AGRICULTURE NEWS

NEWSMAN, Abuja – To eradicate touting and multiplicity of vehicular taxes and levies imposed by local government areas on farmers moving food produce along federal highways, the Nigeria Police Force said they have arrested one Mike Eboziegbe alias Otumba for allegedly leading a team that harasses as well as extorting money from motorists through the introduction of strange levies not backed by law.

The arrest was affected by men of the Inspector-General’s team, following a petition against Eboziegbe and his team by the National Taskforce Commander of Joint Mobile Sanitation Agency of Nigeria (JOMSAN).

The agency’s boss Chief Martins Njoku revealed that the petition became imperative following a series of complaints of multiple vehicular taxes, intimidation and harassments by touts claiming to act on the authority of local government areas as their revenue agents.

Njoku further explained that JOMSAN is the only body engaged by Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) as Consultant/Coordinators to help eradicate touting and multiplicity of vehicular taxes and levies imposed by local governments, The Nation reported.

He said: “Our main focus is to ensure that haulage vehicles move freely within the country and curtail the excesses of road blockage as well as end double taxation on food produce.

“Farmers should be able to move food products across the country without any harassment or being impounded for one levy or the other. We are doing this in line with the directive from the National Assembly which mandated ALGON to ensure that the roads are free from miscreants and people who pretend to be working for the government. We are the ones on ground to actualise that directive and that’s what we are doing”.

AGRICULTURE NEWS

NEWSMAN, Maiduguri – National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has provided food intervention to 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Borno state from January to December this year.

In accordance with the approval of the Director General of the Agency, Muhammadu Muhammed, each household received 25kg of beans, 12.5 kg of rice and maize each and 4.6 kilogram of condiments as part of the federal government’s efforts to ease the hardship of IDPs displaced by insurgency.

Head Food Distribution NEMA Northeast, Umar Sani, disclosed this during the monthly distribution exercise to 4,800 households at Farm Center Camp in Maiduguri.

He explained that the Agency distributes foods items monthly to 228,000 IDPs in 20 camps, host communities and liberated areas in the state. The food assistance has greatly help in mitigating food crisis in the camps.

Sani expressed commitment of the Agency to sustain the exercise to improve the well-being of displaced persons, Vanguard reported.

“We don’t have problems with the IDPs, since January to date, there was no complain of hunger among the IDPs, food is being distributed to them before the end of every month since the coming of the present Director General NEMA and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs”.

He urged the displaced persons not to sell the items as government is doing everything possible to improve their livelihood.

Some of the beneficiaries in Farm Center Camp Ruqayya Jugudum from Mafa and Isiyaka Umoru from konduga appreciated the gesture from NEMA, explained that their families can now afford three square meals courtesy of the food intervention from NEMA.


AGRICULTURE BUSINESS NEWS

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Food Growers Association of Nigeria (FOGAN) has said it is working toward building silos across the country to address the challenges of storage facilities.

The national president of the association, King Joseph Owolabi, speaking at a news conference in Abuja, said it has become necessary for members to take the challenge of access to storage head-on.

‘‘The organisation was set to bring the overwhelming unemployed youth back to the farm as business, not just as subsistence farmers, stressing that agriculture should be a business performing like other businesses’’.

He said FOGAN would provide fertilisers, insecticide and seedlings at affordable prices to its members nationwide. Also, with the support and cooperation of all Nigerians here and in Diaspora, hunger and youth restiveness will be a thing of the past, by 2024, Daily Trust reported.

“We are appealing to all the state chairmen not to use FOGAN as a political affiliation or playing politics on our mission and vision.

“The Food Growers Association of Nigeria is for peasant farmers, the vulnerable and teeming unemployed youths in the country”, Owolabi stated.

BUSINESS NEWS

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has once again blamed the rising food inflation on supply-related issues, shifting the blame away from its monetary policy.

The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals that the inflation rate for the month of October rose to 14.23% year on year. Food inflation, a major component of Nigeria’s inflation rate, rose by 17.38% year on year, underpinning the high cost of food suffered by millions of Nigerians.

The central bank in its monetary policy committee meeting held in September identified the rising food inflation and blamed it on factors that are beyond its control. The latest MPC release contains the personal statements of the members.

The increase in headline inflation was largely driven by the persistent increase in the food component, which rose to 16.00% in August 2020, from 15.48% in July 2020. The core component also rose to 10.52% in August from 10.10 per cent in July 2020.

These upticks were driven primarily by legacy structural factors, such as the inadequate state of critical infrastructure and broad-based security challenges across the country, which dampened production activities. Other factors include the disruptions to supply chains, following restrictions to movements to curb the spread of the pandemic; adverse weather conditions, which resulted in the flooding of farmlands; as well as the inflation pass-through to domestic prices, following the depreciation in the exchange rate.

The recent increase in energy cost is also expected to further impact the domestic price level in the short-term, Nairametrics reported.

By dumping inflation targeting from the demand side, the CBN is simply betting that spending money on stimulus programs will pay off down the road, as cheaper long-term credit will reduce the cost of goods and services and will eventually reflect in the lower inflation rate.

AGRICULTURE NEWS

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Nigeria’s food processing sub-sector is responsible for at least half of all manufacturing jobs in the country, a new report by the FAO says.

The report released in September by the Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations (FAO) said many of the jobs are in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the informal economy.

The report titled “The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets” covers analyses on agricultural markets and sustainable development, global value chains, smallholder farmers, and digital innovations.

The report makes an important contribution to the argument on how well-functioning markets can contribute to inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It says in West Africa, the food processing sector is the largest manufacturing sub‑sector in terms of employment.

“It accounts for only 5 percent of employment in the total agri‑food economy but represents an average of 30 percent of total secondary sector employment,” the report says.

Food processing implies the processing of clean and harvested crops into marketable and edible products. Looking at the huge market potentials surrounding the sector, the food processing sector remains less developed in Nigeria, according to experts.

On June 3, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, alongside the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Sab Nanono, said the Nigerian government has set up plans to establish 142 agro-processing centres across the country, with one centre in each senatorial district of the six geo-political zones, PREMIUM Times reported.

The plans came a few months after the African Development Bank (AFDB), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, promised to spend $300,000 million to develop Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZS) across the country.

This is aimed at boosting food security, creating jobs, reducing food imports and enabling food producers, processors and distributors to operate within one vicinity.

According to experts, the food processing sector has the capacity to reduce unemployment rate in the country.

In the recent report of Nigeria’s unemployment rate released by the National Bureau of Statistics for the second quarter of 2020 (Q2 2020), the unemployment rose from 23.1 per cent that was last released in the third quarter of 2018 to 27.1 per cent, showing about 4 per cent increase from the previous rate.

With the growing rate of demand of food processing activities, the report identifies unreliable supply of raw materials and quality inconsistency as possible challenges.

“To improve the reliable and steady supply of agricultural commodities, food processors have started shifting from sourcing from spot markets to engaging in more formal contracts with farms,” the report said.

The report also identifies that many other developing countries are experiencing this transformation in the food processing sector.

“Today, midstream segments can form 30 to 40 percent of the value-added in food value chains in developing countries. For example, in Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China and India, the share of the midstream segments in total marketing margins in rice value chains was found to average around 32 percent, while it was estimated at 42 percent for potato value chains,” the report said.

AGRICULTURE NEWS

NEWSMAN, Abeokuta – To tackle poverty, Ogun State is relying on inclusive agricultural growth in the rural areas, aim is to increase the income of rural households.

Commissioner for Agriculture, Samson Odedina, speaking during an online webinar said the government has taken steps to bolster food security by providing farmers with support and pursuing reforms to strengthen the industry.

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic challenged the state’s economy, jobs, food and nutrition and has shown how critical the food system was in ensuring resiliency

To help farmers, the commissioner said the state is working with partners to distribute seeds and other inputs to help them produce fresh and healthy food, which were made available and accessible to residents, THE NATION reported.

The Commissioner said, ‘‘With unemployment high across the country, Ogun is encouraging youths to venture into farming’’.

He said the Government is ready and working towards empowering a 1000 youths in various agric ventures to increase economic development opportunities and support entrepreneurs who are ready to launch agriculture and food systems projects and others who want to build their capacity to participate in the sector.

Odedina said the plan was to deploy substantial public resources and mobilise private investment to make the agricultural sector more competitive, as well as increase its value-added through agro-industrial activities.

So far, he said, the agriculture sector has grown exponentially and the positive trend was likely to continue.

The growth, he explained, had been very positive for the economy as well as for those whose jobs depend on agriculture.

According to him, the sector has seen palpable improvement, attracting domestic investment and increase in processing of agricultural goods.

Odedina attributed the development of the sector to the government goals of creating rural jobs and boosting food production migration through the improvement of socio-economic conditions across various agricultural areas of the state.

On the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower’s Programme (ABP), he explained that the funds from it are credited into the beneficiaries’ account, without passing through any intermediary.

He said direct disbursement was adopted because the beneficiaries entered into agreement with the apex bank and farmers’ organisations and that the beneficiaries must abide by the terms of the credit linkage.

He noted that the Ministry and farmers groups maintain a technologically-driven verified list of the processed and pending application for the Anchor Borrower’s Programme, as it was “practically impossible to misappropriate or divert funds, as there was a validation exercise for each participating farmer, who is linked to the National Identify Scheme.

Another speaker at the webinar was the Team Leader, International and Rural Development, the Livelihoods Support and Development Centre, Prof Kola Adebayo.

He urged the government to sustain a partnership that will enable it to benefit from the expertise of researchers and specialists.

He said every effort should be targeted towards making Ogun a platform for best practices, innovative solutions and technologies which will be applied on the ground in various value chains.

Adebayo urged the government to provide a greater focus on large-scale agriculture infrastructure development, while also encouraging private investment.

The Managing Director, AACE Foods, Temitope Jebutu, said the company sources raw materials from smallholder farmers in Ogun    and transform them into spices, spreads, sauces and complementary foods.

According to him, chili peppers, ginger, garlic, soya beans, and maize are among the products, AACE sources from smallholder farmers.

Through its innovative packaging, competitive pricing strategy and distribution approach, he said the organisation has created a market for low-income farmers.

 Managing Director, Agro-Park Development Company Limited, Sola Olunowo, said his organisation has provided a platform to share knowledge and experiences on innovations and encourage youths in agriculture.

He said  the focus  is   on investing in expanded agricultural research, ensuring farmers access to the market economy and improved infrastructure and improving food security.

AGRICULTURE
NEWSMAN – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in collaboration with IsDB Group Business Forum (THIQAH) jointly held a live webinar entitled “The Role of AgriTech in Food Security & Sustainability” to discuss sustainable climate-smart agricultural technologies for achieving food and nutrition security.

The AgriTech webinar series  is an initiative by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) to support the OIC member countries to leverage the power of the digital transformation to advance growth in the agricultural sector, focusing on promoting trade and investments of agricultural products.

The webinar highlighted the most promising AgriTech solutions to enhance efficiencies of agricultural value chains at the national, regional and global level. The webinar also focused on raising environmental awareness and demonstrated AgriTech solutions that can contribute positively to preserving and restoring the environment, as well as establishing strategic partnerships among various stakeholders to materialize the applications of AgriTech solutions and good agronomic practices to advance the sector.

The CEO of ITFC, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, delivered the opening remarks at the webinar. He noted that “Globally, agriculture employs around 1 billion people, that is 1 in every 3 workers. In OIC member countries, agriculture employees over 230 million people, nonetheless the yield is way below the global average. Such gap can only be bridged with knowledge and technology.”  

He also added that, “In ITFC we believe in building strategic partnerships among various stakeholders to collaborate in addressing the food security and environmental sustainability issues. There is a role for Governments, MDBs, FIs, agriculture companies, commodity traders, tech providers, legal firms, research centers and academic institutions. The result of such a collaboration will directly contribute to SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 12 (Responsible Consumption & Production), 13 (Climate Action) and 15 (Life on Land).”

The webinar, which was presented in English and included French, Arabic and Russian interpretations, featured panel discussions and presentations by industry experts in the field of Agriculture, AgriTech and Trade Finance who shared their in-depth opinions and experiences on industry related topics followed by a Q&A session.

Moderated by Dr. Muhammadou Kah, Panel Member, The Malabo Montpellier Panel, and Professor of Information Technology & Computing – American University of Nigeria, the first panel discussion entitled “Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture” was joined by Carlo Bravi, Project Coordinator, FAO, Nicolas Tremblay, Lead Regional Environment and Climate Specialist, IFAD, Dr. Bashir Jama, Lead Global Practice and Food Security Specialist, IsDB, and Rajiv Pradhan, Country Director in Cambodia, Swiss Contact.

With different areas of expertise, the panellists spoke with the participants on the best practices to boost crop yields, develop strong value chains that are inclusive of the youth and women, protection of the environment and expansion of the natural resources supply as well as the sustainment of the economic viability of agriculture systems. This was followed by a presentation on “Agricultural Digital Community Platform” by Paul Voutier, Director, Knowledge & Innovation – Grow Asia.

Dr. Bashir Jama – Lead, Global Practice, Food Security Specialist  at IsDB stated “Sustainable agricultural systems that are smallholder farmers-led must be anchored on robust value chains that engage the private sector effectively and also deploy science, technology and innovations. This is critical to attain the scale necessary and to build resiliency to climate change and markets volatility.”

During the second panel discussion, the panellists including Nabil Marc Abdul-Massih, CEO, Inoks Capital, Birgül Akman Sönmezler, Head of AGRI Banking Marketing, DenizBank and Yassine Oussaifi, Partner, AfricInvest Group, shared their multilateral perspectives on “The Role of FIs in Sustainable Farming”.

The current technologically driven world presents opportunities and efficiencies to agriculture starting with the supply chain. New technologies disrupting the agricultural sector – blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and robotics are some of the emerging digital technologies that are expected to transform the food and agriculture systems into Agriculture 4.0 (the Fourth Agriculture Revolution).  This is reflected well on IsDB’s new business model – Making Markets for Development and is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

As part of initiatives to promote the growth of the agricultural sector in member countries, IsDB will through ITFC and other entities of the bank group be implementing two key interventions – full-cycle Islamic financing products which offers pre-financing to farmers to grow crops as well as offer training programs on the best agricultural practices and institutional support to improve the market access opportunities for agriculture products.

To complement these initiatives, ITFC will also provide technical assistance to farmers and associated agribusinesses to build their capacities to use the digital tools to enhance agricultural productivity and efficiency such as providing them with direct access to global markets.

The webinar witnessed 800 participants and viewers from ministries of agriculture of member states, MDBs, Agriculture companies of member states, selected academic and agricultural institutions, the 2.5 hours live webinar concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Muhammadou Kah.

The 2nd webinar, entitled “Digital Supply Chain” will be held on the 25th of November 2020.