Farmers in Enugu decry bad roads, lack of storage facilities for perishable produce



Some farmers in Enugu State have decried poor roads and lack of storage facilities for perishable produce such as vegetables in the state.

Some of the vegetable farmers told the Nigeria News Agency in Enugu that majority of the vegetable farmers dread going to the market to sell their produce because of the bad roads.

According to them, lack of storage facilities also worsen the situation as farmers incur huge losses and are forced to sell at cheaper rates at roadsides.

One of the farmers, Miss Ijeoma Olisa, who sells spinach popularly known as ‘green’ said that most farmers prefer selling vegetables by the roadside at cheaper prices because of their perishable nature.

“The markets are far from us and the roads are bad, it is difficult to get our goods to the markets,’’ she said.

Mrs Kate Umeh, a waterleaf farmer said farmers of highly perishable produce such as vegetables were not encouraged by the poor road to have large farms.

“The condition of the roads has remained a serious challenge for vegetable farmers, who find it very difficult getting their produce to the market.

“This leads to serious financial losses and it is discouraging farmers from cultivating large farmlands for fear of how to sell after huge harvest.

“Farmers will be very happy if Enugu State government improve the conditions of the roads by reconstructing them,“ she said.

Umeh said that the government would also help perishable produce farmers by constructing new roads that could to enable farmers have easy access to the market from their farms.

Mrs Maria Nwakwo, a pumpkin leaf farmer popularly known as `ugu’  said over 45 per cent of what she planted perished before getting to the market.

“l incur these losses mostly during the vegetable harvest seasons.

“Vegetables spoil during the harvest seasons and this is because they need to be kept in refrigerated conditions soon after harvest, which l do not have or can afford,“ she said.

Mrs Uju Agu, an okra farmer said that the main challenge faced by vegetables farmers after harvest was how to store and preserve them.

“Vegetables need cool environment to remain fresh before they are taken to the market.

“Many of us farmers cannot afford to generate electricity on our own and not all of us can also afford refrigerated storage facilities.

“Refrigerated storage facilities for our vegetables will enable farmers to minimise losses after harvesting their produce as it will  make them remain fresh, “ she said.

Agu said that the Enugu State government should help vegetable farmers by providing facilities for storage of  harvested produce.

She said that if vegetable farmers have access to storage facilities, it would make them available all year round.


Group moves to create market window for rice farmers



The Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS), has moved to create a larger market window for farmers by aggregating rice paddy across Nigeria to meet increasing demand occasioned by borders closure.

A rice paddy is an irrigated or flooded field where rice is grown.

The National Coordinator of the group, Mr Tedheke Retson, made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , in Abuja on Monday.

Retson said the move, beyond meeting the increasing demand for rice, was meant to encourage more Nigerians to go into rice farming without being afraid of how to dispose of the commodity.

According to him, the group’s farm, sitting on more than 3, 000 hectares of land, is a farm settlement with state-of-the-art rice processing plants and a ready market to comfortably take off the burden of selling the commodity.

He said: “We are currently short by about five million metric tonnes of rice every year.

“With the closure of borders, the Federal Government made it possible and easier for groups like ours to take that lead to get involved and make things happen.

We are currently producing about 2, 000 of 25 kg bags of rice in a day and we are moving from that to excess of about 10, 000 bags every day before the end of the first quarter of 2020.

As it stands, we cannot meet the demand. We are aggregating paddy rice across the country. So, opportunities are created for those who are farming rice, for processors and those who are selling.

We have brought in de-stoners with the capacity of de-stoning about three trailer loads of rice in a day, polishers with the capacity of polishing about three trailer loads a day.

There are also whiteners that will ensure that the rice is clean from all forms of particles without adding chemicals, and we have also brought in colour sorters to separate brown from white and white from black.

All of these upgrades have increased our capacity to about 100 tonnes of rice every day. We are working to get two processing mills with the capacity of 200 tonnes a day. So, in no distant time we will be doing about 300,000 tonnes of rice in a month.

The coordinator hailed the border closure saying it was a blessing for small holder farmers, small rice producers and rice marketers in Nigeria, noting that it was only smugglers who were not happy with the development.

He called for total support for local production to boost the revenue base of the country while improving Nigerians’ standard of living.

If we support local producers in Nigeria, there is absolutely no way we will not add more to our value process, job creation and making Nigeria a better place for the over 200 million people.

The boost in demand for local rice is occasioned by the shutting down of the borders. It has encouraged local farmers to see it as a profitable venture, he said.

Retson, however, called for an enabling environment to encourage competition among local producers.

The farmer from Thailand, India, Pakistan and Singapore, sells his rice lower than what we are selling in Nigeria because the government subsidises it, and so ends up making more money and gets cheap loan also because policies favour him.

We need those favourable working conditions for our processors to make money. It is good we are no longer importing rice, what is next is to make loan cheaper for farmers of rice and making the environment more conducive by providing power supply.

This farm operates on diesel every day, we spend on the average of N450, 000 to buy diesel every week. We do not need to bear that cost. If we have light on the farm and we are spending on the average of N400, 000 in a month we are okay.

The point is most of these variables need to be solved so that we can maximise the potentials that are available in the closure of borders. A farmer cannot construct road, provide power, employ labour and make money,’’ he said.

According to him, Nigeria with about 84 million hectares of arable land and more than 200 million people is battling to ensure food security.

More needs to be done to put Nigeria on the path of food security, job sustainability among others.

This farm is an eye opener that everything is possible with the potentials we have,” he said.

On funding, the national coordinator called for single digit loans that would make farmers break even and compete favourably with their counterparts globally.

Edited by: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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17 live bird markets in Lagos undergo disinfection



The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gbolahan Lawal on Monday said  that the ministry had commenced the disinfection of 17 major live  bird markets across the state.


Lawal said that the exercise was aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly swine diseases during the Yuletide when the residents’ demands for live birds would be high


He said that the disinfection would take place  at  Olaleye, Somolu; and Awolowo Markets in   Mushin.


It would also take place at  Mushin Main Market; Bolade (Arena) Market, Oshodi and Mile 12 Market .


Others are: Ketu, Kosofe; Ejina, Ikorodu and Agege Isale Oja Markets.


The exercise will also take place at  Agege; Agege Oja Oba; Abattoir , Agege; Idera New Garage Markets  and  Alayabiagba Market in  Ajegunle.


The exercise would also be carried out at  Jankara, Lagos Island; Oyingbo Main Markets as well as in Alaba Rago, Alaba Suuru  and Ikotun Markets.


The commissioner advised all members of the Live Bird Marketers Association of Nigeria and other stakeholders to cooperate with officials of the ministry during the exercise.

Edited /Peter Dada

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IITA, partners address progress made in cassava agronomy in Nigeria, Tanzania






Abuja, Dec.9, 2019 Scientists and partners of African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), have begun three-day meeting in Tanzania to discuss and unveil progress made in cassava agronomy in Nigeria and Tanzania.

Godwin Atser, IITA Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist, disclosed this in Ibadan on Monday in a statement, adding that the event was taking place in Zanziba, Tanzania.


He said the 4th annual meeting was also to look at how the progress and efforts made in cassava agronomy were addressing the low yield per hectare on farmers’ fields in Nigeria and Tanzania.

According to him, across Africa yield per hectare of cassava is about nine tonnes per hectare in contrast with Asia with more than 20 tonnes per hectare.

This undermines African cassava farmers’ competitiveness in the export market,’’ he said.

Contributing, Dr Pieter Pypers, the Project Coordinator said that the meeting would also serve as an opportunity for the entire ACAI team to get together to discuss challenges and plans.

This year’s meeting will have less of plenary presentations but more of poster sessions, a world cafe, breakout sessions and information booths where scientists, experts and partners share ideas,“ he said.

Pypers also said that that the meeting was first and foremost, about scaling and dissemination, and how they started gaining momentum with going on with Akilimo.

Akilimo is the mobile agronomy advisory tool, developed to serve as the face of ACAI’s decision support system.

It is also a combination of data, prediction models, software infrastructure and interfaces, using pragmatic and user-cantered approaches to provide the information in ways attractive and useful to partners, extension workers and cassava farmers.

Apart from the ACAI team members, partners leading the dissemination of the ACAI Decision Support Tools, through extension work in Nigeria and Tanzania, are expected at the meeting.

These partners include Mennonite Economic Development Associate (MEDA), Farm Concern International (FCI), Minjingu, Psaltry International, 2 Scale and NOTORE.

Others are the technical partners working to strengthen Akilimo(VIAMO 321 service, ESOKO digital solutions and Arifu chatbot).

Edited by: Hawa Lawal/Dada Ahmed

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Lack of labour-saving technology affecting women farmers’ health –SWOFON



Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), has lamented the health challenges faced by women farmers due to lack of gender-friendly labour saving technologies.

The group, in a communiqué issued at the end of its two-day 2019 National Annual Farmers Forum held in Abuja, said that women farmers were using obsolete technologies that task their strength and health.

The communique was signed by the National Coordinator, Omaboyowa Roberts.

“Smallholder women farmers face deplorable labour activities that often lead to deterioration in their health, while consuming time in a manner that hamper productivity.

“There is the need to enhance development of labour saving and productivity improving technologies; there is also the need for increased access to fabricated labour saving equipment leveraged on technology.

“Smallholder women farmers, who are producers of over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s food, are not involved in the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme and are unable to access the compensation for losses during our farming cycle.

“Therefore, there is need for proper mechanisms and engagements to be put in place to enable us access insurance support.

“It is also of great importance for evaluation and monitoring mechanisms to be developed to monitor the dissemination of claims and claims process.

“Smallholder women farmers have difficulties in accessing credit facilities for improved agriculture business; there is a need to conduct regional engagement activities to sensitise them on the opportunities that exist for improved and increased access to credit.

“Access to land and ownership and control of land is another challenge for smallholder women farmers in Nigeria. Government must develop and implement gender-friendly policies that support them to inherit land.

“In addition, the Land Use Act needs to be reviewed to make the ownership and control of Land by women positive in Nigeria,” it said.

SWOFON also alleged that most government initiatives on agriculture were hijacked by political farmers, and suggested the creation of Smallholder Farmers committees in the legislative assemblies at national and state levels.

“Government needs to support smallholder women farmers with capital investment initiatives and projects to encourage and strengthen the partnerships and collaboration efforts.

“These investments and initiatives should also be aimed at enhancing, promoting and amplifying success stories of women farmers.

“This will help to drive commercial linkages, improve productivity, and increase women’s participation in the agriculture value chain.

“There is also need for increased allocation for small holder women farmers in the agriculture budget across states and at the national level.

“Annual budgets need to be approved and released on time with the effective support of the MDAs and the Appropriation Committees of the legislative assemblies,” it said.

It added that in order to ensure effective access to extension services for small holder women farmers across the country, there was an urgent need to improve investment in the provision of enhanced and effective extension services.

It stressed that such investment would have to target the recruitment, training and deployment of extension services personnel while equipping them with the necessary means to deliver on their mandate.

It also called for deliberate and improved investment in research and development to improve farm yields.

On objectives of the 2019 farmers forum, SWOFON said that it provided an avenue for women farmers to interact with key stakeholders, including donors, on enhanced participation and involvement of women farmers in agricultural policies and programmes.

The national annual farmers forum, often organised by SWOFON, is supported by ActionAid under the ActionAid Public financing for Agriculture Budget (PFA) Project.

The SWOFON 2019 national annual farmers forum had in attendance, representatives from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capita Territory (FCT).

Also in attendance were stakeholders from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Centre for Social Justice, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Agribusiness Network, among others.

Edited & Vetted By: Chioma Ugboma and Ephraims Sheyin

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Cassava production: Scientists meet in Tanzania to review progress



Scientists, experts and scaling partners of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) are set for their 4th annual review and planning meeting.

This was contained in a statement issued by Mr Godwin Atser, the IITA Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist, and made available to the Nigeria News Agency on Sunday in Ibadan.

He said the aim of the meeting was to discuss and unveil the progress made in cassava agronomy and how such efforts had been addressing the low yield per hectare on farmers’ fields in Nigeria and Tanzania.

He remarked that across Africa, yield per hectare of cassava was about nine tons per ha, as opposed to Asia with more than 20 tons per ha.

This, he said, undermined African cassava farmers’ competitiveness in the export market.

The statement quoted the ACAI Project Coordinator, Dr Pieter Pypers, as saying that the meeting was scheduled for Unguja Island in Zanzibar, Tanzania, from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12.

According to him, the meeting will present an opportunity for the entire ACAI team to get-together, celebrate the successes of the project, discuss challenges and plan for the fifth year.

He said that the meeting would also have less of plenary presentations but more of poster sessions, a world café, breakout sessions and information booths, where scientists, knowledge exchange experts and partners would showcase and share ideas.

Pypers added that the meeting would also be about scaling and dissemination first, and how the project had started gaining momentum with Akilimo.

According to him, Akilimo is the mobile agronomy advisory tool developed to serve as the face of ACAI’s decision support system.

“It combines data, predictions models, software infrastructure and interfaces, using pragmatic and user-centered approaches to provide the information in ways that are attractive and useful to partners, extension workers and cassava farmers.

“Aside the ACAI team members, partners leading the dissemination of the ACAI Decision Support Tools through extension work in Nigeria and Tanzania expected at the meeting include Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Farm Concern International (FCI), UWAMWIMA, Minjingu, Psaltry International, 2Scale and NOTORE.

“The technical partners working to strengthen Akilimo (VIAMO 321 service, eSOKO digital solutions and Arifu chatbot) will also be present at booth sessions,” he said.

Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq


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RIFAN urges FG to sustain border closure



RIFAN urges FG to sustain border closure

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has urged Federal Government to sustain its current border closure, saying it would help boost the economy.

Alhaji Idris Abini, the chairman of Niger state chapter of the association made the call in Minna during an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Sunday.

Abini said that the closure has increased rice production in the state due to increased demand by marketers and consumers.

“Although we are yet to meet local demand for rice.

“We have started the journey to produce more rice due to the closure of our borders because efforts will be made by both government and farmers to produce enough food.

“The border closure is a right step in the right direction because it is already increasing wealth among farmers as consumers are beginning to patronise our local rice,” he said.

He said that Nigeria has different varieties of rice that can compete favourably with foreign ones.

The RIFAN chairman said that the closure would ensure security in the country as smuggling of illegal arms and ammunition would be curtailed.

“Those criticising the closure of the borders are not a true Nigerians because it is one of the best decisions of this administration,” he said.

Abini expressed optimism that the policy would succeed as government was providing the enabling environment for agriculture to thrive by supporting farmers with inputs and implements.

“The federal government has demonstrated this through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Scheme by allowing farmers to access more loans even when previous ones have not been fully repaid,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Ali Baba-Inuwa

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SWOFON commends women farmers’ successes in spite of challenges



SWOFON commends women farmers’ successes in spite of challenges

The Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria(SWOFON) has commended efforts made by women farmers in the country in contributing to food security in spite of the numerous challenges they are facing.

The President of the organisation, Mrs Mary Afan, made the commendation at the end of the group’s Annual Farmers’ Forum in Abuja.

Afan said in spite of their challenges that ranged from poor access to credit, inputs and other facilities, women farmers had proved that they were a strong pillar.

She said, “this is a forum where every year we come together to share experience, engage with government officials to see how we can have a space as small holder women farmers to be able to access whatever the government has for small holder farmers,” she said.

The president noted that some of the high points of the forum was discussion around having access to finance, inputs and other issues affecting women farmers.

She said the organisation was not resting on its oars in ensuring that small holder women farmers had their needs met.

“Some of our women have testified that they have been able to access processing machines through our organisation and the SMEDAN programme that is going on in the states because of the organised structure we have,” she said.

Afan called on government and other stakeholders to assist women farmers where necessary, to enable them to contribute their quota to the development of the nation.

She said: “we still want the government to involve small holder women farmers in the budget process because we want them to capture the issues that affect us.

” I also want a specific amount of that budget to be targeted at small holder women farmers,” she said.

She further said, “we have also been advocating that Nigeria is a signatory to the Malabu declaration which says each African government should commit 10 per cent of the total budget to the Agriculturalists Sector.

“If there is an increase in the agricultural sector, we will be able to feed the nation because we will be able to expand production and it is something that will actually help us.

On the border closure, she said, “some of our women said the border closure is a benefit to us because you can see rice has now become hot cake.

” We are able to sell even at an increased price and even though Nigeria is a signatory to the African Free Continental Trade Agreement, the border closure is giving us a strength to see how we can stand.

“We can actually feed ourselves, we can actually produce what other people need. We just understand that Ghana said they are the major exporter of Shea butter and this Shea butter they are exporting is from Nigeria.

” When the border was closed, they had nothing to export. So, it means that Ghana depends on Nigeria to get her Shea butter for the export.

“This is opening our eyes that we need actually to plan very well to have a large economy of scale of whatever we can produce,” she said.

Mr Jaye Gaskiya, the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SWOFON, said the forum, an annual gathering of the organisation, was meant to help the farmers to strategise on how to improve on the successes recorded so far.

He said, “one of the key takeaways from here is, as someone, who saw they organisation when it started some years ago, I feel fulfilled and proud.

” The second takeaway is that, building on their successes, we are seeing a situation where the stakeholders are seeing that rather than reinventing the wheel, they will invest in establishing cooperatives and the rest of that. They now know that they have existing cooperatives that they can go to.

“One of the things that SWOFON has been doing in the last one year is the registration of women farmers across the country and they are tracking this in every state of the federation.

” So at the end of this exercise we will be able to have accurate data in terms of the number of active women farmers in the federation.

He called on men across all sectors, particularly in the Agricultural Sector to support women if the economy must move forward.

He said,” My background is participatory governance and democratic development. There is no way you can have participatory governance if it does not include all the gender and particularly those in society that are marginalised.

“We all know that our society is patriarchal. Women are culturally marginalised and structurally marginalised.

“My advice is very simple, people ought to understand very clearly that, the way we are created, we stand on two legs.

If we attempt to walk on one leg and one hand, we are not going to be able to do anything, and there is a reason why there are two genders and two sexes.

” It means that society cannot move forward without the collaboration of the two. So it is a question of creating the mechanisms for equity to happen in such a way that everybody can contribute his quota and everybody can be enabled to realise their full potentials.

“So, you are not doing yourself a disservice, you are not undermining yourself by promoting the empowerment of people who are marginalised. In fact you are actually building yourself when you do that.

The National Coordinator of SWOFON, Omaboyowa Roberts, said the importance of the forum was to create a platform for accountability, transparency and strength.

She said the organisation had recorded a lot of projects in 2019 including advocacy, policy engagement with the African Union, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria, state governments and other stakeholders.

Roberts added that the forum created platform to strengthen some of the gaps observed over the years like improved financing and building of partnerships and linkages.

” We believe that with the cross border agreement and with the opportunities coming through the Agriculture Promotion Policy, there is a need and emphasis to strengthen collaboration across sectors.

“We are going to be planning our annual 2020 plan to see the successes we can leverage on and the platforms and opportunities to leverage on as an organisation,” she said.

Edited & Vetted By: Abdullahi Yusuf

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RIFAN recovers N35m CBN ABP loan in Niger



RIFAN recovers N35m CBN ABP loan in Niger

The Niger State chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on Saturday said that it had recovered N35 million Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) loan from its members in the state.

Alhaji Idris Abini, RIFAN’s state chairman made the dislosure in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Minna.

Abini said that the farmers had applied for the facility between 2017 and 2018 and defaulted in repayment as agreed with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Right now we have recovered up to N35 million from our members who collected loans under the ABP and refused to honour the agreement they signed,” he said.

He said that the national headquarters of RIFAN has engaged a consultant to look into the financial status of the state RIFAN in order to find out the total loan owed by rice farmers between 2017 and 2018.

The RIFAN Chairman explained that the non repayment of loans by RIFAN members across the country made the CBN to constitute a loan recovery committee at the national level.

According to him, the committee comprises representatives of the CBN, RIFAN, Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Unity Bank and Bank of Agriculture.

Abini said that at the state levels similar committees were also constituted.

He said that the state committees reports to their respective chairmen who in turn deal with the CBN committee.

The RIFAN Chairman said that the state chapter of RIFAN had embarked on a two-week sensitisation before the loan recovery exercise.

He said that before now the farmers repaid the loans in rice paddy equivalent to the loan facility they received.

Abini said that the unwilling attitude of the farmers has necessitated the committee to collect cash and record it against the farmers name instead of government losing the loans.

The RIFAN Chairman charged the farmers to repay the loans to enable others benefit from such facility.

NAN recalls that Abini had said in an interview on October 6th that out of the 24,000 members who applied for the ABP loans for the 2019 farming season, CBN approved 12,000 applications that met the requirements.

Edited & Vetted By: Buhari Bolaji/Ismail Abdulaziz

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Group seeks participation of more women in farming



Group seeks participation of more women in farming

A group, Women for Positive Change on Saturday urged agriculture stakeholders to promote programmes and policies that would attract more women to embrace farming as a business and vocation.

Mrs Bilikis Adedoyin, the group’s President, made the appeal during an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara.

Adedoyin said there was the need to change the peoples’ impression and wrong mindset that farming remained the exclusive preserve of the menfolk.

According to her, farming has become the credible alternative and the mainstay, irrespective of the tribe, culture, ethnic, religion or geographical background.

Adedoyin said there were many branches of farming, such as cropping, poultry, fishery, piggery, vegetable cultivation, which women could venture into and make the desired great impact.

She said that more women in agriculture would in no small measure assist to complement government’s efforts toward diversifying the nation’s economy.

“More women embracing farming will translate to high production, harvest and income.

“The government’s efforts toward tackling the challenges of food insufficiency across the country will also receive the desired boost.

“So whatever the circumstances, it will be very beneficial and a boost for our socio-economic development to attract more women to farming as a profession and vocation,” she said.

Adedoyin also urged government to beam its search light on the bureaucratic bottlenecks in accessing various government farming incentives, especially credit facilities.

“Farming is no doubt a capital intensive project, more importantly in achieving the desired high production level, harvest and income.

“From getting qualitative seeds to plant, to cultivation, insecticide application, irrigation during dry season, weeding, harvesting, post-harvest storage and transportation of products.

“The capital requirements is almost the same thing for most of the farm branches.

“So to be a successful farmer, you need to have access to those incentives from government which must be adequate, timely and devoid of these bureaucratic bottlenecks.

“This will go a long way to make farming very lucrative and a worthwhile venture most importantly for our womenfolk,” she said.

Adedoyin noted that the group recently embarked on advocacy visits and sensitisation to schools, markets and religious places, to encourage more women to embrace farming as a business and vocation.

She charged the management of agriculture-based universities in the country to institute and promote policies and programmes that would encourage and attract more female students to embrace agriculture courses.

“People still believe agriculture practices is for men alone which accounts for the low number of female students in most of the universities’ agriculture departments.

“Universities’ managements can bring up policies in form of incentives such as scholarship or tuition waivers for agriculture-related courses.

“Such development will, to a greater extent, make the female students to be more attracted to agriculture-related courses.

“It is not out place if we have a woman holding sway in agriculture-based appointment nationally or internationally or even as a minister of agriculture in particular, ’’ Adedoyin said.

Edited & Vetted By: Oluyinka Fadare/Adeleye Ajayi

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