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Agriculture

Experts identify inadequate machinery as major constraint to food security

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Food

Abuja, March 18, 2019 Farmers and agricultural experts on Wednesday in Abuja identified inadequate agricultural machinery and high cost of hiring tractor services as one of the impediments to food security.

The experts were reacting to the report of Agricultural Performance Survey on 2018 Wet Season in Nigeria by the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Service, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The report identified some of the highest challenges to agricultural production for 2018 to include high cost of labour, capacity building and creating a reliable National Baseline Data for adequate development on planning and policy, among others

According to the report, agriculture executives certified by National Technical Committee on Agricultural Statistics and other collaborators noted that farmers in 31 states and FCT cannot access tractor services due to high cost.

Mallam Abdullahi Kabir, a farmer in Gwagwalada said  that the high cost of labour both in manual and mechanical led to the high cost of food production and food prices in 2018.

He said that most farmers also abandoned farming, while some were still indebted to most cooperatives where they took loans for their tractors.

Mr African Farmer Mogaji, a farmer in Oyo State said  that there was an urgent need for the three tiers of government to increase investment in agricultural mechanisation to reduce drudgery and cost of labour.

He lamented that with the level of high technology in farming, Nigerian farmers were still involved in the utilisation of cutlasses and hoes leading to low efficiencies in harvesting.

“All farmers must be motivated to embrace modern technologies because it has the potential to transform agriculture in Nigeria, this is essential because the continent is gradually embracing agric-technology for food sufficiency and development.

“Technology has become an integral part of global agricultural system and for Nigerian agriculture to grow, it must be technology driven,’’ he said.

Mogaji said that government should review its Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements on agricultural machinery and input services delivery for easy access and affordability by the peasant farmers.

Another farmer in Iseyin, Oyo State, Alhaji Abiodun Gbolahan called for a sustainable strategy for regular access to tractors and repairs of dysfunctional ones.

He lamented that most of tractors owners under the PPP arrangements were shylocks as they were milking the farmers.

“Hiring tractors from the local government is another hurdle and in the end it is an unprofitable venture.

“Government should come to the grassroots and seek farmers’ opinion on how best to map out strategies for easy access and sustainable mechanism to support agriculture,’’ he said.

Mallam Salisu Ibrahim, a farmer in Yola said that the cost of hiring tractor “is generally too high in Nigeria’’.

“This does not only cut across farmers in the North, but all farmers, be it the North West or east, so long they are farming in the area.

“There is also an urgent need of bringing down the input costs for the agricultural sector as high prices are discouraging the use of fertilisers, pesticides and quality seeds in optimal quantity, thus negatively impacting per acre yield,’’ he said.

Mr Pious Adefira, a farmer in Ose, Ondo State said that he had acquired a lot of farmland but the low level of mechanisation had limited the amount of land that he could cultivated, which resulted to limited productivity just like other farmers.

He said that the country’s food security was in jeopardy with just 30,000 functional tractors working as against the 300,000 tractors required.

Adefira said that with the available statistics as released by the World Bank and Food and Agricultural Organisation, mechanisation in Nigeria “is of the lowest in terms of density and intensity’’.

Mr Daniel Aguta, a farmer in Markurdi said that the crisis in the area was making the labourers to migrate from rural areas to urban centres leading to decline in the number of workers available for seasonal employment.

He said that for the farmers not to be idle they always took loans from the cooperatives to hire tractors and in the end, most of the gains went into loan repayment.

Aguta believed that with proper intervention from government through adequate subsidy, the use of tractor would be encouraged and this would allow farmers to open up large landholding and cultivate unfarmed areas.

Mrs Alice Adedolapo, a farmer in Ikole Ekiti said that without smallholder farmers, there would be no agriculture as the section alone accounted for about 70 per cent of total agricultural produce in Nigeria.

“But they are not equipped with modern agricultural technology and with their rudimentary way of farming, they still feed the nation.’’

She said that the population was increasing in an alarming rate, adding that this should serve as a clarion call to the three tiers of government to increase the farmers’ agricultural productivity through modern technologies such as tractors at affordable rates.

Experts said that people believed that for Nigeria to attain the level of food security, dependency on food imports should be reduced and improvement in mechanised  agriculture should be sustained.

The experts called on government to redirect its efforts toward increasing the use of tractors in the country with adequate consideration to the ever increasing population.

According to them, with availability of tractors, farmers will be comfortable to perform agricultural tasks as the equipment can be used to do a variety of farm tasks such as ploughing, planting, cultivating, fertilising and harvesting of crops.

The experts added that it could also be used for hauling agricultural materials and personal transportation.

Agriculture

NDE begins poultry training for 50 youths in Delta

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The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) says it has began practical training of the 50 youth recently inducted into its poultry farm scheme in Delta.

The State Coordinator of the agency, Mr Tony Olu, disclosed this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Asaba.

Olu said that the practical was a follow-up of the earlier orientation training given to the trainees by the Director-General of the agency, Dr Nasiru Ladan, in Asaba.

“The practical actually commenced on Nov. 15 and it is expected to run for three months.

“On Thursday, Nov. 21, the trainees will be taken through a process of bird vaccination, water and feeding techniques and how to change wet litters to maintain good hygiene in poultry farm,” he said.

He said the trainees were recruited under the Sustainable Agricultural Development Training Scheme (SADTS) of the Rural Employment Promotion (REP) Department of the directorate.

According to Olu, the director general of NDE, represented by the Acting Zonal Director, South-South, Mr Duke Edem, inaugurated the programme earlier in the month, with a charge on beneficiary to take it seriously.

“The DG approved the implementation of the programme for selected states of the federation with 50 persons to be recruited in a state and Delta is one of the benefiting states.

“The programme is designed to give experiential training in crop production and livestock farming to the unemployed, with emphasis on enhancing food production and mass employment.

“The training of which the curriculum is structured to include major areas of modern agricultural production, marketing and agripreneurial training, life skill lecture and business plan, will last for three months,” he said.

The state coordinator said that at the end of the programme, the trainees would be linked with financial institutions and other sources of funds to sustain their businesses.

Edited by Ejike Obeta/Donald Ugwu

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Agriculture

Lion domestication: Police your environment, LG urges residents

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Lion

Lagos, Nov.19 The Iru-Victoria Island Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos state, on Tuesday, urged people of the area to police their environment to nip latent dangers in the bud.

Dr Samuel Akingbehin, Head of Department of Environmental Services in the council area, said this while reacting to the evacuation of a lion from a residential building on 229, Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island.

He told the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos that rearing wild animal in homes contravened the Wild Animal Laws of Nigeria, 1975.

The environmental officer said that people should be mindful of goings-on in their area, particularly those that could pose threat to their lives and promptly alert authorities to arrest such situations.

“People have to be involved in keeping the environment safe from seen and unforeseen environmental and health-related acts which can disturb their lives and the community.

“We were able to remove the lion from the private home of an Indian who was rearing it because of the alarm raised by the neighbours. Without such an environment policing attitude, the situation would have degenerated into a major crisis.

“It is everyone’s civic obligation to ensure that the environment is protected from hazards, to foster sustainability of life and human habitat,” he said.

According to him, rearing of wildlife in residential area is prohibited in the state, adding “such practice is not only alien to our culture, but can cause injury to both the owner and others, in the case of the animal straying”.

The council official alerted the state government of numerous abandoned and empty properties in the area, all of which, he said, constituted environmental challenges  and threat to life.

He urged the residents of the area to be vigilant over abandoned properties that could provide hideouts for street urchins and other environment non-compliant elements.

NAN reports that a lion, brought from Cameroon two years ago and domesticated by an Indian resident, had, on Monday, been evacuated to Omu Resorts, Bogijie Epe, Lagos, for safe keep.

Officials of the ministry of agriculture, in conjunction with the state environmental task force team, led by Dr Samuel Akingbehin of Iru-VI LCDA, had carried out the evacuation exercise.

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Agriculture

FGN/IFAD VCDP urges Anambra farmers to embrace insurance

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The Federal Government/International Fund for Agriculture Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has advised farmers in Anambra to embrace insurance schemes to mitigate losses during disasters.

Mr Emmanuel Chukwukwelu, the -VCDP Agricultural Production Officer in the state, gave the advice at a sensitisation forum on insurance cover for farmers at Atani in Ogbaru Local Government Area near Onitsha on Tuesday.

Chukwukwelu said the programme was currently paying an insurance premium to over 2,000 farmers in the eight participating council areas.

He said the payment include the 750 farmers, who had benefitted from a N9 million fund set aside for the insurance premium.

“We want to further sensitise farmers on insurance because the weather situation cannot be determined any more.

“We want to encourage farmers to always take insurance cover when they plant their crops, rather than waiting until VCDP insures one hectare for them.

“VCDP insurance premium will only cover one hectare of rice farm for those that benefitted from our inputs,’’ he said.

He said the insurance programme was the only successful window through which the Federal Government could assist farmers affected by hazards like flooding, fire and pest.

Mr Andrew Uzoma, the State Manager, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Cooperation, (NAIC) also enlightened the farmers on insurance policies documentation and claims settlement procedure.

Uzoma said NAIC was preparing indemnity owed to farmers with claims in this year’s disaster.

He also said that the corporation had paid more than N132 million indemnity to farmers in Anambra farmers in 2018.

The manager expressed happiness that more communities were keying into the insurance policy.

Mrs Joan Ajie, a rice and cassava farmer from Ochuche community, appealed for early disbursement of farm inputs to enable the farmers harvest before flooding.

Another rice and cassava farmer, Mr Aloysius Nwadeghi from Umunankwo community, commended the VCDP for the sensitisation visit

He said that majority of the farmers were ignorant of the benefits of insuring their farm.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde/Dada Ahmed

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Agriculture

UBEC introduces school-to-farm programme in basic schools

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The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) said on Tuesday, it has introduced School-to-farm programme at basic education level to inculcate practical agricultural skills among learners in primary and junior secondary schools.

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Dr Hamid Bobboyi made this known at the opening of a three-day workshop on the implementation framework of the programme in Kaduna.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the participants include UBEC officials, directors and desk officers at State Universal Basic Education Boards in charge of schools agriculture programme.

Bobboyi, who was represented by UBEC Director, Administration and Supplies, Rev. Edwin Jarumai, added that the programme would prepare the learners for a life-long learning in line with the commission’s mandate.

He noted that over the years, the teaching of agriculture as a subject was mainly theoretical and less practical, which left most learners ignorant of proper agricultural practices.

“In view of this, UBEC has approved 2.0 per cent of the Universal Basic Education Grant for the school-to-farm programme to make agricultural science more practical and hands-on at basic education level.

“The objective is to provide learners with requisite skills to stimulate self-employment, equip them with functional entrepreneurship and life skills, promote dignity of labour and self-esteem and expose them to biological process of agriculture.”

The executive secretary said that the learners would be exposed to cultivation of farm produce like maize, cassava, yam, guinea corn, and vegetables, as well as livestock like poultry, rabbit, snail and fisheries.

He added that the programme would equally build the capacity of teachers and community members who would be part of the implementation of the programme.

Bobboyi explained that the objective of the workshop was to familiarise the participants with the approved guidelines and build their capacity on the implementation of the programme.

“It is also designed to develop instruments for monitoring, share experience and adopt best practices.

“It is expected that at the end of the workshop, participants will come up with mechanism that will ensure sustainability of the programme in different geographical zones of the country,” he said.

Earlier, the Director Academic Services, UBEC, Malam Wadata Madawaki, said that the programme, if successfully implemented, would boost agricultural production in the country.

Madawaki called on all stakeholders to support the commission in ensuring the success of the programme.

Also, the commission’s Director, Social Mobilisation, Malam Bello Kagara, said that the programme would enable UBEC deliver equitable access to quality and functional education at basic education level.

According to him, the acquisition of practical agricultural skills will add value to the lives of learners and make them self-reliant.

Prof. Sadiq Abubakar of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, commended UBEC for the initiative, which he believed would be “a useful legacy for the coming generation”.

Edited /Maharazu Ahmed

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Agriculture

Association raises alert on antimicrobial resistance to public health, livestock

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Antibiotic

Abuja, Nov. 19, 2019 The Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association(NVMA), on Tuesday, joined the global effort to raise awareness on antimicrobial resistance to public health and livestock.

The NVMA made the call in a statement on Tuesday to mark the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, signed by its publicity secretary, Dr Gloria Daminabo.

The association stressed that though antimicrobial are useful in disease treatment, their misuse leads to failure as microbes develop resistance to these life-saving treatments.

It said these resistant microbes are also transferred to other animals and humans as well.

“Antimicrobial resistance in livestock industry is a threat to public health, livestock productivity, food security and the economy, especially in developing nations such as Nigeria,’’ the association said.

The NVMA said the Nigerian situation arose as a result of poor production practices, poor hygiene, weak policies, under regulation of antimicrobial use in animals and inadequate veterinary and other related manpower.

The statement said that with antimicrobial resistance come attendant losses from increased cost of research in producing more effective antibiotics, when the available ones stop working.

Other losses noted by the NVMA as a result of antimicrobial resistance include;   increased cost of livestock production, as more funds go into treatment and losses from deaths of livestock and people.

It also said the country shall be unable to neither participate, nor benefit fully from international trade in animal products in spite of enormous livestock resources.

On this note, the association also called on stakeholders in the livestock production sector to imbibe good production practices, and seek advice from professionals with the use of antimicrobial.

It urged all regulatory agencies and professionals to be proactive and alert to their responsibilities, and work in synergy to reduce antibiotic misuse in the overall interest of the country.

The association pledged to continue its advocacy and professional role, and  in collaboration with all relevant stake-holders and the public, to curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance to the benefit of humanity.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Agriculture

KDSG partners Arla foods, Miyyetti Allah on N15b Damau Milk Farm

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Kaduna State Government on Monday said it would spend N15 billion on the construction of Household milk farms in Damau, Anchau Local Government Area.

Gov. Nasiru el-Rufai, who disclosed at a meeting with members of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Kaduna, said the project would be executed in collaboration with Arla foods.

He said that the money would be spent on the programme which will cover 1, 000 herdsmen.

el-Rufai, represented by his Senior Adviser, Jimmi Lawal, said the initiative was to proffer solutions to the multifaceted problems associated with nomadic pastoralists.

He said the goal was to develop a world class grazing reserve to enable government centralise activities of herdsmen in one community.

The governor said the project would reduce importation of milk product, ensure self sufficiency and food security in milk and beef.

“We believe that their lives are important as the rest of us as the life of a commissioner,’’ he said.

He noted that the government is for all and there is the need to empower the people to achieve the best in their endeavours.

el-Rufai said that the programme would stop herdsmen from roaming about, create employment and stop the importation of meat and milk.

“The programme is costing the government N15 billion in the first phase. We had to borrow N10.5bn out of the money from the Central Bank as government guaranteed the repayment of the money.

“It means per person, the government is spending N15 million per herdsman that is going to be settled in that programme

“As part of the N15 million to be spend on each of the herdsmen we will be looking for those who will have their own cattle for the first time.

“Each will have between 12-15 cattle each and will have at least N1.5 million as working capital.

“There will also be a two bedroom farm house at about N2.5 million that each of the herdsmen will own,’’ he said.

He said the farm will also have road network, hospital, electricity supply, market, schools and all other social amenities.

The chairman, MACBAN, Alhaji Haruna Usman assured the association’s commitment for proper utilization of the programme.

He said the gesture was a promise fulfilled by the state government in proving the breeders with modern method of rearing animals.

Usman appreciates the efforts of the state government, adding that the programme should have been by the Federal Government.

On his part, Hafis Bayero, Managing Director, Kaduna Market and Development Company said the programme would aid in settling all herdsmen in one single location to rear their animals.

He said the programme would also allow them to live with their family in a proper modern house and to have access to pasture and water while the partner add value to the milk and sale it

Bayero assured that another component of the project would be the expansion of Ladduga ranch in Kachia Local Government and many other locations.

“We will ensure that pastoral and movement of cows becomes  a thing of the past, we will settle them in one location for the benefit of all.”

Edited by Kabir Muhammad/Maharazu Ahmed

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