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Thursday, September 27, 2018

AfDB, partners to lift 1 billion people out of hunger globally - NaijaAgroNet

The African Development Bank called on global partners to join hands to lift one billion people worldwide out of hunger and said it was leading the way by investing US$24 billion in African agriculture over the next 10 years in the largest such effort ever, reports NaijaAgroNet.

“We are not winning the war against global hunger,” Bank President Akinwumi Adesina told an agriculture conference at Purdue University in Indianapolis on Tuesday, 25 September.

“We must not get carried away,” he added, referring to statistics showing a decline in the global population living on less than two dollars per day. In reality, the number of hungry people in the world had increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, he said citing the latest World Food Security and Nutrition data.

Adesina told the audience that included researchers, implementing organizations, business leaders, policymakers and donors that simple technical and scientific methods were already making a whole difference to farm yields and income in Africa. While such technologies to deliver Africa’s green revolution exist, they are mostly just sitting on the shelves, he said.

“The release of water efficient maize varieties now allows farmers to harvest good yields in the face of moderate drought,” he noted. “Today, rice varieties exist that can give yields of 8 tonnes per ha. Cassava varieties exist with yields of up to 80 tonnes per ha. Heat tolerant and disease resistant livestock and technologies for ramping up aquaculture exist.”

Bank experts put current comparative yields at 1.5-2 tonnes per ha for rice and 10-15 tonnes per ha for cassava.

What was needed urgently was deployment of supportive policies to ensure technologies are cascaded down to millions of farmers. “All Africa needs to do is to harness the available technologies with the right policies and rapidly raise agricultural productivity and incomes for farmers and assure lower food prices for consumers.”

The Bank has launched its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a $1 billion initiative to extend the use of farm technologies. TAAT is currently engaging seed companies, public and private entities, and financial institutions in 27 countries to make technology available to a total of 40 million African farmers.

Combining targeted subsidies for farmers with a market-based system for rapidly expanding access to financing for farmers and agricultural value chains is the fastest way to get many people out of poverty to a sustained pathway for economic growth, Adesina added.

The conference on “ Scaling Up Agricultural Technologies for Transformation” ( marked Adesina’s fond return to his alma mater.

“It was here, as a graduate student, that I began the journey of searching for ways to get technologies into the hands of millions of farmers,” he said. Adesina was to go on to make a huge impact on the transformation of agriculture in Africa, including implementing game-changing policies in his years as Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development before taking up his post at the Bank in September 2015.

Adesina said the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa needed particularly urgent intervention due to the ravages of climate change. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that Africa will add 38 million to its number of hungry people by 2050 as a result of climate change.  The Institute forecasts that Africa will experience major food shortages by 2020 and beyond, while malnutrition will be on the rise over the next 20 years.

The Bank’s ongoing initiatives had the objectives of growing income for farmers, stabilizing prices for staple crops, reducing losses and stimulating multiplier effects in local economies.  With its Staple Crop Processing Zones and other initiatives, the Bank is demonstrating how this can be done.

“The African Development Bank put feeding Africa as one of its topmost priorities when it launched its Feed Africa strategy ( in 2015 and is investing $ 24 billion in agriculture for Africa over 10 years – the largest ever such effort,” the Bank President said. Across Africa, the Feed Africa Strategy ( is supporting the development of policies, markets, infrastructure and institutions that will ensure that agricultural value chains are well developed and that technologies reach several millions of farmers.

 Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

World Contraception Day ’18: Pathfinder laments CPR uptake in Nigeria, says its lowly 10% - NaijaAgroNet

The Country Director, Pathfinder International, Dr. Farouk Jega, has said that despite Nigeria’s investment in Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) for modern methods it's still a lowly 10 per cent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

In his address to Nigerians on this year’s World’s Contraception Day (WCD), he noted that its happening against the backdrop of the latest edition of Goalkeepers, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation annual publication meant to track progress towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

He quoted the publication as drawing attention to the stark reality that unless something is done urgently, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be house to 40 per cent of the world’s poorest people by 2050.

“Despite the significant investments made in the last decade or so, Nigeria’s contraceptive prevalence rate for modern methods is still a lowly 10 per cent,” he declared.

As said by him with a population nearing 200 million, about a quarter of who are young people, Nigeria has a good opportunity of harnessing the so-called demographic dividend by turning the ‘youth bulge’ into a productive segment contributing meaningfully to economic growth and development.

But this demographic dividend can only be achieved if the necessary investments are made in the young population - investments in their education, skills development and health care, including access to full and voluntary family planning.

The National Youth Policy is long overdue for revision to address the reproductive health needs of adolescents and young people in the country. 

Empowering our youthful population is an urgent necessity; failure to make the necessary investments in this restless segment of the population portends serious consequences, some of which may have already started manifesting in increased levels of insecurity and violent crimes across the country.

Improving access to and quality of family planning services, he said, has long been recognized as one of the most cost-effective interventions to address both maternal and child mortality. 

Nigeria recently committed to significantly increase funding for contraceptive commodities at the London FP2020 Summit. Despite this commitment, funding gaps still exist as most states in the country have yet to prioritize family planning, and few have made budgetary provisions for this important service. Stock outs of key commodities are beginning to resurface in many health centers, further compounding an unmet need of women for contraceptive services, which is currently at 21 per cent.
Chuks Egbune/ED, Ops

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NAIF to raise finance for high-impact nutrition businesses in Africa - NaijaAgroNet

Over 200 delegates, including dealmakers, entrepreneurs and investors will meet at the Nutrition Africa Investor Forum (NAIF) on October 16-17 – World Food Day -- in Nairobi, Kenya, to explore partnerships, access business finance and enter new markets, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Over these two days, selected Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from across Africa will have opportunities to participate in the first ever Scaling Up Nutrition Pitch Competition as well as The Nutrition Dealroom to meet venture capitalists and business financiers to improve their access to finance.

NAIF is a first-of-a-kind event, hosted by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in partnership with Royal DSM, the SUN Business Network (SBN) and African Business magazine, that aims to position nutrition as a promising new investment area. The event will bring together leaders from commerce, agri-food, development agencies, academia along with investors to share their experiences, present research results, explore collaborations and spark new ideas – all with the aim of developing new projects and attracting investment for high-impact nutrition businesses.

Malnutrition affects millions of children across the world. Africa alone has estimated that 58.7 million children under the age of five are stunted - having a low height for a given age - and 13.8 million who are wasting - low weight for a certain height. There is no doubt that stunted children today will lead to stunted economies tomorrow. In fact, African nations lose between 1.9% and 16% of the gross domestic product (GDP) annually to undernutrition due to increased mortality, absenteeism, chronic illnesses, and lost productivity. Governments alone cannot address this issue. Private sector investment is key to tackle this challenge. In fact, the nutrition sector offers tremendous opportunities to businesses.

There is a central role for business in tackling malnutrition in Africa, explains Fokko Wientjes, vice president of nutrition in emerging markets and public-private partnerships at Royal DSM.

“As scaling up nutrition action delivers at least $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent, nutrition-sensitive capital investments along the entire food value chain are likely to represent a tremendous purpose-driven investment opportunity. We will fundamentally integrate SDG 1 (poverty reduction) with SDG 2 (hunger & nutrition) by producing locally; Africa nourishes Africa.”

Africa’s demographic dividend is also an opportunity, Mr. Wientjes reveals, “There are more than 1 billion people in the current African consumer market. This is expected to increase to more than 2 billion by 2050. With 226 million people aged between 15 and 25 years, the continent also has the youngest population in the world. This represents enormous potential: a young, growing African consumer market that is more health-conscious, favouring nutritious and healthy foods. Emerging markets are the fastest urbanizing countries in the world. They are moving away from subsistence and smallholder farming and with that separating the producer from the consumer.”

In fact, SMEs, along with smallholder farmers, make up the bulk of the actors in the food system in developing and emerging markets. They play a key role as input suppliers, off-takers, processors, and distributors, which furthermore creates jobs and enhances regional economic growth.

Yet, barriers to accessing finance mean that agri-food SMEs are not achieving their full potential in developing and scaling up market-based solutions that can improve the consumption of safe and nutritious foods.

“We have a great opportunity to close that gap,” explains Dr. Lawrence Haddad, GAIN’s Executive Director, “by creating a sustainable food value chain and working through local agrifood industry SMEs, to ensure that nutritious foods are more accessible, affordable, and aspirational. 

To help this cause, GAIN has recently launched a Nutritious Foods Financing Program (, which aims to build and maintain an investable pipeline of opportunities among agrifood SMEs, linking this to investors, leveraging blended finance options to help de-risk private investments, and providing technical assistance to investees”.

The Forum will also be host to two engagement channels to facilitate partnerships between high-impact nutrition businesses and venture capitalists and financers:
The Nutrition Dealroom will bring investors face-to-face with established small and medium growing businesses. This transaction and deal-making platform will showcase Africa’s fastest-growing enterprises working to improve nutrition in a sustainable and scalable way and aims to achieve tangible results by matching a curated portfolio of investment-ready companies with private sector investors.

The first Africa edition of the Scaling Up Nutrition Pitch Competition, will be launched. Organised by the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN), an initiative of GAIN and the UN World Food Program (WFP), plus local partners, the competition aims to showcase investment opportunities presented by SMEs working to improve access to nutritious food. Out of more than 450 outstanding entries, 21 SMEs have been shortlisted from national pitch competitions in Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. 

Each entrepreneur will pitch their innovative nutritional investment opportunities to a panel of influential judges. The judges will select the overall winner who will be awarded with the title of SBN Nutrition Champion, which includes a travel and technical assistance prize. In addition, other top performing finalists stand a chance to win cash and technical assistance awards generously contributed by partners.

“Through years of experience working with African partners and governments, I am convinced that if we grow and support high impact businesses in food systems in Africa, we will be able to make inroads to reducing malnutrition,” concludes Dr. Haddad, “The potential is huge if we can get the investment recipe right”.
Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Night marauders and masquerades in Awba-Ofemili - NaijaAgroNet

It has become pertinent for all well-meaning indigenes and people to condemn in totality the attitude of night marauders in the name of masquerades, of any kind in Awba-Ofemili.

Awba-Ofemili, is a quiet farming boundary-town reputed for fishery and mass-rice production in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The earlier we join hands to redefine their existence the better for us all and future of Awba-Ofemili as a town worthy of development.

Attacking people in their homes was never the idea but due to changing times and abuse, it's high time we redefine this kind of night masquerade culture if we are not going to have deaths in our hands.

In some climes in Igbo land such night masquerades take effect from midnight till about 4am and are restricted to the major roads, even in some parts of Lagos.

Nowadays what we hear and see is the opposite and attack on people at homes, which if put mildly is robbery attempts. The other time it was key to orchestrated attack in and on the churches where they were holding Virgil with shooting of guns in the name of what? Culture or night masquerade?

I have been thinking since learning of recent attack in Awba-Ofemili by a night marauder who disguised as a night masquerade, what is the value proposition to our corporate existence as a town wishing to develop much better than we currently foresee.

Now that electricity has come, our hope and prayer is that more jobs including artisans from other towns and even professionals like Dr and Nurses etc will reside in Awba-Ofemili, so we have got to wake up proactively to ensure such undue attacks at home does not repeat.

Therefore, I urge the President General (PG) of Awba-Ofemili Development Union (ADU), @Hon. Iyke Oforkansi, to liaise with the town’s leadership, @Ezekwesili Maduagwuna, the Igwe-in-Council for us to redefine this among other hindering cultures for the betterment of Awba-Ofemili.

Cultures are meant for man not the other way round.

Awba-Ofemili Makanu!!!

*Remmy Nweke, Chairman, ADU Lagos

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Pix: Igwe Ofemili 1 of Awba-Ofemili, HRH Ezekwesili Maduagwuna

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How long are we going to need that city, asks Luke - NaijaAgroNet

In Aurecon’s latest Just Imagine blog post, Luke Beirne argues that that as technology advances and the nature of workplaces and jobs radically change, and fewer jobs require a physical presence, the need for people to continue flocking to cities could diminish. 

Counter-urbanisation might just be the way for both developed and developing countries to create sustainable solutions that take the pressure off cities, while also improving the lives of their citizens.

At an altitude of 4 830 metres on the Everest Base Camp Trek, guess what you can find? WiFi access. Which means you can work, Facetime your loved ones, or Instagram your Everest selfies. By dispensing with the need for a physical presence, technology has made it possible to communicate, share and work remotely in some of the most isolated locations on Earth.

For centuries, people have gravitated towards the bright lights and busy streets of cities to make their mark on the world. But what if the skylines of London, New York, Tokyo, Sydney and Johannesburg made way for the open landscapes, quiet streets and chirping birds found in the rural towns of their countries?

As technology advances and the nature of workplaces and jobs radically change, and fewer jobs require a physical presence, the need for people to continue flocking to cities could diminish. Could we see the start of counter-urbanisation with the world’s population increasingly living rurally instead of in cities? Could this be the answer to the monumental task faced by cities under enormous pressure from population growth, urbanisation and climate change?


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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Herders, cattle rustling killings reduced - FG - NaijaAgroNet

The Federal Government (FG) has drastically reduced killings associated to herders attacks, cattle rustling, trans-border crimes, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, revealed this at a special town hall meeting on measures by he Federal Government to curb killings in Gusau, Zamfara State on Monday.
He also said these achievements were  as a result of concerted and committed actions by the government.

Mohammed highlighted some measures taken to curtail the herders  attacks, cattle rustling and other acts of banditry to include deployment of a Joint Military Intervention Force (JMIF), comprising Regular and Special Forces personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy, and working in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).

In addition, he said, FG established the Army’s 2 Battalion Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Kanfanin Doka Village, Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna well as established a new Area Command and two additional  Divisional Police Headquarters in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Further, he said, FG established Nigerian Air Force of Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, and deployment of Special Forces to these Quick Response Wings.

He equally said that the inauguration by the Nigeria Police Force of a new Mobile Squadron in Takum, Taraba State, and Operation 'Whirl Stroke', operating in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states, were to tackle the menace of armed herdsmen, cattle rustlers, communal militias, kidnappers and other bandits.

“I have no doubt that the good people of Zamfara can testify to the drastic reduction in the activities of cattle rustlers and other bandits in the state since the Federal Government assembled a 1000-strong military force, comprising the army, air force, police and the civil defence, to launch fierce attacks on the bandits terrorizing the villages and towns of Zamfara State. The situation will continue to improve until the violence has stopped,” he said.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

NEMA says flood alert is alarming, urgent – NaijaAgroNet

The Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Mustapha Maihaja, has described the current flood alert in the country as alarming and urgent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking at the joint emergency meeting called by NEMA and National Hydrological Services Agencies (NHISA) in Abuja, Maihaja warned that over 12 states across the country would soon experience flooding due to torrential rain falls and described the development as disturbing.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that the meeting also reviewed the situation with a view to classifying the possible dangers, assess preparedness at individual and collective levels.

Maihaja said that this was to ensure that every relevant agency was ready for any eventuality, if the water level keeps increasing.

“This is a serious meeting; we must put heads together to first classify the situation, whether it is still yellow or red. If it is red, surely we should act and part of the acting is the suggestion to set up a committee of five groups of three personnel from various sector to visit the frontline states.

“It is for them to meet with the officials, go down to the villages that are really critically under threat and use all avenues to enlighten them. To invigorate our enlightenment campaign electronically and physically to ensure that everybody is well informed as required by the law.

“Secondly, we access our preparedness, informing our stakeholders so that wherever there is any equipment that is required, it is ready for deployment, should anything happens,” Maihaja said.

Further, he called on state governments to provide alternative accommodation for those in the flood-affected areas so that they do not camp in schools, especially as the schools would soon be open.

Other stakeholders at the meeting comprised representatives from the Defence Headquarters, Federal Fire Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), relevant UN agencies and other international organisations.

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Floodprone: NIHSA says Anambra, Rivers, Bayelsa 10 other states on watchlist - NaijaAgroNet

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has listed Anambra, Rivers, Bayelsa and 10 others states as floodprone and warned residents to be watchful, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Other states on the watch list as gathered by NaijaAgroNet include Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa.

Disclosing this, the Director, Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Engr. Clement Nze, informed NaijaAgroNet at the weekend, that the riparian states and communities by the banks of Rivers Niger and Benue and their floodplains, due to systematic daily rise in the water levels on both rivers Niger and Benue, ought to be watchful.

 “Records from our measuring stations in Lokoja (River Niger) and Makurdi (River Benue) clearly show this,” he declared.

This situation, he also said, calls for watchfulness on the part of the riparian states as there is still likelihood of occurrence of river flooding, noting that Shiroro Dam has already joined Kainji and Jebba Dams in spilling water, which has contributed to the steady rise in the water level.

As at Thursday, 6th September 2018, NIHSA’s hydrological measuring station downstream the confluence in Lokoja recorded a stage height of 9.89 meters and a discharge value of 21,326 cubic metres/second as against lower values of 9.43 meters and 19,762 cubic metres/second recorded on the corresponding date of 6th September 2012.

“From the foregoing, it could be said that all the indices that caused the 2012 river flooding have manifested, Except Spillage of Water from the Lagdo Dam. For the records, it was on 29th September 2012 that the maximum flood level of 12.840 meters and the corresponding discharge of 31,692 cubic metres/second were recorded at our station in Lokoja, downstream the confluence in 2012,” Eze pointed out.

Additionally, he said that by NiMet’s 2018 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) released earlier in the year, 28th September is the earliest cessation date of rainfall in Sokoto and Katsina, while December is the earliest cessation date for the southern coastal cities.

The implication of this, Nze explained, is that the Northern part of the country should be expecting more rains in the next three (3) weeks. High flows are still being expected from the upper catchment of the Niger Basin. The River Benue is equally rising, though the level of water as at today has not attained the level witnessed at this time in 2012. This rise in water level should not be attributed to any release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. 

The Dam, he said, is still impounding water in the reservoir. The localized urban flooding incidents being witnessed in some cities and communities in the country are expected to continue due to high rainfall intensity of shorter duration, rainstorms, blockage of drainage system and poor urban planning, as well as coastal flooding resulting from sea rise and storm surges. States and Local Governments should endeavour to remove structures built within the floodplains, clear blocked drainages, culverts and other waterways.

In the light of the above, the following states that are contiguous to Rivers Niger and Benue should be on alert in the event of river flooding.

Ozo Nweke Ozo/GEE

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Expert advises on protecting rice plants by exploiting natural defences - NaijaAgroNet

An analysis of the chemical signals sent out by rice plants under attack by the brown planthopper could help in natural control of this insect pest.

Researchers in Indonesia have deciphered the chemical cues used by rice to attract a parasitoid that helps fight off the plant’s predator. The researchers created a system to imitate these cues, which could help investigate similar interactions in other crops and possible sources of non-toxic pest control.
Rice is a staple food, relied upon by half the global population. The brown planthopper is one of rice’s most destructive pests, causing damage by wounding the stem of the plants to lay the eggs for the next attack and by transmitting viruses that attack the plant.
Researchers from Universitas Negeri Malang and the Indonesian Sweetener and Fibre Crops Research Institute led by Dr. Surjani Wonorahardjo, Chemistry Department, Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Universitas Negeri Malang, Indonesia, wanted to see if they could target the brown planthopper without using pesticides known to harm the environment. To do this, they investigated the so-called ‘tritrophic interaction’ between rice, the brown planthopper and the parasitoids that prey on the brown planthopper’s eggs.
They extracted samples from rice infected by the brown planthopper and analysed their chemical makeup. They then compared this to what they found in samples taken from healthy rice, identifying the chemical differences between healthy and infested rice.
They created a porous material from rice husk and soaked different pieces in chemicals extracted from either healthy or infected rice. In laboratory tests, the parasites were more attracted to the material infused with the infested sample. They also attached infused materials to posts and placed them outside in a rice field. Again, they found more parasitoids on the infected sample, but the researchers observed that the effect wore off over five days, so the samples effectively had an expiration date.
results, published in the Pertanika Journal of Science and Technology, could guide further trials to see if applying the chemical cue could actually reduce the pest’s destruction of rice paddies; and if so, to what degree. The use of analytical chemistry offers insights into the mechanisms underlying these interactions and detect small changes taking place in great detail. 

They note that their technique exploring the interaction between plant, pest and the pest’s own predator on a chemical level requires further refinement, but could eventually be applied to other agricultural crops and potentially reduce the use of harmful pesticides.
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Pix: Dr. Surjani Wonorahardjo, Chemistry Department, Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Universitas Negeri Malang, Indonesia.

150 high-level guests for sheep, goat plague confab - NaijaAgroNet

Over 150 participants, including ministers and other high-level officials from countries affected and at-risk of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) also (also known as sheep and goat plague) as well as international organizations, veterinarians and private sector representatives are gathering at the Global Conference organized in Brussels, reports NaijaAgroNet.
The global conference, NaijaAgroNet gathered is being hosted by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal health (OIE).
Conference participants are expected to reaffirm a global commitment to eradicate the disease by 2030.
In the past two decades, PPR has spread rapidly, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The disease causes more than $2 billion in losses each year and threatens the food and nutritional security of millions of vulnerable households who raise sheep and goats in the affected regions. Sheep and goats are critical assets for poor rural households, providing protein, milk, fertilizer, wool and fiber, as well as often representing essential social capital and access to financial credit.

The Conference, which is titled “Partnering and investing for a Peste des petits ruminants-free world” will be a two-day event, beginning on 6 September with a Stakeholders Forum which will focus on technical issues and challenges related to national disease eradication policies.
Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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