Thursday, 25 April 2013


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP)

The Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP) is a scholarship programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is funded from the Ministry’s development cooperation budget. The aim of the programme is to help reduce the shortage of skilled workers.
The target group consists of professionals working in one of the 62 NFP countries. The successful completion of a study programme will help them to further develop and strengthen the organisations at which they work.
The demand for education and training must reflect the institutional development of the candidate's employer. Candidates must be nominated by their employers in order to qualify for participation.


At least half of the available scholarships will be allocated to women, and half of the available funds will be reserved for candidates from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Candidates that belong to one of the prioritised groups and/or live in a disadvantaged region (criteria to be determined by the embassies) are strongly encouraged to submit an application.


Scholarships are available for:
  • English-language master's programmes, varying in length from 9 to 24 months; 
  • short-term English and occasionally French courses, varying in length from 2 to 52 weeks; 
  • PhD programmes, to be partly completed in the participant’s country of origin and partly in the Netherlands; 
  • Alumni activities and Tailor-Made Training

Further information

For more information on the various NFP sub-programmes, see our Study in Holland website.

For more information on the NFP alumni activities and refresher courses, see the Holland Alumni network website.
For more information on the Tailor-Made Training programmes, see

South Africa: Agriculture Offers Real Growth Potential

Although structural impediments such as poor logistics render the search for new avenues of deeper intra-African trade challenging' there is an immediate and compelling growth potential in the trade of agricultural products' Standard Bank research analyst Simon Freemantle said last week.
"Here even basic improvements in the continent's trade' storage and transport infrastructure' coupled with ongoing initiatives to elevate agricultural productivity' have the ability to reap immediate' and potentially huge gains'" he said.
According to the African Union (AU)' intra-African agricultural trade has accounted for an average of one-fifth of Africa's total agricultural trade for the past five years. This compared with an average in the European Union of 78%' and an Asian average of 60%. In some areas' Africa's deficit is even more pronounced: in 2011' just 3% of all African cereal imports originated on the continent.
"Much of the broader cereals shortage is accounted for by a deficit in rice production on the continent: though African countries produced just 3.5% of the world's rice in 2011' they were responsible for 35% of global rice imports for the year'" he said.
Freemantle noted that elevated yields and improved transport and storage infrastructure could immediately improve regional food trade networks.
The World Bank predicted that' should West Africa manage to achieve its potential agricultural yields and open regional markets' its current US$2bn trade deficit in staple foods could convert into a US$12bn surplus.
World Bank report
Last year' a World Bank report showed how African countries are losing out on billions of dollars in potential trade every year because of high trade barriers with neighbouring countries It also showed that it was often easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with its neighbouring countries.
The cross-border production networks that have spurred economic dynamism in other regions' especially East Asia' have yet to materialise in Africa.
African leaders have called for a continental free trade area by 2017 to boost trade within the continent.
South Africa

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Who succeeds ageing farmers?

Agriculture is inevitable to human existence as both humans and livestock must feed.  As other nations have engaged their able bodied manpower in agriculture, PETER USMAN writes that in Nigeria the farmers have considerably aged and the young ones are not stepping in.

By Under normal circumstances, ageing is regarded as a positive and inevitable process which every human is destined to undergo in life. So whenever issues relating to wisdom and rational thinking are discussed, virtually in all human societies, a person’s age is considered a dependent variable.
In whatever way one may look at it, ageing somewhat turns out to be a source of worry whenever attempts are made to examine its impact on energy sapping occupations such as farming.
It is obvious that farming is a noble occupation and many aged farmers who are presently engaged in the occupation do not regret practicing farming. However, the questions that worry most Nigerians is that the younger generation of Nigerians no longer consider farming as a dignified work but they rather look at it as an ancient occupation.
However, this could be ascribed to the fact that most farmers in the country have nothing to show for so many years engaging in a backbreaking occupation. While most farmers have to grapple with the ever increasing demands of everyday living, others continue to struggle to meet family needs.
Many Nigerians are saying that the pitiable economic status of the average Nigerian farmers could be blamed on the hard boring work of farming which is compounded by lack of access to modern agricultural equipment, resulting to so many years of subsistence nature of farming, coupled with the amount of energy invested in it.
Statistics has shown that most farmers in the country are ageing fast and the rate of replacement is very low as youths are not ready to be engaged in agriculture. The question on the lips of many concerned citizens is that, who will succeed the ageing farmers?
It should be a thigh of concern for the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to ensuring that the present Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) be implemented in such a way that it will create enabling environment for the teeming youths to be really involved in agriculture.
Recently, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has designed a means of subsidizing fertilizers, popularly known as “e-wallet” by 50 percent as a  way of encouraging farmers across the country so as to enhance productivity. If such supports and encouragement have been given to farmers previously, it would have gone a long way to reduce the suffering of the farmers to a large extent.
In many occupations such as carpentry, designing, welding, waving and professions like medicine, journalism, building among others, have readily youths available to succeed those practicing them, but the case of farming is the reverse as those who studied agriculture from the universities preferred to work in the bank rather than farm.
Some sections of Nigerians noted that Government should make agriculture attractive by providing modern farm implements to replace old ones, such as hoes and cutlasses which farmers have been using for so many years without result.
Apart from the provision of modern farm equipment, modern agriculture requires fund to succeed. Anybody venturing into modern farming need financial support to grow as it required farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, tractors, harvesters among other farm implements.
Most countries of the world that have developed their agricultural sector give loans or grants to their farmers to be able to meet the financials requirement and Nigeria government need to borrow a leaf from these countries for the nation’s agricultural sector to move forward.
Lack of mechanized agriculture has remained the major bane of agriculture development in the country as youths are complaining that the use of old farm implements should be urgently withdrawn and replaced with the modern ones. They further stated that the uses of old farm tools would make them older than their age. All these complain need to be addressed by Government to entice youth into agriculture.
While expressing their worries in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, the concerned youths said that the situation where old implements such as hoe, cutlass and axe are still being used for agricultural activities is no longer tenable in any serious economy, saying that government should modernize agriculture as it has been done and practiced in other parts of the world.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, the Lagos state commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal at a midterm project review said that, the target beneficiaries of the commercial Agriculture Development project are the youths.
Having studied the situation on ground, Prince Gbolahan Lawal noted that the majority of the current farmers in the state are on the ageing side and the urgent need to make special provision for youths to be part of that project is very necessary.
In the same vein, Prince Lawal, stated that the aim of the scheme is to bring young and energetic youths into the agriculture industry by way of giving them stipends as well as accommodation to encourage them during training exercise. He also revealed that plans are on way to give the youth’s loans and land, ensuring that they practice farming.
The commissioner maintained that some of the project already embarked upon in the state by the present administration in order to achieve its agricultural development initiatives are the Agric Youth Empowerment Scheme, Rice for Job project, development and implementation of strategic food security plan from 2010 to 2015,. Third National Fadama Development project among others.
If all the states of the federation are engaged in agricultural programmes of these nature aim at enhancing agricultural productivities and more so empowering youths to prepare their mind toward succeeding the aged farmers across the nation, the fear of who would succeed the ageing farmers would not have arise.
It is therefore important that the rest states should draw their programmes to ensuring that aged farmers in the country will not be a threat to agricultural development in the country, so that as some farmers are ageing, others are succeeding them.
Recently at a national dialogue organized by the National Human Right Commission in Abuja, the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha in a paper presentation noted that no political party in the country has vision for agriculture and that is why the sector has been in the state of comatose for so many years.
He envisaged that if all the political parties in the country have a farm in every states of the federation, it would have solved a lot of problems presently on ground and the issue of Boko Haram would not have arise in the first place.
Governor Okorocha advised that agriculture should not be left in the hand of old farmers alone, but youths in the country should be encouraged to participate massively to save the sector from collapsing.
In order to facilitate food security and also ensure sustainability of agricultural production and realization of the agricultural transformation agenda of the Federal Government, the increased participation by youth in agriculture in Nigeria is necessary and vital.
It is on record that there is a compelling evidence of an ageing farmer’s population in the country which must be addressed urgently to facilitate sustainability in agricultural production. Since the average age of farmers in the country is 65 years, and if young farmers do not replace the ageing producers, the production of food within the country will be seriously compromised in the next 10-15 years.
In view of the disturbing phenomenon in which Nigeria spends huge amount of money every year on importation of food, the money that would have been used to enhance agricultural sector, government’s intervention in the agricultural sector has become imperative especially in the area of encouraging youths, making agriculture attractive to them among others.
One other way some stake holders think agriculture can be made attractive to the youth is that government should address critical challenges in the sector such as poorly developed market, poor market infrastructure, poor roads, lack of storage facilities and the dearth of reliable market information.
In recent time, many Nigerians said that use of improved farm technologies remain the major way of raising farm yield and income, thereby attract the  youth to take agriculture as an occupation while others noted that empowering youths with relevant knowledge and  required skills to upgrade their farming practices in the present competitive economy is the key.
In as much as the interest of youths in agriculture remain very low, hence the need to encourage those presently engaged in farming, have their welfare improved upon and financial assistance be giving to them to enable them continue their farming activities.
If youths must be attracted to go into agriculture massively, Government needs to provide infrastructures such as electricity, portable water and good roads in rural area as well as provision of land, capital, targeted market opportunities, information. All these will surely motivate them to succeed that ageing farmers in the country.

Is Nigeria’s agricultural sector improving?

Cassava plantation
As Nigeria’s agricultural sector becomes more intertwined with the national economic transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, it appears investment in the sector is occurring in a complex pattern that also involves investment within and outside the country. This multidimensional investment is having strong influences on the business situation in the sector.
Apparently, the sector appears geared to witness accelerated growth due to renewed public investment and a strong private sector involvement. The sector’s growth will inevitably produce employment for the country’s teeming unemployed youths. Experts observe that before the April 2011 elections, Nigeria was already facing macro-economic challenges and a questionable model of economic development leading to decades of wasteful spending on food importation, incurring huge internal debt in the process. The Nigerian economy is confronted by lots of contradictions especially on food production and uncoordinated agricultural development policies.
If this renewed interest in investment in the sector is sustained, Nigeria will experience in years to come new investments linked to food security. The sector is poised to be the engine of growth. Lately, emphasis has been put in diversifying the agricultural sector ranging from rice production, cassava cultivation, production, processing and marketing. Besides, there have been concerted efforts aimed at improving on fish production, moving from artisan to aquaculture creating business along the entire value chain; fish feed production, to plan adequate fingerlings.
Getting back to the basics of economic development and investment in agriculture sector, agriculture will attract more investment and remain a competitive sector in attracting green field investments in years to come. We may ask why? This is so because “Agriculture is Business”. it simply means more businesses are available in the sector more than any other sector of the economy.
Recent findings suggest that the adoption of certain development strategies and polices with institutional backing may actually induce collaboration in the private sector. The ATA thus appears to place demands on the development of professionals in the sector who are more visible and perhaps more consequential than in years past.
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has increasingly put emphasis on active “agricultural development projects”– projects that provide assistance to individual businesses in order to increase local jobs, lower local unemployment, and enhance the local tax base. This programme tends towards three major areas: Food security and self sufficiency; Stimulate economic growth; and Poverty alleviation.
Instructively, international partners are rallying behind Africa, and essentially sub-Sahara Africa, on food security. In a declaration at Camp David in May, the G8 meeting in Chicago made African Food Security a great concern and resolved to “accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity.
We therefore have direct link between new global investment in agriculture and food security.
The current economic transformation agenda being centralised around agriculture and rural development with strategic planning and adequate policy measure focusing on production will definitely move the sector out of stagnation.
Based on this we may ask, can agriculture be new engine of Nigeria’s economic growth, is Nigeria’s agricultural sector stepping out of stagnation to embrace business? In order words Nigerian entrepreneurs must indentify real and sustainable business in agriculture to increase activities and induce growth.
•Dr. Michael Aderohunmu,

Monday, 22 April 2013

Nigeria loses N9.7b to rice smuggling

NIGERIA may have lost an estimated N9.7 billion to evasion of duty payments, through rice smuggling.
Specifically, findings by The Guardian showed that an estimated 80,000 metric tonnes of rice is expected to be smuggled into the country through the Benin Republic axis.
Although, the Nigeria Customs Service dismissed this, saying that its men have received directives to enforce the zero tolerance on rice importation, investigations by The Guardian still reveals evidences of smuggled rice being repackaged into sacks of popular brands.
Hitherto, the Chairman, Presidential Committee, Rice Price Benchmark, Dhiru Ado Kurawa, during the committee’s visit to Olam farm project in Doma, Nassarawa State, had noted that the price of rice may rise due to the ban on importation of the staple food in order to enhance local production, but urged Nigerians to endure and not encourage the activities of smugglers by patronising them.
Indeed, investments in the rice production sector presently stands at N106 billion in backward integration.
One of the major rice dealers in Daleko market, who spoke with The Guardian under the condition of anonymity, explained that many brands of smuggled rice find their way into the market and many of such brands are often re-bagged or mixed into bags of popular brands and sold to unsuspecting customers.
She added that besides the fact that customers are often short-changed, such acts have continued to affect legitimate businesses in the market, as well as the revenue to be generated by government.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) of Zone A, Ikeja, Mr. Uche, said: “Following the matching order from the Comptroller General of Customs, Dikko Abdullahi, to all Customs Area Comptrollers on ensuring zero tolerance on importation of rice through the land borders, our unit has been engaging stakeholders at the border areas to ensure the enforcement of this directive.
“Recently, we had a meeting with the representatives of Daleko Market Rice Sellers Association in order to create awareness on some banned products and we gave them the list of legitimate rice importers and their brands under the auspices of the Rice Millers, Importers and Distributors Association of Nigeria (RiMIDAN). The meeting will be a continuous one to ensure that Nigeria’s rice self-sufficiency goal is attained.”
He however, solicited the support of stakeholders in providing adequate information for intelligence gathering in order to address the issue.
He said: “Collaborations with other security agencies have led to a massive seizure of 8000 bags of 50kg parboiled rice along the Seme-Badagry creeks. We have also identified the flashpoints where we are intensifying surveillance”.
Nigeria’s yearly consumption of rice is about 5.5 million metric tonnes. While 1.8 million is produced locally, the country relies on importation to make up the balance of 3.7 million metric tonnes.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Nigeria a generation away from agricultural extinction –Minister

Photo: Dr. Akinwumi Adesina
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has expressed fears that agriculture may soon go extinct in Nigeria unless urgent measures are taken to revive cross-cutting interest in the sector.
In an articulation from proceedings at the **The Economist** Summit held last week in Lagos by his Special Assistant, Media and Strategy, Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye, and made available to **Daily Independent,**the minister said the warning requires urgent solution if the nation “will be sustainably fed in the future.”
He spoke of the need to make agriculture doubly sustainable in Nigeria, hence the need to focus on the youth, the reason he continued, behind the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme, established by the federal government as a response “to generational challenge in agriculture.”
Adesina noted that Nigeria is already making haste to tap into the nation’s agric potential, noting that the country is earned $426 from a single shipment of cassava chips to China in 2012.
He also disclosed that $40 million investment is going into the production of 15 per cent of all rice needed in Nigeria, in a Taraba State-based farm enterprise, run by Dominion Rice Farm.
Lamenting the irony about the nation’s agric potential, the minister said “Nigeria is the second largest producer of citrus fruits in the world, after China. But Nigeria is the largest importer of fruit concentrates.”
He also highlighted opportunities to export meat, drawing attention to “halal-certified” meat processing in beef, to be made popular shortly “to take advantage of the growing population needs and markets beyond Nigeria.”
Continuing, he said development finance institutions are putting their money into agriculture as well, through the development of the agro-industry through external funding support.
He unfolded the plans of KFW, a German development bank, to support agricultural financing in Nigeria with 21 million euro to develop agricultural through long-term financing, beginning from July 2013.
He also disclosed that “more than a dozen of high-level investors have signed MoU with the federal ministry of agriculture since January 2013.”
Organised by The Economist of London, a world renown news and policy magazine, the two-day conference spotlighted the hidden potentials that Nigeria needs to exploit at this time to boost its economy.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Agriculture and the New Zealand Economy

Agriculture and the New Zealand Econom

More than any other developed country, New Zealand's economy, people and environment depend on the success of our land-based industries.
Agriculture is how New Zealand earns a living and together with the food and forestry sectors, generate 70% of New Zealand's merchandise export earnings and around 12% of Gross Domestic Product. New Zealand is the world's largest dairy and sheep meat exporter.
Despite being further from markets than any other major agricultural producer, New Zealand has successfully built highly competitive and efficient primary production systems exporting to virtually every corner of the globe.
Over the past 25 years, productivity in the primary sectors has grown strongly. The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates the agriculture sector's total productivity has increased by an annual compound growth rate of 3.3 percent, and forestry's by 1.6 percent from 1984 to 2007, compared with the wider economy's annual compound productivity growth of one percent.
The agriculture industry is at the core of New Zealand's economy, a major determinant of employment and social wellbeing and a key driver of the country's land, water and biological resource use.
For more information, read:

MPI’s Role in Agriculture

The Ministry for Primary Industries is the government's principal adviser on domestic and international agricultural policy, the performance of the sectors, agriculture's sustainable use of natural resources, international trade, and innovation and science policy issues relevant to the sector.
MPI's role is to work with government agencies and the sectors to:
  • maintain and enhance the business environment,
  • ensure ongoing capability development (for example, skills and resilience to adverse events),
  • identify and invest in areas of new opportunity, and
  • support innovation through research, development and extension.
MPI is the lead agency for the implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme for agriculture, and for New Zealand's involvement in the Global Research Alliance on Agriculture Greenhouse Gasses.
MPI also plays a critical role in food safety assurance and biosecurity, both of which underpin the competitiveness of the agricultural industry in international markets.