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NASCO Has Empowered Millions of Farmers in Nigeria – Lalong

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From Jude Dangwam, Jos

Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong has said Nasco Food Limited has empowered millions of farmers in Nigeria in the last 57 years of its existence as it targets to cover the West African Sub-region.

He said with the coming on board of a multi-billion Naira investment new Cornflakes Plant supported by the Bank of Industry through First Bank of Nigeria Plc is a positive indicator that Plateau State has indeed regained the confidence of investors as a viable destination for both local and foreign capital inflows in the country.

Lalong stated this yesterday during the inauguration of the new NASCO Cornflakes Plant, held at the NASCO Food Ltd Industrial Area, in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

He said the development cumulatively now integrates into the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s drive to develop the agriculture commodity supply chain, for which maize has been recognised as one of the most important commodities; adding that the overall goal of the initiative by NASCO is the creation of jobs and wealth for Nigerians.

“It is instructive to note that since NASCO began its operations 57 years ago, millions of Nigerians from the post-independence generation to young Nigerians today have all been able to share almost identical experiences from having used the different product categories which NASCO has come to be known for.”

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Governor Lalong further disclosed that “NASCO’s adoption of the policy of back-ward integration in sourcing maize as its chief input for the production of cornflakes had empowered thousands of farmers on the Plateau and across many locations in central Nigeria. This had directly impacted on the volume and quality of the maize that its suppliers were cultivating”.

He however lamented that Plateau State is not yet a highly industrialised State that can create opportunities for employment to the teeming youths which over the years are limited to “government MDAs, few NGOs and CSOs, a handful of Financial Institutions and the relatively small number of SMEs operating in the state.

“This means there is a great need to invest in companies that have the capacity to scale up in the way that NASCO has done, in order that we can increase employment opportunities and improve the revenue generating potential of the state,” Lalong added.

The Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Nasco Group in Nigeria

Attia Nasreddin said NASCO has been a household name not only in Plateau State and Nigeria, but across the African continent having been around for almost six decades and identified as an icon of quality.

He hinted that the new multi-billion naira plant is expected to double its production capacity by increasing its supply chain and extending as well as widening its reach to more households in Nigeria and throughout the ECOWAS sub-region of Africa.

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Agriculture

Veterinarians urge Govts to review Hazard Allowance of Members

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The Conference of Directors of Veterinary Services in South-West region says there is a need for federal and state governments to review hazard allowance paid to veterinaries.

Dr Taiwo Jolaoso, the Chairman, Conference of Directors of Veterinary Services in the region, said this at the maiden symposium of the Conference of Directors of Veterinary Services in South-West on Thursday in Lagos.

He said that in the face of global health challenges the review was to compensate for harms, risks and burdens associated with working as health personnel.

Newsmen report that the theme of the one-day symposium was: “The Significance of Veterinary Service Delivery in Livestock Production”.

According to him, veterinary professionals are pivotal in the improvement and protection of animal and human health, animal welfare, food quality, food safety, food security, ecology, ethology and epidemiology.

“They also help in development of drugs and pharmaceuticals, wild life conservation, educators, trainers and policy makers.

“The significance of the veterinarian in combating these diseases, preventing spread and ameliorating their effects cannot be over emphasised.

“Veterinarians as “front liners” were exposed to a high risk of contracting emerging, re-emerging and zoonotic diseases (Ebola, Leptospirosis, Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Anthrax and others.

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“This justify the need for payment of hazard allowance to compensate for harms, risks and burdens associated with working as health personnel.

“Unfortunately, our services are undervalued and we are underpaid and the supposed hazard allowance veterinarians receive now is at best a farce.

“A first-order priority for policy makers should be keeping front line health workers and veterinarians safe on the job and payment of generous hazard allowance to compensate these officers and their families for the essential services they provide for public good.

Jolaoso noted that the symposium was aimed at creating awareness of some of the animal diseases with emphasis on methods of mitigating them.

In a goodwill message, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr Maimuna Abdullahi-Habib, urged the DVS to familiarise themselves with recent laws guiding the profession to enable them do their jobs diligently.

Ms Abisola Olusanya, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, said that South-West was not very rich in livestock with only less than 10 per cent of the nation’s cattle and five per cent of small ruminants.

Olusanya was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Tokunbo Emokpae.

She said that to improve its position, Lagos had started the implementation of the cattle feedlot at Igbodu for increased local production of hygienic wholesome meat and reduction of dependency on imports from other states.

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“As a form of improvement, government is in the process of recruiting more veterinary doctors to mitigate the effect of the current dearth in the distribution of veterinary doctors to livestock estates and settlements with a ratio of about 1:200.

“The low access to veterinary doctors in the veterinary centres in the state encourages some farmers to resort to using unapproved antibiotics for their livestock.

“Also, there is a need to track and identify effective vaccines that would stem the improper and excessive use of antibiotics, as well as, inadequate infection prevention and control,” she said.

Olusanya assured the stakeholders that the Lagos State Government had mapped out various strategies in its food systems and agricultural roadmap to ensure that Lagosians and the South-west states had access to wholesome and hygienic red-meat amongst other food.

She also solicited support from all willing stakeholders to be partners in the progress of the sector.

Dr Abubakar Suleiman, the Assistant Representative Programme, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, (FAO), said that feedlotting remains the best option for not just Lagos and the South-West region alone, but the entire country.

Suleiman spoke as the lead speaker on “Historical Perspective of Cattle Feedlotting in South West Nigeria.”

He called for an animal breeding policy in the country for uniformity of products, structured markets, as well as an enabling environment, surveillance and sanitary conditions amongst other recommendations.

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The President, Nigeria Association of Animal Health and Husbandry Technologists, Mr Saliu Abubakar, called on government at all levels to protect farmers from bandits.

The maiden symposium was attended by Commissioners for Agriculture in Ogun, Osun, Oyo, veterinarians, livestock farmers and traders, as well as consumers. (NAN)

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Agriculture

FG Inaugurates National Cocoa Management Committee  

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The Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated the National Cocoa Management Committee (NCMC), to tackle some of the challenges in the cocoa sector.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 11-man Committee on National Cocoa Management, in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar,  said the committee was to develop strategies to solve these challenges.

“Some of the challenges being encountered in the cocoa sector include pest and diseases, logistics such as rural roads and infrastructure.

“Also, old cocoa plantations, ageing of our cocoa farmers, processing, access to finance, environmental concerns such as deforestation, climate change and absence of a national coordinating body,” Abubakar said.

The minister said the event was the culmination of enormous collective efforts including a recent visit by the officials of  the ministry to Ghana to study the implementation of Living Income Differential (LID).

“Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire introduced the Living Income Differential (LID) as a premium on their cocoa and as tool to complement their prices of cocoa in international market.

“The purpose of this is to increase the share benefits received by cocoa farmers in these countries,” Abubakar said.

He spoke on the tetms of reference of the committee, some of which are:

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“The NCMC shall develop a framework for the regulation and monitoring of the activities of the cocoa sector to make the industry more transparent.

“The NCMC shall develop a strategic plan towards the establishment of a Nigerian Cocoa Board.

“The NCMC shall develop a Nigerian charter towards joining the Ghana/Cote d’Ivoire initiative”.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, of the Ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, expressed delight for being part of the inauguration of the committee.

“This is in line with the present Administration’s policy on diversification of the Nigerian economy from the oil to the non-oil sector of which Agriculture is playing a major role,” Umakhihe said.

The Committee chairman is Mr Abdullahi Garba Abubakar, from the
Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abuja.

The Secretary, Dr Patrick Adebola, is from Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria. (NAN)

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Agriculture

OYSADA Onboards 100 YEAP Beneficiaries for Enterprise Support

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The Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) has onboarded beneficiaries of the Youths Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness (YEAP) in crop production enterprise.

This is contained in a statement by Dr Wasiu Olatubosun, the State Commissioner Information, Culture and Tourism, which was made available to newsmen on Sunday in Ibadan.

Newsmen report that youths were part of the 3, 300 beneficiaries who received training at CSS Farms, Nasarawa State, in 2021.

In his remarks, Dr Debo Akande, the OYSADA Director-General, said that the onboarding and orientation marked the beginning of the project’s second phase for the beneficiaries.

Akande said that each of the 100 beneficiaries would get land allocations for crop production at Fasola Agribusiness Industrial Hub.

“As part of their orientation, youths had been taken to the allocated land, where land preparation is ongoing.

“The youth will get inputs as needed, as they embark on land cultivation and crop production.

“They will also get technical and agricultural extension support from OYSADA,” he said.

Akande urged other YEAP beneficiaries to be patient with the state government, saying that the authorities were working assiduously to ensure that more beneficiaries get the needed support.

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He said about 120 beneficiaries had received enterprise support from the state government prior to this project, adding that more would be empowered as funds are available.

The director-general said that the state government’s approach in offering practical training to youths was superior to simply giving handouts and funds to individuals that would not contribute to economic growth.

Akande thanked youths who were already using the knowledge they acquired during the training to improve their existing businesses, urging others to emulate them.

NAN reports that part of the programme were representatives of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NCARES).

Also, as part of the support to YEAP beneficiaries, the Oyo Arm of NCARES tagged: “Oyo-CARES” would be profiling YEAP beneficiaries who already have agribusinesses for further support.(NAN)

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