Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Nigeria: Agriculture Remains Way Out for Nigeria - Buhari, Tinubu, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari has enjoined Nigerians to support his administration's effort in ensuring that agriculture is made the mainstay of the country's economy considering the falling price of crude oil at the international market.
Speaking while declaring open the 8th Annual Bola Tinubu Colloquium held at the International Conference Center (ICC) in Abuja, with the theme: 'Agriculture: action, work, revolution' President Buhari said the nation must start eating only what it can produce within its shores.
He said his administration had resolved to prioritize agriculture so as to ensure that the country is sufficient in the production of rice, wheat among other crops.
Apparently gauging the enormity of work to be done to better the lots of Nigerians, President Buhari said all hands must be on deck.
"We are going to hold ourselves accountable. We will measure results. There will always be some scepticism; some have even become disorientated and impatient enough to think that barriers are insurmountable. Anyone who claims great change is impossible can only look at it as an ordinary success."
President Buhari stated that the government would continue to invest in human capital development.
"We intend to organize an efficient market infrastructure that will make agriculture viable for investors. We are providing an enabling environment so as to ensure certainty and predictability for the private sector.
"We intend to also ensure that the market is fair and worth to transform small holder farmers from beggars to businessmen.
"Furthermore, we are going to keep focusing on improved nutrition for children. We know the effects of hunger and poor nutrition can last a life time. Children are thrown out of school to earn a living."
Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) clocked 64 years and held the event to mark his birthday.
Eulogizing him, Buhari said the former governor had shown commitment and zeal to Nigeria's growth.
"There are very few patriots alive today that can match the commitment, zealous, creativity that Bola Tinubu has demonstrated in his contribution to national growth."
The president who commended the organisers of the Bola Tinubu Colloquium for the choice of the theme of the event on agriculture stated that the intention of the government was to create enabling environment that would bring viability on the economic potentials of the private sector.
The event attracted dignitaries from the society including: the vice president Yemi Osinbajo and his wife, Dolapo, wife of the celebrant, Senator Remi Tinubu, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, state governors of Zamfara, Osun, Ogun,Kebbi, Adamawa, Cross River, Bauchi, Lagos, Kaduna and Oyo.
The national chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Senator Smart Adeyemi, some ministers and other top government officials also graced the occasion among others.
In his remarks, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said that agriculture remains the only hope for the country after many years of dependence on oil.
He praised the present administration for the tough decisions taken to reposition the country even as he called for more support for the administration.

Making Agriculture Nigeria’s Goldmine

With its status as the largest employer of labour in the country and its huge potential to become an alternative foreign exchange earner, Eromosele Abiodun posits that now is the time to take a serious look at the agriculture sector

Renowned physicist and Nobel Laureate, Albert Einstein once said: “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” A careful consideration of Nigeria’s current economic meltdown reveals the truth behind this aphorism and why serious attention must be paid towards diversifying the economy. In recent times, the country’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped below $30 billion as at January, 2016 and the currency has continued to lose value as the gulf between the parallel market and official rates the naira to the dollar widens further.
Crude oil accounts for over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, 35 per cent of gross domestic products (GDP), 75 per cent of government revenue.
 However, with the fall in oil prices, and with no commensurate cut in production, Nigeria now finds itself in an economic bind. The current state of agriculture in Nigeria is only a shadow of what it used to be but it can be said that there are encouraging signs of improvement. It is common knowledge that about 80 per cent of Nigerian land is arable and has produced major crops, including beans, sesame, cashew nuts, cassava, cocoa beans, groundnuts, kolanut, maize (corn), melon, rice, millet, palm kernels, palm oil, plantains and rubber, among others. For many decades, the sector has been under-funded and not received the attention it deserves. As such, small holder farming forms a large percentage of the sector within Nigeria. Poor farming methodologies, lack of access to finance, post-harvest losses due to lack of storage facilities, unreliable power supply, poor transport infrastructure and unattractiveness of farming in terms of returns for many young people are some of the reasons why agriculture has remained on the back burner of our national life.
Nigeria has huge agricultural potential. With over 84 million hectares of arable land, of which only 40 per cent is cultivated; a population of 167 million people, making her Africa’s largest market; 230 billion cubic meters of water; and abundant and reliable rainfall in over two thirds of its territory, the country has some of the richest natural resources for agricultural production in the world. Not surprisingly, Nigeria used to be a major player in the global agricultural market in the past, as the world’s largest producer of groundnuts and palm oil in the 1960s, and the second largest exporter of cocoa. The country was also self-sufficient in food production before the emergence of oil in the 1960s.
In the past four years, Nigeria’s agriculture sector has undergone major reforms and transformation.
The introduction of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) brought about reforms in the input delivery or Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme, agricultural financing, value chain development, including the Staple Crop Processing Zones, and farm mechanization have yielded an abundant harvest for farmers and great gains for the country.  Between 2011 and 2014, national food production grew by 21million metric tonnes and led to a sharp reduction in food imports.  Nigeria’s food import bill fell from an all-time high of N3.19 trillion in 2011 to N635 billion in 2013; a 403 per cent reduction.  Direct farm jobs rose by 3.56million in the period 2012 to 2014 due to ATA interventions.  Agriculture has become an exciting sector in Nigeria.
Contribution to GDP
Agriculture is made up of four sub-activities, namely: Crop Production, Livestock, Forestry and Fishing. In nominal terms, the sector grew by 9.50 per cent year-on-year. This was higher than growth rates recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2015 by 3.22 per cent points and 0.16 per cent points respectively.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), growth in the sector was driven by output in Crop Production accounting for 87.01 per cent of overall growth of the sector. The NBS in its Q4 2015 national GDP report said agriculture contributed 22.56 per cent to nominal GDP during the quarter. This, it stated, was marginally higher than shares recorded in the corresponding period of 2014 yet lower than the third quarter of 2015 by 0.49 per cent points and 1.95 per cent points respectively.

“Real agricultural GDP growth in the Fourth Quarter of 2015 stood at 3.48 per cent (year-on-year), a decrease of 0.17 per cent points from the corresponding period of 2014. Growth in the Fourth Quarter was 0.02 per cent points higher from the Third Quarter of 2015. While positive, growth in agricultural output has been relatively lower compared to the corresponding period of 2014 as a result of lower crop output which in turn was as a result of security challenges during the quarter. The contribution of Agriculture to overall GDP in real terms was 24.18 per cent in the Fourth Quarter of 2015, marginally higher from its share in the corresponding quarter of 2014, and lower from the Third Quarter of this year by 2.61 per cent points,” the NBS said.
Overtaking Oil, Manufacturing Sectors

Analysis of the performance of the three sectors in the fourth quarter of 2015 showed that the agricultural sector is doing well. There are 13 activities in the Manufacturing sector; Oil Refining; Cement; Food, Beverages and Tobacco; Textile, Apparel, and Footwear; Wood and Wood products; Pulp Paper and Paper products; Chemical and Pharmaceutical products; Non-metallic Products, Plastic and Rubber products; Electrical and Electronic, Basic Metal and Iron and Steel; Motor Vehicles and Assembly; and Other Manufacturing.
Nominal GDP growth of manufacturing in the Fourth Quarter of 2015 according to the NBS, was recorded at 6.93 per cent (year-on-year), 12.19 per cent points lower than the 19.12 per cent recorded in the corresponding period of 2014 partly as a result of higher operating costs.

“Growth was 2.13 per cent points higher than the Third Quarter 2015 recorded at 4.80 per cent. On a Quarter-on-Quarter basis, the sector grew by 0.33 per cent. Contribution of Manufacturing to Nominal GDP was 9.09 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015, lower than the 9.11 per cent recorded in the corresponding period of 2014, and 9.67 per cent in the third quarter of 2015
“In the fourth quarter of 2015, real GDP growth of the manufacturing sector slowed by 13.09 per cent points to 0.38 per cent (year-on-year) from 13.47 per cent growth recorded in fourth Quarter of 2014. Growth was however 2.13 per cent points higher than rates recorded in the Third Quarter of 2015, (Figure 6). On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the sector slowed on the margin by 0.03 per cent, with oil refining and motor vehicle and assembly weighing on the sector manufacturing, “the NBS said.
It added: “During the period under review, Oil production stood at 2.16million barrels per day (mbpd) 0.3 per cent lower from production in Q3 of 2015. Oil production was also lower relative to the corresponding quarter in 2014 by 1.0 per cent when output was recorded at 2.19mbpd. As a result, real growth of the oil sector slowed by 8.28 per cent (year-on-year) in Q4 of 2015.

“This represents a decline relative to growth recorded in Q4 of 2014 recorded at 1.18 per cent. Growth also declined by 9.33 per cent points relative to growth in Q3 of 2015. Quarter-on-Quarter, growth also slowed by 19.10 per cent. As a share of the economy, the Oil sector contributed 8.06 per cent of total real GDP, down from figures recorded in the corresponding period of 2014 and in Q3 of 2015 by 0.91 per cent points and 2.21 per cent points respectively.”
However, with its status as the largest employer of labour in the country, its huge potential to become a major foreign exchange earner and help boost the nation’s revenue base, now is the time for everyone, government, citizens and corporates to take a serious look at the sector, even as the nation moves away from over dependence on oil.
Corporate Bodies to the Rescue

However, it is heartwarming to see that corporate bodies such as the Dangote Group, Guinness Nigeria Plc, British American Tobacco Foundation, have picked up the gauntlet in the drive to give agriculture the oxygen it needs to thrive. During the company’s pre-annual general meeting briefing in Lagos, Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Peter Ndegwa, had said that the company has a target of sourcing over 80 per cent of its raw materials locally in the coming years.
He said that this was a fundamental part of the company’s social and economic contribution to the Nigerian market and this commitment is reflected not only at local but also at regional level as the Diageo Group has a target to reach the 80 per cent mark on Local Raw Materials (LRM) for Africa by 2018.

Ndegwa noted further that the multiplier effect of this strategic move of the company on society and the economy will far outweigh the challenges that may be initially faced.
Apart from driving down costs for the manufacturers and ease the pressure on the nation’s dwindling foreign reserves, local raw materials sourcing will also play an important role in creating employment opportunities, boost income levels and empower farmers along the agriculture value chain as well as small and medium enterprises who serve as suppliers to big businesses thereby resulting in such benefits as application of modern technologies, improved quality control, higher output, product marketing and self-sufficiency.

Interestingly, Diageo’s brands have always been closely connected with agriculture. In the 1800s, Arthur Guinness, the son of the brewery’s founder, served in the Farming Society of Ireland. Currently, maize and sorghum constitute 80 per cent of the Guinness Nigeria’s agricultural raw material input. Therefore, building strategic partnerships with banks, agricultural NGOs, donor agencies and research organisations and leveraging these partnerships to mitigate some of the challenges that currently affect the sorghum value chain will take the industry to the next level.
Sourcing Raw Materials Locally
Guinness Nigeria, which has been in the brewing business in Nigeria since 1950, was the first major brewing company in Nigeria to begin sourcing its raw materials locally. In 1984, the brewery acquired a 3000 hectares farm in Mokwa, Niger State for the production of maize. Between 1995 and 1998, the company had established an out grower scheme primarily for the promotion of ICSV 400, a particular sorghum variety among farmers in Nigeria.

The variety made it cheaper to process sorghum for malting than other varieties. By 1997, the company started a contract grower scheme with farmers in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Taraba States. The objective of the company’s contract growers’ scheme was to create awareness about the improved variety and consequently get a large group of farmers to adopt and grow the crop. With this rich pedigree of engagement in agriculture, it therefore does not come as a surprise that the company has made a strategic commitment to continually increase the quota for its locally sourced raw materials.

Job creation and economic empowerment, Ndegwa acknowledged, remain major challenges in Nigeria, but the local content initiative will substantially address these challenges by targeting the poorest areas and channeling investments into job-creating segments in the agriculture value chain.
Similar initiatives by other private sector entities will decidedly trigger a huge impetus towards diversifying Nigeria’s economy and reclaiming its primacy as a leading agricultural economy. The Lagos state government recognises this fact.

Lagos, Kebbi States Initiative Recently, the state governor, Akinwumi Ambode announced the  plan to work with Kebbi state to provide food for Lagosians, stressing that the future of Lagos State was partly tied to deliberate resolution on food security
He stated this  during the  signing of Memorandum of Understanding between Lagos and Kebbi State on the development of Commodity Value Chains.
He said food production and self-sufficiency required its immediate attention at policy and strategic levels to sustain the state, adding that Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in Nigeria by virtue of its population.
“We have the market, with the required purchasing power also. Lagos State has an estimated consumption of over 798,000 metric tons of milled rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96 million of 50kg bags, with a value of N135 billion per annum.
“We have the economic prowess to produce rice locally. The era of imported rice is gone. The reality is for all of us to embrace the consumption of local foodstuff and commodities. In addition to rice, Lagos is currently consuming 6,000 herds of cattle daily which may increase to 8,000 in the next five years,” he said.

According to Ambode, the bulk of the vegetables produced in the country end up in the Lagos markets as the state is one of the largest producers of poultry and thus had a large demand for maize for livestock feed production.
He said: “The state also houses most of the industrial users of wheat and sorghum; mostly flour mills, bakeries, breweries and food manufacturers. Kebbi State, on the other hand, is blessed with a vast arable land suitable for the cultivation of rice, wheat, groundnut, maize, sorghum and sugar cane.
“It is an agrarian State with over 1.2 million hectares of arable land characterised by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes. In the 2014/2015 wet season, over 600,000 hectares of land was deployed for rice cultivation in the three senatorial areas of the state.

“The numerous thousands of our market women and men can become key employers of labour as distributors of ‘Ibile Rice’. We can also brand and package rice in the names of our distributors and market women. As a state, we shall adopt our local rice as a state dish in all ramifications.”
He explained that the  special purpose vehicle will allow the entrance of private sector investors and other states in expanding the rice mill at Imota, Ikorodu and other locations. We have already designated the 100 hectare land at Imota as the Agric Park in the State. Other locations in and outside the State will be vigorously activated to fulfill our mission in record time,” he stated.
Speaking, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said that the two states had a long history of trade partnership and were just making it stronger with the MOU, adding that the partnership would provide 60 to 70 per cent of the country’s rice need.

He said his state had four emirates, including Gwandu, Argungu, Yauri and Zuru Districts in some particular goods and that they would all contribute to the commodity value chain.
“We believe in the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to transform Nigeria from dependency on oil. We believe that the two states can significantly contribute to and improve food sufficiency and food security for our country. We believe that our states can benefit from this cooperation and we can jointly add value by creating employment,” he said.  

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Australia Research and innovation

Australia’s primary industries have a strong tradition of being innovative and adaptive to new challenges. They have proven to be highly efficient and competitive in international markets. The outlook for the Australian primary industries sector is strong, with the world’s demand for food rising, driven by population growth and calls for higher quality and greater variety of food.
Investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation is vital for ongoing growth and improvement in the productivity, profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries.
The Australian Government is providing funding of $100 million over four years beginning 2014-15, for a competitive grants program to deliver cutting-edge technology and applied research, with an emphasis on making the results accessible to Australia’s primary producers.
This new funding is in addition to the current government funding of around $250 million per year for Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs).
Government investment (both federal and state/territory) in primary industries’ innovation:
  • recognises that the large number of small producers could not gain an economic return from individual investment in R&D and that farm products are largely uniform and non-rival in nature
  • acknowledges the significant intra- and inter-industry spillovers and regional and rural benefits that accrue from publicly supported R&D
  • addresses important national development and sustainability objectives, such as biosecurity and natural resource management.
At the federal level, rural research and development corporations (RDCs) are the Australian Government's primary vehicle for funding rural innovation. RDCs are a partnership between the government and industry created to share the funding and strategic direction setting for primary industry R&D, investment in R&D and the subsequent adoption of R&D outputs. The RDCs commission and manage targeted investment in research, innovation, knowledge creation and extension.
While RDC investments service the identified needs of industry, they also address national R&D needs through the Rural R&D Priorities (the priorities). The priorities are intended to achieve a national understanding of current critical R&D investment needs and to better target agricultural, fisheries, forestry and food industry R&D efforts.  A common understanding of rural research priorities will better position Australia’s agricultural, fisheries, forestry and food industries to embrace innovations and adopt new technologies, to respond to market changes, to open up new markets and to maintain a competitive edge in the face of economic and climatic challenges.
Through the National Primary Industries RD&E Framework, the Australian Government works with the state and territory governments, the universities and the CSIRO to develop and implement a national approach for  rural research, development and extension (RD&E) in Australia. The Research, Development and Innovation Committee of the Agriculture Senior Official Committee is charged with looking for improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of rural RD&E, to maximise the contribution of RD&E to primary industries, rural and regional Australia and the wider community. The Committee is made up of representatives from the Australian, state and Northern Territory government departments responsible for primary industries, RDCs, CSIRO and universities.

Can Silicon Valley's Big Bet On Agriculture Help Small-Scale Farmers In Developing Countries?

A lack of reliable information is among the most frustrating obstacles to unlocking the potential of agriculture. But as investment in AgTech heats up, what value does big data offer small-scale farmers at the end of dirt roads in the hardest-to-serve markets on earth?
These days, farms throughout the American Midwest are flooded with new technology. From self-driving tractors and drones to advanced sensors and software, farming looks much different than it did when I was growing up in Missouri. It’s all part of a trend to help farmers become more efficient, productive, and profitable — replacing the guesswork and gut instincts of farming with data and diagrams.

Just how high-tech are we talking? Imagine remote sensors sending data to a digital dashboard that shows real-time analytics on soil temperature and moisture levels; drones flying overhead capturing high-resolution thermal and visual images that show yield variation row-by-row; iPhone notifications telling you the optimal time to apply fertilizer, where it’s most needed, and its estimated effect on this season’s harvest and on your bottom line. This is 21st century precision agriculture in the United States, where one of the world’s oldest industries continues to evolve.
“Everything that a farmer once was and once thought about his business has completely transformed in the last 10 years,” said David Friedberg in a recent interview about the digitization of farms. Friedberg is the founder of the San Francisco-based Climate Corporation, which combines hyper-local weather data with agronomic models to help farmers make better informed decisions. In 2013, his company was acquired by Monsanto.

To many observers, that roughly $1 billion deal set the stage for what has since become a flurry of investment activity in the rapidly evolving and fertile field of agricultural technology, with funding rounds happening at a dizzying pace. For instance, Google Ventures recently announced investments in both Granular, a company that provides farm management software, and Farmers Business Network, an online service that allows farmers to compare the effectiveness of seeds and inputs.
Other well-known Silicon Valley firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are also embracing AgTech start-ups and increasingly looking to the Farm Belt to find the next unicorn. According to a report released by AgFunder, an equity crowdfunding platform, a record $4.6 billion of investment flowed into AgTech ventures last year, up from $2.4 billion invested in 2014 and outpacing growth in the broader venture capital market. Meanwhile, a number of AgTech conferences and specialized consulting firms have popped up alongside accelerators and incubators, like The Yield Lab and Farm2050.

I write about agri-business and the impact of social entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The World Bank and Agriculture in Africa

  • Agriculture is essential for sub-Saharan Africa’s growth and for achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015.
  • Agriculture employs 65 percent of Africa’s labor force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product.
  • Agricultural performance has improved since 2000, but growth is not yet fast enough. Agricultural GDP growth in sub Saharan Africa has accelerated from 2.3 percent per year in the 1980s to 3.8 percent per year from 2000 to 2005. Growth has been mostly based on area expansion, but land is scarce and many countries are facing limits to further expansion. Land and agricultural productivity must increase because African farm yields are among the lowest in the world.
  • Higher and sustained growth will require attention to five core areas of public action:
    - Facilitating agricultural markets and trade;
    - Improving agricultural productivity;
    - Investing in public infrastructure for agricultural growth
    - Reducing rural vulnerability and insecurity; and
    - Improving agricultural policy and institutions.
The World Bank’s Activities in Agriculture
  • The World Bank, along with many of its partners, is working at regional levels on the five core areas and coordinating its work through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union Commission (AUC), all of which provide a framework for advocacy and sharing of experience. At the global level, progress on trade reform, particularly cotton subsidies in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and agricultural technology through the work of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), are important for the region.
  • The World Bank’s lending for sub-Saharan African agriculture has grown to over US$800 million in Fiscal Year 2009 from an earlier average of US$300 million between 2001 and 2005, and is planned to further increase to US $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2010.
  • The World Bank is the single largest donor for improving Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural  sector, assistance that is key to reducing hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation.
  • The World Bank Africa Region has recently consolidated an Agricultural Unit of 79 staff (37 based in Africa) and is working to operationalize conclusions of the 2008 World Development Report Agriculture for Development and to address past shortcomings identified in the 2007 Independent Evaluation Group’s review “Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
  • The Region is moving ahead with a set of flagship activities that will help define key results in the five core areas mentioned above.
Partnerships already in place – for irrigation, agricultural supply chains, sustainable land management, and agricultural research – will be leveraged in building this program

Era of rice importation gone for good - Governor Ambode

Read the press statement below.. 
In line with the persistent calls for a paradigm shift from over dependence on oil as the major earner of the country, the Lagos State Government and Kebbi State on Wednesday entered into a partnership on the establishment of a commodity value chain that will give a quantum leap to food processing, production and distribution.
The partnership is aimed at bringing about national food sufficiency and food security, as well as creating employment and wealth distribution for the benefit of both states and the nation in general.

Speaking at the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two states held at the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Ikeja, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the partnership signaled the commencement of a new beginning of cooperation and common-sense revolution, which is line with the change mantra of All Progressives Congress (APC) that calls for patriotism in all facets of life. 
Governor Ambode, who said the partnership would bring an end to the era of imported rice in the country, noted that there was no doubt about the economic prowess of the country to produce rice locally.
“This is the first time in the history of Nigeria that two States are collaborating to develop their agricultural potentials. We have the economic prowess to produce rice locally. The era of imported rice is gone. The reality is for all of us to embrace the consumption of local foodstuff and commodities,” he said.
The Governor acknowledged the fact that the future of Lagos is partly tied to deliberate resolution on food security, and that food production and self-sufficiency required immediate attention at policy and strategic levels to sustain the country, hence the need for the partnership.   

“Lagos State is the largest consumer of food commodities in Nigeria by virtue of our State population. We have the market, with the required purchasing power also. Lagos State has an estimated consumption of over 798,000 metric tonnes of milled Rice per year which is equivalent to 15.96 million of 50kg bags, with a value of N135 billion per annum,” he said.
In addition to rice, Governor Ambode said Lagos is presently consuming 6,000 herds of cattle daily which may increase to 8,000 in the next 5years, adding that the bulk of vegetables produced in the country eventually end up in the Lagos markets. 
He added: “Lagos State is one of the largest producers of poultry and thus has a large demand for maize for livestock feed production. The State also houses most of the industrial users of wheat and sorghum; mostly flour mills, bakeries, breweries and food manufacturers.
“Kebbi State, on the other hand, is blessed with a vast arable land suitable for the cultivation of Rice, Wheat, Ground nut, Maize, Sorghum and Sugar cane. 
“It is an agrarian State with over 1.2 million hectares of arable land characterised by very large floodplains, lowland swamps and gentle slopes. In the 2014 / 2015 wet season, over 600,000 Hectares of land was deployed for Rice cultivation in the three senatorial areas of the State. 
“The people are traditionally Rice farmers with average land holding of about 10 Hectares. Presently, Kebbi has over 50,000 metric tonnes of paddy in store produced from the last 2 planting seasons.
“With these considerations in mind, Lagos State and Kebbi State have decided to collaborate and exploit our areas of comparative advantage to create value for both States. This alliance will ensure Food Security, job creation, increase in farmers’ income and the overall improvement in the living conditions of the residents of both states through wealth creation and poverty reduction.
“This collaboration is in line with the clarion call and policy direction given by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on the need to feed ourselves,” Governor Ambode stated.
The joint venture between the two states, Governor Ambode explained, will be implemented using a Special Purpose Vehicle known as LASKEB Agricultural Production and Marketing Company (LAPMCO), adding that the major areas of focus will be the development of commodity value chains with emphasis on Rice, Wheat, Ground Nut, Onions, Maize/Sorghum and Beef.
Speaking further on the agreement, Governor Ambode said: “The numerous thousands of our market women and men can become key employers of labour as distributors of ‘Ibile Rice’. We can also brand and package rice in the names of our distributors and market women. As a State, we shall adopt our local rice as a State dish in all ramifications.
“The special purpose vehicle will allow the entrance of private sector investors and other states in expanding the rice mill at Imota, Ikorodu and other locations. We have already designated the 100 hectare land at Imota as the Agric Park in the State. Other locations in and outside the State will be vigorously activated to fulfill our mission in record time.”
Also speaking at the event, which was attended by top government functionaries, traditional rulers and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) from both states, Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu thanked Governor Ambode for providing leadership and innovation that brought about the partnership, adding that same was in line with the effort of President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to restructure Nigeria away from overdependence on oil. 
Governor Bagudu said in the world of genetically modified food, the partnership between Lagos and Kebbi was an additional motivation to provide certainties for the people in terms of food production and sufficiency, and that the goal is to produce 60 to 70 percent of Nigeria’s Rice needs, and replicate same in other food items.
He said the agreement had the broadest public acceptance in Kebbi State, and that the people, especially farmers in the state, are delighted to partner with Lagos, which he described as the most entrepreneurial part of Nigeria.   
He said Lagos and Kebbi have had a long history of trade, and that the signing of the MoU was a further way of cementing the relationship with the view to make the people to get richer.
“Lagos is the most entrepreneurial part of Nigeria. Lagos, if it were a country on itself, is a country that other states will be going to establish a relationship and so why not state to state. So, what we are doing is that we are pioneering a collaboration that will bring other states on board later and we believe that our potentials is enormous and we must have pacesetters to start that process of joint collaboration for our collective good,” Governor Bagudu said.

MARCH 23, 2016

Agro-Industry Development

Africa hosts a huge spectrum of suitable agro-climatic conditions that allow a broad range of diverse agricultural production. However, it is still importing large quantities of agricultural and food products that may be produced within the continent. For some products, large parts of production are simply not exploited due to lack of infrastructure for commercialization and processing. Besides, market access is becoming an opportunity with the creation of free trade areas at regional level and with preferential trade agreements with certain countries-regions. Urbanization and subsequent food diversification is also an opportunity for African processed staples.
The many problems of poverty, low productivity, inadequate infrastructure and poorly integrated markets faced by developing countries are often exacerbated by an under-developed agro-industrial sector. Little attention has usually been paid to the value chain through which agricultural commodities and products reach the final consumers within the country and abroad. This neglect results in enormous potential losses of value added and employment opportunities.
Actually the level of agro-processing at rural level in Africa is in most of the cases inexistent or just very basic; besides, and as consequence of this low level of agro-processing capacity, Sub-Sahara countries face huge post-harvest losses; for instance and for perishable agro-commodities such as fruits and vegetables, the post-harvest losses average 35-50% of total attainable production, meanwhile for grains vary between 15 to 25%.
Interventions in Agro Industry Development administered in collaboration with the Private Sector should be designed to create the adequate environment and enhance the emergence of locally owned agro-processing industries, capable of creating jobs and increasing incomes in rural Africa. Besides

Agro-Industries can promote industrialisation and urban employment, break the ‘productivity gap’ of development, reduce food costs and supply uncertainties and improve the diet.
In line with this situation, the Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department of the Bank has included Agro-Industrial Development within its operational priorities and started incorporating a more market and value chain approach in the design of new operations. This is with a view to ensuring enhanced income generation and livelihood to the beneficiaries, who are largely rural farming communities.
To this effect, agro-processing, post-harvest reduction and market development components feature more prominently in agricultural development initiatives. Besides, the Bank, and as part of the African Food Crisis Response, has started working with development partners in the development of a post-harvest losses reduction strategy that will be one of the first building blocks for the development of the Bank’s Strategy in Agro-Industries. These actions will also contribute to provide support to RMCs in identifying critical intervention along the entire food chain.

Causes of slow growth in pigs..

Most times farmers are quick to blame the source of a pig or it’s breed for its slow growth.
The source of a pig and it’s breed are very vital to its performance, however there are other sometimes discreet but significant growth retardants.
Here is a list based on my experience in the business:

  • Nutritional diseases
  • internal and external parasites
  • systemic infections or diseases
  • Toxin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Damaged GIT
  • Frequent change of feed formulation or source
  • Stress
  • Feed and water quality
A good pig farmer must be ready and able to identify and check these issues.

Largest Pig farm in the World

Oh yes! Right here in Nigeria, the largest pig farm in the world once existed in the core Muslim Northern city of Kano.
That was when Nigeria was lovey dovey and we all tolerated one another.
The farm was started  in 1943 by a Lebanese, Kalil Maroun founder of K.Maroun and Co a popular Pork Farm/Processing company, located at Apapa, Lagos.
The original intention of Maroun was to produce pork for the US military base in Kano during world war 2.
In 1959, 36,000 pigs were fattened and transported by rail to be butchered and processed in Lagos every month.
Let’s take a look at some pictures from the Kano pig farm
Pregnant sows are fed in the yard for 2 months during gestation.
To the new farmers starting out who think all we have in Nigeria are “local pigs”, Note these are Large White sows in 1959.
When and how do we get back to being a formidable nation in pork production, processing and consumption …..?
200 million Nigerians are waiting for the processing creativity of Nigerian pig farmers…….
I will continue to discuss the past, present and future of the pork industry in Nigeria,  so don’t miss out on juicy posts on how to establish your farm, solve challenges or make some tasty bacon.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Africa's 20 most popular foods

Southern Africa has the most varied cuisines of any region on the continent
African cuisine is as diverse as the hundreds of different cultures and groups that inhabit the continent. This diversity is reflected in the many local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques. Many of the dishes are also affected by the subsistence nature of living in many parts of the continent – you find farmers, herdsmen and fishermen everywhere. The crops they grow or the animals they keep thus affect the popular dishes in their regions.
The dishes have also been influenced by foreign visitors and invaders. The food of North Africa has been heavily influence by the Phoenicians of the 1st century who brought sausages, followed by the Carthaginians who introduced wheat, then the nomadic Berbers adapted the semolina from wheat into couscous – a main staple diet in the region. From the 7th century onwards, the Arabs introduced a variety of spices, like saffron, cinnamon, ginger and cloves and, from the New World, they got chillies, tomatoes and potatoes.
In East Africa the Arab influence on cuisine is evident. Settling on the coast over 1,000 years ago, the Arabs sailed in with rice and spices, particularly noticeable in the Swahili foods of the coastal regions. They also brought lemons, organdies and domestic pigs from China and India. Next came the British Empire and with it Indian workers who brought their foods with them, such as spiced vegetable curries, lentil soups, chapattis and pickles. The British themselves also influence food by bringing in new breeds of sheep, cattle and goats along with high-quality coffee.
As we go more inland, even though cattle, sheep and goats are widespread in eastern Africa, they are often regarded as a form of currency and a store of wealth by pastoralists. So while they may be used for dairy products, they are not often used for their meat. Many people in the eastern region therefore rely heavily on mainly on grains, beans and vegetables, with fish providing protein in lake and river regions.  One of the most widespread staples in eastern Africa, and in southern Africa too, is ground maize. Maize flour is cooked with water to form a stiff porridge or dough - called ugali, nsima or sadza, depending where you are.
It may be neighbouring East Africa but the food in the Horn of Africa is very different. Here the Islamic and Christian faiths have greatly impacted the food. There is no pork for starters, and as for Coptic Christians they adapted to the meat-free fast days with an increased use of pulses, lentils and chickpeas. The main traditional dishes in Ethiopian  and Eritrean cuisine are very similar and both are dominated by tsebhis (stews) served with injera - a flatbread made from teff, wheat, or sorghum, also found in Somalia. In Somalia an interesting addition to their cuisine is pasta, which arrived with the Italians in the 1880s, and sweet dishes that came with the Arabs and Yemenis.
Just before the British and the Indians, the Portuguese came to Africa and introduced techniques of roasting and marinating. This is evident in East Africa with the nyama choma (roast meat) culture, but also in Southern Africa.
Southern Africa has the most varied cuisines of any region on the continent, this is a result of the blend of cultures – the indigenous African tribal societies, European and Asian populations. Most of the African ethnic communities have diets that include meat and milk, some vegetables and grains. The Portuguese influence saw the introduction of piri-piri (chilli seasoning) into the region, and the European settlers brought with them curing techniques that produced the infamous cured meat – biltong.
West and Central Africa were far less influenced by the European settlers. Centuries before the Europeans arrived, West African people were trading with the Arab world in spices and thus typically West African food is filled with hot spices.  With the least contact with the “outside world”, Central African food remains the closest to traditional ingredients and cooking techniques. The only notable adoption of cassava, peanut, and Chile pepper plants arrived along with the slave trade during the early 16th century.
After careful consideration of the various regions and cross-boundary recipes here are the top 20 most popular dishes on the continent:
Cured meat exported all over Africa, originally from South Africa
Very popular in West Africa, it is made by boiling starchy food crops like cassava, yams or cooking plantains and then pounding them into a dough-like consistency
A form of fried bread, taken in sweet or savoury form, popular in East Africa
A sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture, popular in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia
Jollof rice
The most popular rice dish in West Africa, the most common basic ingredients are rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, salt and red pepper
A mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin, and salt very popular in North Africa
Nyama Choma/ Braaivleis /Mechoui
Many different names and cooking techniques, but meat roast over charcoal is popular all over the continent
Made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a popular alternative to rice and pasta in North Africa
A popular West African starchy carbohydrate made from pounded and fermented cassava tubers
A fresh tomato and onion salad dish popular in the cuisines of Madagascar, East Africa and the African Great Lakes region
A historically Berber slow-cooked meat, chicken or fish dish from North Africa, named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked.
Fried Plantain or Dodo
Found anywhere that plantains grow, this is a staple on the continent and served with meats dishes.
Shahan Ful
A vegetarian fava bean dish very common in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Biryanis and Pilaus
With Indian origins, these rice dishes are fragrant and flavourful, mostly popular along the East African coast.
A spicy shish kebab-like skewered meat delicacy in West Africa.
Wat, We’t or Wot
A highly flavourful and spicy Ethiopian or Eritrean stew that is prepared with meat or a variety of vegetables.
A typically Portuguese stew of beans with beef and pork which is popular in southern Africa.
A famous and popular West African stew with meat simmered in a sauce thickened with ground peanuts.
Cooked with water to a porridge or dough-like consistency, this is the most common staple starch in East Africa, the Great Lakes region and southern Africa.