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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Agric can still be the mainstay of Nigerian economy -SMEDAN DG

Director General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) Alhaji Muhammed Nadada Umar said that the agricultural sector in the country could still be the stronghold of the nation's economy.
Alhaji Umar noted that there would be profitable returns for farmers if farming activities are taken as professionals.
According to him, full implementation of the Nigeria's Transformation Agenda as regards the agriculture sector would lead to the revival of the sector for the next two decades.
This, he made known to some members of the Society of Youth in Agriculture (SYA) during a recent courtesy visit to the agency's headquarters in Abuja.
Also speaking during the visit, SYA president, Mr. Bakare Oladimeji asserted that the objective of the visit is to seek areas where the SYA could collaborate with the agency towards the provision of technical and entrepreneurship training which are some of the objective of the youth's body.
The SYA president also told SMEDAN DG that the organisation had birthed several agricultural projects of which 'Operation Wake Up' is one of the numerous projects.
The 'Operation Wake Up,' initiative according to Oladimeji, is a Young Farmers Entrepreneurship Scheme aimed at reducing the rate of unemployment among youths in the nation.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Narh calls for investment in agric value chain

The Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, Millison Narh has called on financiers to invest in innovative driven-projects in the agriculture value chain system.
Speaking at the opening session of the 8th African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) General Assembly held in Accra, recently, Narh who also is the vice chairman, AFRACA, said focus should be on the establishment of agriculture commodity markets.
Investment in the sector, Narh said, would go a long way in solving the issue of decline in Africa's agric sector with its adverse effects on food security.
Improved access to suitable agric technologies and credit facilities, according to Narh could sustain the value chain process.
He also noted that the provision of relevant training programmes for agric sector workers and a revision of the land tenure system to give access to arable lands for productive use would contribute to enhancing the sector.
AFRACA, NaijaAgroNet gathered was established in 1977 to serve as a high level coordinating body to address and advocate for agriculture finance policy in order to strengthen Africa' rural poor.
Further, he urged African governments and policy makers to make appropriate policy interventions which would entail infrastructure development and appropriate training opportunities for farmers, and make fiscal incentives available for financial institutions who are focusing on agric lending.

Yinka Awosanya/ED
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FAO, Brazil vote N3.15b to assist developing nations

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Orgarnisation (FAO) has entered into a $20 million, about N3.15 billion worth of agreement with Brazil in a bid to help developing countries in the production of cotton.
“This agreement represents an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of South-South cooperation between developing-world partners as a vehicle for sustainable economic growth,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva while signing the agreement recently at FAO’s Rome headquarters.
FAO revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that the agreement would enable developing nations boost cotton production through Brazilians’ expertise in the production of cotton.
The agreement which is a four-year project was signed by the UN special agency, FAO, the Brazilian Cotton Institute and external cooperation wing of Brazil’s Foreign Relations Ministry, to see to the technical assistance and training in best practices in cotton cultivation and its marketing.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the first phase of the project would be in Haiti and the MERCOSUR zone of South America, and will later be extended to some other developing countries in Latin America as well as Africa.
Commenting on the agreement, FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva affirmed that the agreement is an opportunity for the demonstration of effectiveness of the South-South cooperation among developing-world partners.
According to the FAO chair, the agreement is a vehicle for sustainable economic growth.
While the Brazilian Cotton Institute will provide $10 million, about N1.57 billion financial support for the project with an additional $10 million from the external cooperation wing of Brazil’s Foreign Relations Ministry, FAO's Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean will contribute $200 000, about N31.5 million worth of nonfinancial support.
The FAO's nonfinancial contribution, NaijaAgroNet learnt entails provision of expertise and technical information and mobilising the agency's international networks for support. 

Yinka Awosanya/ED
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MDGs attainable says FAO boss

FAO Director General, Graziano
The Director General of the United National Food and Agriculture Organisation, Graziano da Silva has affirmed that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is still within reach provided countries set up efforts towards hunger reduction.

Da Silva disclosed this at a session of Committee on World Food Security (CFS) recently that the developing world recorded a significant drop in hunger from 23.2 per cent to 14.9 per cent.

Although there are still about 870 million people facing hunger globally, but da Silva said the drop is an important progress.

He also made known that process targeted at reducing the rate of hunger in the world, especially in Africa and the Near East has been on since 2007 following the rise in food insecurity in Africa and the Near East.

"As we renew and increase our commitment to reach the Millennium Development Goal for hunger reduction," da Silva said that there is need to look beyond the MDG, towards the total eradication of hunger.

"When it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number is ‘zero'," he said.

Also speaking at the session of the intergovernmental body, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon called on stakeholders to stand up to the global challenge of food security.

According to him, everybody is at the heart of the next big push in eliminating hunger in its entirety. One of the objectives of the 'Zero Hunger Challenge' includes a world where everyone has access to food.

Food at pregnancy and early childhood, and greater opportunity for small scale farmers also forms part of the objectives of the Zero Hunger Challenge.

CFS, NaijaAgroNet gathered was established in 1974 to enable the consideration of all viewpoints in making decision to address issues that affect food security, nutrition and economic crisis as well as the rising demand for food. 
CFS Chair Yaya Olaniran said finding agreement on issues of food security takes time and that the results of such agreement are policies that are grounded in reality and have everyone's backing.

 Yinka Awosanya/ED
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Adesina applauds GEJ over 2013 agric budget

The Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has applauded the proposed 2013 budget for agriculture, presented last Wednesday to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan.

This is coming as there will be a five-year tax holiday for sugarcane and sugar value chain investors, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

NaijaAgroNet recalls that President Jonathan had proposed the sum of N81.41 billion for agriculture in the 2013 budget.

Speaking on the budget to his ministry, Dr. Adesina told  that the amount allocated showed that President Goodluck Jonathan was confident that the sector could once again be the driving force of the economy.

NAN reports that allocation increased by less than three per cent over the current appropriation which stood at N78.9 billion.

The Federal Government also announced a number of measures aimed at boosting the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

Jonathan, while presenting the budget to a joint session of the National Assembly, said that there would be a five-year tax holiday for sugarcane and sugar value chain investors.

The president added that the machinery and spare parts imported for local sugar manufacturing industries would attract zero per cent import duty starting from January 2013.

He also said that the import duty for rice would be increased to encourage local rice production.
Adesina, however, said that the issue of budget was all about how the allocation was utilised.

He explained that a total of 7.8-billion-dollar private sector funding had been injected into the sector.

``In addition to that we have been able to get so many local companies to process agriculture produce.’’
He said that through the Federal Government’s initiatives on cassava, rice, maize and soya beans about 8.1 million metric tonnes of food would be added to domestic supply.

He recalled that President Jonathan had promised that his administration would add 20 million tonnes of food to domestic supply by 2015, adding that this was only the first year.

``That is about 41 per cent of what we are targeting for in 2015. So we are working very hard.’’ Adesina said.

He promised that the ministry under his leadership and that of  Alhaji Bukar Tijani, would ensure that Agriculture Transformation Agenda achieved its aim.
Remmy Nweke with agency report
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Anambra sets up flood disaster emergency fund, aid yet to get to Awba-Ofemili

The Anambra State government has set up a three-man flood disaster emergency fund 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.

This is coming as the Awba-Ofemili is yet to receive practical aid from the government.
Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze, disclosed these in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet at the weekend.

Mr. Obaze also disclosed 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) 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.

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 recedes.

The ANSG, he said, would be counting on the Federal Government, its agencies, especially National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its international partners, to join with it 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 State Emergency Management Agency (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 confirms 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.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Awba-Ofemili town sacked by River Niger flood

Gov. Peter Obi, please do something!
The Awba-Ofemili town in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State has been cut-off by the surge of River Niger, culminating in the loss of properties and agricultural products worth billions of Naira.

Awba-Ofemili is mainly an agrarian community located less than 25 minutes drive from the capital city of Awka, Anambra State and is reputed for massive rice production.

The Awba-Ofemili town in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State has been cut-off by the surge of River Niger, culminating in the loss of properties and agricultural products worth billions of Naira.

Confirming this, chairman, Lagos branch of Awba-Ofemili Development Union (ADU), Mr. Kenneth Okoye in a chat with newsmen lamented the situation, 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.

He described as unbelievable that the flood has continue to wax stronger in the face of seemingly nothing being done by the government, he enjoined well spirited individuals to come to the aid of the towns affected by this River Niger surge, especially Awba-Ofemili.

As at the time of filing this report, the Awba-Ofemili town has been seriously divided with this surge that farmers no longer attend to their farms, while all the eight villages that made up the town have been 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, has since last week been cut off with most residents relocating to a building along Umuosite Road for refuge, while those living along the Umuosite road have been sacked by the flood as they now use canoe to pass between Umuosite and other villages like Oyeagu and Akpana.

One of the residents and women leader in Awba-Ofemili, Madam Christiana Nweke said that the level of flood has 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 by the day.

She also called on the government, especially Gov. Peter Obi to quickly come to their aid, while praying that the River Niger surge subsidizes soon.

It was further gathered that the only major road leading to Awba-Ofemili, which has been begging for attention over the years, has been cut off too as indigenes trying to access Awka the capital city of Anambra State has to be ferried twice before they could even get to neighbouring towns like Ugbene, Ugbenu.

At the Agu-enu part of the town, especially behind the St. Paul’s Catholic Church, the flood has not stopped.

Hon. Mrs. Joy Enweluzor, chairperson, Awka-North, it was gathered visited the Awba-Ofemili town, Tuesday 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 flood of Awba-Ofemili and environ have been communicated to the government of Anambra State.

They called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to remember the Awba-Ofemili town in distribution of aids for the flood victims.

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