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Friday, August 31, 2012

Group wants protection for poor countries against climate change


The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group, have advocated protection for poor countries from the menace of climate change as there is a big risk of loss of key issues if they are not protected.
The chairman of the group, Pa Ousman Jarju of the Gambia said there is a great need to massive increase in funds for adaption and for action in order to reduce emission. "We need to set up a proper international coordination process to deliver resources for adaptation to those in most need," he advised.
In a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet by the International Institute for Environment and Development, Pa Jarju listed global warming causing drought, water and food shortages as part of the major challenges facing the world at the moment which call for actions.
He also said there are no chances of survival if the necessary issues are being deferred till 2015 when a new agreement will be negotiated.
 According to Pa Jarju, drought in the USA only cost insurance companies money, while droughts in the LDCs are causing loss of life and livelihoods, malnutrition in our children and huge dislocation which is very serious for our survival.
“It is extremely important that governments agree to respect the commitments they have already made to provide finance, technology and capacity building to developing countries and to enhance cooperation to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change and not to use the focus on a new processes to avoid past promises. We cannot indefinitely delay action, especially with regard to climate change, which is already upon us,” he said.
aid.

 Yinka Awosanya

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

FG to transform agriculture sector to employ youths


President Goodluck Jonathan
The Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria has promised to transform the agricultural sector so as to make the sector a wealth creator and able to accommodate youths.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan revealed that the present administration is keen on bringing its plans about transforming the agricultural sector to reality.
The president also affirmed the federal government's initiative to promote the subsistence farming to the establishment of agriculture as a very viable modern-day business.
“We have a very large youthful population and to create enough jobs for them we must develop agriculture, solid minerals and other sectors," President Jonathan said, adding that Nigeria has a lot of untapped potentials which would be beneficial to agricultural development.
He expressed delight over the $74 million about N11.7 billion virtually interest-free loan by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in a bid to support the federal government's agricultural programme.
He said Nigeria as well as himself is proud of the good work by IFAD with loans and grants summing up to $225 million for agricultural development in Nigeria since 1985.

 Yinka Awosanya

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Nigerian Railway partners Agric Ministry for cassava exportation


The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) is partnering the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for haulage of cassava chips to the world.
NRC in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet revealed that the first train of 160 tonnes of cassava chips has been moved to Lagos Seaport from Ilorin, for later exportation to Asia.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between the corporation and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in a bid to actualize the transformation agenda of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture with respect to cassava export.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that part of the ministry's agenda is large scale exportation of cassava as well as other agrarian products of comparative advantage to the global market.
Commenting on the MoU, the NRC's managing director, Engr. Adeseyi Sijuwade affirmed that empty wagons would no longer return to Lagos as they would be hauling cassava chips from Ilorin to Lagos seaport.
"In our strategic effort to improve our revenue base through optimal mobilization of movable assets and other facilities," Engr. Sijuwade said, adding that trains that move Lafarge Cements to Ilorin will be the same set of trains that would be used in moving the chips to Lagos seaport.
Sijuwade also assured the Federal Ministry of Agriculture of the corporation's readiness to fulfill its own side of the deal while urging cassava farmers to make the best use of the opportunity for a competitive global trading.


Yinka Awosanya
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Solar empowerment for Nigerian women

Women @ the Training Workshop

          The need to empower Nigerian women, especially in the area of technical know-how for solar lanterns and mobile phone chargers as shown by Solar Jooce and partners, is an encouraging initiative that deserves commendation and support, writes REMMY NWEKE.
When you educate a woman, you educate a nation,” those were probably the words of the elders, which have continued to be relevant now and in the future.

The above quote has become a mantra of sort for women advocacy groups and even some men right activists, women in many countries have been often than not classified as bulk of every population, yet women comprise the largest marginalized group in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank’s statistical analysis on African gender programmes.
In spite of the fact that the economic empowerment for women has formed topics of discussion at various women economic programmes and also as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG), remain unresolved to a large extent.
DigitalSENSE News recalls that recently during this year’s Women and Girls in ICT Day, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Dr. Hamadoun I. TourĂ© emphasized on ITU Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 of 2010, which instituted fourth Thursday of April annually to be Women and Girls ICT Day.
He noted that women are the bedrock of the societies and pillars of strength in every family as well as the community. Yet, gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched. Pointing out that women and girls are denied access to basic health care and education and equal opportunities at work. 
 
Additionally, Dr. Toure said, women face segregation in economic, political and social decision-making and often suffer violence and discrimination, declaring that this situation is unacceptable and must be addressed with all the means available to ITU, including technologies.
Thus experts at renewableenergyworld.com, classified renewable energy technologies to include solar, wind power, geothermal, bio-energy, hydro-power, ocean, hydrogen and fuel cells alongside other supportive energy systems.
Obviously in line with such a call by ITU boss, the management of Solar Jooce Nigeria, recently entered into a deal with the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) to empower women with practical training on solar devices.
In an interview with the project coordinator for Solar Jooce, Anne Agbakoba, said in Lagos that Solar Jooce is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the quality of life of rural communities in Nigeria that have little or no access to electricity.

She also said that the recently concluded first phase of training of some rural Oyo women, who received training on how to repair basic solar lanterns and phone charging units.

She pointed out that this follows the sealing of the deal to train these rural women in Oyo State between the Executive Director, BATN Foundation, Mr. Gbenga Ibikunle and the chief executive officer, Solar Jooce, Mr. David Agbakoba.

The Solar Jooce boss, Mr. Agbakoba was quoted as saying that of the world’s 1.6 billion people living without electricity, 80 per cent live in Sub Saharan Africa.
Women @ the Training Workshop

Agbakoba, revealed to DigitalSENSE News that the main objective of the agreement in its pilot stage was to train an initial 20 rural ladies to become solar technicians and to help them set up solar micro-business.

This, she said, has kicked-off with the training which covers four local governments in Oyo State, namely Itesiwaju, Kajola, Oyo West, and Iseyin. The exercise, she said, is meant to empower the ladies to light up their communities and spread the use of solar as an alternative to dangerous and expensive fossil fuelled lighting such as the kerosene lamps.

She also confirmed to DigitalSENSE News that the initiative would be moved to other states across the federation with the collaboration of British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation, an independent charitable organization incorporated in Nigeria with the vision to improve the quality of life of citizens in rural and urban in Nigeria.

Equally, she explained that the initiative entails a marketing and financial management training entitled ‘Growing your new solar Micro-business’ which was conducted in Yoruba by Mrs. Yemi Owolabi, executive director, Finance of Standard Chartered Bank, Nigeria.

Head Trainer at the session and a Kenyan, Mr. Momanyi Oreri said he was delighted to have come to Nigeria under an Africa-Africa co-operation. He was amazed by how fast the rural women - illiterate, semi literate and literate; grasped the concept of diodes, resistors among others and were able to produce lanterns in four weeks.

One of the lady trainees, Mrs. Musiliu Olaitan, fondly called ‘Alhaja-Jesu’ because she recently converted from Islam to Christianity, said she was an illiterate but the training had given her the confidence to feel like a literate, that is to say, she could now do the impossible, and an opportunity to start a lucrative solar micro-business.

The Solar Jooce women’s empowerment initiative, DigitalSENSE News gathered, is a small step in the frightening task of providing a clean, alternative source of electricity, alleviating poverty, and providing opportunities for rural families in Nigeria.

Also, DigitalSENSE News recalls that the training workshop supported by the Hertz Corporation, C & I Leasing (transport & logistics), Sesema PR and the Bishop of Ajayi Crowther Diocese, Bishop O. O. Oduntan, is the first phase of the initiative, which consist of massive awareness creation about the use and benefits of solar applications through the donation of combined solar lantern and phone charging unit to a community in the 36 states of the country.

Ms Agbakoba further revealed that the second phase has been structured to be a long-term capacity building scheme to train women in the assembling and troubleshooting solar applications in order for them to be able to start their own small solar trade with its first pilot in June 2012.

As we look forward to the second, which is likely to produce another round of at least, 20 rural women participant at the end, it’s important that the organization gets support to deliver on its promise of taking the project across all the six geo-zones in the country.

If nothing else, these women should be encouraged by at least patronage from their communities of the lanterns assembled by them and given the opportunity to fix them when at fault. That way, they may not only be improving on their technical expertise of the solar tools, but have the courage to employ other women in their communities with adequate empowerment.


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Food Price Hike: Effects of importation on Africa


World Food Laureate, Dr. Monty Jones
There have been changing fortunes on food price hikes on the continent. YINKA AWOSANYA examines the effects despite claims that Africa’s major occupation is agriculture.
Introduction:
In Africa, the record is still high when it comes to cost of food importation despite having a higher percentage of the population claiming to be practising agriculture. As such both local and international institutions as well as African governments have been lamenting the effect on the continent’s economic standing, especially long run.
For instance, the global food import bill for the year 2012 was projected to decline to $1.24 trillion, a 3.87 per cent less 2011 record of $1.29; the feasibility of the prediction lies in the increase to be recorded in food productivity in individual countries.
Traceable Facts:
This is traceable to the fact that the youths are not showing enough interest in taking up agriculture due to its unattractive status thereby leaving food production at the mercy of the aged as well as those living in the rural areas to cater for the food needs of all, both those in the urban and rural dwellers.
World Food Laureate, Monty Jones once raised an alarm that crop production in Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world with a very wide gap. This, he said, contributed greatly to the rate of food importation as little produce is not enough to cater for the ever growing population. Noting though that some African countries still export farm produces, but the rate of exportation is insignificant compared to importation.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that one of the stable food exporting countries in Africa, Kenya still imports maize to boost stocks of foods despite recording a big harvest which followed good rains in the last season. The maize imports for Kenya last season stood at 1.05 million 90-kg bags, both from regional and international markets in a bid to supplement food supplies.
Nigeria is not exempted from the food importing countries of the continent despite being the largest producer of cassava in the world, even though most of the cassava produce come from subsistence farmers. For instance, in 2011 alone, Nigeria recorded about N1.59 trillion in the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish only.
To curtail the rate of importation, Nigerian president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan recently revealed an increase in tariff on wheat in a bid to encourage the use of cassava flour in the production of bread which will lead to a drastic reduction in wheat importation.
He also said that Nigeria, in 2012 alone will be making an export of a million metric tonnes of dried cassava chips to China which will work in favour of the economy as the export would earn the nation the sum of $136, about N21.7 billion in foreign exchange.
Factors:
The increase in global food prices in the past few months could be attributed to poor weather conditions leading to low productivity as well as drought and social insecurity.
Various food prices index, especially the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) recent food price index which showed that agricultural commodities from November 2011 to April 2012 indicated an upward movement of food prices globally.
With foods like cereals, sugar, dairy products and meat leading the global food index with high prices, the overall price index rose by two per cent, 7 per cent lower than that of January 2011.
Nigeria records downward trend:
Although maize in Nigeria recorded a downward trend in January 2012; selling 100kg for N5,500 equivalent of $34.08 as against N6,500 in December 2011, the latest peak then. While the global maize price has the highest rate of increase with six per cent, wheat also recorded an increase but less significant despite the improved weather conditions in favour of the crop.
The global food prices could be attributed to poor weather condition affecting crops in major food producing regions of the world and the rate of mechanised or commercial farming compared to subsistence farming as the produce from subsistence farming is not enough to feed the ever growing world population.
Drought and insecurity:
Recent droughts that affected some parts of the world, especially Eastern and Sub-Saharan Africa, hinder global food security as food situation of vulnerable groups of people remained precarious.
The global price of Wheat, for instance, may not witness a sharp reduction in 2012 as its production is expected to drop to 675 million tones, a 3.6 per cent decline; another influence that may also contribute to this is the price of maize.
Due to the critical growing months ahead, crops that might have witnessed a drop in May 2012 may still remain high and vulnerable. Just as the cereal price towards the end of the year might reduce as the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicted an increase in cereal production, which is anticipated to reach 2.371billion tones, thereby creating a new cereal production record.
Other agriculture produce to witness an increased production capable of leading to a reduction in their market prices or at least maintain a stable price includes milk with a forecast of 750m tones, a 2.7 per cent growth with the expectations that Asia will account for most of the productions.
While the wholesale price of local maize in Kano State in Nigeria, recorded an increase in February 2012 to N6,300, a 14.5 per cent rise over the January’s price, it dropped again in March to N6,200 and N6,800 in April, just N300 down its peak in seven years; February 2005 it was at N7,100.
Conclusion:
Although Nigerians would have expected a very sharp increase in food price in the country and never to drop from its January 2012 price due to the increase in pump price of petrol with about 50.76 per cent in January as well as the case of insecurity in the northern part of the country.
Yet, food prices did increase but not all food commodities correlate with the 50 per cent rise in fuel pump price, because some commodities did not witness an increase while others get about 20 to 100 per cent rise in prices.



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Sustainable Development and Governance in Nigeria


Different nations of the world are to a greater or lesser extent faced with the same constraints and opportunities, and are called with varying degree of urgency to provide individual answers to the common challenges.
No matter the priorities of each country, areas such as education, economics and social development, health and environment still await sustainable solutions. This requires a creative application of democratic principles and practices to tackling both local and national imperatives. Quality governance, with an eye on environmental sustainability is one sure way of, not only solving a country’s priorities, but also achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Environmental sustainability is critical because without it, the achievements of the rest of the goals may be short-lived. The fact is that, economics depend, to a large extent, on environmental resources.
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola
Scared by the unsustainable lifestyle in Nigeria, the Chairman of Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Chief Philip Asiodu warned that “Economic downturn is nothing compared with a global ecological downturn and the disasters that will come with it.” Thus, if we think this warning by the retired technocrat is alarmist or untimely, then we may have to consider the impact of climate variability on the economy of Kenya; between 1997 and 2001, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth dropped from 4.6 per cent to 0.3 per cent. The key factor is that the downturn leads to inadequate investment in sustainable infrastructure to control floods or store water for use during draught.
The question is, as nations continue to have their fare share of environmental problems like flood, hurricanes, pollutions, droughts to name a few, what is our beloved country putting in place at the Federal, State and local government levels to prevent, or mitigate the threats to the integrity of our ecosystem? While Nigerians are yet to recover from the shock arising from last year flood disaster in Lagos and Ibadan, and a more terrifying flood which claimed over 50 lives and property worth millions of naira just hit Jos, Plateau State. If that level of flooding disaster could happen in Jos, what should we expect in flood-prone areas like Niger, Oyo, Ogun? What should we expect in flood-plagued city of Lagos.
For instance, the Gov. Babatunde Fashola administration in Lagos, is doing his best to clear drainages, but his best is not enough, for some reasons. First, the source of the flood is trans-boundary. The flood from neighboring states of Oyo and Ogun empties into it.
Secondly, there are numerous settlements occupied by the urban poor which lack drainages. Successive administrations in the state has failed to construct a comprehensive drainage system. Thirdly, as a coastal, commercial and civic city, its huge population is overburdening the few available working infrastructure. The encroachment of human settlements unto floodplain areas increases the vulnerability to flood.
If you take a trip to some of the rural communities in Anambra and Edo (North), you will see what erosion has done to the quality of life of the people. In most cases their livelihood, as subsistence farmers, are threatened. It is either the path to their farms, markets, or that of their streams has been taken over by erosion.
In virtually all the eastern states and some south-south states, the soil fertility is gone and their successive state governors have not been concerned about food production like their colleague in the North and West. Consequently, fertilizers have been scarce. It was the newly elected governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who recently commenced the distribution of fertilizers in the state directly to farmers.
The degradation of the environment of oil producing states of the south-south is an old song, yet nothing much have changed in the livelihood of the people in spite of budgetary allocations to the region. Many of these communities are yet to have access to sanitary infrastructure and quality maternal care.
Poverty still pervades across most northern states due to desertification and lack of poverty-oriented policies. Their case is presently worsened by insecurity occasioned by the recent Boko Haram insurgence.
In no distant time, this will adversely impinge on the agricultural productivity of that region. It is sad to note that in most of these Nigerian communities, many of the breadwinners are people on less than $3 dollars a day income. How many of our state governors and local government authorities can boast of projects that are environmentally sustainable. Housing estates and market projects in state capitals are often showcased by many governors. Yet, they are offered to citizens at unsustainable prices. Some states have built schools and even some Federal government MDG schools are situated in flood plains, thereby making such projects unsustainable.
If the searchlight is turned to the government at the centre, the picture is that of contradictions. Too many environmental agencies, yet no action. Too many environment summits and conferences, yet little technical capacity. Too much efforts towards aforestation, yet making Kerosene unaffordable. Too much talk on power sector reforms, and advocacy for energy efficiency, yet inappropriate pricing and non-availability of power. Too much grants received, and budgetary allocations appropriated, yet no funds released to execute sustainable projects.
Good governance entails the awareness by those in power of possible ecological and sociological breakdowns, putting in place ways and means of minimizing their effects. It also entails their monitoring to ensure the adoption of Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) by private sector concerns in their domains.
Sustainable development, therefore, depends largely on the quality of governance and political will. There is a compelling need to mobilize the required political will at all levels of government. It is also necessary to mobilize all relevant stakeholders in the work.
As Borge Brend, the former Nowegian Minister of Environment aptly puts it, “Developing countries need to assign priorities, draw up strategies, invest in human resources, and implement poverty oriented policies. Good governance (That is, anti-corruption policies), democracy building, and respect for human rights are crucial to combat poverty and to make development sustainable.”


MacDenis Igbo
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AEO calls on government to boost job creation for youths


The African Economic Outlook has called on governments across the continent to boost jobs creation for youths.
NaijaAgroNet learnt from the outlook that the population of African youths is expected to double by 2045, giving the continent one billion workforce and making it the largest globally.
The AEO also urged the government to provide employment opportunities and ensure a political process that would allow the youths to express their views towards policy changes in order to prevent instability in the continent.
“This is an opportune time to reset the policy agenda of African governments towards an inclusive, employment-creating and sustainable growth strategy, aimed particularly at addressing the special needs of the young,” the outlook reads in part.
The current trend of education on the continent, NaijaAgroNet gathered will result to 59 per cent of 20-24 years old with secondary education by 2030 as against the present 42 per cent and by 2030 there would be 12million African youths with tertiary education.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed recently that 73million jobs were created between 2000 and 2008 with 16 million targeted at populations between 15 and 24 years of age, leading to unemployment of youths in informal jobs.


Yinka Awosanya
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‘Africa produces 50% of global cassava’


Of all the total cassava produced globally, Africa accounted for 50 per cent followed by Asia with 30 per cent and Latin America 20 per cent.
Despite the fact that African farmers recorded the lowest output per hectare, it still took the lead as every countries in the Western, Central, Eastern as well as North-South regions of the continent produced cassava on a land mass of 12.5 million hectares to beat Asia using 3.5million hectares and Latin America with 3million hectares.
Africa land mass contributed to the volume of Cassava produced as productivity is still very low with 10tones per hectare compared to Asia and Latin America with 19 tonnes per hectare and 12 tonnes per hectare respectively.
A Cassava fact sheet by the Global Cassava Partnership of the 21st Century (GCP21) made available to NaijaAgroNet revealed that more than 250 million Sub-Saharan Africans rely on cassava as their major source of calories while over 700 million people globally rely on cassava as a staple crop.
Also, NaijaAgroNet gathered that Asia recorded the highest growth in cassava production from about 15 tonnes per hectare in 2002 to about 18 tonnes per hectare in 2008, while Africa recorded 11 tonnes per hectare in 2008, showing a growth of 3 tonnes per hectare over 8 tonnes per hectare recorded in 2004.
Thailand on the other hand recorded a sharp drop from 25 tonnes per hectare in 2004 to about 22 tonnes per hectare in 2008.


Yinka Awosanya
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