By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The presidency has refuted news making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari has restricted the importation of agricultural products into the country.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu made the rebuttal on Sunday while reacting to a letter to the editor published in the Financial Times titled”Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports”, 15th August 2019.
Shehu explained that it was not a ban, rather the Central Bank of Nigeria( CBN) will not provide forex for food importers.
He said any food importer was free to source forex from non-government financial institutions and pay customs duty on those imports.
”Your article “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports” (15 August) suggests the Nigerian Government is restricting the import of agricultural products into the country.This is simply incorrect. To be absolutely clear, there is no ban – or restriction – on the importation of food items whatsoever.
“President Buhari has consistently worked towards strengthening Nigeria’s own industrial and agricultural base. A recent decision sees the Central Bank maintain its reserves to put to use helping growth of domestic industry in 41 product sectors rather than provide FOREX for the import of those products from overseas.
“Should importers of these items wish to source their FOREX from non-government financial institutions (and pay customs duty on those imports – increasing tax-take, something the FT has berated Nigeria for not achieving on many occasions) they are freely able to do so.
“Diversification of FOREX provision towards the private sector and away from top-heavy government control, a diversification of Nigeria’s industrial base, and an increase in tax receipts – are all policies one might expect the Financial Times to support.
“Yet for reasons not quite clear, the author and this newspaper seem to believe the president’s administration seeks to control everything – and yet do so via policies that relinquish government control.
“We look forward to the next installment of Mr. Munshi’s bizarre and puzzling article series,” the presidential spokesman stated.
Daily Asset calls that President Buhari had last week said that he had directed the CBN governor to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country, considering the steady improvement in agricultural production, and attainment of full food security.
The President said that the foreign reserve would be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
Buhari Inaugurates 5,700 Hectares Hadejia Irrigation Scheme
President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugurated the 5,700 hectares Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme in Auyo, Jigawa, to boost food security in the country.
“The project which covered over 5,700 hectares of irrigable farms will significantly contribute to our quest for food security, job creation, economic diversification and the attainment of our objectives of none oil dependent economy,” he said.
The President laid the foundation of the project in 2018.
The project, designed for rice farming, was executed under the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING), supported by the World Bank.
TRIMING is a special intervention scheme of the Federal Government aimed at promoting sustainable irrigation in the country.
Buhari urged the host community to take advantage of the opportunities provided by gigantic irrigation infrastructure to enhance their livelihood.
“It will be a small part in our overall quest to uplift one hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years,” the president added.
He urged the Jigawa Government to sustain its commitment in agriculture, saying he has heard the success story of its cluster farming system.
Buhari commended Gov. Badaru Abubakar for the achievements recorded in the last seven years, adding that he was amazed by the number of projects executed by the governor across all sectors.
Buhari sympathised with victims of the flood disaster in different communities of Auyo, Miga, Kafin Hausa, Kiyawa, Jahun, Birnin Kudu, Dutse and other parts of the state.
The president promised to provide additional relief support to the victims through the National Committee on Flood set up by the Federal Government.
“Today I was able to personally see the extent of the damages while flying from Auyo, Kafin Hausa, Jahun, some parts of Miga, Kiyawa, Dutse and Birnin kudu Local Government Areas of the state,” he said.
The President also inaugurated the Malam Alu Ago Allied Company and Tallest Flag in Nigeria in Birnin Kudu.
He urged Nigerians to use technology to drive agricultural production and other sectors of the economy.
“Technology is something that will solve a lot of our problems; use your heads more, your initiative and use technology and I believe with determination, you will all succeed,” he added.
Earlier, Badaru attributed the huge infrastructure development in the state to the support received from the president.
He said President Buhari administration provided several intervention funds without which the achievements recorded would not be realised.
He also commended the president for completing several projects he inherited across the country, some of which were abandoned for more than two decades.
Also speaking, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, thanked the president for releasing billions of naira which enabled the ministry to undertake various irrigation and water projects nationwide.
FG Establishes 500 Capacity Livestock Farm in Sokoto
The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has established an animal husbandry farm with cow milking parlour.
The farm with capacity for 500 cows and cow milking parlour with capacity of 200 cows in a set, sits on a 100 hectares land in Sokoto State.
NALDA said the idea behind the project was to develop a modern animal husbandry farm that would sustain itself and reduce the movement of cows within the area.
The Executive Secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen after inspecting the farm and the poultry feed mill facility, said he was satisfied with the level of work at the facilities.
He explained that the essence of establishing the modern animal husbandry farm, which has cow pens with napier grass on 50 hectares, with the construction of clinics/veterinary sections and a training centre, was to reduce the movement of cattle and end the farmers/herders clashes.
Ikonne said that NALDA was committed to achieving food security and development, as he assured that the farm would generate employment, hygienic milk production and cow fattening for meat.
At the same time, the farm would train and encourage young farmers to go into animal husbandry and animal food formulation, according to the NALDA boss.
Construction workers were spotted at the 100 hectares farmland at the section of the clinic and training centre building where work was ongoing, while the 500 cow capacity pens and the cow milking parlour have both been completed.
Also spotted were those watering the napier grass field using the boreholes provided by NALDA at the farm.
The farm is located at Dabagin-lafia, opposite the Usman Danfodio University farm, while the poultry feed mill is situated in Dayin village along the road to Doba, in Sokoto State.
“NALDA is into partnership with Prime Ranch Ltd, who donated the 100 hectares of land where we are establishing the animal husbandry farm, napier grass field and will cultivate maize and millet on 30 hectares of the said land,” Ikonne stated.
“The establishment of the napier grass field is to ensure feed production for the cows, as that will eliminate the roaming around of the animals in search of feed, thereby curtailing farmer/herder clash.
“The milking parlour will serve both the cows in the farm and other animal husbandry farmers who would want their cows milked in a hygienic way.
“Prime Ranch will manage the farm on completion based on their wealth of experience in animal husbandry. This type of partnership is sustainable, productive and should be encouraged in order for us to achieve food security and development,” he added.
On employment opportunities through the partnership, Ikonne stated that with the establishment of the poultry feed mill, which Prime Ranch provided the land and was managing the 62,000 poultry capacity, there would be feed production for small farmers across the zone and other parts of the country.
He said job opportunities would also be created for those who would work at the milking parlour by attending to the cows.
“The employment chain will not be anything less than 400, consisting of workers who would be directly involved in these activities, outside the output, which is achieving food sufficiency,” he stated.
Also speaking during inspection of both projects, the farms and feed mill, the Founder, Prime Ranch Ltd, Nafiu Yakubi, said the partnership with NALDA was coming into fruition.
“The thinking when we incorporated Prime Ranch years back, is to have a ranch kind of arrangement whereby we grow our animals, grow their feeds, fatten them, and sell them off to the market. The partnership with NALDA is a very cordial one. They support us in all areas that we need support from them,” he said.
On the output from the partnership, Yakubu said, “Arising from this partnership with NALDA, you have seen the feed mill. We are currently producing feed for our poultry and other NALDA poultry farmers.”
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for encouraging young farmers through NADLA, stressing that the President had called Nigerians to return to farming, as he urged Nigerian youths to yield to the call.
“I am a lawyer and I am back to the farm, so Nigerian youths should go back to farming. It is very profitable and the opportunities are very wide,” Yakubu stated.
Agric Ministry, Lagos Govt Partner on Proper Nationwide Meat Haulage
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said it was ready to work with Lagos State government in order to improve the distribution of meat across the country.
Speaking during a study tour and stakeholders engagement to understudy the air-cool Meatvans from the Abattoirs and Slaughterhouses to the various meat markets in Lagos State recently, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria and Director Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Dr.
She revealed that the Ministry would facilitate the process to ensure that a policy was drafted to ensure smooth operations, enforcement and implementation of the process across the nation, pointing out that the Ministry had procured 37 vehicles that would be distributed to butchers for free in order to facilitate the process across the country”.
She further stated that the Ministry would strengthen it collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to make every structure and every movement of meat from abattoir to the market across the country a success.
In her remarks the Hon. Commissioner Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture Ms. Ruth Abisola Olusanya said that “prior to the launching of Eko Meat van Project in Year 2004, Meat haulage business in Lagos State was rather disorganised, haphazard and unregulated, adding that wooden carts were used to transport Meat and Carcasses from Abattoirs and Slaughter facilities to the deboning and bulk-breaking sections.
She pointed out that four Private investors and Butchers Association Group formed the executing stakeholders to run the fleet of air-cool Meatvans from the Abattoirs and Slaughterhouses to the various meat markets statewide, noting that the project was funded by Polaris bank in agreement with the stakeholders.
She further stated that In 2009, the Ministry launched the Eko Refrigerated Meatvan Project which was an advancement of the air-cool Eko Meatvans into refrigerated form and a total of fourteen private investors’ companies along with the State Butchers Association’s and Lagoon Butchers Ventures were successfully –screened and licensed to operate the project under a jointly-registered cooperative umbrella (Agege Meat van Multipurpose Cooperative society).
In his welcome address, the state Director of veterinary services Dr. Macaulay Rasheed Molade said that “the refrigerated meat transportation project runs from 2009 till date and it is involved in the daily haulage of Meat carcasses, cattle officials, head and feet as well as other cow parts from the abattoirs/slaughter facilities to the various meat markets”.
Earlier, in his Goodwill message, the Chairman Lagos State butchers Association Mr. Alabi Bamidele Kazeem said that “the butchers have been supportive to the state government and will continue give its maximum cooperation”.
The Essence of the Visit was to understudy the model of meat haulage in the state’s abattoirs, under the umbrella company known as the EKO REFRIGERATED MEAT HAULAGE. It aimed at adopting the best practices in our abattoirs nationwide and learn from the challenges that come from the initiatives in order to improve on them.
In attendance were Representative of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), National Agricultural Insurance Cooperation (NAIC), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and the CEO A is Farmers Market.
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