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Friday, November 15, 2019

CS-SUNN decorates Lagos first lady as 'Nutrition Champion' - NaijaAgroNet

The Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has decorated the Lagos First Lady and Wife of Executive Governor of the State, Dr. Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu with recognition as the state’s ‘Nutrition Champion,’ reports NaijaAgroNet.

Leading the CS-SUNN’s delegate on the advocacy visit, the Executive Secretary, Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka said the recognition is evidenced on the Lagos First Lady’s firm commitment to the wellbeing of women and children, displayed in several capacities, even as a medical practitioner.

Eluaka urged Mrs. Sanwo-Olu to support the full implementation of the State Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition (2019-2023) designed to reduce malnutrition.

According to her, the plan covers six core areas namely, “Food and Nutrition Security, Enhancing Caregiving Capacity, Enhancing the Provision of Quality Health Services, Improving Capacity to Address Food and Nutrition Insecurity, Raising Awareness and Understanding of the Problem of Malnutrition in Nigeria and Resource Allocation for Food and Nutrition Security at all levels.”

The CS-SUNN Executive Secretary tasked Mrs Sanwo-Olu to push for improved supply and demand for Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition interventions/services in the state by facilitating the approval and funding of the Lagos State Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition (2019 -2023) by the State Executive Council. She also urged the Lagos First Lady to contribute towards ensuring adequate budgetary allocation and timely release of funds for maternal nutrition and Infant & Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices and interventions, at the state and local government levels.

In her response, the Lagos First Lady, Dr. Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu commended CS-SUNN for making lots of progress in ensuring that the state government develops her state-specific plan and pledged her support for its funding and implementation. “There will be some cash-backings. I will tell the Governor about this plan to be approved as it will help the nutritional status of the people because the governor is concerned. There are also other people in the Council who are interested in the nutritional status of the people especially women even during pregnancy. They will also play a role,” she said.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Solar capacity soars @LAC

The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, could grow their installed solar capacity by a factor of 40 by 2050, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows, reports NaijaAgroNet

Annual investments exceeding seven billion would see the region's solar PV capacity rise from 7 gigawatts (GW) today, to more than 280 GW by mid-century. While solar energy remains the highest in Asia, North America and Europe, market growth is set to shift to other regions in the world.

By that time, solar PV would represent the second-largest power source behind wind, generating a quarter of the world’s power, “Future of Solar Photovoltaic” launched today at “Sun World 2019” in Lima finds. In total, global solar power capacity would rise from 480 GW in 2018 to over 8000 GW by 2050, growing by nearly 9 per cent every year.

“Solar PV and other renewables sources represent the most effective and ready solution for addressing growing energy demand and limiting carbon emission at the same time,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “Renewables are practical, affordable and climate-safe. They are key to sustainable development, enabling energy access, spurring economic growth, creating employment and improving health. Particularly solar energy is set to become one of the most prominent power sources in 2050. Projected growth rates in markets like Latin America showcase that we can extend the energy transition to all countries. It’s possible.”

If accompanied by sound policies, the transformation driven by renewables such as solar can bring substantial socioeconomic benefits, IRENA’s new report finds. The global solar industry has the potential to employ over 18 million people by 2050, four times more than the 4.4 million jobs today.

Over the last decade, installed capacity of off-grid solar PV has grown more than tenfold, from roughly 0.25 GW in 2008 to almost 3 GW in 2018 around the world. With its modular and flexible nature, solar PV technology can be adapted to a wide range of off-grid applications and to local conditions. Indeed, off-grid solar PV is a key technology for achieving universal electricity access, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Similarly, the deployment of rooftop solar PV systems has increased extensively, which today makes solar PV in some markets more attractive than buying electricity from the grid. The competitiveness of distributed solar power is clearly raising deployment in large markets, including Brazil, China, Germany and Mexico.

Isaac, Oyimah/Editor

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ghana plans ban on rice importation by 2022 - NaijaAgroNet

The Republic of Ghana has set a three-year target for the country to put a stop to rice importation, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This was disclosed by the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Nyarko Osei.

Osei said Ghana was working round the clock to stop the importation of rice into the county based on recent projections.

The Deputy Minister revealed this in an interview with Kwame Tutu on “Anopa Nkomo” on Accra-based Kingdom FM 107.7.

Osei, whose position was published on the website of Kingdom FM 107.7, said: “We import billion dollars of rice into the country, but the Agric Ministry, led by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, is determined that by the end of 2022 we will stop importing rice from other countries based on our projections.

“The two crops we are focusing on are rice and soya; soya because of the poultry industry and rice because of import substitution.”

It will be recalled that Ghana recently put pressure on Nigeria to open its borders for goods from other countries.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria had ordered the closure of Nigeria’s borders to stem the importation of goods with local substitutes, especially rice.

Reports had it that the Republic of Benin, which does not consume parboiled rice, is the perhaps the largest importer of the rice type through its ports.

The border closure came after years of ban by the Central Bank of Nigeria of access to foreign exchange by importers of 43 prohibited products.

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, retired Colonel Hameed Ali, said within one week of the closure of Nigeria’s borders, over 500,000 bags of locally manufactured rice that had been lying in warehouses of the producers were sold.

According to available information, rice constitutes 82 per cent Ghana’s import, accounting for $1 billion.

The amount was at almost 2 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product, according to Ghana’s Deputy Trades Minister, Robert Ahomka Lindsay.

Osei told Kingdom FM 107.7 further: “Changing the structure of our economy through diversification and value addition will not happen overnight.

“It remains a major pre-occupation of the government because it is our pathway to reduce dependency, expand the economy, create jobs, increase exports, reduce imports and support the value of our currency.”

It would be recalled that Afriyie-Akoto had told the West African nation of plans to cut food importation through a flagship programme: Planting for Food and Jobs.

The programme is expected to provide farmers fertilizers at low rates to help boost local yield.

The subsidised rate, which is 50 per cent, is catered for by the Government as an incentive to smallholder farmers.

So far, farmers who used to produce three bags of rice per acre in the past, now produce 10 bags.

The ripple effect has led to the creation of more jobs as the need for hired hands in the harvesting and processing of farm produce has spiked.

Jobs created as at 2017 stood at 745,000, which is now improving to 900,000, according to the Minister of Agriculture.

In addition to this, a spinoff of the programme, tagged: “Rearing for food and jobs,” is set to begin.

Isaac John/Editor


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Monday, October 28, 2019

Oil landlords not criminals in Imo says Irona - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
Imo State Government has said that oil landlords are not criminals as have been wrongly allude in some quarters, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Deputy Governor of Imo State, Engr. Gerald Irona who gave this clarification said, people of the two Oil Producing Local Government Areas of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta in the state are not criminals.

The Deputy Governor made the clarification in a welcome address he delivered during the first Security Summit of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas, held at Oguta Civic Center, Oguta, weekend.

He blamed the impression of criminality about people of the area on the activities of a few, whom he accused of giving people of the area a bad name.

Engr. Irona described the summit as aimed at addressing security challenges in the two oil producing Local Government areas of the state.

“This summit is aimed at addressing security challenges in the two oil producing Local Government Areas of Imo State. It is expected that the meeting will identify the causes of insecurity in the area and proffer possible solutions. Today, we shall agree on how best to protect our people.”

“The present Government of Imo State identified some flashpoints. Principal among the flashpoints are Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas. Co-incidentally, that is where we have the oil facilities and installations in Imo State.”

“Stakeholders therefore appealed to His Excellency, the Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, to approve the re-jigging of the security architecture of the area. His Excellency graciously approved this summit, with a view to creating a forum for the discussion of the worrying security issues in the area and this is why we are here today. Efforts are being made to ensure a sustainable offensive against every form of criminality in the state. This Summit is one of such efforts.”

“Again, the provision /donation of vehicles to Law Enforcement Agencies by ISOPADEC to aid their operations is part of the ongoing efforts towards strengthening the security of the area.”

“The truth is that we are not criminals. A few bad eggs are making our area notorious. We shall not allow them to tarnish our collective image. No one shall make us live in fear in our ancestral homes. No one will frighten and threaten us at will again. That era is gone.”

Continuing, the Deputy Governor identified forms of criminal activities in the area to include cultism, kidnapping, oil bunkering, banditry, rape, armed robbery and proliferation of arms.

He expressed appreciation to the Governor of Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha for what he described as his show of love for people of the area, describing him as a promise-keeper.

Meanwhile, as part of its support to the security of lives and property, the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission -ISOPADEC weekend, donated Six Hilux branded vehicles to Law Enforcement Agencies in the state.

Commissioning the vehicles during the first Security Summit of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta, Governor of Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha reiterated the commitment of his administration to the security of lives and property in the state.

He commended the ISOPADEC management for what he described as their people-oriented programmes, urging them to do more to better the lives of the people.

Highlights of the Summit were: paper presentations by the Service Chiefs in the state, including the Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Ladodo, Brigade Commander, 34 Field Artillary Brigade, Obinze, Brigadier General Ibrahim Yusuf, Imo State Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Raji Ibrahim, Director, State Security Services, Iquo Arthur-Worrey and Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nse Inam.

Earlier in their remarks, Chairman of the occasion, General Kalu Egwuagu and Special Adviser on Security to the Governor of Imo State, Raymond Nkemdirim described security as essential to development, even as they urged law enforcement personnel deployed to the area to be professional in the discharge of their duties.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Nigeria’s solid minerals can kick-start boom in mining industry - NaijaAgroNet

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, has declared that Nigeria has sufficient mineral resources to kick-start a boom in the mining industry, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Making this disclosure at the weekend during the opening ceremony of the recently held Fourth Edition of the Nigeria Mining Week in Oyo, Adegbite said also that this is achievable with the right investments and the right atmosphere.

“The documented stock of minerals that could be found in Nigeria is sufficient to kick-start a boom in the mining industry in Nigeria, with the right investments and the right atmosphere,” he said.

To address this, he said the Federal Government intends to partner with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the industry to deepen the reforms to foster a conducive ecosystem for private sector investment.

The event, which brought together key players, policy makers and investors in the mining industry as well as finance experts from about 20 countries and the governors of Kebbi and Nasarawa States. 


Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Friday, October 25, 2019

We all have mouths! Relationship between breast cancer and oral hygiene - NaijaAgroNet

Commentary@NaijaAgroNet: 
Comedy is now a multi-billion naira industry in Nigeria. A new couple could pay a comedian one million naira to perform at their wedding, but argue furiously against paying a surgeon one hundred thousand naira to perform a caesarian section to save two lives. Comedy is also the cheapest possible start-up, because the mouth is the sole physical investment of the trade. Thus a popular comedian rejoices in the name of Basket mouth. Another is called Elenu, meaning ‘mouth owner’ in the Yoruba / Anago language. But although we are not all comedians, we are all elenus – we all have mouths and our mouths are far more important for our overall health than we may realize.

October is dedicated to advocacy and creating awareness on Breast Cancer, the most common cancer in women globally (including Nigeria). Breast cancer also occurs in men, but it is 100 times more common in women. However, because most people are not aware that breast cancer can occur in men, the disease tends to be picked up much later and is often more fatal in men than in women.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), over 18 million people develop cancer yearly with 9.6 million deaths. Unfortunately, 70% of cancer deaths occur in developing countries like Nigeria, due to late detection. Latest WHO data shows that globally, there were over 2 million new cases of breast cancer and over 600,000 deaths from the disease in 2018. Every day, Nigeria records 32 deaths from breast cancer.

As we mark the October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is necessary to look at an aspect of the disease of which most people are unaware – the relationship between breast cancer and oral hygiene.

The better known risk factors for breast cancer include: female gender, increasing age, family history of breast cancer, early onset of menses, late menopause, ethnicity and alcohol/tobacco use.

However, scientific research has recently demonstrated a link between breast cancer and oral health. Women with poor oral hygiene and periodontitis (inflammation of the gum), are up to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. The risk is greater in smokers.

Poor dental hygiene and gum disease has also been linked to increased risk of other cancers (including prostate cancer, throat cancer, lung cancer, gallbladder cancer, melanoma and pancreatic cancer) and of several general health conditions (such as pneumonia, stroke, heart disease, problem pregnancy and Diabetes mellitus).

The prevention and early diagnosis of periodontitis are therefore, very important not only for the patients' oral health, but also for their overall wellbeing.

Periodontitis is a serious bacterial infection of the gum that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports the teeth. In the early stages, it often presents as bleeding or swollen or painful gums (gingivitis) and sometimes as halitosis (bad breath). The main causes of periodontal disease are poor oral hygiene and tobacco use. The bacteria most often associated with periodontitis (Treponema denticola and Porphyromonas gingivalis) enter the bloodstream through the gum. Later, the bacterial infections become associated with co-infection by viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus and Cytomegalovirus. These viruses act together with the bacteria to suppress the body’s immune response, leading to a proliferation of cancer cells in the body.

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent the occurrence of periodontitis which may predispose to cancer. The best way to achieve this is by following the 2-2-2-2-2-2-2 rule of dental hygiene, including:

1. Brush your teeth 2 times a day – last thing at night and at least one other time during the day

2. Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes each time

3. Use 2 tools for personal oral hygiene – a fluoride-containing toothpaste and medium textured tooth brush

4. Each time you brush clean between the teeth with dental floss or an interdental brush, which ensures that bacteria is removed from all areas of the mouth.

5. Go for a dental checkup at least 2 times a year

6. During your dental checkup, have your teeth professionally cleaned (scaling and polishing or S & P)

7. Your child should start brushing his own teeth and visiting the dentist from the age of 2

Observing the following Donts of Dental Care would further enhance your oral health:

  • Don’t use a hard toothbrush – use a medium texture toothbrush for adults and a soft texture toothbrush for children
  • Don’t use toothpick – use dental floss instead
  • Don’t open bottles with your teeth
  • Don’t wait until you have dental problems before you visit your dentist. Visit your dentist every six month for a dental check-up and S&P. Also, consult your dentist if you have toothache, bad breathe, cracked teeth, holes in your teeth and between gums and teeth, or if you notice any strange thing in your mouth.
In addition to predisposing you to other cancers (such as breast cancer), poor oral hygiene also predisposes to cancers that occur primarily in the mouth and throat, with tobacco, alcohol and Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections being among the leading risk factors of oral cancer. Human Papilloma virus also causes cancer in more than twelve parts of the body, including the cervix (cervical cancer).

Moreover, there are over 120 medical conditions, which can be detected in the early stage by dentists. Therefore, the dentist can be the first line of defense against gum disease and other systemic diseases including cancer.

It is for this reason that mass medical mission, a foremost champion for preventive health care and national cancer control, now has dental aspect of its free outreaches. This involves the use of the Mobile Dental Centre (nicknamed the PinkDentist), to facilitate access to preventive dental services for all.

Other life-saving initiatives of mass medical mission include:

· Mission PinkCruise (free community-based health outreaches with the PinkCruise)

· Mission PinkVISION (the eye aspect of the free community outreach using Mobile Ophthalmic unit aka PinkVISION), where “VISION” stands for Voluntary Integrated Sight Saving Initiative Of Nigeria)

· Free screening at the Lagos centre every Wednesday (Wellness Wednesday) and Friday (Family Friday)

· Vaccine Fair to promote access to the quadrivalent vaccine which can prevent the various cancers caused by HPV (this Fair holds every last Friday and Saturday of the month at the Lagos centre).

To mark the October International Cancer Awareness Month and World Sight Day, members of the general public are invited to the ongoing free cancer, eye and dental screening taking place every Wednesday and Friday at mass medical mission House, 31 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos.

Groups could also apply to be included as hosts in the 2020 schedule of the free community-based outreaches (Mission PinkCruise), by sending an email to info@pinkcruise.org.

Dr Abia Nzelu, info@pinkcruise.org

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Experts say ‘Climate change may increase threat of malaria in CAR region’ - NaijaAgroNet

Experts have said that climate change among other dangers, are capable of increasing threats of malaria in the Central African regions, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to a new report issued at an RBM Partnership to End Malaria conference in Abuja Tuesday, participating experts hanged their position on the recent survey, saying “surveillance and programme delivery need to improve to drive progress.”

Unlike countries previously surveyed in West, East and Southern Africa in early 2018, Central African respondents saw climate change as more of a threat. One respondent in Rwanda worried that malaria was creeping up into highland regions which had previously been free of the disease, and others discussed how changing rainfall patterns could have an impact on mosquito breeding seasons.

More domestic and international funding was also cited as critical, with respondents from Cameroon, DRC, and Republic of Congo saying more support is needed. Earlier this month, at the recent Replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, world leaders increased funding for programmes addressing these diseases with pledges totaling $14 billion for the period 2020-2023, meeting the Global Fund’s funding target. Rwanda pledged $2.5 million, DRC, Congo and Cameroon also made domestic resource pledges of $6 million, $5.5 million and $5 million, respectively.

Dr Richard Nchabi Kamwi, Ambassador for the Elimination 8 countries and a co-chair of the study, said: “Maintaining momentum against malaria requires strong political leadership, resilient health systems and securing additional resources. The pledges made at the recent Global Fund replenishment are heartening signs that critical resources are forthcoming.” Dr Kamwi continued:

“It’s also important that Cameroon and DRC have been identified by the World Health Organization and RBM Partnership as “high burden to high impact” (HBHI) countries, ensuring these countries will benefit from increased attention and investment from the international community.” The other study co-chair is Professor Bob Snow, KEMRI-Wellcome-University of Oxford Collaborative Programme in Kenya.

HBHI is an initiative supported by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and the World Health Organization to build international support and country-led responses to reignite the pace of progress in the global malaria fight. Respondents associated with malaria control programmes in the two HBHI countries in the study were aware of the strategy and believed that with sufficient resources it would be highly beneficial.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Central African countries optimistic about halving malaria deaths - NaijaAgroNet

The Central African countries are optimistic about halving malaria deaths in the region by 2030, rather than elimination, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Latest surveyed showed that these countries believed halving malaria deaths is more achievable than elimination by 2030.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that Central Africa is fighting to maintain momentum in its battle with malaria in the face of other health challenges, climate change and other threats, according to a new report issued at an RBM Partnership to End Malaria conference in Abuja Tuesday.

The report was the latest extension of the Malaria Futures for Africa (MalaFA) study, commissioned by Novartis, which has already conducted similar research across 15 countries, including Nigeria, to survey African malaria stakeholders on progress and challenges towards global malaria targets. The new report involved interviews with 23 politicians, senior civil servants, malaria programme directors, researchers and NGOs in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. All four are countries that have a significant malaria burden and differing policies in place to fight the disease.

In Rwanda, respondents were mainly positive about the country’s fight against the disease, citing high levels of political support and funding. In Cameroon, DRC and the Republic of the Congo respondents shared the view that halving deaths by 2030 was more achievable than elimination.

Respondents in Cameroon, DRC and the Republic of the Congo were concerned about access to health services, inadequately trained personnel, substandard or falsified antimalarials and self-treatment without diagnosis – which could potentially accelerate development of resistance to treatment. These concerns are shared in many other countries previously surveyed.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Standard Bank partners Rhiza Africa on data-driven AgroTech - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet: 
The Standard Bank has partnered Rhiza Africa in a bid to boost Agricultural produce and increase farmers’ yield, through innovation, driven by digital intelligence, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Standard Bank’s satellite hosted-remote sensing innovation is delivered in partnership with service provider RHIZA Africa and backed by Origin Enterprises PLC and the European Space Agency.

About 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land presents is situated in Africa, which presents a major opportunity to meet the 70 per cent increase in global food demand expected by 2050. Africa also has potentials to grow through dramatically increasing its agricultural yields. However, Africa’s current dependence on traditional small-scale farming techniques returns the lowest yield per hectare globally.

While fertilizer, improved agricultural cultivation and livestock practices as well as better seed (biotech) can help improve yields, by far the biggest opportunity within the grasp of African agriculture lies in ‘agritech’, the intelligent use of data enabled by new digital technologies.

Data therefore presents an opportunity to further boost the yield for African agriculture. According to Abrie Rautenbach, Head, Agribusiness, Business Banking for Africa Regions at Standard Bank said: “Information is the key to realise Africa’s vast agricultural potential. Digital technologies are merely the tools that will deliver the information.” As a result of the partnership, farmers and agronomists can take advantage of digital tools developed for the agricultural sector.

Speaking on the tools, Danie Swart, General Manager for RHIZA Africa said: “Contour is an aggregated remote sensing information platform with a complete suite of farm monitoring tools for farmers, whereas GRID is a digital service for financial partners and farmers that helps them grow together.”

Using algorithms to analyse and interpret images, Contour and Grid share data on; local weather, soil moisture, field accessibility and leaf wetness, while also providing optical satellite monitoring of area planted, germination and growth progress. This enables growth stage assessments, yield prediction and ultimately yield-enhancement.

Available on mobile and desktop, Contour is a digital platform and mobile app providing precision farming tools enabling; customer creation, field mapping, agronomic planning and recording, and crop and input allocation.

“Clients can use the information to understand the health of a crop; do fertilizer and spray planning; identify flooded areas; understand ground conditions – such as soil health and moisture levels – and monitor historical weather” Swart said.

The data that Contour provides clients enables farmers to make better decisions while mitigating risks and improving yield through optimised operations. Through soil sampling farmers can also understand in-field conditions and apply inputs to accommodate the specific needs of the soil requirements using fertilizers and lime.

This ‘agritech’ innovation allows farmers and Standard Bank to monitor crop performance on all sizes of farms and fields in all geographic regions. Both Contour and Grid also provide monitoring on an aggregated basis across regions, enabling portfolio tracking on; total hectares under a specific crop and total tonnes of inputs used.

“It is important for Standard Bank to be able to assist farmers to improve yield through relevant information that can provide a view on plant health or development issues with a specific crop. These technologies ensure that the crop is protected and, from a bank  perspective, allows any yield (and thus income) increases to be used for either credit repayment or expansion of the agricultural business” Rautenbach stated.

While this information is of huge value in driving the efficiency and productivity of individual farmers, Contour and Grid also enable Standard Bank to identify which fields in a farming

area are the best performing. While this allows the bank to asses budgeted against actual yield predictions, it also allows the bank to aggregate this information across wide areas - and work this back to the portfolio of clients that we are supporting.

Contour and Grid also enables Standard Bank to manage the financial risks associated with delivering agricultural finance. Real time visibility of crop performance affords constant updates of all Standard Bank agricultural clients and potential clients, including detailed information on crop development. This builds trust and transparency between the bank and customers, empowering farmers and enabling the bank to correctly asses risk and accurately allocate capital and cover.

Beyond this, however, “information can also inform appetite,” says Mr Rautenbach. For example, if banks and agricultural equipment sellers, know what, of how much, is planted when and where, banks can extend loans, predict income, manage risk and insurance.

“Similarly, agricultural suppliers can target informed equipment or irrigation product offerings, at the correct time, to the right farmers at the right price,” he says.

While the current technology appears sophisticated, it is very easy to use. Rautenbach continues: “As our experience in Africa has shown, there is a big opportunity for small scale farmers in out grower programmes supplying large corporates. The corporate that has signed up for the service simply opens the service to all their small-scale suppliers.

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W Initiative plans for Health Month, targets 2m women - NaijaAgroNet

The W Initiative, a flagship women empowerment programme from Access Bank Plc, has unveiled plans for its 2019 W Health Month aimed at improving community awareness on health issues that affect women and their families by bridging knowledge gap, providing access to health checks and encouraging healthy lifestyle habits, NaijaAgroNet.

Running all through the month of October, NaijaAgroNet gathered the W Health Month will focus on key areas such as infertility, endometriosis, vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), cancer, maternal and neo-natal mortality.

The Coordinator ‘W’ initiative, Access Bank Plc, Ayona Trimnell, said: “Globally, the month of October is dedicated to raising awareness for Breast Cancer, a major health issue affecting mainly women. However, as an institution with focus on women, we are expanding the scope to shine the spotlight on 5 salient health issues affecting women and their families. The 2017 African Research and Population Centers, estimated 40,000 maternal deaths in Nigeria, making the country the second largest contributor to maternal mortality worldwide. There is need for us to change the story one woman at a time and we at Access Bank have been moving the needle in our own way through our flagship product, the Maternal Health Service Support (MHSS).

Activities planned during the period include free health screening, health talk by specialists, fitness classes, fund raising to support these causes etc. The Health Month will wrap up with an advocacy walk tagged ‘Walk for Women’s Health’ on Saturday 26 October 2019,” he said.

Established in 2014, the W Initiative is home to everything Access Bank has to offer women. This includes both financial and lifestyle needs. Under the Initiative, participating women and their families have access to a wide range of privileges including access to credit facilities to meet business and healthcare needs, the ‘W’ community which provides insights on family matters, health, career, lifestyle and finance. This is in addition to special offerings for the home such as discounts and freebies on health, beauty and fitness.

Health screenings will hold every Tuesday at October designed partner locations across the country.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Pix: L-R: Njideka Esomeju, Regional Sales Director, Lagos 1, Access bank Plc; Aituaje Iruobe (aka Waje ) Music Artist; Ayona Trimnell, Coordinator,  ‘W’ Initiative, Access Bank Plc; and Ada Udechukwu, Head, Women Banking, Access Bank plc at a meet-and-greet event to launch the Women's Health Month this October 2019 in Lagos recently.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

UNICEF warns ‘Poor diets damaging children’s health worldwide - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet

 
High number of children are suffering the consequences of poor diets and a food system that is failing them, UNICEF warned today in a new report on children, food and nutrition, and as the United Nations and partners commemorate World Food Day, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The State of the World’s Children 2019: Children, food and nutrition finds that at least 1 in 3 children under five – or 200 million – is either undernourished or overweight. Almost 2 in 3 children between six months and two years of age are not fed food that supports their rapidly growing bodies and brains. This puts them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases, death.

The report provides the most comprehensive assessment yet of 21st century child malnutrition in all its forms. It describes a triple burden of malnutrition: Undernutrition, hidden hunger caused by a lack of essential nutrients, and overweight among children under the age of five, noting that around the world:

  • 149 million children are stunted, or too short for their age, including 13.1 million children in Nigeria
  • 50 million children are wasted, or too thin for their height, including 2.9 million children in Nigeria
The report warns that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child’s life. Though breastfeeding can save lives, for example, in Nigeria, only 27 per cent of children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed and an increasing number of children are fed infant formula. This means many Nigerian children are missing out on the life-saving benefits of breastmilk which is a baby’s first vaccine and offers the best possible nutrition at the start of life.

In Nigeria, malnutrition remains a major public health and development concern:49 percent of children under five years of age are not growing well (they are either stunted, wasted or overweight). This is the second highest proportion after the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West and Central Africa region. This is partly because 34 percent of children between six months and two years of age are fed food that is not rich and diversified enough to ensure optimal growth. 

As children begin transitioning to soft or solid foods around the six-month mark, too many are introduced to the wrong kind of diet, according to the report. As children grow older, their exposure to unhealthy food becomes alarming, driven largely by inappropriate marketing and advertising, the abundance of ultra-processed foods in cities but also in remote areas, and increasing access to fast food and highly sweetened beverages.

The report also notes that climate-related disasters cause severe food crises. Drought, for example, is responsible for 80 per cent of damage and losses in agriculture globally, dramatically altering what food is available to children and families, as well as the quality and price of that food; Nigeria is also affected by climate change.

To address the growing malnutrition crisis in all its forms, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to government, the private sector, donors, parents, families and businesses to help children grow healthy by:

  1. Investing more resources in interventions aimed at preventing malnutrition among young children and supporting treatment when prevention fails.
  2. Supporting nursing mothers to adequately feed and care for their children.
  3. Empowering families, children and young people to demand nutritious food, including by improving nutrition education and using proven legislation – such as sugar taxes – to reduce demand for unhealthy foods.
  4. Driving food suppliers to do the right thing for children, by incentivizing the provision of healthy, convenient and affordable foods. 
  5. Building healthy food environments for children and adolescents by using proven approaches, such as accurate and easy-to-understand labelling and stronger controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods.
  6. Mobilizing supportive systems – health, water and sanitation, education and social protection – to scale up nutrition results for all children.
  1. Collecting, analyzing and using good-quality data and evidence to guide action and track progress.

 Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Insights on ACP extra 9m Euro - NaijaAgroNet

The recent deal between the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Qu Dongyu, has an insight on how the deal came about to aid EU provision of an additional €9 million to support the UN agency's work in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The gradual loss of vegetative cover due to poor land management practices has led to a dramatic degradation in land and water resources - and, in the most extreme cases, to desertification. Intensive farming patterns put additional pressure on natural resources, with global trends such as climate change, urbanisation and population growth adding to the problem. Each year 12 million hectares of land lose their productive capacity due to drought and desertification.

This capacity-building programme for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States is the product of a partnership between the European Commission, the ACP countries, the UN Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

It builds on the achievements of previous cooperation between the EU and ACP countries. It has reached over 3 200 beneficiaries from 35 ACP countries, including government officers, civil society, the private sector and rural communities.

The programme's first two phases have mainstreamed environmental management issues within institutions and national development plans in a large number of ACP countries. For instance, the programme has supported the disposal of tons of obsolete pesticides and strengthened pesticide risk assessment procedures in several ACP countries. It has positively influenced global dialogues on the need for good governance and policy coherence to protect biodiversity.

As a result, the agriculture sector has been able to implement more effectively the relevant conventions on biodiversity and chemical and waste management. At the same time, a strong case has emerged around the need for a more joined-up approach to addressing agriculture's environmental impact. 


This programme will therefore deliver important outcomes on biodiversity preservation, contributing significantly to global efforts ahead of the upcoming Conference of Parties of the CBD (COP 15) in 2020, and establish a robust foundation for an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

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PHSAI youth identifies high risk in adolescents’ sexual behaviour - NaijaAgroNet

The youth arm of the Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI) has attributed the high risk in sexual behaviour among Nigerian adolescents as responsible for the increasing teenage pregnancy, out of school girls, baby dumping, post abortion complication and death, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Coordinator, Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth at PHSAI Lagos State, Abiodun Ajayi, made this disclosure while addressing participants at World Contraception Day 2019 hosted by the Pathfinder International.

Dwelling on ‘Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (AYSRH) in Lagos,’ Ajayi noted that despite bold steps taken by the state and some stakeholders to increase young people access to youth-friendly Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, the upsurge in sexual behaviour remained high.

He called for an urgent need to increase discussion around youth SRH cum family planning issues at all levels.

Ajayi also called for increase in funding to sufficiently meet the SRH-FP need of the high risk sexual behaviour of these rapidly growing young populations.

He identified further lack of adequate access and accurate life planning information and services, stressing that lack of youth friendly health facilities and provider bias as some of the worrisome issues.

Additionally, Ajayi said that poor knowledge of contraceptive options and benefits have been a stumbling block for the youth in the state.

“The Lagos State Youth Policy that could provide some backing to the state response to AYSRH has some significant gaps, especially the target audience which is youth between 18 and 35 years and its focus is more on poverty alleviation and other interventions as appendages,” he told NaijaAgroNet.

Ajayi lamented that though the policy had provision for reproductive health services, “it was not explicit on access to contraceptives or family planning services.”

Further, he proposed there should be an evidence based policy and legislative advocacy for implementation of AYSRH services in Lagos State.

“Enhance partnership with NGOs by the state government to establish youth friendly SRH services,” he said.

The PHSAI youth coordinator, maintained that trainings and supervisory programmes that effectively address medical and personal provider’s biases regarding young people’s use of all available contraceptives should be conducted.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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FAO DG hails partnership potential with civil society -NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
Multiple level partnerships have been described as critical to achieving a world without hunger, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said Saturday at a meeting with leading exponents of civil society and indigenous peoples representing small scale food producers and family farmers.
"We need all of civil society to play an active role", the Director-General said in wide-ranging remarks underscoring the need to improve global food systems. "FAO is here to help you."
He addressed the annual Forum of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM), a vehicle for the participation of non-governmental actors in policy formulation at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), itself a multistakeholder platform. Today's event focused on how to strengthen commitments to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, also known as Zero Hunger.
A cornerstone of effective action means making sure "family farmers are the final beneficiaries," Qu added, noting that the UN Decade of Family Farming  offers a great opportunity to implement and leverage ideas and recommendations made by CFS.
He emphasized the importance of learning and working together for concrete solutions with "interaction, brainstorming and open minds." In this context, digital solutions can play a decisive role in improving the livelihoods of small scale and vulnerable food producers, particularly in relation to the impacts of climate change, according to the Director-General.
Qu also emphasized that FAO would pioneer youth and women engagement initiatives at all levels and highlighted the positive way that FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) helps generate economic value, knowledge and rural-development solutions.
"We need to defeat hunger and poverty, which are inextricably linked," said CFS Chair Mario Arvelo. "We need to use every tool in the toolbox, as the Director-General said."
CFS itself needs to continually expand its inclusiveness, Arvelo said.
The CSM is a self-organized body designed to give smallholder family farmers, non-governmental organizations, Indigenous Peoples, fisherfolks, herders, youth, consumers and other global citizens a voice in the work of the upcoming session of CFS, which starts on 14 October and lasts throughout the week.
The CSM's main message to the upcoming CFS session, which starts on Monday 15 October, is that "the possibility of attaining zero hunger is becoming more and more unlikely" and that policy initiatives need not just to be accelerated but to change direction.
The group noted with approval CFS progress in thematic areas such youth employment in agriculture and food systems and reiterated its priorities in the ongoing process of developing Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, an exercise expected to be completed in 2020.
Among the panelists alongside FAO's Director-General at Saturday's event were Silvia Dywilli from the World March of Women, Nettie Wiebe of La Via Campesina, Azra Sayeed of the International Women's Alliance and Musa Sowe of ROPPA, organizations representing a broad array of global regions.


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Monday, October 14, 2019

Africa, others attract extra 9m Euro for promoting nature-friendly agro practices - NaijaAgroNet

The European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Qu Dongyu, have signed a new agreement to see EU provide an additional €9 million to support the UN agency's work in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, reports NaijaAgroNet.

In particular, the funding will boost the efforts of countries in the targeted regions of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States to bring about sustainable changes in agricultural policies and practices to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and natural resources.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu stated: "Our support for more biodiversity and better quality food is decisive for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. Agriculture and biodiversity are strongly intertwined. The agricultural sector depends heavily on biodiversity, yet it is also a contributor to biodiversity loss. This new programme will help overcome the socio-economic and political barriers that prevent countries and farmers from adopting ecosystem-based agricultural practices and approaches to biodiversity and chemical management."

Commissioner Mimica said: "Nature is under threat - the world needs more sustainable agricultural practices that boost food security, poverty reduction and economic growth, while preserving the planet's precious natural resources. I am very glad to be announcing this additional funding just two days before World Food Day. It is a further example of the EU's firm commitment to work with its ACP partner countries on these very aims."

Patrick I. Gomes, Secretary General of the ACP Group of States, said: "I welcome this new project, which is of great importance for ACP countries. Conserving biodiversity and reducing the pressure on natural resources and ecosystems, while also tackling climate change, has never been more important for our diets, our health, our planet and our survival."

Today's contract is part of a broader EU support programme promoting environmental sustainability in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries via stronger environmental governance and the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements like the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The programme will also address some of the most unsustainable practices in agriculture, such as the use of highly hazardous pesticides, and scale up ecosystem-based practices and approaches that favour natural pest control and protect pollinators and other beneficial organisms. Examples include agro-ecosystem-based approaches, organic agriculture, land restoration and landscape management, agroforestry, integrated pest management, pesticide risk reduction and the conservation of local crop diversity.

Partnerships with the private sector and civil society will act as drivers towards more sustainable agricultural systems. In addition, regional and national institutions will be able to do more to design and implement agricultural policies that enhance biodiversity, while at the same time maintaining production and profitability.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Nigeria’s healthcare professionals need tech innovation - NaijaAgroNet

Healthcare practitioners have been advised to take advantage of the several premium healthcare solutions and technologies in the advanced economy to improve the Nigerian healthcare sector, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speakers at the HealthCare Business Conference (HBC) of the Medic West Africa Exhibition and Congress, held in Lagos, South West Nigeria, said technological innovation would help bring healthcare services to millions of Nigerians.

In his remarks, Dr. Chibuzo Opara, Co-CEO, DrugStoc, said that advanced medical technology can improve the standard of medical practice in Nigeria saying that that can be done through the introduction of innovative ,high quality affordable and state-of-the art medical equipment.

Beyond the impact of technological innovation on the health sector, the practitioners also had the opportunity to examine the issue of business management alongside bookkeeping skills.

Highlighting the essence of business management, Country Director, Iqvia and Board Member of Healthcare Foundation of (HFN), Mr. Remi Adesuen said that most members of the HFN are in the SMEs sector of the economy and they offer primary healthcare services to Nigeria contrary to the notion that primary healthcare is that of government.

According to him, over 70 percent of Nigerians access their healthcare through the private sector noting that 60 percent of the practitioners are SMEs, who needs business skills and technology to give the required medical care.

He said that the HBC which was held in partnership with Anadach Group was designed to give its members attending the Medic West Africa Exhibition and Conference access to knowledge on business planning, model and innovative approach to healthcare business.

Besides those, he said that the SMEs were taking through the rudiments of bookkeeping and the regulatory laws of the several agencies that they deal with so that they don’t go against the laws of their operating environment.

He stated that the deployment of digital technology is the best adoption for the SMEs in today’s health sector particularly as the business began to grow.

Adeseun advised that the SMEs common together to access some basic services that bother on accounting, business and other related services so that the cost of those services can be reduced for them.

He called on them to look for opportunities of partnership or collaboration with other players in the public or private sector that would bring the benefit of economy of scales to bear on their businesses and improve the nation’s healthcare.

According to him, although health is a social services, the era when it was run entirely as social service has ended and as such it must be run presently as a business for the services to be sustainable.

He stated if enough fund is not generated to cover the source of fund for the business wither it is government or private, the free health will fail because there will be no longer materials for the business.

To avoid such scenario, he suggested the health insurance scheme which he said has proved effective in most advanced countries of the world saying that the Nigeria health insurance scheme has failed because it was not mandatory.

First Vice President of HFN, Dr. Festus Osoba disclosed that the Foundation is an advocacy group enable the private sector healthcare practitioner to speak with one voice in the country saying that this year it is focusing on the business aspect of healthcare services.

He noted that they are concern about the impact of technological innovation in the sector noting that was why in one of presentation focus was on electronic data, investment in data management as well as implementation and project management since data can help them grow their businesses.

He also said that HFN wants their members to be patient-centric and the right of the patient protected so that the healthcare system meets global standard.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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PHSAI advocacy boosts FP funding in Lagos - NaijaAgroNet

The Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI) has declared that its efforts gave boost to the family planning (FP) funding in Lagos State, reports NaijaAgroNet.

PHSAI chairman, Mr. Ayo Adebusoye made this disclosure in his address to mark the 2019 World Contraception Day with the support of Pathfinder International under the theme: FP Funding Advocacy Overview in Lagos State.

According to him, the Lagos State Family Planning (FP) Advocacy Working Group (LAWG) known formally as the Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI) was established in January 2015 with the support of Pathfinder International.

PHSAI, he said, comprises civil society, faith-based organizations, the media, and local government units for budget and reproductive health and family planning.

As said by Adebusoye, between 2015 and 2018, PHSAI efforts is beginning to manifest through series of meetings with the key stakeholders in Lagos State, including policy makers in the health sector, local government executives, community leaders and Reproductive Health and Family Planning Managers among others.

The essence of these meetings, he said, was to identify ways to leverage funds for Family Planning.

As such, he disclosed that presently, some 18 Local Government Areas cum Local Council Development Authorities “are now reported to be funding family planning consumables in 2018.”

In addition, he said that Lagos State budget for family planning doubled “from N86,740,000 ($240,944.44) in 2017 to N177,500,000 ($493,055.56) in 2018.”

In 2017, for instance, he said, the Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board for the first time in history “created a specific budget line for family planning consumables in the sum N50,000,000 ($140,000). The same amount was allocated in the 2018 budget.”

PHSAI’s advocacy intervention, he said, is to improve family planning funding, reiterating the group committed to scaling up the lessons learnt by sharing with the state and local governments throughout Nigeria.





Nenye Dom/Editor




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Friday, October 11, 2019

Mantashe launches African Energy series - NaijaAgroNet

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa, Gwede Mantashe, has launched the Africa Energy Series: South Africa 2019 report at the Africa Oil & Power conference, reports NaijaAgroNet.

On the second day’s theme of “Energy in Powering Growth”, panel discussions and talk sessions unpacked the challenges and opportunities in Africa’s power sector; Program highlights included topics such as the energy transition, Africa’s renewable energy sector, financing the power sector and energy security.

Following the successful conclusion of the first day of the three-day African Oil &Power conference and exhibition, the second day commenced today with a focus on the future of Africa’s power sector.

The day began with a keynote address from Kholly Zono, Acting CEO of CEF Group, who introduced Hon. Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa.

In his introduction, Zono outlined CEF Group’ energy s strategies and shared that the CEF group is, in line with the conference theme, motivated by the goal of making energy work and, is driven by the agenda of addressing inequality, unemployment, and poverty.

He said, at the core of its strategy, the group is built on the fundamental principles of empowering people and innovation.

“The theme of the conference #MakeEnergyWork resonates very well with the CEF Group of companies, taking into account the global challenges in terms of energy requirements,” Zono said. “Making energy work is challenging us to move beyond strategies and focus on innovative approaches.”

In his keynote address, Minister Mantashe spoke about the role the energy sector plays in driving economic growth.

“South Africa recognises the energy and mineral resources sectors as catalysts to economic growth. We have witnessed how an adverse impact of high costs and unreliable supply of energy have on the productive sectors of the economy,” Mantashe stated. He further added that the government is also promoting the Integrated Resource Plan and the Amendment to the Gas Act of 2001 to encourage investment in the energy sector and to increase energy security in the continent.

Minister Mantashe also launched the Africa Energy Series: South Africa 2019 report compiled by Africa Oil & Power and dedicated it to the late Deputy Minister, Bavelile Hlongwe.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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Obiano excites youth with Juliet's appointment as SA - NaijaAgroNet

The Anambra State Governor, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano has excited members of Society of Young Nigerian Writres (SYNW) with the appointment of their own, Mrs. Juliet Chudie as a Special Adviser on Youth Empowerment, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The signing and issuing of the appointment letter which took place penultimate Monday at the Government House, Awka, the state's capital was witnessed by some top government functionaries.

Reacting to the good news, Mrs. Chudie described the appointment as a call to serve, and appreciated Gov. Obiano for finding her worthy to hold such a revered position, and giving her the opportunity to serve the state and Ndi Anambra.

She promised to employ her wealth of experience and knowledge in the discharge of her duties, so as to contribute her own quota in actualizing Gov. Obiano's transformation agenda for the state, especially through the aspects of youth empowerment and development.

Mrs. Chudie who is a member of Society of Young Nigerian Writers (Anambra State Chapter) is a native of Agulu in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, and the founder of Juliet Chudie Foundation, founded in 2015.

She is the author of 'A Mother's Heart Bleeds' and the winner of the CSA Award as the Creative Writer of the Year 2018, and has through her foundation, touched many lives, empowered many youths and restored many hope in various localities of the state.

In his own reaction, the National President of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, Mr. Wole Adedoyin described the appointment as recognition of hardwork, and eulogized Gov. Willie Obiano for giving youths opportunities and voices in his administration.

Disclosing that there are many young ones out there who have a lot to contribute in development and governance of every state, Mr. Adedoyin also called on other governors of the various states in the federation to emulate such gesture and give youths more opportunity, maintaining that such will also help to spur other youths to play their drums well in their various fields of endeavour.

He further urged Governor Obiano to also consolidate on this feat by appointing another young writer, suggestively the Coordinator of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers in the state, Mr. Izunna Okafor as an aide on Literary Matters, being an internationally acclaimed award-winning author/journalist and convener of the Chinua Achebe Annual Literary Festival.

According to him, "Anambra State is a hub of literary figures in Nigeria, and in fact, the first state to reckon with when it comes to literary matters, having given the world arrays of literary champions; and as such, the state deserves to have an aide who will stand as a liaison officer between the government and writers in the state (both established and burgeoning writers)".

"In fact, Anambra State is expected to be the first state to set the pace on having such an aide on Literary Matters, which no state government has ever had in the history of the country; and I trust Gov. Obiano is best expected to set such pace, being a youth-loving Governor. So, as I appreciate him, I also urge him to buy into this humble suggestion." Mr. Adedoyin said.

Ozo Nweke Ozo in Awka/Editor

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