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NURTW condemns indiscriminate location of motor parks in Port Harcourt

By Azubuike Okeh




By Azubuike Okeh

Port Harcourt, Dec. 19, 2018 (NNN) The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Nkpolu Oroworukwo Park branch, Port Harcourt, on Wednesday condemned the indiscriminate location of motor parks in the city.

Mr Cyril Amadi, the scribe of the branch, in an interview with newsmen, said the union was sad over the existence of illegal passenger collection points in various parts of Port Harcourt.

“You now find vehicles picking up passengers at places not designated for such purposes, and some of these points are along the roads.

“This new practice defeats the original intention behind the establishment of motor parks; we need to discourage the trend.

“All the loading points operating illegally in the city do not pay their dues to the relevant government authorities,’’ he said.

Amadi noted that the motor parks were supposed to be revenue earners to both the state and local governments, adding, “these illegal parks evade such payments’’.

He, however, called on the state government and the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council to shut down all the illegal motor parks.

“We also want commuters to understand the security implications of patronising unregistered and illegal parks in the interest of their safety.

“Closing these parks down will shore-up government revenues, decongest the roads and guarantee the security of passengers,’’ he added. (NNN)
(Edited by Edwin Nwachukwu/Idonije Obakhedo)




Expert calls for caution in adopting GMO agriculture



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited by Ejike Obeta/Grace Yussuf

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NCF exposes more Lagos children to environmental conservation



The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has encouraged more school children in Lagos State to become active in understanding and contributing to environmental  conservation in their communities.

Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, the Director-General, NCF said on Friday that the foundation organised a ‘’Spring Alive Nigeria’’ to sensitise children on issues surrounding wildlife conservation and its importance to human habitat.

According to him, the exposure is to facilitate the early involvement of school children in the crusade for sustainable environment in the state and other parts of the country.

“There is need for continued enlightenment of the public and the younger generation in the drive for a healthy environment on whose shoulders every other thing revolves.

“We have pupils and students membership, and their number is increasing by the day. It is pertinent for us to continue to educate them on the values of the foundation, and the urgent need to salvage the worsening global environment.

“Spring Alive is to make the younger generation internalise the culture of nature preservation, and ginger them to bring to bear new innovations in the quest for an egalitarian environment,” he said.

The Coordinator of the event, Mrs Abidemi Balogun described birds as environment indicators, adding that the initiative was meant to highlight the roles of birds in sustainable environment.

Balogun listed role of birds in the environment to include seed dispersal, fruit pollination, removal of carcass, adding that their presence anywhere was an indication that such environment was unpolluted.

According to her, migratory birds indicate seasons and also announce weather conditions in a particular geographical location from time to time.

She however expressed concern over the gradual disappearance of some species of birds from the environment due to human activities.

Balogun said that vultures were gradually going into extinction due to human activities, which had undermined the role of vulture in identifying decomposing animals and ensuring their removal.

Some of the school children from Royal Treasure Junior School Lekki, and Okun Ajah Community School expressed joy at the exposure and activities of the foundation.

Ivie Owuadolor said that the event was creative and earnestly looked forward to another opportunity next year.

Samson Friday said that the event had exposed him to things he had never known about birds and their relevance to the environment.

The event brought together over forty pupils from four different Lagos State schools.

Edited /Grace Yussuf

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Expert highlights steps to obtaining high yields in vitamin A cassava production



The Harvestplus Country Manager, Dr Paul Ilona, has enumerated the best agronomic steps farmers can deploy to obtain high yields in vitamin A cassava production.

Ilona made this known in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Friday in Ibadan.

The plant breeder advised farmers to always choose fertile lands, preferably with sandy-loamy soil texture, avoid water-logged soils, remove trees and stumps without damaging the top soil and avoid bush burning.

“Plough and ridge the soil, if necessary. This is location-specific. So seek for advice; avoid predisposing your soil to erosion, choose only adapted improved varieties and avoid those that processors don’t demand.

“Stems are living things; so handle them with care; buy from recommended sources, cut carefully into stakes (20-22cm), plant at an angle vertically or horizontally and avoid planting when soil moisture is too low or high.

“Always remove weeds to reduce competition for nutrients with cassava plants; weeding can be done manually, mechanically or with herbicides, depending on location, resources and weed types.

“Apply fertilizer between four and eight weeks after planting for healthy plant growth; seek for advice on types but never apply when the soil is dry,” he said.

Ilona also underscored the need for farmers to harvest carefully to ensure that all tuberous roots were removed from the soil, adding that farmers could also harvest stems for sale to increase their margin.

On the production of vitamin A gari, starch and flour, he recommended the use of stainless steel graters, while stressing that roots should be grated immediately after peeling to reduce physiological deterioration.

For fufu, he advised farmers to always soak cassava in water for two to four days, depending on temperature and root size, adding that they should ferment grated mash for one to six days, depending on consumer preferences.

“For starch and flour, don’t ferment grated mash; wet sieving reduces the fibre content of starch and fufu; press-wet products into cake in preparation for drying, pulverise cake, using grater to increase the surface area for faster drying.

“Don’t dry below 12 percent moisture content for starch and flour, and 14 percent for gari to retain the vitamin A content; mill and sieve to achieve particle not larger than 180mm, using 0.2mm mesh sieve.

“Finally, package to keep product away from sunlight, because light breaks down vitamin A in products,” he said.

The country manager further emphasised that Harvestplus and its partners were present in 26 states of Nigeria to promote the availability, adoption and consumption of vitamin A cassava, maize and orange sweet potato.

He added that its goal was to ensure that that 100 million Nigerians consumed the bio-fortified crops by 2030.

To achieve the goals, Ilona said that his organisation’s extension agents and rural facilitators had received training in best agronomic practices, which they passed along to farmers at the household level.

He noted that its creative public awareness campaigns leveraged on the power of mass media, including the Nollywood, in educating Nigerians on micronutrient deficiencies and benefits of vitamin A rich staple crops.

“We are creating and strengthening demands by supporting commercial processing of vitamin A cassava, maize and orange sweet potato into popularly consumed products: gari and fufu from vitamin A cassava as well as tuwo and pap from vitamin A maize.

“Also we have porridge and confectioneries from orange sweet potato that are marketed nationwide.

“Innovative strategies to promote adoption and consumption include model one-stop shops, where consumers can buy stems, seeds, vines, tubers and ready-to-eat products, such as pies, cakes and fufu.

“Our advocacy seeks to strengthen national ownership of bio-fortification through effective integration into national nutrition and agricultural policies.

“With the help of God, government at all levels, public private sectors and all hands being on deck, we shall achieve our goal,” he said.

NAN reports that Harvestplus works to improve nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It also provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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FG open to willing foreign investors in agribusiness – Perm Sec



FG open to willing foreign investors in agribusiness – Perm Sec


Abuja, Nov. 14, 2019 The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Umar says Nigeria is open to foreign investors willing to invest in agribusiness in line with the present administration’s drive to diversify the economy.

Umar in a statement by the Assistant Director, Information in the ministry, Mrs Eno Olotu, on Thursday in Abuja, said Nigeria had full potential for development, with abundant raw materials in all the states.

The permanent secretary gave the remarks at an interactive session with a team of Belgian investors, under the auspices of Flanders Investment and Trade Agency, who visited him in Abuja.

He was quoted as saying “ Nigeria is open to the international community that want to do genuine business, especially in agriculture.”

According to him, the focus of the administration is to develop agriculture and secure the enabling environment for the nation to become an investor’s haven.

“Nigeria has the land, resources and the labour that will translate the vision into reality.

“What we are trying to do is to reduce poverty and the fastest way to do that is through agriculture.

“We must eat what we produce because any nation that cannot feed itself cannot survive.

“All we require is increased capacity, technology transfer and collaboration with foreign investors,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary urged the team to focus on inputs in the ongoing government initiatives in the sector, especially in the area of mechanisation.

He said with government de-emphasisng importation and promoting exportation of its products, Nigeria is ready to provide the raw materials for foreign companies to leverage on and assist to boost its export potentials.

The Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Dargent, who led the team of investors to the ministry, assured that Belgium would continue to partner with Nigeria to promote the ideals of both countries.

He said the presence of the investors in Nigeria was a proof of the persistent interest of Belgian companies in Nigeria.

The ambassador expressed optimism that the visit would build on the positive macro-economic trends of the Nigerian economy while strengthening its economic ties.

Flanders Investment and Trade project coordinator, Mr Malin Johan, said that the agency’s core agenda was to promote sustainable international businesses in the interest of both Flander- based companies and overseas enterprises.

High point of the interactive session was discussion on technical assistance, mentoring and coaching, support to women through inclusive agric-value chains, potassium sulphate based fertilisers, sulphuric derivatives, crop protection, gelatin and processing of organic by-products in the industry.

Also, the discussion covered how to use extracts and concentrates valuable animal proteins from blood, eggs and skins as by-products from the food chain including feeds, pet food amongst others.

Edited by Felix Ajide

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Imota rice mill to produce 650 bags of rice per hour – Lagos govt.



The Lagos State government has said that the Imota rice mill, when completed, will produce 650 bags of 50kg rice per hour.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said this while on a tour the site of the mill, to assess the progress of work.

Olusanya, in a statement issued on Thursday in Lagos, expressed satisfaction with the progress of work at the 32 metric-tonnes-per-hour capacity rice mill.

She said that when completed, the mill would be the world’s fourth largest and the biggest in Africa.

The special adviser said that agriculture and food security were important components of the T.H.E.M.E.S Development Agenda of the state government for making Lagos a 21st-century economy.

She expressed government’s commitment to completing the mill, in order to meet the rice demand of the state and indeed, the nation.

”The mill is situated on a landmass of 8.5 hectares of land and each of the two production lines has a capacity of 16 metric tonnes and will produce 650 bags of 50kg rice per hour,” Olusanya said.

She added that the mill was designed, constructed and its equipment installed by local contractors, which underscored the state government’s confidence in the capacity of indigenous engineers.

The governor’s aide said that over 250,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created from the mill when completed, while increased economic activity was also expected at Imota, Ikorodu and the state in general.

Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Kebbi Govt to disburse N1.5bn loan to livestock farmers



The Kebbi Government says it will disburse N1.5 billion loan to livestock farmers across the state.

Gov. Atiku Bagudu made this known in Birnin Kebbi on Thursday at a town hall meeting on the state 2020 budget organised by the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planing.

“We are going to disburse N1.5 billion world bank loan to our hardworking livestock farmers in the state as we have done similar gesture to fishing communities.

“Government must not be the only employer of labour, we have abundant natural resources that if tapped and diversified, we will generate more employment opportunities than the government.

“We have larger rice companies by private individuals, and tomatoes processing company is coming in Ngaski Local Government Area; at the same time, we are going to distribute 450 mini rice mills to women.

“Already, we have sent 25 graduates for one year training at national power institution and 25 youths to manufacturing companies in Lagos state, as well as additional 500 persons will be sent for sesame training,” Bagudu said.

He added that fishing, farming and livestock sectors have huge potentials for employment.

“If we can improve these sectors, more employment can be generated and our income on internally generated revenue can be improved,” he said.

The governor urged the people to support the government to deliver its promises.

Also speaking, Alhaji Ibrahim Ngaski, who spoke on behalf of the Collation of Civil Society Organizations, commended the ministry for organising the meeting.

He urged the state government to sign into the Open Government Programme, to facilitate budget tracking and enhance procurement processes, among others.

“We need to strengthen our Internally Generated Revenue as we have rice processing companies, bottle water companies, ground rates, among others.

“All these need to be reviewed to enhance our state IGR,” Ngaski said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Permanent Secretary, budget and economic planing, Hajiya Aisha Usman, presented highlights of the proposed 2020 budget to stakeholders at the meeting..

Edited by Maharazu Ahmed

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