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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Security Council debates ‘women, peace and security’

The subject of women, peace and security topped a session of the Security Council held on Monday, reports NaijaAgroNet.
At the Security Council Monday, a senior United Nations official called on Member States, regional organizations and civil society for greater partnership to boost women’s participation at all levels and help ensure UN peace efforts are stronger and more sustainable.
“We will ensure our prevention initiatives and monitoring include a focus on women’s rights violations [and] we will tackle the structural and root causes of crisis, including gender inequality,” Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, told a day-long debate in the Security Council, underlining the need for more action on the ‘women, peace and security agenda’ – with prevention as a core pillar.
Noting the importance of gender equality and security of women as reliable indicators for peace, she added: “We will [also] strengthen the collection and analysis of gender statistics and encourage Member States to monitor gender equality indicators as part of their work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
In her briefing, the Chef de Cabinet spoke of the need to ensure adequate representation of women in the security sector both to reduce their exposure to harm as well as to realize their potential in conflict prevention.
Noting, further, that only three per cent of peacekeepers are women, she informed the 15-member Council of the Secretary-General’s efforts with troop- and police-contributing countries to increase the number of female uniformed personnel.
Ms. Viotti also noted that 17 years after its adoption, Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security was too often being implemented in an ad hoc fashion, and called on UN Member States to share evidence and examples in order to examine gaps and successes.
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Monday, October 30, 2017

Africa, a hungry people and malnutrition battle

Can Maputo declaration save Africa from classification as a hungry people, malnourished region and scale up food security ambitions, asked REMMY NWEKE in this report.

The latest United Nations global report says 815 million are hungry people and ranked Africa second with 243m victims out of 1.216 billion population of the continent as at December 2016 by the World Bank. And the next phase is for the victims to delve into malnutrition.

NaijaAgroNet reports that this is in spite of Africa being ranked the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent, spanning to about 30.3 million kilometres in landmass, including adjacent islands, covering some 6 per cent of earth's total surface area and 20.4 per cent of its total land area. Africa also ranks fifth among continents by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worth $2,190 billion, according to the online open sourced encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

However, UN’s latest hunger and food security key numbers made available to NaijaAgroNet, saw Asia continent with 520 million, that is, over 100 per cent of African quota; whereas the top three continents in the hungriest people in the world included Latin America and the Caribbean with 42 million. Shared in percentage, NaijaAgroNet gathered showed that Asia has 11.7 per cent; Africa has 20 per cent with eastern Africa alone scored 33.9 per cent, while Latin America and the Caribbean got 6.6 per cent.

This was the first time that United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO), joined the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) in preparing ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report. This change reflects the harmonization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda's broader view on hunger and all forms of malnutrition.

Thus, NaijaAgroNet noted that the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, established by the General Assembly, is lending focus to this effort by motivating governments to set goals and invest in measures to address the multiple dimensions of malnutrition, facing the world today. So, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 was re-geared for the SDG era and includes enhanced metrics for quantifying and assessing hunger, including two indicators on food insecurity and six indicators on nutrition.

Economic sense of zero tolerance for food loss, waste:
Speaking at the sideline of the recently held 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr. José Graziano da Silva, renewed calls with focus on tackling food loss and waste as a pathway to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger, declaring that "Zero tolerance for food loss and waste makes economic sense.”  Noting recent report which indicated that every $1 invested in food loss and food waste policies bring $14 in return, and stressed that "Investing in measures to prevent food loss and food waste also means making investments in pro-poor policies as it promotes sustainable food systems for a zero hunger world."
According to him, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally each year, pointing out that this loss and waste occur throughout the supply chain, from farm to fork, insisting that beyond food, it represents a total waste of labour, water, energy, land and other inputs, lamenting “If food loss and waste were a country, it would rank as the third highest national emitter of greenhouse gases.”
Graziano was joined by Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, Josefa Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union as well as representatives of the governments of Germany, the Netherlands and Angola in calling for greater cooperation by governments, business, development partners, farmers groups and others to address the problem.
Food technologists develop tools to prevent loss, waste
Of late, NaijaAgroNet reported that food technologists at FAO revealed they have developed tools and methodologies for identifying losses, their causes and potential solutions along the entire food value chain, from production, storage and processing to distribution and consumption. Obviously reacting to the latest UN disclosure that some 815 million hungry people are in the world, the majority lives in rural areas of developing countries and are family farmers, pastoralists or fishers, these experts cited South-East Asia, for example, noting that fruit and vegetable producers found that around 20 per cent of tomatoes were damaged during transportation because of the way they were packed in bulk.
Confirming this, DG, FAO, Mr. José Graziano da Silva, said the initiatives will improve packaging practices, with participation of producers and other stakeholders, resulting in an impressive 90 per cent reduction of these losses, recalling that in 2013, FAO launched a global initiative on food loss and waste called Save Food.
The platform, NaijaAgroNet gathered, includes a network of over 500 partners from international organizations, the private sector, civil society and others with the objective of promoting awareness and the exchange of ideas and best practices on preventing food waste and loss.
FAO also said, it has produced data and information so that decision-makers could better understand where and how food losses and waste occur, and the agency is working with partners to measure the impact of food loss and waste reductions on food security and nutrition.
A nation undermining her children’s development:
Then long after, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) exposed Nigerian government over alleged putting her children at risk of under-development, both physically and mentally, because critical national policies were not adequately provided to entrench foundation for their growth. Maintaining that brain grows rapidly; thus providing good nutrition, loving care and appropriately play and provide solid foundations for a child’s learning could eventually contribution to economic and social growth.
In its Early Moments Matter for Every Child, UNICEF outlined three policies that could give parents the time and resources needed to support their young children’s healthy development, including “two years of free pre-primary education; six months of paid maternity leave; and four weeks of paid paternity leave.” Decrying that Nigeria currently has just three months of paid maternity leave, only one year of free pre-primary education and no paternity leave at all, with only about one in every 10 pre-primary children are enrolled in early education activities.
Also, NaijaAgroNet reports that according to a medical journal, The Lancet, Nigeria ranks among the 10 countries with the largest number of children at risk of poor development. Whereas the 2016 national survey indicated that 31 per cent of children under the age of five were moderately or severely underweight in Nigeria. Insisting, “Stunting as a result of malnutrition can cause irreversible physical and mental retardation. Though, the exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life has clearly been shown to improve physical and mental development, the same survey revealed that only 24 per cent of Nigerian children are exclusively breastfed for six months. Paid maternity leave will help to increase the number of children exclusively breastfed.
As said by Mohamed Fall, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, “What we call Early Childhood Development, includes physical and cognitive support, and has a strategic place in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Investing in Early Childhood Development including services to support caregivers, quality pre-primary education and good nutrition will help to secure healthy and productive future generations in Nigeria.”

Yes, early childhood development matters:
In addition, he said that by supporting exclusive breastfeeding, having Early Childhood Development policies in place will help to improve the overall health and nutrition of a child, enable parents and caregivers to be more responsive to children’s needs and provide greater safety and security. It will also provide improved early learning.

He asserted that ‘With 90 per cent of a child’s brain development occurring before the age of five, early childhood experiences can have a profound impact on a child’s development and can ultimately impact a country’s growth.”
The import of the foregoing is that if Nigeria could undermine the growth of her younger generation and due to lack of requisite policies as claimed by UNICEF, why should Africa not have a set of hungry people, even to the tune of 243m. This is because lots of people and Africans precisely look up to Nigeria as a ‘big brother’ who should show leadership.

Maputo declaration, nutrition and food security:
Of course, showing leadership is not all political, but on the practical terms, may be by domesticating the African Union 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security (Assembly/AU/Decl. 7(II)), which stressed that 10 per cent of national budget allocation should go to agriculture development, invariably to the letter in the next five years, that is till 2008.
In September 2016, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) declared that the countries which paid intense attention to farmers and food production in the past ten years achieved the most successful development in African history.
According to AGRA President, Agnes Kalibata, “The countries that made the biggest investments in agriculture were rewarded with sizeable jumps in both farm productivity and overall economic performance,” and noted that agriculture had its biggest impact in countries that embraced the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), which called for African governments to allocate 10 per cent of national budgets to agriculture with a view to gain six percent annual growth in the sector.
AGRA report also noted that even if they didn’t hit the 10 per cent targets, early adopters of the CAADP have seen agricultural productivity rise by 5.9 to 6.7 per cent per year, thereby, boosting a 4.3 per cent average annual increase in overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and listed CAADP adopters to include Nigeria, Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Togo and attributed their posting of higher agriculture productivity and stronger GDP growth with declines in malnutrition compared to countries that have not adopted the initiative.
Thus, the report urged African leaders and governments for higher investment in agricultural research in the wake of climate change and increased support for youths to take up farming.
Its unthinkable that a continent with the landmass that Africa has should be graded among the hungriest people on earth. Efforts should be made to reverse trend. If technology development could be seen as slow and knowhow, do we need also tally behind on cultivating our natural resources, agriculture inclusive.

Therefore, this is a clarion call on the Nigerian government to show leadership, after all, an adage says ‘charity begins at home’ and to whom much is given, much is expected, especially on the UNICEF report, otherwise the continent’s future leaders may be stunted children which will boomerang on respective member nations.
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Pix: Moussa Faki, AUC chairperson and Audu Ogbe, Nigerian Minister of Agriculture

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vaccines, animal feed critical to safeguard livestock assets


The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched an emergency animal health campaign across Iraq's Mosul area, which was recently retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), reports NaijaAgroNet.

The campaign, NaijaAgroNet reports, is aimed at protecting and enhance the assets of 210 000 people who rely on rearing livestock for food and income in the Ninewa Governorate - of which Mosul is the capital. It includes vaccinating almost 1 million sheep, goats, cattle and buffalo and providing 1 500 tonnes of high-nutrient feed for 60 000 animals.

The campaign is being implemented in partnership with Iraq's Ministry of Agriculture, with funding from the Iraq Humanitarian Fund.

Ninewa has been profoundly affected by conflict since ISIL took control of central and north-western Iraq in 2014. More than one million people remain displaced, the majority staying within the governorate's boundaries in host communities or camps. Many families fled their homes with their livestock, most of which have not been vaccinated since ISIL took over the area.

FAO is concerned that these livestock are likely to carry highly contagious epidemic diseases that can spread rapidly across national and international borders to other herds and people, leading to serious socio-economic and public health consequences.

"If immediate measures are not taken, the effects on livestock production and food security could be devastating," said Fadel El-Zubi, FAO Representative in Iraq. "Through this animal health campaign, FAO aims to contain and prevent disease outbreaks in Ninewa and across Iraq, and stop these diseases spreading to other countries in the region."

The FAO-led initiative is the first comprehensive animal health campaign in the Mosul area since ISIL's arrival in 2014. Throughout the governorate, the remaining parts of which were retaken from ISIL in August this year,FAO plans to vaccinate the animals against six diseases: sheep and goat pox, brucellosis, enterotoxaemia, blackleg disease, lumpy skin disease, and foot-and-mouth disease.
FAO working with local partners  

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Friday, October 20, 2017

AfDB cultivates savannah Africa in eight countries

The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has said that the savannahs of Africa cover a mind-boggling 600 million hectares, of which 400 million hectares are cultivable, reports NaijaAgroNet.

But just 10% of this is cultivated, a mere 40 million hectares, Adesina said Wednesday, while speaking at a session titled “Transformation of the African Savannah Initiative” at the 2017 World Food Prize-Borlaug Dialogue.

According to the AfDB President, so huge is the potential of African savannahs that the World Bank called the Guinea savanna zone “one of the major underutilised resources in Africa.”

He noted that Africa’s savannahs were better than the savannahs of Brazil, a country notable for turning its savannahs into agricultural wealth, saying Africa’s soils were not acidic and therefore did not need liming which had to be done at massive scales in Brazil.

“The initiative will start by bringing approximately two million hectares of savannah in eight African countries — Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique under the cultivation of maize, soybean, and livestock production in optimum conditions,” he said.

The goal of which, Adesina informed NaijaAgroNet, is to double production in those eight countries.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Urban diets and nutrition: Trends, challenges, and opportunities for policy action


The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition has launched a new brief: Urban diets and nutrition: trends, challenges, and opportunities for policy action, reports NaijaAgroNet.
Just as the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has received the World Food Prize 2017.
The brief looks at the challenge of providing healthy diets in urban environments in low and middle-income countries, presenting eight recommendations directed primarily at policymakers especially those working at the sub-national level.
Attended by Global Panel Members Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank and 2017 World Food Prize laureate; Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa; Tom Arnold, Former Director General, Institute of International and European Affairs; and Emmy Simmons, Senior Adviser, Non-resident, to the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Food Security Project; former Assistant Administrator, US Agency for International Development.

66 per cent of the world’s population is projected to be urban by 2050. The additional 2.5 billion urban residents will live primarily in Africa and Asia. This is leading to a growing crisis of urban malnutrition.

“There is an urgent need for better urban governance around food, nutrition and health”, said Adesina. “Urban populations need improved information on how to live well by eating well.”

The brief gives particular focus to the growing threat of diet-related non-communicable disease. The greater wealth in urban centres, relative to rural areas, does not necessarily lead to healthier diets, with excessive consumption of highly-processed foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients. Emmy Simmons argues that “within complex, diverse urban environments, poor dietary choices could create a further financial burden, with rising levels of overweight or obesity generating increases in the health care costs associated with non-communicable diseases”.

The eight recommendations in the brief call for a wider policy approach which integrates actions from food, agriculture and nutrition into urban planning, education, health, sanitation, water and infrastructure development. It will also require a shift in attitudes towards the informal food sector and the collection of better data on urban diets.

The brief shows how policymakers at the local level need to champion better diets and nutrition, but this requires them to be both mandated and empowered to act. Panel Member Tom Arnold argues that these “public policymakers need to recognise that productivity, quality of life and life expectancy in urban areas will revolve around healthy diets and lifestyles.”

Without decisive action, the Global Panel argues that this urban malnutrition crisis will deepen. This is especially important in many low and middle-income countries where urban dwellers do not consume enough basic calories, lack sufficient micronutrients, or suffer from being overweight or obese with associated diet-related non-communicable diseases, leading to a ‘triple burden of urban malnutrition’. As Dr. Kalibata recently stated, “The growing threat of an urban food crisis can no longer be ignored”.
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Rotary gives $49.5m to help eradicate polio

With just 11 confirmed polio cases so far in 2017, the world is on the brink of eradicating polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year, reports NaijaAgroNet.

To this effect, Rotary International has voted the sum of $49.5m to help eradicate polio and its attendant challenges, arguing that without full funding and political commitment to eradication, the disease could return to countries that are now polio-free and put children everywhere at risk.

Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, Michael K. McGovern, said this donation was in recognition of the historic progress worldwide and will aid the hosting of events in conjunction with Rotary International’s fifth annual World Polio Day celebration on October 24, 2017.

This year, he also said, the event will be co-hosted by Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and held at the foundation’s headquarters in Seattle. The program will feature an update on the global fight to end polio and an array of guest speakers, celebrities, and public health experts. People around the world can view the livestream of the event at this link on October 24 at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time.

“Rotary and its partners are closer than ever to eradicating polio. World Polio Day is the ideal opportunity to celebrate our successes, raise public awareness, and talk about what is needed to end this paralyzing disease for good,” he said.

Rotary, he said, has granted $49.5 million to support immunization and surveillance activities led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Specifically, some of the funds will support efforts to end polio in the three countries where polio remains endemic: Afghanistan ($9.32 million), Pakistan ($8.94 million), and Nigeria ($7.71 million).

NaijaAgroNet said, further funding will support efforts to keep six vulnerable countries polio-free: Chad ($2.37 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($4.5 million), Guinea ($961,000), Somalia ($1.62 million), South Sudan ($3.77 million), and Sudan ($2.56 million). An additional $7.74 million will go toward surveillance activities in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean region.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

AfDB urges leaders to make agriculture attractive for young Africans

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has urged African leaders to make agriculture attractive for the younger generation, reports NaijaAgroNet.

He was speaking on the occasion of the 2017 World Food Day, AfDB president highlighted how Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people to agriculture and agribusiness. The sector can potentially create wealth and employment for African youth, thereby stemming migration.

World Food Day, celebrated yearly on October 16, promotes worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all, which this year’s theme focused on the need to ‘Change the future of migration; Invest in food security and rural development’.

The AfDB’s ENABLE Youth programme, which grooming a crop of young agriculturists, is on course to make this happen.

Mahmud Johnson, 26, is the Founder of J-Palm Liberia which works to improve income for Liberia’s smallholder oil palm farmers by 50-80 per cent. He is also creating additional jobs for over 1,000 young people to work as sales representatives for his products.

“Despite the tremendous odds, we (African youth) are determined to maximize our abundant agricultural resources to create wealth, jobs, and socioeconomic opportunities in our countries and across the continent. We need our stakeholders to view us as serious partners in Africa’s transformation, and to work with us to expand our enterprises,” Mahmud said.

Mahmud and some of his employees have benefited from capacity building programs under the AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth initiative.

Like Mahmud, many African youth are passionate about staying back on the continent to create wealth and employment, if given the tools and opportunities to put their skills to use. Under the ENABLE Youth program, the Bank is working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to develop 10,000 such young agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next 10 years. In 2016, the Bank provided US $700 million to support this program in eight countries and we've got requests now from 33 countries,” said Adesina.

The Bank considers investment in agriculture as key to making Africa youths prosperous, thereby stemming the tide of migration.

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Set up food banks to counter hunger - Guber Aspirant

The governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State, Mr Olawale Rasheed, has called on state governments across the country to set up food banks to cushion the growing hunger in the country, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This was contained in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet on the occasion of #WorldFoodDay, the aspirant lamented that hunger among the populace is widening and poses serious threat to societal stability and democratic sustainability.

"I urge state leaders to set up food banks across local governments to hand out weekly food ration to the poor of the poor and thousands of our food -deprived fellow citizens. The situation is critical especially at the grassroots.

" A food bank operated in conjunction with non-governmental organisations  will go a long way to alleviate the food crisis and provides succor to thousands of our citizens . It does not cost much and it will also serve to boost local economy as food materials will be sourced from local markets" he said.

The media entrepreneur explained further that "many among the citizenry needs help and a critical step is to offer food lifeline to allow the weak to re-plan their lives without hunger as immediate threat.

"Our leaders are widely travelled. Across Europe and elsewhere, food bank is an integral part of the society because their leaders recognise the need to cater for the poor. As Governor of Osun state, food bank will become operational a month after my assumption of office" the former ministerial adviser said.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Zoto pledges support to Benue flood victims

Acclaimed easy way of making payments in Nigeria, Zoto has pledged to support the flood victims in Benue State, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Zoto, a product of Hedonmark Management Services Limited and Nigeria’s mobile payment app under its charity initiative Zoto Smiles has collaborated with Eagles HOPE Foundation , a non-governmental orgaanisation (NGO) to extend financial support and rehabilitation to flood-affected people in Benue State.

Oshone Ikazoboh, Co-Founder, Zoto said that as a startup in Nigeria, Zoto believes that any challenge could be met if one has innovation in DNA. 

“Keeping in spirit with its DNA, Zoto via its initiative Zoto Smiles has announced that they will contribute N10 every time Zoto app is used to recharge or pay bills,” Ikazoboh said.

This, Ikazoboh also said, that by funding the relief efforts of local NGOs, donations to this fund have the potential to build stronger response capacity so that these NGOs are better equipped to face future challenges.

 “It is a difficult time for the flood affected people as more than 110,000 people in 24 communities including Makurdi, the state capital, had been displaced by the floods. With our initiative Zoto Smiles, we've made our donation process a community effort where every person gets chance to contribute towards community building by a simple recharge or bill payments made via Zoto App. We are liasoning with our NGO partner to ensure quick supply of relief material. We offer condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and pray that the situation normalises soon," Ikazoboh said.

Stressing that money is the quickest, most effective contribution most people can make during times of disaster and Zoto believes that people and communities are intrinsically good and generous, as such would want to come forward and help in the rehabilitation of victims of natural disasters, but they are held back due to the lack of proper avenues.

 Uboshe Uboshe/ED, Ops
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Monday, October 16, 2017

Dangote rice targets 1m tonnes in 2018, launches youth graduates farm project @Kogi

A multi-million Naira Youth Farming Initiative that will engage teeming unemployed Nigerian graduates in rice farming has been launched by the Dangote Rice Limited in Kogi State, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as the company says its preparing to hit the market with One million metric tons of Dangote rice in 2018.

A press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet by Francis Awowole-Browne, informed that the Dangote Youth Rice Farm project, mainly an out-grower scheme for youths only was flagged off at the Lower Niger River Basin Authority, Kampe, Ejiba in Yagba West local government area of the state where youth have embarked on rice cultivation over 100 hectares of land.

He quoted Group Executive Director at Dangote, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, as saying that the rice farm project, was preceded by a special training for the youth farmers on the dynamics of the rice farming, will see the youths cultivating the rice paddy on a 100 hectares of land, which will then be bought over by the company for processing.

Under the scheme, he explained that the Dangote Rice Company would provide the seedling, anti-pest-chemicals, and fertilizers while the Basing Authority provided the land for the young farmers.

Mr. Edwin explained that the project is a new dimension to the efforts by the pan-African conglomerate, the Dangote Group, at ensuring food security and creating job opportunities in Nigeria especially for the youths saying this Initiative is in line with the vision and commitment of Dangote Industries Limited to create a new generation of agri-preneur that will revolutionize the Nigerian agricultural sector.

“We believe skill, knowledge, enabling environment, collaboration and linkages along the value chain are driving forces for economic empowerment and social development in line with the Federal Government policies. This project will address the skills gap in local rice production among unemployed youths by providing technical, organisational and financial requirements.”

He said it would also enhance domestic rice production to cover the large gap between demand and domestic production and to increase self-sufficiency of Nigeria and substitute imported rice by quality Nigerian rice brands.

Mr. Edwin disclosed that most modern rice mills in Nigeria presently operate at not more than 20% capacity utilization due mainly to lack of good quality paddy and that Dangote Rice aimed to change this situation developing and adapting out-grower schemes. According to him, the Dangote Rice Company plans to set up a 150,000 metric tons integrated rice mill and sale one million mt of parboiled rice by 2018.

The Dangote Group boss stated that the decision of the management to start the project was driven by two factors, one of which is the need for youth employment through empowerment to go into agriculture. “The youths are more vulnerable to crimes and other social vices when they have nothing to engage them and this in turn affect the nation negatively.

“The second factor is the need to strengthen the on-going efforts at producing rice for self-sufficiency so that we can save foreign exchange. By the time we will be doing one million metric tons of rice next year, no less than three million jobs would been created along the value chain.”

Mr. Edwin said the Kogi pilot project will cover four season of two years and will be launched in four other states soon.

In his own remark, the Managing Director of Dangote Rice, Mr. Robert Coleman urged the youth farmers to concentrate on the project and pay attention to details so that they would come out with good paddy yield.

He congratulated the farmers for the decision to partner with Dangote Rice noting that they have a solid source of livelihood for themselves and members of their families if they give their all for the success of the scheme.

The Coordinator of the youth farmers, Umar Etudaye thanked the management of Dangote Rice for believing in them and engaging them for the project. He promised that they would deliver on the mandate given to them on the project.

He stated that the scheme is a practical step towards nation building because it’s the youths, who constitute 40 per cent of the population, would build the nation and only the youths that are empowered and gainfully employed could do that.

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Northern States Governors, GE partner to boost healthcare

The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) has selected GE Healthcare, a leading global provider of transformational medical technologies and services, as a long-term partner to revitalize healthcare infrastructure in the Northern States, with the signing of a one-of-a-kind strategic partnership agreement at the weekend in Abuja, reports ITRealms.

The framework agreement, ITRealms gathered was designed to bring GE’s global capabilities in improving health system and patient outcomes across the globe, NSFG and GE will explore several areas for collaboration across primary, secondary and tertiary care facilities including: the establishment of new diagnostic medical centres; primary and referral care offerings such as relevant technologies to modernize health clinics; training and skills development for health workers and operations and evaluation support.

ITRealms also gathered that the deal was in line with the 2016 Federal National Health Policy and reflecting NSGF’s mandate to accelerate sustainable healthcare across the nineteen Northern States, the alliance will explore a range of public-private partnership models.

Speaking at the signing, Borno State Governor and Head of NSGF, Governor Kashim Shettima said, “Today, we execute the framework agreement between the Northern States Governors Forum and GE for the transformation of the healthcare sector in northern Nigeria. We are proud to have a partner like GE, a leader in the healthcare space and we look forward to reaping the benefits of this partnership soon. We appreciate GE’s commitment to increasing accessibility and affordability of healthcare in Nigeria”.

Eyong Ebai, General Manager for GE Healthcare in West & Central Africa said, “We are delighted to partner with the Northern States Governors Forum on this landmark agreement that sets the path towards a range of efforts that will contribute towards the attainment of universal healthcare coverage in Northern Nigeria. Over the past five years, GE Healthcare has executed on its localization strategy by building a strong local footprint, capacity building and several initiatives to help healthcare providers in delivering better, more holistic healthcare for the people of Nigeria. We look forward to delivering on the next stage of our growth plans in Nigeria.”

With over 40 years in Nigeria, GE is focused on partnering with public and private health providers to increase access to affordable and quality healthcare. In 2012, GE Healthcare and the Nigerian Ministry of Health signed a 5-year agreement for the government to leverage GE’s technologies, solutions and domain expertise to help upgrade the country’s medical facilities and contribute towards health infrastructure modernization. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, GE remains firmly committed to deepening these collaborations to strengthen Nigeria’s health system.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Energy and New Green Technology Confab'17 berths @...

Energy and New Green Technology Confab'17 berths @...: ITRealms : The Garden City of Port Harcourt is set to host The Energy and New Green Technology Conference with the theme: ‘The Future o...

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IDforGirls: Kaduna launches End Violence against Children campaign

As Nigeria joins countries around the world to celebrate International Day of the Girl, Kaduna State fulfilled its commitment to launch a campaign to end violence against children. Kaduna is now the seventh Nigerian state to have launched such a campaign, following promises made by all states to put in place action plans to end violence against children.

The Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Deputy Governor Barnabas Bala Bantex promised that government policies would be reinforced to improve the quality of life for girls and to protect the rights of children in Kaduna state. "Basic education is free and compulsory, especially for school age girls in Kaduna State," the Deputy Governor noted. "We must continue to work with UNICEF and other development partners to protect children and to end the incidence of any form of violence against children," he added at today’s launch of the campaign in Kaduna. 

“If Nigeria is to realize its commitment to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls by 2030, it needs to redouble its’ efforts to meet the challenges of violence against girls, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and unequal access to education,” noted Pernille Ironside, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria a.i. “These are the fundamental drivers of inequity for girls.”

At the National Centre for Women Development in Abuja this morning, UNICEF and partners, including the Federal Ministry of Education, the Malala Fund, ONE Campaign and DFID, launched a series of activities to mark International Day of the Girl, which will include essay writing competitions and leadership training for girls.

The global theme for the day this year is “Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision 2030,” focusing on “EmPOWER girls: Emergency response and resilience planning.”Global studies indicate that in crisis situations, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence as adults. Health services critical to girls’ wellbeing, including sexual and reproductive health services and information, maternal care, and provisions for menstrual health and hygiene are often scarce or insufficient during periods of conflict.

At the Abuja celebration of International Day of the Girl this morning, UNICEF called for girls to have access to specially-tailored programmes to meet their needs in the humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria, where an estimated 4 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Thousands of girls in northeast Nigeria have been held by Boko Haram, most suffering the trauma of violence, rape and forced ‘marriage.’ Even when they escape or are released from captivity, the stigma associated with such harrowing experiences can be lifelong and girls require specific support to reintegrate into their communities.

UNICEF interventions in education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and child protection in the northeast are designed to be gender-sensitive in order to meet the needs of both girls and boys.

UNICEF also supports the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development in the provision of programmes for girls affected by the insurgency. These include social integration of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, stigma, counselling support and access to education.

“In emergency situations like the one in northeast Nigeria, we must be sure to listen to girls and encourage them to participate in the processes that affect them, including in disaster management, efforts to build resilience, and in peacebuilding and recovery,” said UNICEF’s Pernille Ironside, “Only with girls’ participation will their perspectives and needs be understood and incorporated into the humanitarian response.”

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

'The Future of Everything is here @SDG'

The joint meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will have a special focus on “The Future of Everything—Sustainable Development in the Age of Rapid Technological Change” reports NaijaAgroNet.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also called artificial intelligence “a new frontier” with “advances moving at warp speed.

He pointed out that nowadays, driverless cars, advanced medical diagnosis, 3D printing, artificial intelligence is playing an increasing role in the economy today, and it can fundamentally reshape global and local economies in the years to come. The impacts on communities and societies could be profound.

To place the issue of artificial intelligence on the international agenda, experts from Governments, academia, business and civil society, will gather at UN Headquarters in New York on 11 October, to identify options to harness the potential of rapid technological change and innovation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The life-like robot “Sophia,” he noted has made many public appearances, and will also participate in the event.

“Artificial Intelligence has the potential to accelerate progress towards a dignified life, in peace and prosperity, for all people,” said Mr. Guterres. “The time has arrived for all of us – governments, industry and civil society – to consider how artificial intelligence will affect our future.”

The UN discussion is intended to identify options on how the potential of technological change can be harnessed to achieve sustainable development. The experts, covering a range of areas, will discuss the key trends in technology and innovation in recent years, and how they have had differential impacts on people and prosperity.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Trafficking: UNICEF facilitates release of 527 chi...

Trafficking: UNICEF facilitates release of 527 chi...: ITRealms : The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has facilitated the release of 752 persons including 527 children, reports ITRealm...

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Respite for millions of children in West Africa

Respite may have come the way of millions of children in West Africa, as all member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed to a range of concrete measures to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation, reports NaijaAgroNet.

 Arising from the ECOWAS First Ladies’ Forum in Niamey, which ended Thursday, October 5, 2017, Ministers responsible for the care and protection of children across the 15 Member States adopted on 4 October the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems to Prevent and Respond to Violence, Abuse and Exploitation against Children in West Africa.

In doing so they are committing to concrete measures to protect children from the most damaging forms of abuse, by focusing on five priority areas: sexual, physical and emotional violence against children, including female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C); child marriage; child labour; civil registration and vital statistics; and children on the move.

Led by the ECOWAS Commission, the Strategic Framework was developed in collaboration with a Regional Child Protection Working Group comprised of United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organizations and networks.

Almost 9 out of 10 children in West Africa experience violent discipline. While child marriage exists throughout the continent, it is especially prevalent in West Africa, which hosts six out of the ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world: about four in ten young women in West Africa were married off as children. Less than one in two children in West Africa have a birth certificate, which is their basic right to an identity. In addition, the region is the theatre of complex migration routes where children are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

“The Ministerial adoption marks a major step forward for the protection of children in our region”, said ECOWAS’ Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, whose organization convened the gathering of experts and ministers from the 15 Member States. “We stand together more strongly than ever to ensure children are safe and protected. With the right framework, the right actions, the right resources and the right positive changes in attitudes and practices, we can ensure they have an opportunity to fully contribute to our societies.”

Strong child protection systems can ensure that no child falls between the cracks. They provide the surest safeguards against child abuse, neglect, exploitation and other forms of violence through a concerted effort between formal and informal actors. The adoption of the Child Protection Framework provides a joint platform for action on the protection priorities for children. As programmes for children are strengthened at national and community level, Ministerial commitments made during this week’s meeting will be submitted for approval at the next ECOWAS Heads of State meeting in December 2017.

“In West Africa, urgent action is needed to address the acute vulnerabilities of children”, said Andy Brooks, the Chair of the Regional Child Protection Working Group. “We count on the commitment shown by the Ministers being echoed and supported by the Heads of States and the First Ladies’ network in West Africa. We will continue to support States to strengthen services on the ground and the ECOWAS Commission in tracking accountabilities to commitments made here today.”

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

1.3bn tonnes of food produce wasted

Globally, one-third of all food produce for human consumption estimated at 1.3 billion tonnes is lost or wasted, annually, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This disclosure was made by the officials of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and which has caused massive financial losses while squandering natural resources.

In Europe alone, according to European Union (EU) Commission, about 88 million tonnes of food are wasted each year, with associated costs estimated at €143 billion.

FAO also said, the increased use and abuse of Anti-Medicines in both human and animal healthcare has contributed to an increase in the number of disease-causing microbes that are resistant to antimicrobial medicines used to treat them, like antibiotics.

This makes AMR a growing threat that could lead to as many as 10 million deaths a year and over $100 million in losses to the global economy by 2050, according to some studies. And in addition to public health risks, AMR has implications for food safety as walls as the economic wellbeing of millions of farming households across the globe.

For this, FAO and EU are synchronizing efforts to quantify food losses and waste at each state of the food chain.

To enhance the exchange of information and evidence related to antimicrobial use in food production as well as AMR management best practices, paved the way for the recent agreement signed between the two.

For them, joint advocacy and education efforts to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials and improve farm-level hygiene to reduce the need for their use in the first place

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