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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Senegal receives $50m to boost agro-nutrition

The West African country of Senegal, has received support worth $50 million, to boost government management of key sectors including agriculture and nutrition, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Disclosing this Tuesday, during her official visit to Senegal in West Africa, the Canadian Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, said the $50 million comes in as budgetary assistance to enable the Senegalese government to enhance its public financial management and governance.

She also said that empowering women would propel them to reply on their presence in all spheres of the society.

Bibeau, equally said, that women’s empowerment is crucial for development, particularly in Senegal, underscoring the fact that authorizing women would encourage them to reply on their presence in all spheres of the society.

“I am determined to ensuring that Canada’s international aid resources go first and foremost toward giving women the means to contribute fully to the development of their communities,” she said, adding that Canada would spend $112.6 million to fund four development projects and initiatives in Senegal.

Funding of $19.6 million over five years (2016 to 2021) will go to the International Development Research Centre to support the work being done by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, particularly in Senegal.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Improving agriculture with open data journalism - NaijaAgroNet

A weeklong open data workshop for a section of Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Journalists Network, recently ended in Nairobi, Kenya, with a call for embrace and more training in media sphere. REMMY NWEKE who was there for NaijaAgroNet reports.

No link to lower IQs in children of mothers who took epilepsy drugs

Two newer epilepsy drugs may not harm the thinking skills or intelligence quotients (IQs) of school-aged children whose mothers took them while pregnant, but an older drug is linked to cognitive problems in children, especially if their mothers took high doses – according to new research from The University of Manchester, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Valproate, one of the most commonly prescribed antiepileptic medications, has been associated in the past with birth defects and developmental problems.

NaijaAgroNet, however, reports that two newer drugs, namely levetiracetam and topirimate have had little or no investigations into their developmental impact until this latest research, published in the August 31, 2016, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Lead researcher and author of the paper Dr Rebecca Bromley of The University of Manchester’s School of Biological Sciences, said expectant mothers had to know the possible impacts their drug regimes may have on unborn children.

“Over the past few years, doctors have been moving away from prescribing valproate to pregnant women, shifting them to the two newer anti-epileptic drugs. But, until now, there hasn’t been any definitive research to understand what implications for IQ and development these two drugs may have.

“Working with funding from Epilepsy Research UK, our team was able to undertake a rigorous set of tests on the children of 171 women who had taken one of the three drugs while pregnant. From the results, we have concluded that – at the moment – levetiracetam and topiramate have no discernable impact on childhood intellectual development.

“However promising a start our findings are, we do acknowledge larger studies need to be carried out regularly to ensure these drugs do not change the thinking abilities of children in the future.”

The 171 mothers were identified using the UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register; each had a child between five and nine years old. Of these 171 women, 42 had taken levetiracetam, 27 had taken topirimate and 47 had taken valproate while pregnant – an additional control group of women with similarly-aged children who had not taken any antiepileptic drug while pregnant was also included in the study.

Dr Bromley and her team performed tests on their children to measure IQ, verbal and non-verbal comprehension, and the speed at which they could process visual information.

Regardless of the level of dose of medication, the topirimate and levetiracetam-prescribed group showed no discernible difference in IQ or thinking skills compared to the control group.

However, the valproate group had an average IQ 11 points lower than the control, levetiracetam and topirimate cohort.

“Expectant mothers with epilepsy may need to continue their drug regime during pregnancy; this research may give them some reassurance that – provided they are prescribed topirimate and levetiracetam – they will a statistically good chance of normal, healthy development in their children,” concluded Dr Bromley.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

‘Role of food security to conflict prevention’

The role of food security and agriculture have an essential role to play in preventing conflicts and crises on the African continent, blunting their impacts and acting as engines for post-crisis recovery, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr. José Graziano da Silva gave this highlight in address to African leaders and international development actors in Nairobi, Kenya, at the foremost summits on African development.

"Ending hunger and malnutrition, addressing humanitarian and protracted crises, preventing and resolving conflicts, and building peace are not separate tasks, but simply different facets of the same challenge," Graziano da Silva said at a side-event on ‘Peace and Food Security', hosted by FAO, at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI).

Graziano da Silva was among the high-level delegations who attended in the opening ceremony of TICAD VI, led by the President of the Republic of Kenya and the Prime Minister of Japan.

NaijaAgroNet also reports that the conference which brings together policy makers, UN agencies and financial institutions, among others aimed at promoting high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their partners and mobilize support for African-owned development initiatives.

The link between conflict prevention and development is of particular importance in the region, which is host to nearly 60 percent of active UN Peacekeeping Missions. And whilst armed conflicts across Africa as a whole have decreased in recent years, this trend has been uneven across the continent.

"Much of FAO's work aims at promoting sustainable development and building the resilience of rural populations," Graziano da Silva said, giving concrete examples of countries where agricultural support helped secure the transition from wars to sustainable peace, including Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"By supporting agriculture and rural development, we help create jobs, provide income and boost youth employment. This can help prevent distress migration and radicalization, as well as mitigate disputes over depleted resources," he said.

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Pix; FAO D-G, Mr. José Graziano da Silva

IFNA debuts @ TICAD 2016 to boost nutrition security in Africa


The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit ended in the city of Nairobi, Kenya at the weekend, with the launch of the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) to boost nutrition in Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The event which held at Sarova Panafric Hotel "Simba" on Saturday, August 27, 2016 was part of the sideline event for the two-day TICAD VI which took place at Kenyatta International Convention Center in Nairobi, as part of the inaugural TICAD meeting in Africa since its inception in 1993 and launched by the Japan government.

IFNA, NaijaAgroNet gathered, is cohosted by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) on the background of the Malabo Declaration and Sustainable Development Goal 2 that aspires to end hunger and improve the nutrition status in the world and particularly in Africa under the Japan JICA is pleased to propose that a new framework be established, called "Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA)" to accelerate the international efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition on the African continent.

According to Shuto Megumi of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), IFNA emphasizes the importance of several specific values which focuses on facilitating people-centered and practical activities, through empowerment of women, as well as action-oriented policy enhancement, in order to achieve inclusive nutritional improvement with an impact.

Megumi also said IFNA underscores synergistic outcomes among multi-sectorial activities such as agriculture, health, education, and private sectors, stressing the importance of an evidence-based approach to support policymakers to make decisions based on proper monitoring and evaluation.
“It also emphasizes an appropriate coordination between short-term humanitarian interventions and mid-long-term development interventions in order to enhance sustainability and resilience of communities in the African region,” JICA official said.

While the objectives include serving as a new initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA), at the same time, consider how international community can accelerate efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition on the African continent.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that some of the lead speakers at the inauguration of IFNA include JICA president, Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Agency Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Dr. José Graziano da Silva, President of International Fund for Agricultural Development, Dr. Nwanze F. Kanayo, Assistant Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP) Ms. Elisabeth Rasmusson, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, Dr. Omar Abdi, Director for Africa at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, and Director of Nutrition, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Shawn Baker among others.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ekweremadu condemns fresh heldsmen attack @Akagbwe...

Ekweremadu condemns fresh heldsmen attack @Akagbwe...: ITRealms : Following the early morning fresh attack at Akagwe-Ugwu community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, on...

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

UN warns of looming La Niña

The United Nations (UN) has warned of new phase of drought and flood known as La Nina in the Ethiopia’s region of Oromia and Somali, according to meteorological notice made available to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), reports NaijaAgroNet.

As said by exprts, a La Niña event is 55 per cent likely for October to November and will have two major impacts on Ethiopia: flooding in the dominantly highland areas and additional drought in the lowland livestock-dependent areas of Oromia and Somali regions. FAO is supporting the Government to prepare a contingency plan to address the upcoming needs.

FAO said that with resources available, the organization has already provided agricultural inputs to 127 000 households (635 000 people) in drought-affected regions including Amhara, Afar, Oromia, Tigray, Somali and SNNP.

“So far, nearly 3 700 metric tons of seed and 5.8  million potato cuttings have been delivered to affected communities. Additional vegetable and late season crop seed are being purchased and will be distributed between August and September 2016,” FAO said.

The agency also said it has provided critical support to livestock-owning families, provided livestock feed, fodder seed to rejuvenate pasture, and rehabilitated water points for livestock.

FAO says it has supported the government to vaccinate and treat some 1.4 million animals, decrying that large numbers of animals has been weakened by the drought and are exposed to diseases as the result of the recent floods.

The UN organization revealed its planning to expand the vaccinations and treatment campaigns.

In order to increase the coverage of both on farmers and livestock keepers affected by the drought and current floods, FAO says it requires $10 million by the end of September 2016.  

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Monday, August 22, 2016

LDRI director, Nyumba underscores importance of file extensions in open data

The importance of file extensions in open data has been underscored by the Nairobi-based Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), reports NaijaAgroNet.

This importance was brought to the fore by the co-founding director at LDRI, Mr. Stephen Nyumba in his recent presentation in Nairobi-Kenya, during a workshop for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Journalists Network held at the Hilton Hotel, recently.

According to TechTerms Computer Dictionary, a file extension or ‘simply extension’ is the ending of a file that helps identify the type of file in operating systems such as Microsoft Windows. In Microsoft Windows, the file extension is a period that is often followed by three characters, but may also be one, two, or four characters long. For example, the filename "myfile.txt" has an extension of ".txt", which is a file extension associated with text files.

Nyumba in his paper entitled “Open Data for Agriculture: An Overview, the Concept and Application” stressed the imperative of file extensions in exploration of the open data contents.

The LDRI director also highlighted some kinds of file formats open data content come with, such as the Comma Separated Values (CSV), the XLS file which is a spreadsheet extension file created by Microsoft Excel, and assumed the most widely-used spreadsheet programme and comes in either XLS or XLSX.

NaijaAgroNet also gathered that XLSX file formats, are the extensions of Microsoft Excel versions created in 2007 and later.

Nyumba, equally said that open data comes as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, while DOC  an abbreviation of 'document') is a filename extension for Word Processing documents, most commonly Microsoft Word Binary File Format and have since been extended to even Word Perfect file format. Even as the DOCX file extension is a Microsoft Word Open XML Format Document file.

In addition, he highlighted that the Extensible Markup Language (XML) file formats do exist, while the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a lightweight data-interchange format.

Nyumba emphasized that datasets and Application Programming Interface (API) also come in XML which stands for Extensible Markup Language, pointing out that some of the extension file formats could sound like jargons, but it is crucial to know a little of some of these formats, mostly for media practitioners who stand in-between the data content and the populace who ought to understand the gist in the story, no matter how complicated the data may be or look.

He further said that LDRI focuses on supporting African Union (AU) member states in their efforts to end hunger, poverty and reduce inequality through data, even as with good datasets, good stories 

could emerge.

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Pix: Steve Nyumba

FAO warns of likely outbreak of crop, livestock diseases in Ethiopia

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Representative to Ethiopia, Amadou Allahoury, has warned that if the current floods in the country continues, it could lead to crop and livestock diseases, reports NaijaAgroNet.

"If floods worsen later this year, there could be outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases, further reducing agricultural productivity and complicating recovery,” Allahoury declared.

The situation, Allahoury said, is critical now and urged the world make sure that farmers will be able to plant between now and September and grow enough food to feed themselves and their families thus avoiding millions of people having to rely on food assistance for another year.

“Ethiopia needs urgent global support to respond to its humanitarian needs, we have no time to procrastinate," Allahoury said.

The FAO official described the meher season as Ethiopia's main agricultural season and produces up to 85 per cent of the nation's food supplies.

Also, Allahoury warned that if the farmers do not plant enough now, Ethiopia may face significant food shortages, which may further exacerbate food and nutrition insecurity in the country.

“To ensure the last remaining planting window of the year is met, an estimated $8.8 million is needed to provide root crop planting materials, legumes, vegetable and cereal seed to 530 000 households,” the representative said.

NaijaAgroNet reports that FAO estimated that households who lost small ruminants such as sheep may need at least two years to return to pre-drought levels, while cattle-owning households may need up to four years to recover. While animals that survived the recent drought are still weak and susceptible to diseases during the rainy periods; $36.2 million is required to undertake the necessary interventions to support 2.4 million livestock-dependent households or 12 million people.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

El Niño: Ethiopia needs $45m to scale over

Following the starvation caused by the El Nino in Ethiopia with this year's main planting season winding down, the country needs $45 million in agricultural support, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This was contained in the newly released Mid-Year Review of the Ethiopia Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) developed jointly by the Government of Ethiopia and UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and other development partners and made available to NaijaAgroNet, indicated that 900 000 additional households need urgent agricultural support bringing the total number to 2.9 million in August.

The review, NaijaAgroNet gathered also showed there is still a small window of opportunity in September for farmers to plant the last set of crops this year and grow food for millions facing hunger, provided the necessary support arrives on time.

In order to meet additional agricultural sector needs HRD reviewed stated will require $45 million bringing the total requirement for the agriculture sector to $91.3 million for 2016.

“The overall food security situation has improved only slightly, with the number of people requiring emergency food assistance having decreased from 10.2 million to 9.7 since the beginning of the year,” part of the report read.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that the El Niño-induced drought caused a wide-scale failure of crops and loss of livestock critical to the livelihoods of farmers and agropastoralists. Even as the drought is being followed by seasonal floods, which have already led to crop damage and the inundation of pastures and may be further exacerbated by a phenomenon called La Niña, expected from October onwards.
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Prioritise rural people in post-Ebola recovery plans - IFAD

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, has tasked the government and people of Sierra Leone and Liberia to prioritise rural people in the post-Ebola recovery plans, reports NaijaAgroNet.
IFAD president who was in the two West-African countries made this call during his visit to Sierra Leone (4-6 August) and in Liberia (6-8 August), where he met with presidents of both countries.
In Sierra Leone, Nwanze met President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance and Gender and the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. While in Liberia he met President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Minister of Agriculture and project implementation partners.
For him, Ebola has had an enormous impact on the lives of rural people – many of whom are small-scale farmers who could not grow food or earn a living during the epidemic.
“If we do not channel our investments to the rural areas now, these farmers may have to migrate in search of work. This could compromise the future food security of these countries,” he said.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that discussions were focused on how IFAD could further support the two countries post-Ebola recovery plans, particularly in rural areas.
Over 11,310 people, NaijaAgroNet recalls died from the Ebola virus between 2014 and 2016 in the three affected countries, namely Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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Pix: Nwanze and labourers tilling the land for recovery

Open data concept, application for agriculture according to Steve Nyumba


The co-founding director at the Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), Mr. Stephen Nyumba has offered some insights on how open data concept could be leveraged through application for the agriculture sector by African media, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Nyumba, in a presentation at the recently concluded week-long training for CAADP Journalists Network in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, dwelt on “Open Data for Agriculture” said that in being open connotes a lot for different people and media practitioners must ensure whatever definition they are using is seemingly holistic.

According to him, for a data to be open means that the “Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.”

On the concept and application overview to agriculture, Mr. Nyumba pointed out that open data and content is very often provided by the publisher with “explicit permission allowing for it’s use, re-use, re-distribution or re-purposing with little or no restriction.”

He canvassed that before reuse, it is important for the user which in this case could be a media outlet or practitioner, who wants to tell his or her story differently with infographics to check if the potential content is open or restricted.

This, Nyumba said, could be achieved by way of looking critically at the license of the publication, which very often comes as Creative Commons, otherwise, he advised that the publisher be asked for permission or clarification, so as to eschew any kind of legal bottleneck afterwards.

As said by him, taking most of these precautions would afford the user and precisely media practitioners the opportunity to make informed assumptions, citing for instance, the Gro Intelligence produces which was provided under an open license.

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Pix: Mr. Stephen Nyumba

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

UN, Japan, Belgium, EU, CERF raise $4.9m for Northeast farmers return to land

The United Nations agency known as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has drummed fiscal support worth $4.9m, about N1,569,225,000 billion for its programme in northeast Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as FAO informed NaijaAgroNet that the fund so far was contributed from its internal special emergency fund alongside the Japan, Belgium, the European Commission (ECHO) and the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF).

The agency also said its currently targeting an additional 85,000 people with horticulture packages to prepare for the upcoming irrigated season.

FAO's Emergency and Response Manager in Nigeria, Mr. Tim Vaessen, lamented that by growing their own healthy and nutritious food would reduce need for future external food assistance.

“Families who have access to land and are ready to farm can harvest in six to eight weeks," Vaessen said.

FAO's activities in Nigeria, he said, remained constrained by a serious lack of funding, but pointed out that till-date, FAO has received just $ 4.9 million, of which almost 20 per cent came from FAO's own Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities.

Whereas, FAO's programme in northeast Nigeria is also funded by Japan, Belgium, the European Commission (ECHO) and the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF).

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

FMARD, IWMI launch ‘Wetin App’ for flood forecast, control

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) have launched a smart phone application tagged “Wetin App” for flood forecast and control, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The app, NaijaAgroNet gathered is available on Google App Store, and would be focusing on forecasting flood reports especially along the Niger and Benue rivers.

FMARD officials informed NaijaAgroNet that the application, would assist Nigeria in management of flood and its associated exigencies.

Speaking at the launch in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Shehu Ahmed, represented by the Director of Agricultural Businesses, Processing and Marketing, Alhaji Azeez M. Olumuyiwa said Nigeria sought the help of the IWMI to develop the application following the devastating flood of 2012, which led to huge destruction of farms, houses and human lives.

He also said the country had decided to turn that bitter experience into a blessing by looking at the various ways farmers and government could take advantage of technology.

In his remark, the Regional Director for Africa at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Professor Timothy Olalekan Williams, said the application was developed using data from the Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NHSA), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NMA) and the satellite.

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Buhari’s FG launches ‘The Green Alternative’ 2016-2020

The President Mohammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has launched a new agricultural sector roadmap known as The Green Alternative, for the projected promotion of agriculture for the year 2016 through 2020, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The launch which took place in Abuja, the nation’s capital, NaijaAgronet gathered was declared open by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on behalf of Mr. President on Monday.

He also said government would deploy 100,000 agriculture extension workers to assist farmers implement the policy, stressing that the move to diversify the economy through the agriculture sector had become necessary due to the huge food importation bill and the need to create jobs for the teeming population of youth in the country.

Osinbajo expressed optimism that the roadmap would address challenges in the sector and reposition it for economic growth and development

“The present administration came into office to meet an economy in a meltdown and we have to take difficult decisions on short, medium term in order to repair the huge damage done, especially by the dependence on oil, the worst not investing in infrastructure or deepening the diversification of our economy, or even building our reserves when oil sold at over a $100 per barrel.

“We knew that we had to set aright and put back the economy on a fast lane, inclusive growth, job creation for our huge population. One of the most critical components of that plan is to position agriculture, the arrowhead of our economic recovery efforts.

“There is no question at all that if we get agriculture right, we will get our economy right. The great clarity, ‘The Green Alternative, sets out strategies to resolve these challenges and particularly impressed that the roadmap does not dismiss the agric policies ‘building on the successes of the agricultural agenda’.

“This particular issue of alignment is crucial. For instance, there is no way we can encourage agriculture than to encourage food production when we allow unbridled importation of the same things we are trying to produce.

“Still on the issue of policy of alignment, as part of our 500,000 teacher corps that we will be engaging 100, 000 of them that will be trained as extension workers for our farms.

“I, hereby, launch the Agriculture Sector Roadmap: The Green Alternative; Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020.”

Further, the Vice President said, the home-grown school feeding programme will have one meal a day for pupils and specifically the food will be from farms in each state. He also assured that the Bank of Agriculture would be recapitalised and repositioned to meet farmers’ financial need by giving them a single digit interest rate and low interest.

Equally speaking earlier, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the roadmap for the sector was all encompassing and would salvage the economy from collapse.

“In this policy, you will see us navigating through the agricultural terrain, trucking on virtually every aspect. The emphasis on ‘Green’ is to capture the essence, spirit and orientation of this new policy/strategy document,” Ogbeh said.

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Pix: left, Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Tahir Mongonu; Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed and Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige during the launch/public presentation of the Agricultureal Sector Roadmap, The Green Alternative Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020, in Abuja, Monday.

Nigeria rice imports average 1.5m tonnes annually

Investigations have revealed that between 2003 and 2013, Nigeria may have imported rice to the tune of 17,206,077 tonnes with an average import at 1,564,188 million, NaijaAgroNet can authoritatively report.

According to the Statistics Division of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an intergovernmental organization of the United Nations with over 194 member nations, the division’s mission, NaijaAgroNet  gathered is to improve data collection and dissemination for development and the fight against global hunger and malnutrition.

These imports of 17,206,077 tonnes, NaijaAgroNet reports, came in the heels of against the total production of 114.3 million tonnes within the period under review including both calculated and official data as at the time of filing this report.

For the rice import in 2003, Nigeria recorded 1600701 tonnes, 1396692 in 2004, 1174071 in 2005, 974647 in 2006, 1215758 in 2007, 970787 in 2008, 1160671 in 2009 and 1882759 in 2010, while 2187419 was recorded in 2011 followed by 2455202 a year later, just as 2187370 was the tonnes of rice imported in 2013.

In addition, NaijaAgroNet  gathered that bulk of the data were unearthed from aggregation and includes the official, semi-official, estimated and or calculated data from the Nigerian government by FAO.

The imported tonnes of rice, NaijaAgroNet  investigations revealed may have been "rice in milled equivalent."

Market watchers believed that despite the decline recorded by IRERP that obviously what was gathered as official data, semi-official or even aggregated were crossly in adequate considering the number of smuggled tonnes and the nation’s craze for foreign products which is not alien to agriculture produce.

This is despite the fact that most foreign rice imported into Nigeria takes averagely three to five months to be shipped into the country, therefore fortified thus missing relevant vitamins.

This much was what kept the cost of ‘foreign rice’ as its fondly called locally high, even as there is allegations of such chemical used in preserving the rice to have become instrumental to certain kind of cancer.

Noteworthy is that the initiative on Increased Rice Production and Export Programme (IRPEP) report, released in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that it recorded some accomplishments.

These comprised of the discovery that both national and international research institutes working in Nigeria have developed over 52 rice varieties with potential yields of 28 tonnes of paddy per hectare and maturity periods ranging from 95 to 140 days.

IRPEP records also showed increase in the areas cultivated from 2.2 million hectare (ha) in 1999 to 2.8 million ha in 2006 and 3.2 million ha in 2007; while an increase was recorded in annual production from 3.3 million tonnes of milled rice in 2000 to 4.2 million tonnes in 2006, and 4.8 million tonnes in 2007. Although these represented significant increases in output, IRPEP equally highlighted that the targets of 6 million tonnes in 2005 and 9.8 million tonnes in 2007 were not achieved.

NaijaAgroNet  further quoted IRPEP as stating that increase in productivity per hectare as a result of the introduction of high-yielding NERICA rice variety and R-Box technology among others brought about the reduction in rice importation from 2.0 million tonnes in 2003 to less than 1.0 million tonnes in 2006 and 2007, thus, conserving foreign exchange.

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Pic: A graphic table of Nigeria's rice import between 2003 and 2013