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Agriculture

FG, APPEALS Project sensitise stakeholders on post-harvest losses

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Post-harvest

Kano, March. 12, 2019 The Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project on Tuesday in Kano sensitised stakeholders including farmers on post-harvest losses reduction and increase in output.

The workshop was organised in collaboration with the World Bank, Federal and Kano State governments.

APPEALS Project Coordinator in Kano, Alhaji Hassan Ibrahim said that the workshop was to enhance the value of processed output for wheat, rice and tomato in the state.

Ibrahim said that the workshop was also to contact experts on agriculture, especially in the area of production, processing and marketing of wheat, rice and tomato value chain.

According to him, the World Bank is supporting the project across six states in Nigeria with 200 million dollars, adding that each benefiting states would get its share according to its performance.

Hassan said that the APPEALS project is targeting 10,000 farmers in the state, of which women would have 35 per cent, and people with special needs would get 25 per cent of the support.

The Executive Secretary, Kano Agricultural Research and Development Agency (KNARDA), Prof. Mahmood Daneji said that the project was a welcome development in the state and the country.

Daneji said that a lot of money was being spent on the importation of the three products whereas the products were in abundance in Nigeria.

“We need to improve our own to reduce the imports and increase the exports,” he said.

He said that other benefiting states are Kaduna, Kogi, Cross Rivers, Enugu and Lagos, adding that each of them would first receive 5 million dollars for the kick-start the project.

Foreign

UN chief appeals for urgent funds for Yemen

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday asked for 2.41 billion U.S. dollars to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which remains the world‘s largest, as well as COVID-19.

Tackling COVID-19 on top of the existing humanitarian emergency requires urgent action. The pandemic is making it even more difficult and dangerous for humanitarian workers to reach Yemenis with life-saving aid,” Guterres said during an online pledge conference for Yemen.

“We must preserve the major humanitarian aid operation that is already under way — the world‘s largest — while developing new public health programs to fight the virus and strengthen health care systems,” he said, adding “we have already made a start, supporting rapid response teams across the country, procuring essential supplies, and working with front-line health workers and communities to get information out to millions of people.”

“But we need to do much more. This requires increased funding,” he emphasized.

So far this year, funds have not been forthcoming. Aid agencies estimate they will need up to 2.41 billion dollars to cover essential aid from June to December, including programs to counter COVID-19. More than 30 out of the 41 major UN aid programs in Yemen will have to close in the next few weeks unless there is extra funding, he said.

“I thank those donors who pledged funding ahead of today’s event, and I urge all of you to pledge generously today, and to transfer pledged resources quickly. There is no time to lose,” he added.

According to the UN report titled “Yemen: 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview,” 80 percent of the Yemeni population, or some 24 million people, need life-saving aid, and 2 million Yemeni children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Since the start of the year, some 80,000 more people have been forced from their homes, taking the total displaced population to almost 4 million, said Guterres.

In addition to COVID-19, cholera continues to threaten the lives of Yemenis, with 110,000 people contracting it so far this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Affairs. Meanwhile, the recent floods have raised the risk of malaria and Dengue fever, Guterres said.

(XINHUA)

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Defence/Security

Attacks: Coalition appeals for emergency measures from Federal, Sokoto Govts

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The Coalition of Concerned Sokoto State Citizens (CCSSC) has appealed to the Federal and Sokoto State Governments to adopt emergency measures in tackling the security situation of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the coalition made the appeal while addressing a newsmen on Friday in Sokoto.

Prof. Nasiru Gatawa, who spoke for the group, noted that Sokoto hitherto known for peace and hospitality had gradually shifted toward total anarchy.

“This is as a result of the activities of bandits, who regularly and persistently terrorise the state.

“Particularly the eastern zone which comprises eight local government areas of Gada, Goronyo, Gwadabawa, Illela, Isa, Rabah, Sabon Birni and Wurno.

“Each of these local governments have parts of it under the control of bandits whose heinous activities have crippled social and economic activities and has led to the loss of hundreds of lives and properties worth billions of Naira,” he said.

Gatawa alleged that the most terrorised area in the zone was Sabon Birni lical government where bandits operated freely and in broad daylight for several hours.

“Within the first quarter of the year 2020 over 20 attacks were carried out by bandits in Sabon Birni local government alone.

“However, the bloodiest attack in the LGA happened on May 27, where more than 70 persons were killed; many of whom were children celebrating Children’s Day in a football game.

“Moreover, the situation is getting so serious that even the state metropolis cannot boast of being safe from attack of bandits,” he added.

The group further appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and Gov. Aminu Tambuwal to direct both the National Emergency Agency (NEMA) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to immediately provide succour to victims of the attacks.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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General news

Lawmaker appeals to Gov. Makinde to reinstate 46 LAUTECH workers

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A member of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr Sanjo Onaolapo, has called on Gov. Seyi Makinde to reinstate 46 employees of Ladoke Akintola University of Teaching Hospital (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, who were “mistakenly” disengaged in 2017.

Onaolapo, representing Ogbomoso South Constituency, made the call at plenary on Friday.

The lawmaker said that in 2017, no fewer than 223 staff from different government organisations and institutions, including LAUTECH, were disengaged.

He said 177 workers who appealed the dismissal were later reengaged.

The lawmaker said the 46 workers, who were part of the 223 that made the appeal, were not considered because the page containing their names fell off from the appeal submitted to the panel.

“The panel considered the various appeals and made its recommendations which eventually led to the reinstatement of the affected workers,” he said.

Onaolapo, who is also the Majority Leader of the House, said that the appeal contained 223 names but the panel considered and recommended the reinstatement of staff from serial number 1 to 177.

“The other staff (46) on serial number 178 to 223 whose names were on the last page were not considered. On enquiry, it was discovered that the page containing their names fell off from the appeal submitted to the panel.

“The fact, however, remains that all the affected staff from number 1 to 223 had the same issue which is disengagement for no just cause.

“Concerned that since the panel did not find any fault in them, they were recommended to be reinstated while those on the missing list numbered 178 to 223 were not considered at all.

“ It is my belief that if the panel had the list containing all the names, they would have been reinstated since they all have the same issue.

“For the sake of fairness and equity, I want to appeal for the magnanimous gesture of the governor to grant the request of the affected staff.

“The governor should consider the plea and appeal of the remaining 46 staff of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso and approve their reinstatement on compassionate ground,” he said.

The lawmaker said the current administration under the leadership of Makinde had been magnanimous and kind-hearted with regards to the welfare of workers.

He said a testament to that was the regular and prompt payment of workers’ salaries since the inception of his administration.

The House at plenary also passed the Debt Management Agency (Amendment) Bill 2020.

In the same vein, the Revenue Administration (Amendment) Bill 2020 was also passed.

(
Edited By: Joe Idika/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)

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Health

COVID-19: FG appeals to traders, transporters not to hike prices

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The Federal Government has appealed to traders not to hike prices of food items and transportation as the country battles to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, made the appeal at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 daily news briefing on Thursday in Abuja.

He said it was necessary that market women and men understood the enormity of the time regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that there is need to show compassion to all Nigerians by not hiking prices of foodstuff and services.

The minister said that this period was a time to give back to the society, while calling on Nigerians not to take the opportunity of COVID-19 to further oppress other Nigerians.

“This is a time people are giving back to the society. We call on our compatriots not to take the opportunity to oppress the people,” he urged.

Mohammed also urged the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NUTRW) to ensure that the transportation cost of food items being taken to other parts of the country were not hiked.

He said that it was regrettable that despite being aware of the danger posed by COVID-19, the NUTRW members still flout the guidelines of the lockdown as they carried passengers above the approved number.

The minister noted that some members of the union had refused to accept that COVID-19 was real, adding that this can be the reason for flouting the guidelines by carrying five to four passengers.

He said that the members had refused to heed the call by PTF to take precaution in carrying passengers, warning that such can be detrimental to their health.

The minister also called on state governors to engage members of NUTRW in their states in order to salvage the situation and contain the deadly virus.

“We need to carry NUTRW along. We cannot micromanage their activities in the state from the centre,” he said.

Mohammed said that the NUTRW had the mechanism to engage their members, adding that they had been warned not to carry more than three passengers.

The minister commercial cab and privaye are enjoined to carry only one passenger in the front and two at the back seat.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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General news

Lockdown: NATA appeals to Niger Govt for more window period to operate

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The Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Niger chapter  has appealed to the state government for more  window period during the lockdown to enable its members operate.

Its Chairman, Mr Ayuba Oluobor, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Minna.

“The window period of Tuesday and Friday are not enough for our members to work and earn enough money to meet their family needs.

“It is really telling negatively on us because 97 per cent of our members depend on daily income to feed their families.

“We are appealing to the government to give us more days  of free movement to enable us cope with the challenges of the lockdown,” he said.

Oluobor said that the state executive of the association was in contact with the various branches in the 25 Local Government Areas to respect the restriction of movement order.

He assured that members of the association would continue to abide by all government directives and preventive guidelines by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The association’s Chairman also lauded Amasco automobile lubricant company for donating 54 bags of 25 kg rice as palliative to the state chapter of NATA, to cushion the effect of the COVID-19.

He, however, appealed to the state government to do same toward ameliorating the plight of the over 20,000 members of the association in the state.

NAN recalls that Gov. Abubakar Bello, had on March 23, ordered  restriction of movement to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Bello, on May 12,  further directed the extension of the lockdown of the state by two weeks with Tuesday and Friday allowed as window period to enable residents restock on food.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) told newsmen on Saturday that the number of COVID-19 patients in the state had risen to 14.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and Isaac Ukpoju (NAN)

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Foreign

WTO D-G resigns amid appeals dispute with U.S.

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World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday that he would step down from his position effective Aug. 31 after seven years at the helm of the global trade body.

Azevedo, a 62-year-old Brazilian career diplomat, stepped down more than a year before his second term as WTO head was due to end.

His departure comes at a difficult time for the WTO, which is charged with setting international rules for trade between member states.

In December, the U.S. effectively paralysed the WTO’s ability to settle disputes by blocking the appointment of judges to its appellate body.

U.S. President Donald Trump has regularly criticised the world trade body, calling it “broken” and “unfair.”

In spite attempts to foster agreements on e-commerce and subsidies for fishing, the 164-member has failed to establish a major trade accord since the 2015 negotiations dubbed the “Doha Round” were abandoned.

With protectionism gaining steam globally, the WTO’s influence is diminishing as trade negotiations start to take shape in nations’ capitals instead of Geneva, where the body is based.

As such, experts believe the next leader will need to spearhead effective reforms to become relevant again.

“The next leader of the WTO must command respect in the corridors of power of the major players,” said Simon Evenett, professor of international trade and economic development at the University of St. Gall in Switzerland.

“This is not the time to promote another ambassador. Someone with very senior government experience or global status is needed.”

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

 

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Agriculture

COVID-19: NASC boss appeals to state govts., stakeholders to give seeds as palliative

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Dr Philip Ojo, the Director-General, National Agriculture Seed Council  NASC), has appealed to state governments and stakeholders  to give quality seeds to farmers as palliative instead of money.

Ojo made the appeal on Thursday in Abuja at a news conference on preparation and readiness for the 2020 planting season and strategies to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said there was need to give seeds to farmers as palliative, adding that the lockdown had negative impact on farmers.

“As most farmers have used their money to buy food to eat and now they are going back to the farm and no seeds to plant.”

He said that if farmers could not get the quality seeds they needed to go to farm with, then the aim would be defected.

Ojo said that the NASC was doing all within its reach to ensure that seed-related activities were sustained and promoted even in the midst of the pandemic.

According to him, the industry has available at the disposal of accredited seed companies across the country about 81,000 metric tonnes of certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum.

“Soyabean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato that are ready for deployment and purchase by farmers for production of food and raw materials for Nigerians.’’

He said the current situation had brought to the fore the importance of agriculture to the sustainability of the nation.

He, however, said there was urgent need to replace depleted food stock as a result of the massive purchase and consumption now starring “us all in the face’’.

He said that NASC together with Wageningen University and Sahel Consulting introduced a survey to access first-hand the impact of COVID-19 on the seed sector.

“The scan has presented to us key areas of alert that are mostly impacted by the COVID-19 and also recommended coping strategies that will guide our future actions,” he said.

The D-G said that the seed council would be working with various stakeholders to implement various actions to cope with the present situation.

According to him, the council will structure the trade of seed and agro-inputs in designated markets and on specific days, while complying with social distancing directions of government.

He said a decentralised model for organising the markets would be used for quality seed and agro-inputs to be transported close to farmers.

He said that the council would create seed sector task forces at federal, state and local government levels to review regularly the interstate movement of essential agricultural goods and services.

Ojo said that the council had appealed to seed companies not to increase the prices of seed during the pandemic.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for directing free movement of food and agricultural inputs and allowing farmers go back to farm.

He noted that in spite of the directives, reports from the field still indicated some bottlenecks, hence the need for the council to proffer solution.

“Also negatively impacted is the production and supply of early generation seed and more importantly the quality assurance activities including seed field inspection and Laboratory testing.”.

Joseph Edeh/Grace Yussuf

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Agriculture

COVID-19: NASC appeals to Nigerians to embrace farming

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Dr Philip Ojo, the Director-General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) on Thursday appealed to Nigerians to embrace farming to ensure food security to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on citizens.

Ojo made the appeal during a zoom press conference  on the preparation and readiness for the 2020 planting season and the strategies to use to reduce  the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said this was not the time for farmers to abandon their farms as there was need for every Nigerian to make use of the opportunity to go into farming, urging them to use quality seeds to plant.

“Seed is the beginning of agriculture and we must secure seed to have food security,’’ he said.

He also appealed to journalists to help inform farmers on the need to go back to their farms to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the people.

“Nigeria needs you more to make huge noise to our farmers not to abandon their farms in the lockdown as the human need for food and nutritional support cannot go under lockdown.

“Let us encourage every Nigerian to take the opportunity of the lockdown to farm, Please go out and tell all Nigerians to return to the farm and cultivate, using quality seeds from accredited sources,” he said.

Ojo said the seed council would be working with various stakeholders to implement various coping actions which would help the sector to continue to function even in the midst of the crisis.

The NASC boss said the council would work with stakeholders to advocate for government at all levels to provide stimulus for farmers and the seed sector in the form of seed subsidies as palliative measures.

“We will ensure that subsidies are only applicable to seeds purchased from NASC approved seed companies and producers.

“We will share in a structured manner and at state level, information on the availability of seed with companies and producers.

“We will engage in an organised manner, the marketing and distribution of the subsidised seeds directly to farmers.

“Within the marketing and distribution schemes, we will promote the use of Seedcodex to ensure seed quality and package identity to allow companies to remain accountable for seed quality and reduce opportunities for substandard or fake seeds,” he said.

Ojo said that the council would create a seed sector taskforce at federal, state and local government area levels to review regularly the interstate movement of essential agricultural goods and services to provide guidance on measures to be taken to authorities.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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Foreign

UNICEF appeals for 1.6 bln USD to help children impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

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UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is appealing for 1.6 billion U.S. dollars to support its humanitarian aid for children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, up from 651.6 million dollars requested in a similar appeal in late March.

“This increase reflects the devastating socioeconomic consequences of the disease and families’ rising needs. As the outbreak enters its 5th month, the costs for supplies, shipment and duty of care are increasing dramatically,” UNICEF said Monday.

“The pandemic is a health crisis which is quickly becoming a child rights crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Schools are closed, parents are out of work and families are under growing strain. As we begin to reimagine what a post-COVID world would look like, these funds will help us respond to the crisis, recover from its aftermath, and protect children from its knock-on effects.”

Access to essential services like health care and routine immunization has already been compromised for hundreds of millions of children, which could lead to a significant increase in child mortality. Meanwhile, the mental health and psychosocial impact of restricted movement, school closures and subsequent isolation are likely to intensify already high levels of stress, especially for vulnerable children.

According to a UNICEF analysis, some 77 percent of children under the age of 18 worldwide, or 1.8 billion, are living in the 132 countries with some form of movement restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

Risk factors for violence, abuse and neglect are on the rise for children living under restricted movement and socio-economic decline. Girls and women are at increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. In many cases, refugee, migrant and internally displaced children, as well as returnees, are experiencing reduced access to services and protection and increasing exposure to xenophobia and discrimination.

“We have seen what the pandemic is doing to countries with developed health systems and we are concerned about what it would do to countries with weaker systems and fewer available resources,” said Fore.

UNICEF is focusing its response to the pandemic on countries with existing humanitarian crises, working both to prevent transmission and mitigate the collateral impacts on children, women and vulnerable populations, especially around access to health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and protection.

UNICEF has so far received 215 million dollars in support of its response to the pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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