Friday, 24 June 2016

Nigeria: Flour Millers Seal Pact with Farmers to Boost Local Wheat Production

The Flour Millers Association of Nigeria (FMAN) and Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on measures to boost wheat production in the country.

Under the pact, both parties have expressed commitment to further boost wheat production in the country with FMAN expressing willingness to purchase wheat produced by WFAN at a guaranteed price of N140,000 per metric tonne for the 2015/2016 farming season, while members of WFAN consented to the deal.
Speaking during the signing of the agreement at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recently in Abuja, Managing Director of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc., Lanre Jaiyeola, stated that "the event marks a milestone in the development and growth of the Nigerian wheat value chain and aligns with FMAN's objectives to provide affordable and nutritious flour based foods to Nigerians in addition to developing the wheat value chain and contributing to the growth of agriculture in Nigeria.

 "This initiative seeks to replicate the modest successes achieved in our intervention in the cassava value chain where Nigeria is the number one producer of cassava in the world".
Jaiyeola also expressed gratitude to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and the officials of the Lake Chad Research Institute for their support.

Speaking on behalf of WFAN, Alhaji Farouk Mudi assured Nigerians that with the support of FMAN and LCRI, farmers are ready to mobilize and produce the required quantity of wheat to meet local demand.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri said that increased production of wheat will lead to food security, job creation, savings on foreign exchange and growth of the Nigerian economy.
He further encouraged other crop growers and agro associations producing rice, maize, cassava and other crops to emulate what FMAN and WFAN have done, while the describing the actions of the two stakeholders as commendable.
On his part, the Executive Director, Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Dr. Oluwaseun Olabanji, who worked closely with both organisations to forge the partnership, said that the primary goal of the Institute is to support wheat growers and ensure that Nigeria achieves self-sufficiency in wheat production.

Meanwhile Jaiyeola also noted that FMAN has concluded plans to further show support to wheat cultivation in Nigeria through the donation of equipment, provision of water irrigation pumps, pilot (demonstration) farms, purchase of seeds towards the next planting season, sponsorship of technical support and research and development initiatives aimed towards improving yield.

Innovative use of technology for agricultural development in Nigeria

This important conference and discourse on E-Agriculture is coming at a time when Nigeria is desperate about investing in a gainful sector that will rapidly restore the nation’s economy which is currently swimming through rough water. Due to the global oil crisis, Nigeria’s oil revenue has shrunk, thereby creating the need for diversification into agriculture and some other sectors.
Prior to the discovery of oil, Nigeria’s economy flourished through agriculture. Of course, agriculture isn’t new to the Nigerian economy, during the pre-crude oil era when Nigeria economy totally dependent on agriculture; the sector has offered vast opportunities and employed over seventy percent (70%) of the Nigerian labour force. Agricultural sector has provided food requirements for the country and raw materials for local industries, as well revenue from exportation of cash crops. Agriculture can not only be a major source of revenue for Nigeria’s economy, it is also the bedrock of Africa’s economy as a continent.

The sector accounts for about 20% of Africa’s GDP, 60% of its labor force and 20% of the total merchandise exports. Agriculture is the main source of income for 90% of rural population in Africa. Agriculture represents a great part of the Africa’s share in world trade. On the list of 20 top agricultural and food commodity importers in 2004, 60% are from Sub-Saharan Africa. African countries represent also 50% of top 20 countries, in terms of the share of total agriculture/ total exported merchandise in the world.

However, discovery of crude oil weakened the priority given to agriculture in Nigeria, and Nigeria slide into a mono-economic nation. With the recent global oil crisis which has affected Nigeria’s economy severely, once again Nigeria is faced with a mandatory need to diversify the economy, particularly to agriculture. Beyond planting of crops, harvesting, processing and selling, there are investment opportunities in agriculture in Nigeria, for example, cashew nut exportation. Nigeria has huge deposit of cashew nuts, in Kwara, Oyo, Kogi, Benue, and Osun among other states. In 2015, N1bn export deal was made with cashew growers in Nigeria which is driven by the rise in demand from China, India and other fast-growing economies; the global cashew boom has generated profits at most trading houses.

According to a news report, some cashew exporters in Nigeria are worth millions of dollars in annual revenue. There’s an on-going campaign to grow more cashews to meet global demands in coming years with the government and the private sector campaigning to farmers to increase local cultivation , cashew exports could be inching closer to a new peak of 400,000 tonnes.
Why Technology and Agriculture?
-Technology is an integral part of this century, any sector that wants to grow must be technology driven.
-To modernize agricultural practices and expose farmers to global trends in Agriculture
-To ensure accountability in agriculture funding
-To connect farmers with market.

Problems Facing Agriculture in Nigeria and the Place of Technology
For the purpose of this conference, we shall discuss three major problems confronting agricultural sector in Nigeria and how technology can be used to resolve them. In order to help farmers thrive, it is important not to only develop technologies that target specific needs of farmers but also to educate the farmers so they can embrace new ways and utilize them efficiently. For students of Computer Science here today, as we discuss these problems facing agriculture in Nigeria, the onus of proffering tech-driven solutions is on you. We shall be discussing three major problems confronting the agricultural sector in Nigeria and how technology can used in resolving them.

1. Middle Men Hostage
In Nigeria, farmers and consumers are squeezed by middle men. Middle men have held both farmers and consumers hostage. Farmers have no control over the market price of farm products, usually, the prices of farm products are largely determined by the middle man, and this makes the middle men more profitable at the expense of the farmer and the consumer. The middle men have disconnected farmers from consumers and ensured the major profits are captured, they dictate the market price of farm produce.

It is important to note that the profitability of farmers is essential to the sustainability of agriculture in Nigeria. Food items are unnecessarily costly because middle men dictate the market price. To safeguard the future of Agriculture in Nigeria, linking the retailers/consumers to farmers is very important. Nigeria is not the first nations to be faced with this problem, India among others are faced with similar problem.
Technological Solution

Today, E-commerce is fast growing in Nigeria. E-Commerce is gaining more popularity with the increasing number of people who are gaining internet access and are becoming IT literate, with the number of mobile phones surpassing the population of the country. The most common online activities of Nigerians in percentage are browsing and searching, 74 per cent, selection of a product, 56 per cent, paying online, 15 per cent, paying offline, 82 per cent and online checking of results, 43 per cent. This implies that, Nigerians are actively engaged in e-commerce.

However, on many of the e-commerce platforms where e-merchandise is done, clothing items and electronic gadgets are usually on display for sale. There is a need for a shift into sales of agricultural produce online in Nigeria; technological platforms should be developed to connect farmers directly with retailers/consumers. Initiative such as the local mobile application- Hojah (, which is a platform for cooked and raw food items to be sold should be encouraged. More of such platforms should be developed, and farmers should be encouraged and trained to use such platforms to display their produce in order to connect the market directly.

2. Farm Security
Insecurity in farms in rural Nigeria is increasingly alarming, particularly with the widespread of Fulani herdsmen attack on farmers and their farms. Even though the tension between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria has been in existence for many years, the tension is taking a more severe dimension with increasing and constant attacks on farms and farmers. In April 2016, among others, news reported that Fulani herdsmen invaded farm settlements in Ibadan destroying crops and injuring farmers. Similar attacks were launched against farmers in Benue, Ekiti and Ondo states.

The Nigerian government at all levels has started suggesting solutions to the on-going attacks on farms by Fulani herdsmen who take their cattle to graze on farm lands. One of the suggested solutions is creating grazing area. Creating grazing area is a fantastic way to resolve this, since the cattle will only move within the grazing area. However, the need to answer the following questions:
i. How will this grazing area be demarcated?
ii. How will herdsmen know when “they” and the cattle are out of boundaries?
iii. How can the government track movement of cattle in order to spot any cattle out grazing area?

Technological Solution
During President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the idea of distributing mobile phones for local farmers was raised. In order to ensure monitoring of grazing area for Fulani herdsmen and their cattle, and security for farmers, the following can be introduced:
i. Toll Free Emergency Call Line for Farmers: Since majority of the farmers use mobile phones, a toll free emergency number for farmers to connect security operatives is very important. Inability to report attacks early enough downplays tendencies of intervention by security operatives.
ii. Tracking Devices/Surveillance: More also, tracking devices and surveillance can be used in tracking movement of herdsmen and cattle; this will enable the government and the security agents to identify herdsmen who have crossed the grazing area into farm lands.
3. Lack of Access to Research Development
To make farming the backbone of Nigerian economy, it must be made viable. If the sector is not revamped, viability is impossible. There are developments in agriculture, such as improved seedlings and stems which grow faster with more yields, pest, weed and erosion control, new fertilizers e.t.c. but many farmers are unaware, particularly in rural areas. If farmers learn about new developments in agriculture, they are able to implement in their farms and increase productivity, hereby ensuring food security in the country.

Exposing the farming population to improved ways of farming will move farming out of traditional practices. Lack of access to research development in agriculture among rural farmers has continued to limit productivity. Many of these rural farmers cannot read English, but they are able to read local languages.
Technological Solution

An online farmers’ community where farmers connect, read and discuss developments in local languages is crucial. Just like social networking, farmers networking should be encouraged, to expose farmers to new practices, developments and trends in the farming profession.
Such platform should be developed, and farmers should be trained to take advantage of it for agricultural development in the country.

Dear audience, like I said earlier, above are the three major problems I consider very important, these problems need speedy technological solution. However, there are other problems confronting agriculture in Nigeria that needs technological solution, such as record keeping in farms, lack of access to funding opportunities e.t.c. The key focus of introducing technology to agriculture in Nigeria is to ease the practice of agriculture in Nigeria, increase viability of agriculture and ensure food security in Nigeria.

I urge Computer Scientists in Landmark University and other Universities across Nigeria to proffer solutions to these problems confronting agriculture in Nigeria through technology. The next set of billionaires in Africa will emerge from agricultural sector; let’s join hands to make agriculture a more lucrative venture.;postID=6826212828785340710

Overdependence on oil destroyed Nigeria's agriculture

A former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has averred that the country’s over dependence on oil revenues destroyed their hitherto bustling and buoyant agriculture-based economy.

Speaking at the presentation of a book, titled “We Are All Biafrans” authored by one Chido Onumah, at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Atiku in a speech said; ‘‘Excessive dependence on oil revenues led to the collapse of our agriculture-based economy. It also exposed the Nigerian economy to volatile market swings, booms and bursts.’‘
‘‘And it brought with it enormous social consequences such as wealth without labour, briefcase contractors and generations of youth accustomed to aspiring to be employed by others rather than thinking of creating jobs for themselves and others. It also led to the neglect of internally generated revenue, especially taxation,’‘ he added.
He bitterly bemoaned how despite its oil, Africa’s biggest economy was still lagging far behind its contemporaries who are also ‘blessed’ with the ressource. ‘‘According to the Human Development Index, 70% of our population lives below the poverty line compared to 21.4% for Brazil, 40.5% for Angola and 0% for Norway, to mention a few comparable oil producing countries,’‘ he posited.

He diagnosed the ‘oil curse’ phenomenon which he said had made Nigerians lazier, ‘‘As we became more dependent on oil revenues we became lazier, more complacent, and our leaders became ever more unaccountable.’‘
Atiku however said that coruption had the most destructive impact on Nigeria’s dependence on oil, adding that corruption has fostered not only in the oil industry but in society at large.

The politician who served as Vice President to Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007 also cited how other oil-producing countries had diversified their economies in order to have a cushion in the case of oil price plummets as is currently the case.
‘‘The US, U.K., Canada, Malaysia, and UAE are all oil producers. But because they have diversified economies, oil does not dominate their government revenues and does not have the same distortionary effect it has on our own,’‘ Atiku said.

He also called for Nigeria to take a relook at it’s over centralized federal structure in other to give the states and local government increased capacity to engage in development and other activities which are specific to their areas.

AfDB plans $175 M for agricultural transformation in North-West region

The Country Director, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Ousmane Dore, has earmarked 175 million dollars for Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme (ATASP-I) as instrument for consolidating the bank’s investments in Nigerian agricultural sector.
The latest edition of the bank’s newsletter, issued by its Nigerian Country Office on Tuesday in Abuja quoted Dore as saying this at a meeting held in Kaduna Government House recently.
He said that in recognition of its ongoing effort to transform agriculture from subsistence to agribusiness, AfDB was invited by the leadership of Nigeria’s North-West region to review the agricultural development strategy for the region.
Dore added that another aim of the invitation was for the bank to give an overview of its ongoing and upcoming interventions in agriculture in Nigeria as they relate to the seven North-West states.``In line with the agenda of the meeting, we (bank) have outlined the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program (ATASP-I) of 175 million dollars as the main instrument for consolidating bank investments in Nigeria agricultural sector.
``Under this programme, the bank has established four Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZs), which cover four out of the seven North-West states - Kebbi, Sokoto, Kano and Jigawa,’’ Dore said.
Dore also outlined two upcoming projects totalling 500 million dollars.
He said that 300 million dollars was on Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth Programme and 200 million dollars on Phase II of the ATASP.
Dore said that the forum recognised that the bank had been providing financial support to SMSE through lines of credit to several commercial banks as well as through the policy banks like Bank of Industry and NEXIM.
He added that the forum also appreciated the bank’s technical assistance to the Bank of Agriculture through grants.
Dore said that the governors expressed gratitude to the bank and its president for supporting the region.
He said that they also gave the assurance of working closely with the bank to finalise and operationalise their agriculture strategies;postID=862206887257460612