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WFP appeals to govts to consider plights of women on policy for zero hunger





The World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed to various governments to consider the plights of women and girls in making policy decisions and programmes toward tackling hunger and poverty.


A statement by WFP in Abuja on Friday to commemorate the 2019 International Women’s Day, said that considering women was vital to achieving a zero hunger world by 2030.


WFP noted that reducing inequalities and removing barriers that excluded women from influencing development in all sectors would also advance food security.


It said the theme of the day, `think equal, build smart, innovate for change’, was in line with the organisation’s gender transformative approach aimed at giving everyone a life of dignity, choice and opportunities.


“Our integrated programmes using cash transfers contribute to reducing gender-based violence, strengthening women’s decision making and increasing women’s leadership.


“International Women’s Day reminds us about the immense and valuable contribution women make toward a more peaceful, prosperous and well-fed world.


“All around the globe, WFP programmes help empower women so they can have more opportunities not just to improve their lives, but those of their families, communities and nations,’’ it said.


It quoted Ms Myrta Kaulard, the WFP Representative in Nigeria, as saying that the organisation’s milling machines project in Borno State, demonstrated how working with women contributed to food and nutrition security.


“Under the programme, 5,000 displaced families in Borno  received 766 milling machines from WFP to ease problems associated with processing grains.


“The milling machines also save time and energy for the users, especially for vulnerable women and girls who face a lot of difficulties in accessing milling services in the conflict-affected communities.


“Our Food for Assets projects have empowered women who now are able to work in their communities, feed their families, sell their produce and contribute towards the development of themselves.’’


WFP also commended the Federal Government’s school feeding programme, adding that it had demonstrated an increase in nutrition and education among girl students.


It said the programme had contributed to a decrease in teenage pregnancy and child marriage.


WFP said noted that organisation was working in over 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflicts and disasters as well as laying foundations for a better future.



FAO reiterates commitment to helping Nigeria tackle soil erosion, environmental degradation



The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says it is committed to providing technical assistance towards controlling soil erosion and environmental degradation in the country.

Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative in Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the organisation was committed to working with government and private organisations to stop land degradation, promote soil conservation, improve soil fertility and productivity, and promote food security.

Koroma gave the assurance at the “Experts Dialogue’’, part of activities to commemorate the World Soil Day (WSD), organised by the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science (NISS), in collaboration with FAO and the Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN).

The theme for 2019 is “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.

He noted that FAO and NISS had a long-standing relationship and a shared commitment to protect Nigeria’s soil, increase agricultural production and ensure a secure future for the coming generation.

He said: “Each time you step on soil, it takes 200 to 400 years to form the ones under your feet. So do all you can to save some good ones for the next generation, their survival depends on it.

According to Koroma, the ability of households to comfortably feed their children with diverse diets begins with being food secure.

“To achieve this we must strive to control land degradation, even as the population of Nigeria grows and the need to conserve fertile lands mounts.

“Combating erosion should be our starting point. To achieve this requires thorough evaluation of the various strategies for soil fertility improvement and soil conservation techniques in the country.

“To reduce erosion rates on farmlands, reliable and proven soil conservation technologies must be adopted, and these include ridge planting, no-till cultivation, crop rotation, mulches, living mulches, agro-forestry, terracing, contour planting, cover cropping and installation of windbreaks.

“I implore all organisations to work towards including soil erosion management and control in future project plans with specific budget lines.

“We must work to ensure that people have safe and nutritious food without endangering essential ecosystems services,” he said.

He further noted that the WSD celebration was a reminder of the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and a vital contributor to human survival.

“Stop Soil Erosion, Save Our Future” reminds us of the non-renewability of soil and the need to preserve it for a sustainable future, as its loss or degradation is not recoverable in a lifetime.

“Every five seconds, the equivalent of a soccer pitch is eroded globally, affecting soil fertility, as well as global food security and safety. As the world population expands, the need for enhanced awareness to tackle the concern is most desired.

“In Nigeria, 70 per cent of land is used for agricultural activities. Land serves as source of water and foster agro-forestry, as well as non agro-forestry exploration.

“However, low productivity due to degradation, deforestation, erosion, inappropriate agricultural practices, overgrazing and weak institutions is experienced.

“Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation of primary forest in Africa with annual losses estimated at 11.1 per cent between 2000 and 2008.

“Desertification in the northern part of Nigeria is advancing consistently at the rate of 0.6 kilometer per annum with as much as 351,000sq km regarded as potential desertification area,” he said.

The FAO official said several studies had demonstrated that the soil removed by either water or wind erosion is 1.3 to five times richer in organic matter than the soil left behind.

“This is not good for our mission to achieving food security in Nigeria.”

Koroma said based on this year’s theme, FAO would raise awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

According to him, this will be through encouraging people to engage in activities that will improve soil; and mobilising political will as well as resources to raise soil profiles.

Edited & Vetted By: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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Nigeria to export rice in 2 years – Nanono



The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, says with the phenomenal increase in rice production and processing in the country, Nigeria will be exporting the commodity in the next two years.

The minister stated this on Thursday in Kura, Kano state during an assessment tour of the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain.

Nigeria News Agency reports Nanono, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed led stakeholders and a team of journalists on inspection of cluster of cottage rice mills in Kura.

The team also visited four integrated rice mills in the state which are Al-Hamsad Rice, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd and Umza International Farms.

“The way and manner we are going in the production of rice, in the next two years, we will start exporting rice outside the country.

“For those that are worried about the partial close of our borders, we are not doing this to hurt the people but to protect the future of the country, provide jobs and food sufficiency.

“Government will continue to give support to rice farmers to achieve this goal,” he said.

The minister said that Kura is an agrarian settlement known for irrigation farming in rice, tomato, maize and others items, mostly consume in the Southern part of the country.

He said farmers in Kura had, however, concentrated on rice production following the border drill and the ban in rice importation.

Speaking in the same vein, Mohammed assured that the federal government would continue to support the stakeholder in the rice production value chain.

He however appealed to rice growers and millers not to see the loans given to them as their own “share of the national cake”.

“They must understand that when loans are not paid back, it will be difficult for them and others to get more loans,” he said.

Alhaji Ali Idris , Chairman Kura Rice Processing and Marketing Association called on the government to sustain the border closure, stressing that Nigeria has the capacity to feed itself and the neighbouring countries.

Idris, who spoke in Hausa language, said since the closure of the borders and the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to achieving self-sufficiency on food production, his people were fully back in business.

He disclosed that over 10,000 youths in Kura Local Government were gainfully employed in the rice production value chain and they produce about 5000 tones of rice every day.

He commended federal government for supporting them with modern machine and urged provision of polishers, de-stoners to further enhance their production.

Another miller, Adamu Habu called on government to sustain the border closure because of its impact on the economy.

He said more people were being employed in the rice production value chain and supporting the economy.

The President of Integrated Rice Millers Association in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Umza, said the border closure had impacted positively on rice industry nationwide and in particular, Kano state.

He said prior to the closure, the industry had been battling with foreign rice market forces which threatened its coexistence.

Umza said that the border closure had helped to transform rice value chain in Kano state and government should sustain it.

Kano state, by virtue of its agrarian origin has provided a conducive atmosphere where rice milling activities thrives.

“The state has the largest concentration of integrated rice processing mills as well as clusters of cottage rice mills scattered across nearly all the local government in the state.

“Of the 35 registered integrated rice mills in Nigeria, about 12 are domicile in Kano and more are coming up, which makes Kano undoubtedly the capital of rice processing in Nigeria.

“An estimated 5000 metric tones of finished rice is turned out daily by the combined integrated mills and cottage mills in Kano.

“This is shared in the ratio of about 60 per cent from the cottage mills and 40 per cent from the integrated mills.

“Combined, the mills employ about 10,000 people either directly or indirectly,” he said.

Umza urged the federal government to sustain the good work of securing the borders and hence the economy.

He said, if the policy is sustained, the industry would continue to grow and provide food and employment to the rapidly growing and urban population.


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Border Drill: 6 million venture into rice production – Mohammed



The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says no fewer than six million people, mostly youths are venturing into rice production following the impact of the border closure on rice value chain.

The minister disclosed this on Thursday in Kano when he led a stakeholder in the rice production to the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Mohammed, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, are in Kano on assessment tour of the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain.

“Before the drill, which some people have referred to as border closure, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, according to the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).

“The farmers were cultivating rice twice a year. Now, many rice farmers across the country have started three-times-a-year cultivation in order to meet the increasing demand.

“Not only that, at least 6 million people, mostly youths, are now venturing into rice production, meaning that we could hit 18 million rice farmers in no time if the present trend continues,” he said

Mohammed said that Nigeria’s quest to achieve self sufficiency in rice production will be hastened by the increasing activities in the rice production value chain brought about by the border drill.

He added that self sufficiency in rice production would also translate to more jobs for millions of people as well as cheaper and more nutritious rice for all.

“We can now tell you, without mincing words, that the border drill has impacted positively on rice production in the country,” he said.

Mohammed said that some farmers were going beyond rice farming and venturing into buying rice paddies and even packaging and marketing.

He said that young farmers were buying small rice mills and off-taking rice paddies from rice farms.

The Minister noted that before the drill started in August, the existing 34 rice mills and the thousands of rice clusters in the country were practically shutting down, due to the pervasiveness of smuggled foreign rice into the Nigerian market.

“In fact, over 200,000 bags of rice were occupying spaces in the warehouses of virtually every integrated rice miller as at that time, according to the rice millers, whose president, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Umza, is also here.

” The story of the small scale rice holders or rice clusters was even worse, since they had to abandon their small scale, but valuable means of livelihood.

“Since the integrated rice millers were already struggling to save their businesses by laying off staff and finding other means to pay off their bank loans with mounting interest rates, buying paddies from rice farmers was almost an impossible task.

“So, farmers practically stopped farming, with a devastating impact on the income of those farmers and their families,” he said.

Mohammed said that the story changed in August when the border drill drastically reduced smuggled rice, thereby giving the entire rice production value chain a new lease of life.

He said within one week of the drill, every integrated rice miller exhausted the milled rice in their warehouses, recalled the staff that were laid off and resumed production.

The minister said all the existing 34 rice mills in the country were now producing at maximum capacity, 24 hours a day.

*Currently, the integrated mills now produce about 150,000 bags of rice every day, translating to 35 million bags annually.

“In addition, the 34 mills are expanding rapidly in order to increase capacity and meet the rising demands.

“More mills are also springing up in all parts of the country and the small scale rice clusters in all parts of the country are now back on stream feeding their local communities,” he said.

Mohammed said the team chose Kano to assess the impact of the border drill on the entire rice production value chain, because the state has the highest number of integrated mills in the country.

He said out of the 34 integrated mills in Nigeria, Kano State alone had 11, in addition to 20 rice clusters.

” An estimated 5000 metric tons of finished rice are turned out daily by the 11 integrated mills and 20 clusters in Kano.

“The ratio is 40 per cent from the integrated mills and 60 per cent from the clusters, while mills, combined, employ about 10,000 people.

NAN reports that both ministers, some rice farmers, millers and sellers in the state as well as a team of journalists visited integrated rice mills and clusters of cottage rice mills in Kano, before the courtesy call to the governor..

Specifically, the team visited four integrated rice mills which are Al-Hamsad Rice, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd and Umza International Farms.

The team also visited clusters of cottage rice mills in Kura Local Government Area of the state.

Edited & Vetted By: Kamal Tayo Oropo

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FG challenges soil experts on strategies to make agricultural sector predominate economy



The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has challenged soil scientists to identify strategies that would ensure the agricultural sector predominated the nation’s economy.

Dr Muhammed Bello, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said this at the experts’ dialogue on Thursday in Abuja to commemorate the 2019 World Soil Day (WSD) with the theme “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.

The dialogue was organised by the Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Bello appealed to soil experts to prioritise erosion and diversification as they constituted threat to soil health and drastically limited agricultural productivity.

Bello, who identified erosion as a threat to soil health and agriculture production, however, described the country as a paradox.

He noted that a section of the country was threatened by soil erosion due to excessive rainfall while the other section was threatened by desertification due to low rainfall.

Bello noted that the ministry was responsible for developing the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy with a view to growing the sector to drive income growth, accelerate food and nutritional security and generate employment.

Bello further noted that it was responsible for transforming the country into a leading global food market and completely diversifying the economy.

“The ministry successfully delivers on this mandate courtesy of the present government policy which accorded the agricultural sector highest priority in the quest of government intention of diversifying the economy.

“The ministry in driving the successes supports the nation’s farming communities with various production incentives such as agricultural inputs, agrochemicals, quality seeds, fertilisers, land clearance services, agricultural mechanisation equipment, rural roads, markets, among others.

Speaking on the theme Prof. Victor Chude, a soil scientist, said NISS was seeking to raise awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the increasing challenges in soil management in the country.

Chude described the Nigeria soil as being threatened due to degradation and erosion.

He emphasised that the threat had the potential of affecting next generation it there was failure to adopt sustainable management which included appropriate policy.

According to him, what soil scientists can do is to support with soil information and make it available to government.

He said such information would relate with soil fertility or how the soil could be properly managed to support the growth of trees.

Dr Balbir Singh, representative of Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemical Ltd, identified soil as important to food and healthy nutrition.

Singh described locally produced rice, millet among others as better than the foreign rice in terms of nutrition adding that what the nation required was to take proactive measures to sustain its soil.

According to him, consuming those natural foods will make the citizens healthier and limit their visitation to hospitals.

Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu

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Lagos Govt inaugurates reform to end sales of unwholesome red meat



The Lagos State Government on Thursday inaugurated a three-pronged reform to sanitise the red meat value chain, end its unwholesome sales and ensure consumption of healthy meat.

Prince Gbolahan Lawal, State Commissioner for Agriculture, said at the occasion that the state government was committed to sanitising the value chain.

Lawal, flagging off the pilot scheme of the reform at Ita Faji Market in Lagos Island, said this would be done by embarking on three-pronged strategies with the acronym A.T.M: Abattoir, Transportation and Market.

The commissioner said that the reform was in conformity with Section 4 of the Cap M3 Meat Inspection Law of Lagos State and the Forth Schedule (Regulation 33) of the Law.

He added that the reform would not only ensure the consumption of wholesome meat by the people, but it would also facilitate export of red meat to other countries.

Lawal said that the reform would be piloted in four local governments including: Lagos Island, Ita Faji Market; Ikorodu, Igando and Badagry axis.

He said the reform would go live across the 20 local government areas and 37 LCDA on Jan. 5, 2020.

“The pilot of the A.T.M reform starts today and it will last one month; thereafter, we will begin full implementation across the state on Jan. 5.

“The three-strategies, which is Abattoir, Transport and Market is to guarantee the safety and health of the populace by ensuring that only certified animals are slaughtered and wholesome beef is available in our markets.

“This will also boost the international recognition of beef from the state, thus opening up an export portal which will be a source of foreign exchange to the state government,” he said.

Lawal wondered why some African countries like Botswana, Namibia, Ethiopia and Kenya could export meats to Europe, Saudi Arabia and other developed countries and Nigeria, a naturally endowed and big country, could not do same.

“Botswana alone exports about 9,000 tons of meat to Europe and 10,000 tons to Saudi Arabia, and also enjoys unlimited preferential market access to the European Union, competing with meat exporting countries like Brazil.

“So, rather than only producing meat for local consumption, Botswana exports meat that is hygienically tested and proven to meet the European market standard.

“In the same vein, Namibia also exports meats to about 18 European countries and China.

“Its meat exports industry is quite lucrative and a sure revenue generator for the country.

“The question is: how did our brother African countries are able to do this while naturally endowed and big country like Nigeria is not able to do this?

“The answer is solely because of the reforms they have been able to carry out in their red meat value chains which enable their red meat to meet the international standard,” he said.

Lawal said that it was important for the state government to raise the standard of slaughtering, processing and marketing of red meat for hygienic reason.

He said the reform would also bring activities in the value chain to international best practices, particularly as the government was committed to becoming a 21st century economy.

The commissioner said that series of engagements were held with critical stakeholders like the Butchers Association in the state, Market women and men, concessionaires and franchises, among others.

“Today, after about 12 stakeholders’ engagement, starting on the Sept. 11, the stakeholders in the red meat value chain agreed with the ministry.

“That it is of great importance for us to reform the red meat value chain in order to boost the profitability and productivity of the value chain.

“In time past, the processing of the animals has been a major challenge for the government of Lagos State.

“Often times, we have had to engage law enforcement officers to clean up the system by clamping down on illegal abattoirs.

“But, we still discover that they continue to spring up; the best way of attacking the challenge is for us to wait for them in the market.

“If we make sure that they do not have access to the market, with that, they will be forced to work with us in line with the law of the land.

“That is why we decided to embark on the reform A.T.M,” he said.

Also, Dr Henrietta Ojuri, Chief Veterinary Officer in the ministry, explained that with the new reform, all butchers were henceforth expected to patronise only registered abattoirs and obtain a receipt.

Ojuri said that butchers were not allowed to transport meat in any other vehicles apart from the Eko Refrigerated meat van and they should wear white coat with cloves and a cutting table with net.

Commenting, Mr Kamal Salau-Bashua, Chairman, Lagos Island East Local Government, commended the state government for introducing the reform.

Also, Alhaji Wasiu Akande, Chairman, Butchers Association, Lagos Island, said that many opportunities were embedded in the new reform, urging his members to embrace it.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye

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Minister tasks research institutes on agric. sector development



The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, on Thursday stressed the need for research to be taken seriously in view of its importance to agricultural development.

Nanono made this known when members of boards of the National Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (NARIS), federal colleges of agriculture (FCA), and National Agricultural Institutes (ARCN) paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

In a statement signed by the Assistant Director of Information in the ministry, Mrs Eno Olotu, the minister said that no agricultural revolution could take place without research.

He emphasised the need for the various agricultural research institutes in the country to focus on developing the agricultural sector through their work.

Nanono noted that the institutes remained the engine of growth in the sector.

“The research institutes remain invaluable in any revolution that will turn around the fortune of a nation.

“There is the need for synergy to address issues affecting the institutes, because they are very strategic in the next level agenda of this administration.

“This government has come to develop the agricultural sector.

“So, I want to be very serious with the research institutes; the aim is for them to focus their research on improved seeds that will be suitable to our environment for maximum yield.”

The minister noted that enormous opportunities abounded in the sector, and called on Nigerians to focus on making agriculture the hub of economic growth in the country.

Mr Adetunji Ajagbe, the Chairman of the Board of NARIs, ARCN and the FCA, expressed satisfaction with the minister’s interest in research.

Ajagbe further lauded the minister’s vision for agricultural transformation for national prosperity.

He pledged, on behalf of all the stakeholders, that efforts would be made to improve the capacity of the institutes in order to reinvigorate the sector for maximum production.

Edited & Vetted By: Oluyinka Fadare/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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