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Desert Locust Invasion can Disrupt Food Security- FAO




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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FG Pledges Support to Potato, Root Crops Initiatives




The Federal Government has solicited more financial support and opportunities to enhance production, processing and upscaling of investments in the potato value chain.

In a statement, Mr Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, quoted the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Mustapha Shehuri, as saying this at the first international Potato Value Chain and Roots Summit in Plateau State on Thursday.

The theme of the summit was “Repositioning Potato and Root Crops Agribusiness in Plateau State issues, challenges and prospects”.

Shehuri said agriculture, being the focus of the Federal Government’s diversification agenda, deserves a better agro-financing to provide credit facilities to support the sector’s Value Chain activities.

He said the ministry would explore the opportunities and resources available to support subsequent initiatives that would boost Potato and other Root Crops Production and Processing.

“Nigeria has a comparative advantage in the production of Root and Tuber Crops. In reality, the country leads in the production of Yam, Cassava and Sweet Potatoes in Africa, and ranks as 7th highest producer of Irish Potatoes.

“The Ministry is also aware of the huge investment opportunities that exist within the Irish Potato Value Chain.

“However, there are some challenges such as poor seed, disease infestation (late blight), inadequate storage facilities and mechanisation among others that must be addressed at both the Federal and State levels.

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“The Ministry is firmly committed to tackling these challenges and will invest resources to this effect for the benefit of potato farmers in Nigeria,” he said.

The Minister disclosed that some of the measures taken to tackle these challenges included the establishment of Tissue Culture Centre at the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI) Sub-station, Jos, Plateau, to solve the seed problems.

“A 20-hectare irrigated land which is also ongoing to support seed multiplication and a 10-ton cold storage facility are currently being built in the station.

“In addition, two cottage factories have been constructed at Pankshin and Bokkos Local Government Areas (LGAs) to support processors in the State to address post-harvest losses.

“All these have been done in recognition of Plateau State as the highest producer of Irish Potatoes in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. As a matter of fact, the Plateau State Rural Economy revolves around Potato production.

“Recently, the Ministry procured some equipment to support production, and these equipment have been made available for Potato Cooperatives/Farmers at highly-subsidised rates,” he said.

He urged Potato farmers across  the nation to take advantage of numerous supports available to boost production, improve processing and increase income.

Shehuri appreciated efforts of other potato producers in States like Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Cross River, Bauchi, Taraba, Katsina, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Sokoto.

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“These states are also leading producers with good and suitable climate and they also optimised their production all year round,” he said.

He appealed for more robust collaboration with relevant Government Authorities, Agencies, Research Institutes and other Non-Governmental Stakeholders for a holistic approach to the revitalisation  of the Potato Value Chain and Root Crops.

In his remarks, the Governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, represented by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Tyoden, said: “As for potato, we are second to none in Nigeria and have a high reputation for production of the crop in large quantities.

“This international conference is indeed holding at a time when we have put our best foot forward in consolidating our position as far as potato is concerned in Nigeria. Jos Potato has come to stay and we will drive it to higher heights.”

Speaking also, Dr Hosea Finangwai, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Plateau, said the Summit provided the platform for smallholder farmers to collaborate with stakeholders towards improving the livelihood of farmers by increasing production and income, especially by women and youths in the State. (NAN)

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Farmers in Enugu State Say Anti-Open Grazing Law Has No Impact




Chairman of the Enugu State chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Romanus Eze, on Thursday decried the continued destruction of crops in the state by herders.

Eze told newsmen in Enugu that farmers were yet to feel the impact of the anti-open grazing law signed by Gov.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in September.

Gov. Ugwuanyi signed the Prohibition of Open Grazing and Cattle Ranching Law of Enugu State following the decision by governors of the 17 states in the south of Nigeria in May to ban open grazing in their states.

Eze noted that farmers in the state did not know if the law was being enforced as the destruction of farm crops by cattle was still “a serious challenge’’.

“Herders are destroying most of the farms in Enugu State, especially those in large clusters inside the bush. This is a serious challenge.

“Farmers are even afraid to go to their farms because they may be attacked, kidnapped or even raped. These are the issues we have.

“For example, in Anuka community in Nsukka Local Government Area, most of our farms there have been vandalised with impunity by herders.

“They even uproot the stems and give them to their cows,’’ he said.

See also  FG to Inaugurate 200,000 Capacity Yam Storage Facility in Benue on June 9

The AFAN chairman noted that several written complaints to forest guards, the Department of State Services and the Enugu State Commissioner of Police yielded no result.

Eze urged the state government to provide adequate security for farmers and for large cluster farms so that commercial agriculture could thrive.

“The way out is for government to provide security and extension officers who will man these farms.

“Encourage forest guards to man these large clusters of farmlands in order to prevent herders from entering there.

“Government should call the head of the herders to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding on security,’’ he stressed. (NAN)

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Food Security: Cassava Sector Records Progress in 5 Years




Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have said that significant progress was made in the cassava subsector in the last five years, cutting across research, development, new investments and farmer productivity.

This is contained in a communique issued after the 2021 National Cassava Summit, on Tuesday in Ibadan.

The communique was signed by Dr Alfred Dixon, the Director, Development and Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

The summit recognised the gap in seeds demand and supply, while appreciating the progress made by the BASICS-II in creating the BASICS Model for efficient development and delivery of the cassava seed system.

The stakeholders called on the public and private sector actors to adopt the model.

“The summit reviewed with great concern the approach where donor projects and government were offering cassava seeds to farmers free of charge and in an unsustainable manner.

“Such interventions distort the seed markets and frustrate the already made gains in creating a sustainable seed ecosystem that guarantees job and wealth creation.

“The summit acknowledged the efforts made by National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) in the sanitisation of the seeds system and encouraged it to rev up the de-centralisation of certification, increase regulation to ensure the constant supply of seeds,” it stated.

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“To achieve the full genetic potential of cassava seeds, the stakeholders recommended the use of the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and other best planting practices.’’

They urged the government to always provide an enabling environment and offer incentives to catalyse private sector investments both for new entrants and existing actors in the seed sector.

“The summit recognised that the country was not lacking in policies but noted that what was needed was the political will to implement those policies.

“To attract youth into the agricultural space, we recommended mechanisation and the use of digital tools such as AKILIMO, Cassava Seed Tracker, IITA Herbicides and Calculator.

“It was agreed that the sensitisation of existing policies and regulation should be intensified among the stakeholders,” it stated.

They also identified the need to ramp-up investments in Research and Development as well as extension services, to ensure the adequate dissemination of research outcomes.

According to them, a database of actors in the cassava value chain is highly important to promote market linkages and address the periodic glut in the market.

“The summit appreciated the work done by IITA, PIND, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and BASICS-II, in organising the summit and being at the forefront of cassava development,” it stated.

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Others, who also signed the communique are Prof. Lateef Sanni, the Project Manager, Building Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seeds System, Phase 2(BASICS-11) and Dr Dara Akala, Executive Director, Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND). (NAN)

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