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GMO foods not in Nigerian markets – Ministry

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Dr Adeyinka Onabolu, the Senior Adviser on Food Security and Nutrition, Ministry of Agriculture has reiterated that the Federal Government is currently not pushing Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) into the Nigerian market.

Adeyinka said this on Thursday at a news conference during the inauguration of a Food, Planet and Health report in Nigeria by the EAT-Lancet Commission.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that EAT-Lancet Commission is an NGO playing a central role in putting food, health and sustainability on global agenda with “an appetite for over-sized impact’’.

Onabolu said that although there had been efforts over time by the government using normal breeding techniques to improve agricultural productivity.

“Crops like the orange flared potatoes are manipulated crops of genes, but not genetically modified as the whole country is running away from,” she said.

She said that Nigeria’s agricultural sector on food security and nutrition strategy was prioritising nutrition and of Nigerians by mainstreaming nutrition into the chains of agriculture in the country.

NAN reports that the Nigeria Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has also faulted reports that it had approved the distribution of genetically modified foods in the country.

It, however, gathered that the GMOs had been approved for commercial release by NBMA, but will still need to undergo other instant procedures at the National Seed Service, under the Ministry of Agriculture as such, the GMOs are not yet in the market.

Mr Micheal Ojo, the Country Director Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an NGO urged the Federal Government to formulate and focus on policies and strategies to encourage Nigerians on healthy diets.

He said that such policies, when formulated would build the culture of healthy dieting in homes, curb hunger and eradicate malnutrition and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) leading to sustainable and healthy food system in the country.

According to him, there is need to produce mixture of food for the Nigeria’s growing population, projected to be the third largest in the world by 2050.

“This is because there has been increased global attention on addressing malnutrition using food systems approach, which has the potential for far-reaching impact, especially for the most vulnerable,” he said.

He said that the food systems would determine the quality of people’s diet at the household level, shaping the demand, availability, affordability and desirability of safe and nutritious food.

Dr Chris Isokpunwu, the Head of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health said that the scaling up nutrition movement focal point for the country was part of the functions of the ministry.

He said that the movement had different networks that feed into it, adding that one of the essential networks were the Scaling up Nutrition Business Network, anchored by GAIN.

“We engage with GAIN and other partners in the various networks on areas like the micro-nutrient deficiency control and in infant and young child feeding and health.’’

Dr Ogunmolewa Ogunmolewa, a farmer and food fortification expert and consultant, urged farmers to gather and share information that would boost planting and production of varied nutrient-rich crops.

He appealed to stakeholders in food, nutrition, health, agriculture and environment to engage both private and government agencies to ensure a broadened knowledge around food and nutrition security for both consumers and farmers.

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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Delta govt. committed to funding veterinary public health, to immunse 5,000 dogs -Commissioner

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Immunsation

Asaba, Nov. 18, 2019 Delta Government says it is committed to funding veterinary public heath activities as it targets immunisation of over 5,000 dogs across the state this year.

Mr Julius Egbede, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, stated this on Monday while inaugurating the state yearly free immunisation programme against rabies in dogs and cats in Asaba.

According to Egbedi, one of the policy thrust of the state government is the promotion of public health.

“The Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration has made funds available, annually, for various veterinary public health activities which include prevention of animal diseases like rabies in dogs, African Swine Fever in pigs, Avian influenza in birds and “pest does petite ruminants“ in goats.

“Most of these diseases are endemic in Nigeria with outbreak the records of up to 100 per cent mortality once contracted.

“Rabies is a contagious and highly fatal zoonotic disease of dogs, cats, man and other animals which infection is through bite and silica of infected dog or certain specie of wild bat.”

He, however, called on the dogs and cats owners to promptly immunse their pets and report any case of dog bite immediately to any veterinary office in the state for immediate attention, to prevent deaths.

Earlier, Dr Charles Diai, Director of Veterinary Services in the ministry, said that the programme inauguration was aimed at eliminating rabies and other related animal diseases before 2030.

“The essence is to prevent rabies, a killer disease that affects human being and if everybody vaccinates his or her dog and cat against rabies, owners of such animals the community and the whole state will be free from rabies.

“Our target, this year, is to vaccinate over 5,000 dogs across the state against rabies.

“As at last year, we have been able to immunise 3, 620 dogs but we are targeting a higher number as the year goes on with a view to eliminating the disease.

“I call on all dog and cat owners to take advantage of this free immunisation to keep their pets free from rabies and ensure the elimination of the disease in the state,” he said.

Some dog owners, who spoke with the Nigeria News Agency at the event, thanked the state government for the free immunsation programmean.

They called on others to take the advantage of the gesture to immunise their pets.

Mr Stanley Onyekaonwu  said that his dog (Boer Bull) had at various occasios bitten his visitors, but assured that the dog had been vaccinated yearly against rabies.

According to him, it will cost him about N5, 000 to give a full dose of the vaccine yearly to the dog.

“We appreciate the government for the gesture and we extend the call to other dog owners to take advantage of this free vaccination, he said.

The highpoint was the vaccination of the dogs by the commissioner, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sir Ausrin Oghoro, and the Federal Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Felix Kehis.

NAN reports that the free vaccination which commenced on Monday, will end on Nov. 30, across the state (.

Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Dada Ahmed

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Kano tomato farmers express fear over suspension of seedlings distribution by Dangote farms

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Tomato farmers in Kano state have expressed fear that the production of the commodity, this year, might face serious challenges following the suspension of the distribution of hybrid tomato seedlings by Dangote farms.

‎Alhaji Sani Danladi-Yadakwari, the state branch Chairman of National Tomato Growers, Processors, and Marketers Association of Nigeria, said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Kano on Monday.

He said that only about 500 out of the 10, 000 registered tomato farmers under the

Central Bank Anchor Borrower programme, were able to collect the seedlings before the distribution was suddenly suspended.

According to him, if care is not taken, the essence of distributing the hybrid seedling; to boost production of the commodity and meet the demand of tomatoes processing plants in the state would be a mirage.

Dangote Farms had on Monday, Oct. 38, inaugurated the distribution of hybrid tomato seedlings to tomato farmers under the Central Bank Anchor Borrower Programme before it was suspended.

Danladi-Yadakwari, who is also the Secretary-General of the association, said the delay in the distribution of the tomato seedlings would negatively affect farmers clearing their farmlands in preparation for the planting season.

“What we learnt is that, the material with which the tomato seed is mixed with to produce the seedlings was exhausted and had to be ordered from outside the country.

“So we hope the problem will be solved in time to enable farmers plant the seedlings in time so as to beat the time for the planting, otherwise it will be late, “ he said.

He also called on Dangote Tomato Processing Company and the Central Bank of Nigeria to immediately address the challenges to save the farmers from any stress.

However, when contacted, the Managing Director of Dangote Farms, Alhaji Abdulkarim Kaita confirmed suspension of the distribution of seedlings.

He, however, assured that the distribution of the seedlings would soon resume, adding that Central Bank of Nigeria had taken delivery of the materials (components) used in mixing the tomato seed before producing its seedlings.

“The materials had to be ordered from outside the country but I am happy to tell you that the CBN has taken the delivery of the materials and the distribution will soon resume,

“The period of the distribution has also been extended to end of January 2020 instead of Dec. 2019,” Kaita.

NAN reports that farmers who use the hybrid tomato seedling varieties are expected to produce between 40, 60, and 80 and up to 100 tonnes per hectare, using the best practices.

Edited by Dada Ahmed

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Agriculture

Plant variety protection law will increase rural employment – Seed council

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The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) says the speedy passage of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill before the House of Representatives will boost rural employment and economic security in the country.

Mr Okelola Folarin, Technical Adviser to Dr Olusegun Ojo, the Director-General of NASC, and the PVP Desk Head in Nigeria, made the disclosure while speaking with Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Abuja.

Folarin said that with the implementation of the PVP Act, numerous benefits would accrue to farmers, consumers as well as the country.

According to him, farmers and growers will specifically enjoy innovation and investment in plant breeding and access to more and better varieties.

According to him, the quick passage of the bill will increase income for farmers and enhance the development of international markets.

“Across the world, the agricultural sector is the backbone of the economy, which employs a vast majority of the population.

“This population is growing at an alarming rate and there is need to double productivity to meet rising demands for food in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Folarin identified the availability of quality seeds as a veritable tool in achieving the vision of food sufficiency.

He also said that NASC was mandated to ensure the circulation of adequate quality and quantity seeds in Nigeria, across West Africa and other regions.

He added that the implementation of the PVP law would make agricultural growth optimal as well as sustainable.

He further said that with the use of certified protected plant varieties through the introduction of PVP, farmers could harvest more than double of their current yield.

“With the introduction of PVP, an effective system will be established that will promote and encourage the development of new varieties of plants for the benefit of the society,’’ he said.

Edited by Moses Solanke/Felix Ajide

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Enact stringent laws against smuggling before reopening borders – Group tells FG

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Mr Tedheke Retson, National Coordinator, Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS), has advised the Federal Government to enact stringent laws against smuggling before reopening the borders.

Retson told the Nigeria News Agency on Monday in Abuja that such decisive step would send strong signals to smugglers that it won’t be business as usual whenever the border is reopened.

“It’s time smugglers were treated as enemies of state because of the dangers they pose to the economy,’’ he said.

According to him, not until such step is taken and urgently, it will be difficult for Nigeria to truly fight smuggling.

“Those who engaged in smuggling had formed strong cabals that could only be broken through stringent punishment.

“In most of the nations in Asia, when you become an economic saboteur, you are considered as an enemy of state.

“The Nigerian Constitution considers a threat to internal security as a capital crime. So, if you become a threat to our growth, to our economy, we should begin to punish people.

“Yes, the borders are still porous, so smuggled goods are still coming in. What must be done first and foremost is to set the pathway towards criminalising smuggling,” he said.

Retson commended the Federal Government for not succumbing to pressures to reopen the borders, advising that they should remain closed until the neighbouring countries agreed to the terms of agreement.

According to him, the current border closure had defined a paradigm shift for the country, which was thitherto a dumping ground for not only rice but textile materials, palm oil, tomatoes paste and other agricultural commodities.

The coordinator stressed that the development had boosted local production and spurred the cooperative and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector to begin to think of ways to meet local demands of rice and other commodities.

He said, “the demand for rice has been over 250,000 bags per month. We are not able to meet 10 per cent of that right now. We hope that gradually we can meet that demand within six months to one year.

“Local content must be developed. Nobody should tell us stories about globalisation. America did not globalise until they were developed. Britain never globalised until they were developed.

“China is not even talking about globalisation. The only reason we can say China is talking about globalisation is because the world is currently made in China.

“Partial closure of the borders has boosted local productivity. More and more Nigerians are now going into rice production. So, we are positioned within the next two three years to be the net producer of rice in Nigeria.

“When we get to that level, Africa now becomes our market place, then we begin to talk about free trade, then we can begin to talk about globalisation.

“The concept of closure of border is to ensure revival of local productivity. We should stop closing border for the sake of rice, we should also close border with regard to textile and palm oil.

“I am aware that Nigeria imports about one million metric tonnes of palm oil every year. How can we import palm oil from Malaysia?

“Republic of Benin cannot be smaller than Lagos as a country and be the sixth largest importer of rice in the world. It does not make sense.”

Retson further called for imposition of high tariffs on imported goods that Nigeria has comparative advantage to produce in order to encourage companies to set up plants in Nigeria and create jobs rather than importing.

“There is no country in the world today that is interested in growth that will look at import as the only sustainable path towards growth when 84 million arable hectares of farmland is located in your country,” he said.

The Federal Government had on Aug. 21, ordered partial closure of border to check smuggling.

Edited by Bayo Sekoni/Felix Ajide

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Gastroenteritis epidemic: Health workers advise public on preventive measures

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Two health officials in Lagos State on Sunday advised members of the public on steps to tackle the outbreak of waterborne gastroenteritis (stomach) disease in the state.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that there has been incidences of stomach disorder that has left many children hospitalised in Ajegunle area of the state.

The officials, in separate interviews with NAN in Lagos, said the preventive measure was key.

Mr TaiwoAwonuga, the President of Lagos Chapter of Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), advised residents to clean and disinfect vomit and faecal spillages promptly.

“We have to increase the frequency of routine environmental inspection and in cleaning, including toilets, bathrooms and the surrounding.

“Particular attention has to be given to cleaning objects that are frequently touched such as faucets, door handles and bed rails.

“Environmental services and waste management department personnel should wear gown, gloves and a surgical or procedure mask when cleaning surface soiled with vomitus and faecal material.

“The use of approved disinfectant, freshly prepared sodium hypochlorite solution to disinfect the surface contaminated with faeces or vomitus is highly recommended,’’ Awonuga said.

According to him, the reliability of disinfectant, other than those containing chlorine to kill the norovirus, is uncertain.

“So, chlorine containing hypochlorite is recommended for use whenever is possible.’’

Mr Aroe Adesola, the state Public Relations Officer of EHOAN, decried the outbreak as epidemic and advised people to maintain a clean culture and ensure their homes were cross-ventilated.

“Clean carpets and soft furnishing with hot water and detergents or stream clean, dry vacuuming is not recommended.

“Open defecation and channelisation of faecal matters into public drain need to be discouraged out rightly, while offenders should be prosecuted.

“Hand washing should be encouraged after visiting toilets and before handling of food,’’ Adesola told NAN.

According to him, water samples are being collected in the affected areas for analysis at the Drug Quality Control Laboratory, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH),  for effective control.

He enjoined the public to notify the appropriate Environmental Services/Primary Health Care Department of any suspected case.

Adesola said that advocacy and health education on the importance of personal and food hygiene would be intensified.

/TÁ

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde/Tajudeen Atitebi

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