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2021 World Food Day : FG Sets Aside N600bn Loan Support for 2.4m Farmers – Buhari

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The Federal Government says it has, through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS), set aside N600 billion as loans to support 2.4 million farmers across the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed this at the opening of the National Agricultural Show/Exhibition of the 2021 World Food Day, on Wednesday, in Abuja.

The theme of the 2021 edition of the Agricultural Show is: “Our Actions are our Future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.

Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr  Mohammed Abubakar, said his Administration was not resting on its oars in addressing the challenges of the country’s agricultural sector.

” The Federal Government, through the Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support project (APPEALS), has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country.

” No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest.

” The gesture will support farmers in the country, to improve their productivity aimed at boosting the country’s food security, improving farmers’ production and increasing exports.

” It is gratifying that the sector is being treated as a business, no longer as a development project, with massive distribution of high quality farm inputs, dissemination of appropriate research results and significant enhancement of the agricultural commodity value chains.

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” I would wish to reiterate and it is clear that if the agricultural sector must be made more productive and food systems sustainable, we must all be prepared to invest massively in the sector and rise to the call against looming food crisis as predicted by the World Bank, FAO, AfDB and other key actors in food and agriculture,” he said.

The president noted that since the beginning of the 2021 farming season, the Federal Government had distributed inputs to states, across the country to boost food production.

” Nigeria recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops especially, maize and rice, which rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT).

” The same is obtainable for cassava, whose production rose from 58.47 MT in 2018 to 73.91MT and is even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023.

” Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production. Cattle beef, dairy and fish production also rose by 166 per cent, 146 per cent, and 11 per cent, respectively between 2020 and 2021.

” The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicates that Nigeria’s national agricultural import bill also reduced from 1.2 to 1.1 billion Naira,” he said.

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Also speaking, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, Chairman,  Senate Committee on Agriculture, said that the Buhari- administration had initiated programmes and polices towards agricultural development and food security in the country.

Adamu, who thanked God for the World Food Day which comes up on Oct. 16, 2021, noted that it was a very important day on the calendar of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). (NAN) 

Agriculture

Agribusiness: Kebbi Govt. Disburses N126.7m Grant to 8 Cooperatives

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The Kebbi Government in collaboration with the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), have disbursed N126.7 million to eight cooperative associations, aimed at eradicating poverty in the state.

The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Maigari Abdullahi-Dakingari, made this known while briefing newsmen on Thursday in Birnin Kebbi.

“Kebbi government in collaboration with USADF signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding of 500,000 dollars each, to provide seed capital and technical assistance to local agribusinesses.

“The partnership targets eight cooperative associations that add values to commodities.

“Kebbi State was the first to contribute its counterpart fund of 500,000 dollars and subsequently USADF gave its own part of the fund under the programme,” Abdullahi-Dakingari said.

He said that N126.7 million had been disbursed to the associations out of N319.4 million approved grant for the project.

“Five million dollars is going to be utilised for a period of five years and the disbursement has commenced already from the first approved grant of N319.4 million.

“Dankwalli Rice Farmers Association got approved grant of N41.2 million and was mobilised with N22.8 million. Gaskiya Diary Cooperative got approved grant of N41.6 million and was mobilised with N10.3 million.

“Also Sangara Cooperative got N36.2 million and was mobilised with N12.8 million.

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“Birgin Jigawa Dairy Cooperative and Magajin Karaye Cooperative got approved grant of N40.3 million and N36.3 million and were mobilised with N10.3 million and N14.3 million respectively.

“Matan Fada Cooperative got N41.6 million and was mobilised with N15.1 million.

“Dawanau got N41.2 million and was mobilised with N18.7 million, while Tondi Gada got N40.6 million and was mobilised with N22.2 million,” Abdullahi-Dakingari
explained.

The Commissioner recalled that the staff of each of the cooperatives had received training on USADF accounting policies, procedures and reporting requirements to ensure effective and judicious management of the project funds.

He also revealed that the goal was to, first of all, encourage the participating farmer associations to view agriculture as a business rather than as a subsistence activity.

“The project is expected to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in the beneficiaries.

“Overall, this is expected to engender an inclusive economic growth as more than 200,000 people are going to benefit from the project,” Abdullahi – Dakingari said.

The commissioner urged the beneficiaries of the project to abide by the laid down guidelines and policies of the project in order to actualise the objective it was meant to achieve. (NAN)

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Agriculture

Nigeria Develops Drought, Insect Resistant Maize Seed – NABDA

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Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said that indigenous scientists have successfully developed insect and drought resistant maize seeds in the country.

Mustapha stated this at the inauguration of a two-day retreat for the North East based journalists, farmers and agricultural extension agents, on Wednesday in Yola.He said that efforts were on to raise the maize variety for commercial purposes to enhance farmer access to the genetically modified seeds. According to him, the development of maize variety is to help smallholder farmer overcome the challenges associated with crop cultivation.
“Recall that Nigeria made history as the first country in Africa and the world at large to develop and release a cowpea variety that is resistant to the notorious Pod Borer.“Pod Borer has the capacity of destroying a whole beans farm and leaving the farmer helpless.“Many of you here have already planted the beans and looking forward to the benefits.“Also, efforts to commercially release a maize variety that is both drought tolerant and insect resistant are in place,” he said.Mustapha said that Nigeria would be the second country in Africa to make the breakthrough, adding that agricultural biotechnology became acceptable option to improve farming practices and productivity worldwide.The D-G said that the retreat was designed to properly prepare journalists and media outfits to be an integral part of the development processes.In her remarks, Dr Rose Maxwell, Deputy Director in the agency, said that the aim of the training was to provide accurate and up to date information about advances in the biotechnology sector since its adoption in the country.Maxwell said that the media has a critical role to play in creating awareness on biotechnology concept, and to address issues of misunderstanding in the face of opposition to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).“Among the objectives of the training is to bring journalists up to speed with development in biotechnology and how such changes can improve lives and general well being of Nigerians,” she said.Also, Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri, represented by his deputy, Mr Seth Crowther, said that Adamawa was set for complete economic transformation in its drive to reduce reliance on oil revenue and encourage diversification through agriculture.“The strategy to train the media alongside the farmers and extension agents is a right step in the right direction. “We are also happy that you chose to host this event for the North East in Adamawa, which is an agrarian state.“Adamawa is well known for cotton, soybeans, yam, sorghum, sugar cane, groundnut, rice, cowpea, and maize cultivation as well as animal husbandry,” he said. (NAN)

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Agriculture

Desert Locust Invasion can Disrupt Food Security- FAO

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has warned that the desert locust which is the world’s largest mitigatory crop pest is capable of leading millions of people into food insecurity if left unchecked.

It said the menace of diseases and pests in West Africa is clearly evident in the considerable annual losses of up to 25 per cent of animal production and as high as 40 per cent of plant production.

FAO Representative in Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Fred Kafeero, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja.

He was speaking at the opening session of the capacity building workshop for competent authorities at National level on the best practices for the anticipation and control of desert locust invasion in West Africa and the Sahel Sub-Region.

Kafeero, who was represented by the Assistant FAO Representative programme, Abubakar Suleiman, said the FAO would ensure implementation of anticipatory and early actions, provide technical assistance to countries and strengthen regional coordination to check the menace of the pest.

According to him, FAO places importance on supporting government efforts at enhancing disaster risk reduction and resilience building in line with its country programing network.

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He said FAO would fight against locusts by encouraging ”no regrets” investments to strengthen countries’ preparedness and anticipatory action to safeguard the livelihood of their people.

“This will contribute to saving the livelihoods of the affected populations and increasing their resilience to the desert locust invasion.

“It is in view of implementation of this anticipatory and early actions that a technical cooperation project titled “Capacity building of ECOWAS in prevention, surveillance and control of the desert locust.

“As well that the analysis of its impact on Food security and nutrition in the Sahel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ has been developed to be implemented with the support of FAO in collaboration with the Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development, ECOWAS Commission.

“The project is to provide technical assistance and build and strengthen the locust surveillance and control capacity of targeted countries including Cameroon, Gambia and Nigeria in the area of preparedness and anticipatory actions to prevent the desert locust invasion,” he said.

In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said the need for Nigeria and its neighbours within the African continent to join efforts toward the survey and management of such pests was imperative.

Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr Olaniran Alabi, said the training would go a long way in strengthening the capacity of field staff in responding to invasion by any transboundary pests.(NAN)

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