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Monday, December 24, 2012

The way back to the forest

Data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has shown that Asia-Pacific region, especially China, takes the leading position in the global forest products industry.
The forest industry also grew by 1 to 4 per cent in 2011 as against 2010 which signifies that countries globally are coming out of the recession slowly.
Whereas the new data shows that production of wood-based panels and paper in 2011 was above the pre-crisis levels of 2007 and appears to be growing relatively strong in some regions.
Nigeria records highest deforestation rate
Investigations by NaijaAgroNet revealed that Nigeria is one of the countries on the continent that has the highest rate of deforestation, recording about 2.6 per cent annually. And as at 2004, Nigeria has 693,000 hectares of forest plantations.
Within the time under review for Nigeria had as at 2004, contributed about 1.3 - 3 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for a larger part of domestic energy, food and medicinal supply, which were not fully represented in the formal national statistics.
The increase in deforestation in the country has over the years worsen by livestock grazing, soil erosion, drought, desertification and growing demand for cropland, thus, greatly putting the state of forest of the nation’s under threat.
China leads global forestry business
However, leading the forestry industry is the Asia-Pacific region with China as the world's second largest producer of samnwood after United State of America, thereby overtaking Canada.
Notable is that in 2011 alone, China contributed 11 per cent of the world's sawnwood, 38 per cent of its panels and 26 per cent of its paper, hence it played a key role in the international forest products market, even as the Asian country also claimed the fifth largest importer of paper and paperboard after recording a huge increase in domestic production since 2007.
Also in 2011, China imported forest products worth $43 billion, about N6.79 trillion, accounting for 16 per cent of the global total imports.
The forest product statistics database by the United Nations' agency contains 1.2 million entries and cover production and trade of 52 products, 21 product groups of 245 countries and territories.
Meanwhile the Russian Federation that have the largest forest in the world has experienced decline in industrial round wood export in the last five years. The decline, NaijaAgroNet further gathered stood at about 60 per cent with an increase in sawnwood production by 8 per cent over the same period.
Calls on investors to look into forestry
Meanwhile the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in the last quarter of 2012, said that the investment guideline that was originated from The Forests Dialogue (TFD) on behalf of Growing Forest Partnerships and with the support of IIED, for forest business would give a high return on investment if followed.
In the same vein the IIED forest team head, Duncan Macqueen called on investors to venture into locally controlled forest that it offers triple investment returns and that people depending on forest for survival would have a secured income streams, making it a win-win situation for the investors as well as the forest managers and owners.
A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the third quarter of 2012 revealed that if about 0.034 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which amount to about N6.24 trillion is being spent on forest on a yearly basis would give an estimation of 5 million jobs globally and a high return on investment.
UNEP in the report advised that finance can be sourced from both public and private sectors using approach that pay landowners for maintaining the ecosystems.

Yinka Awosanya/LS

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Olam, NGO give healthcare support to rural Africans

One of the leading global integrated supply chain managers and processor of agricultural products, Olam International is partnered some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to give vital information and healthcare support to rural Africans.
The partnership, according to a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet is to support the year's United Nations' World AIDS Day for December 1, 2012.
The NGOs in the partnership include GIZ, Engender Health and Action Health incorporation.
In Nigeria, the partnership targets students in the fight against HIV and AIDS in supporting the national effort.
A community focused campaign was also created to prevent new HIV infections among young people by mobilising them as community change agents for development, of which Osun State is one of the states that has witnessed the campaign.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the campaign is to serve as a challenge for the youths for the year's World AIDS Day them, 'Getting to Zero.'
Commenting on the partnership, Ms. Temitope Ijiwole of Action Health Incorporated said the initiative contributed to the national response of reducing new HIV infections to zero.
Also speaking, Olam Head, East and Southern Africa Region, MD Ramesh revealed that the company depends on 3.4 million small scale farmers across Africa and that the initiative as part of their corporate social responsibility in the sensitive agricultural sector of the continent with a belief of supporting healthcare programmes.

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FAOSTAT to provide a platform for food statistics

A screenshot of FAOSTAT
FAOSTAT, a new online interface designed to provide easy access to food and agricultural statistics was recently unveiled by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The online platform according to a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet has data of 245 countries and 35 regions, and would cover data from 1961 till date.
The Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Labour Organization (ILO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Statistics Division, World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO) partnered FAO in developing the FAOSTAT portal.
Statistical analyses to be covered at the initial stage of the platform include trade, food balance sheets, food supply, population, prices, production, forestry, investment, resources and commodity balances, while greenhouse gases, food security and agri-environmental indicators are expected to be added over the next few months.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

SeletHulling, leading the Sesame way in ACP countries

Mike, CTA Director

For the ordinary visitor to the compound housing the SeletHulling Plc little will you know what is within; a company that has reserved itself to anything Sesame.
General Manager, SeletHulling Plc, located at the Legetafo axis of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Ben Van Ampting told over 20 participants of the just concluded Making the Connection: Value Chains for transforming smallholder agriculture, who were at the company on facility tour that ‘Selet’ in Amharic language, as meaning Sesame.
Established in year 2007, he said, Selet Hulling Plc is a joint venture between Kaleb Service Farmers House, and The Organic Cooperation (TOC) B.V.
While Kaleb is an Ethiopian company that specializes in the export of different agricultural food products, including oil seeds, coffee and different types of Ethiopian spices and the import of different agricultural machineries into Ethiopia, the TOC is a Dutch-based holding company for Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V.; Trabocca B.V.; Holland Business Winged-Ox and Internamtrade B.V. TOC’s companies are specialized in the international sourcing and supply of certified organic ingredients for the world food and bakery industry.
TOC, he noted, develops sustainable agricultural projects around the world and sources over 80 per cent of its raw materials out of own companies and projects, citing an instance with Ethiopia, Serbia, China, Thailand, Mexico, Ghana, Bulgaria, Philippines, Vietnam. TOC is owned by the Canadian SunOpta Inc. group.
In a presentation that began with a video of the corporate profile that lasted for about 10 minutes, followed by a powerpoint, Mr. van Ampting, said the Sesame industry currently provides huge income for the government of Ethiopia, as the company pays taxes adequately, which has earned them the Golden award by the Customs Authority.
Defined as a tall annual herbaceous plant, Sesamum indicum is of the family Pedaliaceae of tropical and subtropical areas. Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India.
As part of the value chain experiment, Mr. van Ampting said they provide farmers financial advances to enable them focus on cultivating Sesame through two cooperative groups, even though they are not obligatory to sell to his company.
SeletHunling’s main course, he said, consists of setting up a top-of-the–range quality HACCP operated, organic certified hulling factory, using the dry cum mechanical hulling method, with the capacity to produce 1,500 – 1,700 kg per hour of organic hulled sesame seeds.
He explained that initiating the internationally certified organic production of sesame, cotton, soya beans and mung beans on Selet’s own farm, with an out growers’ scheme composed of about 3000 farming families within the vicinity of the farm in the very remote area of Humera district in the Tigray Region, that is, in the North West of Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan and Eritrea.
Emphasising that Selet Hulling mission is to be the world food and bakery industry’s premier supplier of top quality, competitively priced, certified organic hulled sesame seeds for a healthier living.
Main strategy, he said is to directly source from the farmers so as to increase product quality control and the ability of the company to organize its own processing and sales with already established sales and marketing force.
The out grower farmers in Humera, he said are involved in the growing of the raw material for hulling and train-the-trainer approach is being deployed as well as the factory workers, where the sesame will undergo processing, equally benefit from this strategy.
The impact of this establishment, he said has been a positive impact on the livelihoods of many Ethiopians and on the economy as a whole in some aspects not limited to higher incomes for the families of the targeted 1500 farmers.
Also, he said, creation of employment to about 50 permanently and predominantly female employees who work in the factory and at least 3,000 seasonal workers at the farming level in Humera, as sesame growing is labour intensive,
According to him, the introduction of the new technology for dry hulling in Ethiopia has made Selet the pioneer of dry hulling organic sesame in the country, thereby ensuring local value-addition, which is very beneficial for the economy as a whole,
Worthy of mention, he said, is that the project is very environmentally friendly and has no negative health effects on project participants thanks to the nature of the products that are organic, for which the production processes are centered on promoting the environment and ensure no exposure to hazardous materials.
As part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, he said they gave capacity building through training at both the factory and farming levels, even as the project supports local health and educational initiatives, which culminated in building of a secondary school at Humera.
After the tour, question and answer session to explain so grey areas to the participants, both in Engligh and French, with the assistance of Mr. Patrice Annequin from IFDC Ghana, a project cordinator of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria, Mr I.M. Arabi was appointed to give the vote of thanks to the management and staff of SeletHunling for their kindness in accepting to host some of their participants on facility tour, as well as the CTA for the opportunity.
The official tour guard is Mr. Siasy Gizachew from SNV Ethiopia, while every participating visitors each got an organic certified packaged hulled sesame seeds and a value chain diagram as souvenir.

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Save Africa from hunger -IITA boss

Sanginga, IITA Director General

The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has urged world leaders not to relent their efforts towards the fight against food insecurity in Africa.
Sanginga expressed the institution’s gratitude over the improvements recorded in agricultural productivity in the past affirming that there are still more to be done as regards food security in the continent.
He noted that efforts should be doubled due to the spiraling growth rate of the continent’s population and the degrading soil which does not work towards improving agricultural productivity.
IITA revealed to NaijaAgroNet that the Sub-Saharan Africa’s population growth rate is 2.4 per cent, a rate which is high compared to 1.3 per cent of non-African countries.
“Clearly there is much work to be done in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr. Sanginga emphasised that food security attainment is huge with increasing challenge and increase in total production which is at the expense of natural resource base.
According to the IITA boss, there is the need to adopt sustainable intensification of agricultural production practices to conserve and recycle soil nutrient which will in turn reduce the need to clear new land for agricultural use.
Approaches to concentrate on towards addressing the issue of food insecurity, Dr. Sanginga said should include increase in agricultural productivity, food availability and its safety.
He stressed that the agriculture sector’s overall performance must all be increased against the growing urban population, uncertain effects of climate change, increased in demand for energy as well as disease pandemics.
He also commended the renewed attention to agriculture by leaders in the continent which is producing positive results, and urged for more commitment of resources to the sector, and that IITA is always ready to partner with any organisation towards improving lives of Africans.
IITA, one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty has several awards for using research for development (R4D) in addressing the developmental needs of tropical countries, and had since inception worked with partners to improve crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture.

Yinka Awosanya
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UN Convention unveils new initiative to reduce poverty

The 11th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will see to the unveiling of a new initiative that would help countries to meet their governmental obligations.
The initiative will also work towards the reduction of poverty, showing how the two seemingly disparate words of poverty eradication and biodiversity conservation are connected.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the initiative is a three-year project by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) with the intention that policies to conserve nature and reduce poverty will work in harmony.
IIED revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that the new initiative will help nations identify opportunities to build a business case for biodiversity as a key developmental asset through trade in biodiversity-based products and services, improved genetic diversity for agriculture.
Commenting on the new initiative, Dilys Roe of IIED affirmed that biodiversity and poverty are tightly linked whereas their policies are rarely linked.
“The two sides of policymaking need to be brought together so that natural resources can contribute to development and poverty reduction strategies in a sustainable way,” Roe said.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that all the 193 parties to the CBD adopted a 10-year strategy in 2010 with the aim of conserving biodiversity and ensuring that it is been put to sustainable use.
The 10-year strategy also ensures that benefits from biodiversity usage are shared fairly and equitably.
As part of the new strategy, countries agreed to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that having identified the urgent need for improved capacity for mainstreaming poverty eradication strategies, plans and development as a means of enhancing implementation of the convention, COP also set up an Expert Group on Biodiversity, in 2011 for poverty eradication and development.
Participants at the convention mandated the new group to further clarify the linkages between poverty reduction, plans and development.
The group was also charged with the responsibility to identify the most effective approach toward a framework on capacity development for mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services for sustainable development and poverty eradication
In their recommendations to COP, the group requested the Executive Secretary of COP to summon every stakeholder to come forward with their views taking the outcome of Rio+20 into consideration.
Encouraging all partners as well as stakeholders involved in biodiversity-related programmes to consider different perspectives and priorities in all biodiversity and ecosystem services valuation processes is also part of the recommendation of the group.
A target was also set that by 2020 biodiversity values would have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes.
COP, as the governing body of the Convention, advances implementation of the Convention through the decisions it takes at its periodic meetings.
To date COP has held 10 ordinary meetings and one extraordinary meeting to adopt Biosafety Protocol. COP has held 10 ordinary meetings and one extraordinary meeting to adopt Biosafety Protocol.

Yinka Awosanya
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We can’t live without food – Akunyili

Prof. Akunyili, Former Information Communication Minister

Former Minister of Information and Communications who doubles as a renowned Pharmacist, Prof. Dora Akunyili, has stressed the importance of food, saying man can not live without, but can do without drugs, thus she called for adoption of nutritional supplements, describing them as crucial to healthcare management.
Akunyili made this position know at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, where she declared open the National Health Conference on Nutrition Therapy organised by a United States-based company.
“Food is actually more important than drug because we can live without drugs but we cannot live without food. This must be why all over the world, it is always Food and Drug Regulatory Agency and not Drug and Food Regulatory Agency,” she said.
She noted that as a pharmacist, she is aware that nutrition plays a key role in people’s health status, stressing “This is because many of the nutrients we need for healthy living can be found in fruits, seeds, roots, vegetables, nuts and unprocessed natural food.”
She disclosed that it was this that made her to give “equal opportunity to various therapies – including food supplements” during her days as Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from 2001 to 2008.
“We actually paid as much attention to food in NAFDAC as we did to drugs, but for some reason, the public was more interested in drugs. However, I always insisted that every food and drug must meet stipulated standards so that our people do not end up taking poison in the name of food and drugs,” Akunyili stated.
The conference which had as theme “Nutrition: Potency & Possibilities In Health Care Delivery” was jointly organised by Hallelujah Acres USA and Hallelujah Acres Nigeria. It was graced by delegates from across Nigeria, with the President and Chief Education Officer of Hallelujah Acres, Paul Malkmus, and his wife Ann, as special guests.

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WHO, WMO debut with Atlas of Health, Climate

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently launched the Atlas of Health and Climate to give practical examples on how to use the weather and information about climate to protect public health.
The debut of Atlas, according to the WHO is important following the continuous change in the world’s climate with its increasing hazardous effects on human health.
Some of the climate challenges that the Atlas would tackle include droughts, floods and cyclones as they affect health of people in millions on a yearly basis.
“Prevention and preparedness are the heart of public health,” WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan said, adding that the climate has a profound impact on lives and survival of people globally, hence the need for the Atlas with its profound impact on improving lives.
In her words, information about climate change and variability is the powerful scientific tools which assist the world agency in improving health.
WMO Secretary-General, Mr. Michel Jarraud said partnership between the two world bodies is crucial in ensuring that up-to-date and relevant information on weather and climate is being integrated into public health management at all levels. “This Atlas is an innovative and practical example of how we can work together to serve society,” he said.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the Atlas is an assembly of numerous maps, tables and graphs showing that the links between health and climate are plain.
The Atlas, which was released in October 2012, is to work towards strengthening the availability of climate service to the benefit of the society with preferences to the most vulnerable societies.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the unique Atlas also shows how the relationship between health and climate is determined by other vulnerabilities like poverty, environmental degradation, poor infrastructure, especially for water and sanitation.

Yinka Awosanya

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Kenya launches climate change adaptation fund

In a bid for Northern Kenyans to adapt to changes in climate, the Kenyan government has launched a new fund, tagged, ‘Climate Adaptation Fund.’
Officials of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), revealed to NaijaAgroNet that the fund will be used for combating some other development challenges that the country might be facing.
Also, the fund, will release the sum of Euro 500,000 about N101.2 million in 2013 in Isiolo, to an eastern region of the country where the five communities of the pilot project are.
The fund was financed by Kenyan office of the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development through the UK International Climate Fund, whereas IIED is playing the dual role as a coordinator and adviser to the Kenyan government on the fund.
The communities have the opportunity to come up with proposal through their ward-level committee as regards the fund, and such proposals would be assessed at the county level by a cross community and government committee.
The fund, NaijaAgroNet gather that the fund would also see to a country-wide community radio station which will work towards delivering the right and accessible climate information in order to better inform local planning processes.
Whereas some of the earlier community suggestions had its focus on improvement of natural resource management by building the capacity of customary institutions.
Commenting on the fund, climate change advisor in the Ministry of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, Victor Orindi said emergency responses to extreme weather event over the years have deflected development resources from their proper purpose.
According to Orindi, local planning needs to be integrated in actions for climate resilience so as to make it effective.
Head, Climate Change Group at IIED, Simon Anderson said the climate adaption fund will tackle local development needs and climae vulnerabilities as it seeks to empower local people to build partnership with local governments.

Yinka Awosanya
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Environmental Sustainability in Private Sector: An Advocacy

Gas flare causing environmental damage
Government intervenes in industry for several reasons. Apart from being the biggest spender and provider of public infrastructure, it is equally her responsibility to protect the working people from abuse, protect the consuming public from exploitation, and from deleterious impacts of industrialization. Consequently, when governance is good and there is no natural disaster (force majeure) both man and nature enjoy some measure of stability. It is in this sense God sees good leaders as His ministers.
 On the other land, poor governance is usually associated with paucity of infrastructures, weak environmental institutions and legal frame works. These prevent countries from adequately addressing sustainability issues.
 Since the past two decades, public awareness of environment, social and governance issue is radically altering the global business landscape. Businesses are increasingly reviewing their theory of business as a result of internal and external pressures. The relationship between some health problems and the environment of work, coupled with the realization that what may be beneficial from say economic perspective may be detrimental to the quality of life or well being of the populace is compelling stakeholders to adopt an integrated approach to development.
 Nigerian private sector as a global player, though presently weakened by poor infrastructure, cannot afford to be insensitive to present day realities. It must prepare for the future today or destroy the future now. Leadership in the organized private sector must discover like Garvin Murray of International Finance Corporation (IFC) that striving for business value and doing good for the environment or society need not be contradictory pursuits. The truth is that the viability of business itself depends on ecological resources.
 The concept of “doing good” requires private players to rise above the realm of compliance and basic Corporate Social Responsibility requirements. It involves corporate governance, transparency, process eco-efficiency, environmental performance of product or service, health, safety and welfare of the workforce, among others. It is known to yield both tangible and intangible returns to organizations engaged in it.
 The paradigm shift, therefore will require manufacturers to consider biodegradable nutrients or raw materials, and recyclable packaging. They should go for products with minimal carbon imprints, consume less energy, water, and other inputs. They must as much as possible adopt production processes that will produce fewer air, water and other pollutants. Some companies, like 3m in United States, increased their profits by making their procedures more efficient and producing less waste. That was without installing pollution control plants.
 The sustainable management of the supply chain is critical for the private sector. Companies must identify and assess potential environmental risks and hazards along their supply chain and take steps to prevent, mitigate or remedy their likely impacts. Doing good should also entail the avoidance of child labour both at shop floor and along the supply chain.
 The declaration of humongous annual turnover or profits after tax will no longer be commendable if the same company (be it in the Hospitality, Production, Banking, Oil, Telecom, Construction, or Logistics sub sector) is destroying the integrity of the ecosystem or disrupting the social fabric that sustains it. Verifiable sustainability reports will be key in determining corporate success in the days ahead. Stakeholders will like to verify the level of sustainable financing carried by a bank. They will want to see the eco-friendliness of the businesses or projects financed by them.
 The government, media, academia, NGOs and other stakeholders will increasingly be interested in sustainability report. Beyond environmental impact assessment, they will like to weigh a company’s impacts against her good to the society and the environment. This is already changing the face of Corporate Social Responsibility. It is also going to affect capital market positioning of a firm, the chances of playing in the global arena and even securing international facility or partnerships. The Nigerian private sector must rise up to these developments.

MacDenis Igbo

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Obasanjo expresses fear over youths’ unemployment in Nigeria

Chief Obasanjo

The former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed fears that a time will come when Nigeria will witness a revolution if government fails to address youths’ unemployment and poverty.
Speaking recently at the West African regional conference on youth employment in Dakar, Senegal the former president said the growing rate of unemployment among youths is alarming that the effects can only be imagined.
He asserted that there is absence of serious, concrete, realistic, short and long term solution to youth unemployment. He revealed that the youth employment rate which was at 72 per cent in 1999 was reduced to 52 per cent in 2004 and as at 2011 was at 71 per cent again.
Incentives to be created by national leaders according to Obasanjo should include a special attention to agriculture business as against mere farming.
Obasanjo said there is need for easy access to land and micro credit, and the need to review the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) in order to accommodate issues around youth unemployment and job creation.
He also advocated the review of school curriculum to enable undergraduates spend additional one year to learn entrepreneurship.

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Adesina advocates mechanised farming to lure youths into farming

Adesina, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina has said that the use of tractors on farms would attract youths to farming.
Speaking in Abuja recently, Dr. Adesina said creating market for contract tractor service providers would lead to mechanising the sector which will in turn provide jobs for many industrious youths.
"To get the youth into agriculture, we must rapidly mechanise our agriculture," Adesina noted emphasising the need to come up with a comprehensive system that would facilitates a strong relationship between financial institutions, tractors manufacturers and vendors, and other relevant parties towards making it affordable to own or lease tractors.
Adesina also confirmed that Nigeria doesn’t have up to 20, 000 functioning tractors in the country and this make Nigeria one of the countries that have the lowest number of tractors in the world.
He further added that the federal government has commenced the design of a new initiative that would give a new generation of young commercial farmers to help transform the agricultural sector and feed Nigeria today and in the future.
“To feed our rising population well into the future, we will need young commercial farmers," he said that the farming population is ageing rapidly, making it to difficult to meet the increasing challenges associated with markets and technology.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Global food price index down by 1% in October

Traders at the Oshodi Market, Lagos

The October Food Price Index by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation recorded a two-point drop, a one per cent drop from September.
The price index for October was at 213 points against 215 points of the previous month.
The Food Price Index made available to NaijaAgroNet showed that the decline is characterised by the reduction in international prices and freight rates, lower cereal purchases which has the capability to push down the world food import bill of the year.
Commenting on the latest price index, FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva noted that a set of conditions and measures were put in place to stop international food price from spiraling up as it did in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010.
One of the important measures, da Silva said is the improved international coordination and market transparency by the G20's Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) which assisted in preventing panic and putting a stop to the worst drought in decades, which is already leading to a food price crises.
"Droughts or floods are not what cause crises, its lack of governance," the FAO boss said, adding that there is a need to strengthen the global governance of food security.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the first 10 months of the year experienced food prices on average of 8 per cent lower than the same period in 2011, and food forecast for 2012 was $1.14 trillion, about N179 trillion.

Yinka Awosanya/ED
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Haiti needs N11.62b for agric rehabilitation, FAO

Colossal damage in Haiti caused by Hurricane Sandy

In order to help rehabilitate Haiti's agriculture sector for the next one year, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Haiti Government are jointly seeking $74 million, about N11.62 billion.
The fund is important as the sandy, Superstorm of October really caused colossal damage to Haiti's crops, land, livestock, fisheries and rural infrastructural alike.
NaijaAgroNet learnt that the October 23 hit was the third disaster in few months. The October 23 superstorm was a three consecutive days of intense winds and heavy rain leading to severe flooding which damage and destroyed homes, farms and public infrastructure.
The three disasters has also cost the Government of Haiti to loss $254 million, about N39.9 billion and affected the living condition of 1.5 million people.
FAO in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet revealed that the Superstorm also resulted in over half a million Haitians being food insecure.
FAO and Haiti Government would be using about N628 million of the needed amount to immediately assist 20,000 families to enable them make it through the winter cropping season which starts in December.
FAO Senior Emergency Coordinator in Haiti, Adam Yao said that the recent natural disasters in the Caribbean country need a robust response of the UN agency to support ongoing government efforts.

Yinka Awosanya

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Decisive actions needed for small scale farmers development-IITA boss

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Director General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga has affirmed the need for decisive actions to help small-scale farmers in order for food security in Africa not to remain elusive with isolated successes.
Speaking in Australia recently at the Crawford Fund annual conference, Dr. Sanginga said the assistance for the farmers should be to help them grow more valuable crops.
IITA revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that low soil fertility and nutrient depletion are obstacles to food security in the continent despite the achievement recorded in crop improvement.
A back up of the IITA boss about land depletion is a recent study by the institute conduction in Great Lakes region of East Africa which showed the majority of the soils in that region are now barren with very little fertility.
IITA attributed the barrenness of the soil to years of mining as well as insufficient replacement of nutrients by smallholder farmers.
Dr. Sanginga also advocated the adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM), the application of soil fertility management practices, and the knowledge to adapt these to local conditions.
The ISFM, he said would optimise fertilizer and organic resources use efficiency and crop productivity.
According to the Dr. Sanginga, the ISFM presents a means to overcome the dilemma of low productivity which is attainable by offering better returns for investment in fertilizer to farmers.

Yinka Awosanya

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Anambra State: The Flood and Awba-Ofemili People

The recent flooding that affected Anambra State, no doubt, must have exposed it to a lot of characters, administrative lapses and leadership questions begging for some answers, especially concerning the politicking going-on over the flood and affected communities.
Anambra State, is a name ordinarily taken from a popular river linking the River Niger and known as ‘Anambra’ or ‘Omabala’ River. Strategically located in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, Anambra State is bounded by Delta State to the west, Imo State to the south, Enugu State to the east and Kogi State to the north, claiming to have one of the highest population densities on the continent.
The state comprises numerous thickly populated villages, a number of small towns and a few major towns; some areas are so thickly populated that the estimated density is 1500-2000 persons living within every square kilometre. One of such towns is Awba-Ofemili in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State, which has border with Enugu State via Ibeto-Olo.

Awba-Ofemili, a town cut-off by flood:
Though Awba-Ofemili was cut-off by the recent flood surge, culminating in loss of properties and agricultural products worth billions of Naira, there was no record of loss of live yet. Mainly an agrarian town, Awba-Ofemili, reputed for massive rice production is located less than 25 minutes drive from the capital city of Awka, Anambra State, under normal circumstances where good roads prevail. Incidentally, lack of accessible road has been the bane of development in Awka-North and Awba-Ofemili precisely.
Speaking on the recent flood, chairman, Lagos branch of Awba-Ofemili Development Union (ADU), Mr. Kenneth Okoye told NaijaAgroNet the situation is lamentable, saying that Awba-Ofemili as an agrarian community known for rice production has lost a lot of economic products worth billions of Naira, including cassava, yam and plantain farms, while some building soaked by the flood have since given way.
Describing the flood as unbelievable, says its worrisome that the government of Anambra State did not find it worthy to visit the town in the peak of the disaster, he enjoined well spirited individuals to come to the aid of the towns affected by this River Niger surge, especially Awba-Ofemili.
The Awba-Ofemili town was seriously hit with this surge that farmers no longer attend to their farms, while all the eight villages that made up the town remain drastically affected.
Our reporter who visited the community and spoke to some of the indigenes discovered that one of the villages in Awba-Ofemili, Umuosite, was under water thereby cut off with most residents relocating to a building along Umuosite Road for their safety, while those living along the Umuosite road were sacked as they now use canoe to pass between Umuosite and other villages like Oyeagu and Akpana.

Women leader calls on Obi, FG, NEMA
One of the residents and women leader in Awba-Ofemili, Madam Christiana Nweke said that the level of flood reached a lintel of one of the storey buildings along Umuosite Road and made the road, especially leading to farm lands around that area unaccessible, whilst the flood lasted.
The women leader called on the government, especially Gov. Peter Obi to quickly come to their aid, while praying that the flood subsidises permanently.
It was further gathered that the only major road leading to Awba-Ofemili, which has been begging for attention over the years, was cut off too as indigenes trying to access Awka the capital city of Anambra State, were being ferried at four points before they could even get to neighbouring town like Ugbenu.
At the Agu-enu part of the town, especially behind the St. Paul’s Catholic Church, the flood was not stopped, as it took the church land for granted.
Further investigations showed that Hon. Mrs. Joy Enweluzor, the chairperson, Awka-North, visited the Awba-Ofemili town on canoe with her team of executive and promised to send food stuff and other aids to the town.
Our sources said that several letters on the flooded Awba-Ofemili and environs have been communicated to the governor of Anambra State, who is yet to visit the affected town personally.
They called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) not to forget Awba-Ofemili town in the course of their distribution of aids to flood victims.

Gov. Obi of Anambra State
Flood disaster emergency fund
Despite the fact that the Anambra State government set up a three-man Flood Disaster Emergency Fund Committee made up of the Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Economic Planning, Prof. Mrs. Chinyere Stella Okunna, Ms. Ngozika B. Okoye, Hon. Commissioner for Finance and Mrs. Azuka Enemo, Hon. Commissioner for Local Government, the flood victims in Awba-Ofemili are yet to see the light in having such a committee in the state, especially in Awba-Ofemili, where every relief material have been stored away in Ugbenu due to bad road.
Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze, who confirmed these in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet, adding that two bank accounts, namely at Diamond Bank - 0028548840 and Fidelity Bank – 4020912984; were opened for this purposes and to facilitate the work of the state government in alleviating the effects of current flood rage across the state.
The Anambra State Government (ANSG), thus, invited Anambrarians and the Nigerians at home and in diaspora as well as all well-meaning citizens of the world to rally support for the affected citizens of Anambra State, as one of the most affected states by the flood.
The bigger challenge, he said, would be in the medium and longer terms, when the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) would need to be returned to their respective homes, rehabilitated and resettled after the flood receded completely.
Canvassing for vote:
The ANSG, he said, would be counting on the Federal Government, its agencies, especially NEMA and international partners, to join hands with the state in overcoming the unprecedented humanitarian challenge.
 “We thank all those who have expressed concern in cash or in kind or sent goodwill messages about this catastrophic disaster,” he said.
ANSG acknowledged that well-meaning citizens and organizations have also been making donations in kind, through SEMA.
All in-kind donations, Obaze pointed out should be directed to the SEMA office along the Enugu-Onitsha Road (by J-Jumac Hotel), Awka, even as SEMA could be reached by phone 08037424242.
NaijaAgroNet confirmed that the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Mr. Obaze visited the Awba-Ofemili Amensea axis of Awka-North LGA, but could not get to Awba-Ofemili due to submerged road.
However, it has been argued that if it had to do with votes, the Governor Peter Obi-led government of Anambra State, would not have sent the SSG and even the SSG should have found a way of getting to the town, Awba-Ofemili, to canvass for votes, which they got in good numbers at the last election.

Just before the curtain:
Does it then not make sense that an alternative route should have been used in ensuring that those victims, especially in a town like Awba-Ofemili, should have been reached through airlifting of such people and materials.
This is a poser for the leadership of Anambra State under Mr. Peter Obi to answer. By the way, how much will it take the government to get these aid materials airlifted?
Another school of thought argued that its only the military that has the helicopter for such kind of services. If so, is this flood disaster not enough to attract military sympathy? Or are we waiting for deaths to be recorded?
It is true that aids have been sent to Awba-Ofemili by the state governments, Senator Nwabueze Ngige, Hon. Emeka Nwogbo and his state house of assembly counterpart as well as the LGA chairperson, the fact is that these aids materials have not reached the destination, the people of Awba-Ofemili, because there is no road and airlifting of these materials probably was an option for the donors and state government particular, in spite of efforts to get them notified on the efficacy of delivering the materials appropriately.
There is need to have an operational health centre in place to cater for the residents of Awba-Ofemili. We must not wait until there is one outbreak or another.
Also, it is certain that some of the items may even have gotten bad due to poor storage. What this tells us, sadly is that if it had been a more serious thing than what was seen, no live, actually would have been saved from Awba-Ofemili?

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