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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jonathan bans foreign foods at govt functions

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has banned continental dishes at all government official functions in order to promote local foods.
He said, the move by the federal government to ban foreign foods at state functions is to encourage the consumption of what is produced locally.
“We must grow local, buy local and eat local,” he declared.
The prescribed local foods by the president, NaijaAgroNet learnt includes local rice and cassava bread, to make use of the large population to create market for locally produced foods.
In his democracy day presidential address, Jonathan noted that the state house has been feeding on cassava bread and local rice, hence keeping his promise.
“Our agricultural transformation agenda is directed at promoting local production,” he said.
President Jonathan also asserted that agriculture accounts for about 40 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while creating job opportunities for over 70 per cent of the total population.
He expressed the federal government’s move in the transforming the agriculture sector as Nigeria has a huge comparative advantage and increase in productivity, saying it would help reduce the rate of rural poverty as well as reviving the rural economy.
“Our goal is to add 20 million metric tonnes of food to our domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs,” he said, stressing, “We are aggressively pursuing an agricultural transformation agenda.”
President Jonathan further affirmed that agriculture is no longer a development programme, hence the need to treat it as a business, one that could generate wealth and create jobs for millions of our youths.
Giving the reason behind the federal government stopping the distribution of fertilizers, the president said only 11 per cent of farmers benefit from the fertilizers that was earlier distributed. “The old system encouraged rent seekers to collude and deprive farmers of access to fertilizers, while some of the fertilizers ended up with political farmers and in neighbouring countries,” he said.
This, NaijaAgroNet learnt lead to the total deregulation of the procurement and commercialization of fertilizers and seeds by the federal government to the private sector in order to put an end to corruption culture in fertilizer procurement exercise.
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FAO develops online portal to unlock food potentials

Thermal zones (baseline period: 1961-1990)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with the partnership of International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) recently developed an online data portal in order to help unlock the planet's potential on food.
The data portal, NaijaAgroNet learnt is named Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) Portal and developed in order to assist in unlocking the planet's potential to feed the rapidly growing population.
The United Nations' agency affirmed that there is need to increase the global food production to 60 per cent by 2050 as the world population is expected to rise above 9 billion.
FAO revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that the portal is a planning tool designed specially to help identify areas of increased global food production while maintaining natural resource base and facing the challenge of climate change.
FAO identified water scarcity as one of the limiting factor for area expansion that intensification of food production occurs within a changing climate, thereby requiring adaptation and mitigation.
Director of FAO's Land and Water Division, Parviz Koohafkan said GAEZ would help identify where there are ‘bridgeable yield gaps' and what causes them, allowing for the formulation of appropriate investment policies with the provision of appropriate support for farmers to help boost food production.
FAO recent study revealed that crop production by small farmers can run as low as 30 to 40 per cent of potential in some areas in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The study also made known that the Sub-Sahara Africa is the region with the highest yielding gap in cereal. Africa as a whole also recorded about 1.2 tones of cereal per hectare compared to an average yield of some 3 tons per hectare in the developing world as a whole.
The online data seeks to enhance planners' and decision makers' capacity to estimate agricultural production potentials and variability under different environmental and management scenarios, including climatic conditions, management regimes, water availability and levels of inputs.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Football star calls for funding to prevent food crisis in Sahel

FAO Goodwill Ambassador, Raúl González
Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Raúl González has called for support towards prevention of nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa.

The Spanish football star, González visited Chad recently where more than 17 million people are at risk of hunger with over 1 million children under five, facing acute hunger.

FAO revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that the European Commission had increased their support to FAO in Chad by $1.3 million, about N208.3 million bringing its total support for the region to be $355 million, about N56.88 billion in 2012.

Identifying the fact that supporting local farmers and herders as priorities before and during the next planting season, Raúl said "If we want to help people grow their own food, funds are needed now."

The total amount needed by FAO in order to assist Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal is estimated at $97 million.

Director General, FOA, José Graziano da Silva said the funds would be used for seed distribution, small-scale irrigations schemes, fodder production and vaccination campaigns.

Director General, FOA, José Graziano da Silva
The major causes of the drought in the region, NaijaAgroNet recalls, have been as a result of chronic poverty, high food prices, conflict and the last year's drop in cereal production.

"We are losing the opportunity to give local communities the means to stop jumping from crisis to crisis," FAO boss, José Graziano warns, urging coordinated action that builds up their resilience and links relief with development.

Raúl's visitation to Chad, FAO noted, is part of "Professional Football Against Hunger," a campaign launched in 2008 by the European Football League which represents 30 largest professional football leagues and almost 800 clubs across Europe, stressing that the campaign is also FAO's leading international efforts to defeat hunger.

Sir David Richards, Chairman of the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), said they are partnering with European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and FAO on this project.
"We are proud to use the power and popularity of football," he said, pointing out that European professional football is providing a megaphone to raise awareness for their work, so that the right help could get to the people in need as soon as possible.
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FG inaugurates agric transformation for food security

President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan recently launched the Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC) so as to achieve food security.
The minister, Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, is to co-ordinate the council with the president, Goodluck Jonathan and the vice president, Namadi Sambo as Chairman and alternate chairman respectively.
The agenda of the council is to increase efficiency and profitability along the value-added chains of 12 selected agricultural commodities, namely cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil-palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the Council would also provide an oversight functions for the entire Agricultural Transformation Agenda and the creation of 3.5 million new jobs from rice, cassava, sorghum, cocoa and cotton value chains.
Over N60 billion will also be injected into the economy from the substitution of 20 per cent of bread wheat flour with cassava flour, which was successfully launched recently by President Jonathan. 
Source: Vanguard
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Farmers call for involvement in cassava action plan

Pastor Segun Adewunmi
Nigerian farmers have call on the federal government to involved farmers in the cassava and other agricultural transformation agenda action plan for implementation purposes.
The national president of Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Pastor Segun Adewunmi made the call recently at the ‘This Morning’ talk show on Television Continental.
The NCGAN president also commended the Lagos State government for its concern in the cassava sector with about 40 per cent subsidy on cassava input and 50 per cent off price of tractors used on cassava farms, stressing these are initiatives to encourage cassava producing in the state.
While applauding the federal government for the Cassava Transformation Agenda Action Plan which he said was organized in such a way that every farmer would be a beneficiary, asserting “The policy has to involve the farmers.”
The transformation agenda action plan during the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime, he said gave room for more use to cassava products for industrial uses as against the usual garri and starch only.
Pastor Adewunmi further said his association is working towards the eradication of unemployment among youths in the nation, which includes the recruitment of about 5 youths from each local government to be trained on agriculture extension services.
Over 5,000 youths, he said, are also to be involved monitor cassava growing in the nation with about one million farmers to grow cassava.
Women taking part in processing Garri
NaijaAgroNet learnt that cassava production cost in Nigeria surpasses any other cost of producing cassava anywhere in the world; hence this necessitated the proposal by the federal government to establish 18 large scale processing cassava plants for flour.
N300bn, Pastor Adewunmi said has been saved from flour importation as a result of the Cassava Transformation Agenda Action Plan which sees to the production of cassava flour. And increase of agricultural loan from about 1.03 per cent to about 3 per cent.
Part of the strategies by the association to improve cassava production, NaijaAgroNet further gathered is to ensure that every local government authority has a minimum of five extension officers who will supply agricultural inputs for their respective local government authority.
Uzo, a caller from Lagos affirmed that funds do not get to the right farmers as they are not part of the action plan, hence they cannot monitor the implementation process of the action plan.
Speaking in the same vein, the publicity secretary of Agbekoya Farmers Association, Chief Olatunji Bamidele affirmed the greatest challenge facing farmers in the nation to be lack of funds. The Agbekoya Farmers Association, he said had requested for loan from the federal government for months back which they are yet to receive any response as regards the loan. 
Chief Bamidele said any agricultural transformation agenda that excludes the farmers in the process have a very little chance of seeing the light of the day.
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