arguments that these GMO crops are fortified with vitamins. So, instead of buying food supplements, these crops will act as both food and supplements.

“There is a cassava variety developed by Nigerians that is fortified with Vitamin A. The cassava is yellow in colour and there is no need to add palm oil when frying it.

“Some of these GMO crops also have their shortcomings; you have altered the nature of a crop and there is no way you will not face one or two problems.

“The crops can also alter the properties of the soil and this means the soil will also react to the cultivation of a pre-modified crop,” Olawale said.

Genetically modified foods, also known as genetically engineered foods, or bio-engineered foods are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced in their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering.

Edited by Ejike Obeta/Grace Yussuf

Agriculture

Agriculturist  advises farmers to cultivate Cassava with Vitamin A nutrients to curb malnutrition

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An agriculturist, Mrs Bola Adeyemo, has called on more local farmers to embrace the cultivation of Cssava with  Vitamin nutrients  to address  malnutrition and  hunger.

 

Adeyemo, also a food processor, made the call on Thursday in Lagos while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency .

 

Vitamin A helps form and maintains healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.

 

It is also known as retinol because it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye. Vitamin A promotes good eyesight, especially, in low light environment.

 

Adeyemo said that the benefits of Vitamin A fortified cassava are multifaceted.

She listed them to include health benefit for its consumers and increased gain for farmers after harvest.

 

She said, “Vitamin A Cassava was developed by the world body on agriculture to address issues of malnutrition and the hidden hunger ratio found in the World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

 

It has been observed that Africa and Asia are the worst hit by malnutrition, hence, the fortification of cassava and potatoes with Vitamin A nutrients since they are the major staples in African and Asian diets.

 

The benefits of the Vitamin A Cassava will address malnutrition and hidden hunger mostly found in rural areas in Nigeria.

 

“It is whatever the farmer grows that he sells to the city dwellers.’’

 

The agriculturist then appealed to local farmers to embrace the infusion of micronutrients into their crops.

 

She noted that Vitamin A fortified Cassava had less sugar content than the regular specie, adding that its cultivation would foster inclusive prosperity for all involved.

 

“Through research, the Vitamin A Concentrate in cassava is enhanced to give Nigerians healthier options.’’

 

She said that at present, three varieties out of the six species of Vitamin A cassava developed worldwide were being cultivated in Nigeria.

 

The Vitamin A cassava has less sucrose than the regular cassava crop and very good for diabetic patients.

 

“Our local farmers should tap into the cultivation of Vitamin A Cassava because it has inclusive prosperity for all involved.’’

 

Adeyemo said that there was a league of Vitamin A Cassava producers.

 

They supply the products to processing companies who in turn make snacks and other pastries out of them.

 

“In the end, everyone enjoys the inclusive prosperity,” Adeyemo said.

 

Edited by: Razak Owolabi/Peter Dada
(NAN)
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Agriculture

Farmer calls for establishment of livestock agency to boost beef, dairy production

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Mr Idi Murkhtar, a Commercial farmer and Managing Director, Zaidi Farms Ltd, Kaduna, has called on the Federal Government to establish National Livestock Development Authority (NALDA) to meet the nation’s growing demand for beef and dairy products.

Mukhtar, who made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Kaduna, said, NALDA should be mandated to overhaul, regulate and ensure faster growth of the entire livestock sector.

The age-long pastoralism system is no longer sustainable.It is unproductive, it is crises prone. Nigeria must change.

Urgent national attention is required to completely transform the livestock sector politically, economically and socially.

Institutional changes and legal reforms are critical to achieving the transformation and development in the dairy sector,” he said.

He said the creation of NALDA would attract both local and foreign investors, create jobs and drive national self sufficiency in dairy and dairy products.

Mukthar noted that the creation of NALDA would bridge the gap of the annual national demand of the 1.3 billion liters of milk annually.

According to him, NALDA would avail Nigerians the opportunity to tap from the over 1.5 billion US Dollar worth of dairy products imported into the country annually.

He said Nigerians would equally tap from the employment opportunities and enable skilled, abundant cheap labour through public, private partnership that would enhance faster growth of the sector.

Nigeria has a population dynamics of 200 million people with 42.3 per cent young adults, while 50 per cent live in urban areas.

He said the prospects were enormous, with 131 ruminant resources in addition to abundant land, water resources and favorable climate.

Murkhtar said the agency should also address current challenges faced by the diary and livestock industry.

He listed the challenges as: incoherent policy implementation, poor funding by state and local governments and poor extension services from agricultural agencies.

“The sector also faces challenges of inadequate power and rural infrastructure, insecurity, low genetic potential of indigenous cattle, disease outbreak due to poor veterinary and animals health system. ”

He explained that the challenges if left unaddressed could have a negative impact on the nation’s diary sector.

The farmer said addressing the challenges would fast track the potential in the Nation’s 22 million cattle population which are yet to be fully realized.

“It will also address the continuous movement of livestock in search for greener pasture every one kilometer burning about 12 kilo-calories of their energy.“

He further said that the country would only compete favorably with the top African milk producers such as Kenya and South Africa who are leaders in milk production.

Top African Milk producers and cattle population: Kenya 18 million, 4 million pure breed milk with 3.4 billion liters of milk per year.

South Africa 14 million all dairy with 3.2 billion liters of milk per year, while Nigeria with 22 million cattle with only 2,000 pure breed producing 560 million liters of milk annually.

We must also select and upgrade local dairy breeds of cattle through artificial insemination, cross breeding and embryo transfer .

This will result into the development of national dairy breeds with superior performance traits.

There should also be livestock breeding centers (LBC) in each geo-political zones to propagate genetically improved breeds and license genuine imports and importation of life animals to meet defined national needs.

We must also develop and enhance the capacity of pastoralists through the provision of quality extension services and a developed national dairy value chain aligned to the regional, national and continental needs.

“This would address problems of productivity, processing capacity, trade barriers, access to market information and facilitate private participation in commercial fodder production for small and medium scale dairy producers. ”

He said the agency should ensure strict implementation of statutes in the ECOWAS transhumance control to national advantage and to enforce transhumance entry and exit documentations.

It should ensure massive improvement in logistics and rural infrastructure, pasture cultivation, rural roads, electric or solar cooling tanks,” he said.

Murkhtar said the agency should equally ensure creation and sustenance of efficient milk collection centers, milk evacuation trucks, facilitate market information and market access.

The agency, he noted, should ensure favorable milk price system; good producer, off-taker relations, scale up smallholder capacity, knowledge and skills related to good animal husbandry practices.

Corperatise pastoralists to serve as nucleus for milk production and marketing.

The farmer said NALDA, if created should be mandated to work with reputable partners to develop strategic dairy value chain.

He noted that the federal ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had so far over concentrated on crops/agronomy to the detriment of the nation’s livestock, leaving over 131 million ruminants with no home.

He said NALDA should be saddled with the responsibility of developing pasture seeds, ensuring animal health, quality products and services, quality water and pasture, as well as providing farm equipment.

Murkhtar said the agency should be saddled with the responsibility to facilitate cheap finance and credits for livestock farmers.

The government should ensure effective disseminating reproduction information and technology, and security of farmers and their livestock.

Government should also facilitate and regulate milking parlors, milking machines, standard fencing materials, efficient milk aggregation and transportation system, diary super markets among others,” he added.

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Agriculture

Nasarawa Assembly urges citizens to patronise locally-made goods

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Nasarawa State House of Assembly has urged the people of the state and other Nigerians to patronise locally-made goods, to avoid overdependence on foreign ones.

Dr Ibrahim Peter-Akwe, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, made the call on Wednesday when officials of the state Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources appeared before the committee to defend its 2020 budget.

Peter-Akwe said such patriotism would also boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the country.

According to him, if Nigerians patronise locally-made goods, it will help in boosting the revenue base of the government and enhance food security and economic development.

He also urged the people of the state to embrace agriculture, considering its importance to societal development.

If Nigerians embrace agriculture, it will not only reduce overdependence on oil, but it will also fight poverty, unemployment, youth restiveness and other social vices.

No society can live comfortably without agriculture; it is the major source of livelihood of every family, nation, and its importance cannot be overemphasised to the development of any society,” the chairman said.

He urged the management of the ministry to be up and doing to ensure food security in the state.

He assured of the assembly’s readiness to give the agricultural sector the much-needed attention for development to thrive.

Prof. Allahnana Otaki, the ministry’s Commissioner, while defending the budget, said that the State Government was determined to enhance food security in the state.

He appreciated the house for its cooperation at all times, and for its commitment to duties for the overall development of the state.

Edited by: Moses Solanke and Abdullahi Yusuf
(NAN)
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Agriculture

Be alert to signs of Charcoal Anthrax in livestocks- LASG

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The Lagos State Government has urged livestock owners, sellers, farmers, butchers and veterinarians to be alert to any sign of Charcoal Anthrax in their livestocks.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, made the plea on Wednesday in Lagos at a meeting with members of the Sheep and Goats Farmers Association.

Lawal said that the meeting was to sensitise them on the reported outbreak of the disease in sheep and cattle in Niger Republic.

“Charcoal Anthrax is an infectious zoonotic disease of livestock.

It manifests either on the skin as a scratch progressing into a sepsis or as a pulmonary infection contracted by inhalation of the causative micro-organisms,” the commissioner said.

Lawal said that the disease occurs directly or indirectly through contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products respectively in human beings, hence the need to take precautionary measures.

He urged the stakeholders to report any unexplained sudden deaths in livestock to the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to him, the reports would help the state government to carry out a quick and appropriate investigation with a view to instituting all necessary control measures.

He said: “Private veterinarian should also assist with investigation and prevention activities.

They should contact the nearest Veterinary office or call (EMAIL) or (EMAIL) ,” Lawal said.

The commissioner said the disease was well known to occur intermittently in grazing livestock and usually contact through the swallowing and inhaling of the anthrax spores which are odourless, colourless and tasteless.

He said that the disease could also affect humans but, however, nearly all cases of the diseases had been seen in livestock, particularly hoofed animals.

Even, the environment was not endemic for the disease and that no incidence of the disease has been reported in recent times.

It is more reasonable to prevent the disease from entering into our shore and indeed the Lagos State,” he said.

Lawal, therefore, urged all livestock farmers to take necessary precautions to prevent the incursion of the disease into the country.

He said that the state government had already constituted Rapid Response Teams that would react and respond to any case of an outbreak.

Edited by: Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)
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Agriculture

Food Security: APPEALS reiterates commitment to supporting FG enhance agricultural productivity

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The Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS), has reiterated the project’s commitment to supporting the Federal Government (FG), in its efforts towards enhancing agricultural productivity.

National Project Coordinator of APPEALS, Dr Mohammed Babandi, said this in a statement signed by Mrs Aishat Onusi, the project’s National Communications Specialist, on Wednesday in Abuja.

The Nigeria News Agency , reports that APPEALS is an FG World Bank assisted programme aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity to boost food security in Nigeria.

The broad objective of APPEALS is to enhance the agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers, and improve value addition along priority value chains in participating states,’’ the coordinator said in the statement.

He said the 4th Implementation Support Mission (ISM) of APPEALS, which began on Monday with a technical meeting, was to discuss progress made so far in the project.

Babandi further explained that an Overview of the Project from the last ISM held in Calabar, was presented by its National Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Mr Adekunle Adesoye, who highlighted the progress made across the five components of APPEALS.

He disclosed that the 4th ISM would be taking place across three states namely: Kaduna, Cross River and Lagos simultaneously between Dec. 9 and Dec. 21.

Participants expected at the 4th ISM include the World Bank Team; the National Coordinating Office and Project Implementation Unit members from the six participating states, as well as States Steering and Technical committees,” he said.

He listed others as representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and its Project Coordinating Unit, the Federal Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders.

Babandi urged members of staff of APPEALS to remain focused on activities that would advance the objective of the project.

Edited by: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
(NAN)
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