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News on Farming in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020)
The Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020 document, “The Green Alternative” is the outcome of an intensive consultative process starting in November 2015 through April 2016, and involving multiple stakeholders. From farmer groups to investors to processors to lenders to civil servants to academics, many stakeholders provided detailed input, commentary, and support. We are grateful for the resources, energy and intellect put at the disposal of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development by parties too numerous to mention. Thank you for your continued dedication and resolve to build a next generation agribusiness economy in Nigeria.
Building on the successes and lessons from the ATA, the vision of the Buhari Administration for agriculture is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growth.
Therefore in 2016 to 2020, Nigeria’s policy now needs to be readjusted to solve the aforementioned challenges.  The go forward federal priorities (in partnership with State Governments) will be the following four: food security; import substitution; job creation; and economic diversification.
The new policy regime, tagged the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) Policy is founded on the following guiding principles, a number of which are carryovers from the ATA reflecting the strong desire for policy stability.  New elements added reflect the lessons from the ATA, as well as priorities emerging from the aspirations of the Buhari Administration:
    1. Agriculture as a business – focusing the policy instruments on a government-enabled, private sector-led engagement as the main growth driver of the sector. This essential principle was established in the ATA and will remain a cardinal design principle of Nigeria’s agriculture policies going forward.
    1. Agriculture as key to long-term economic growth and security—focusing policy instruments to ensure that the commercialization of agriculture includes technologies, financial services, inputs supply chains, and market linkages that directly engage rural poor farmers because rural economic growth will play a critical role in the country’s successful job creation, economic diversity, improved security and sustainable economic growth.
    1. Food as a human right – focusing the policy instruments for agricultural development on the social responsibility of government with respect to food security, social security and equity in the Nigerian society; and compelling the government to recognize, protect and fulfil the irreducible minimum degree of freedom of the people from hunger and malnutrition.
    1. Value chain approach – focusing the policy instruments for enterprise development across successive stages of the commodity value chains for the development of crop, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors, namely input supply, production, storage, processing/utilization, marketing and consumption. Building complex linkages between value chain stages will be an important part of the ecosystem that will drive sustained prosperity for all Nigerians.
    1. Prioritizing crops – focusing policy on achieving improved domestic food security and boosting export earnings requires a measure of prioritization. Therefore, for domestic crops, the initial focus in 2016 – 2018 will be expanding the production of rice, wheat, maize, soya beans and tomatoes. For export crops, the initial focus will be on cocoa, cassava, oil palm, sesame and gum Arabic.  In 2018 onwards, the export focus will add on bananas, avocado, mango, fish and cashew nuts.  Investments in closing infrastructure gaps to accelerate productivity and investment in these crops will also be sequenced to reflect capital availability and management attention.
    1. Market orientation – focusing policy instruments on stimulating agricultural production on a sustainable basis, and stimulating supply and demand for agricultural produce by facilitating linkages between producers and off takers, while stabilizing prices or reducing price volatility for agricultural produce through market-led price stabilization mechanisms (commodity exchanges, negotiated off-take agreements, extended farm-gate price under value chains coordination mechanisms, agricultural insurance, etc.)
    1. Factoring Climate change and Environmental sustainability – focusing policy instruments on the sustainability of the use of natural resources (land and soil, water and ecosystems) with the future generation in mind while increasing agricultural production, marketing and other human activities in the agricultural sector.
    1. Participation and inclusiveness – focusing instruments on measures to maximize the full participation of stakeholders including farmer’s associations, cooperatives and other groups, as well as NGOs, CBOs, CSOs, development partners and the private sector.  This places a premium on the role of these organizations or groups as agents of economic change in general and agricultural economy in particular, thereby drawing benefits from their policy advocacy roles as partners to and watchdog of government.
    1. Policy integrity – focusing policy instruments on measures for sanitizing the business environment for agriculture, in terms of accountability, transparency and due process of law, ensuring efficient allocation and use of public funding and fighting corruption on all programmes involving public resources. This also applies to compliance with international commitments, protocols and conventions that Nigeria is a signatory to.
    1. Nutrition sensitive agriculture – focusing policy instruments on addressing the issues of stunting, wasting, underweight and other manifestations of hunger and malnutrition with particular reference to the vulnerable groups, which include children under 5, nursing mothers and persons with chronic illness and disabilities.           
    1. Agriculture’s Linkages with Other Sectors – focusing policy instruments on the connected relationship between agriculture and other sectors at federal and state levels, particularly industry, environment, power, energy, works and water sectors.
Within this overall set of policy principles, the Federal Government will concentrate on providing an enabling environment for stakeholders at federal and state level to play their distinctive roles.  The policy emphasis will be on providing a conducive legislative and agricultural knowledge framework, macro policies, security enhancing physical infrastructure and institutional mechanisms for coordination and enhancing access to adequate inputs, finance, information on innovation, agricultural services and markets.

FG To Recruit 100,000 Extension Workers

In its effort to develop Nigerian agriculture, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the federal government is set to train 100,000 persons as agricultural extension workers as a way of providing support services in agricultural technologies to farmers.
The vice president stated this in his address at the official launch and public presentation of the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) tagged the’ Green Alternative’ in Abuja yesterday.
According to him “The number of persons to be trained will be gotten from  the 500,000 teachers currently being  recruited  by the federal government”.
He said, “The problem in agriculture sector has never been a lack of policy but the focus and capacity to stick with the plan to modify where necessary but to stick to the plan  and ensure also  that the plan aligns with all aspects of the economic brand of the  government.”
“This particular issue of alignment is crucial. For example, you cannot have a policy of encouraging local production of food and on the other hand have a high tariff on agricultural imported equipment  there is no way that we can encourage local  production when we allow unbridled importation of the same things that we are trying to produce”, he noted.
He added that “There is no way we can do the scale of agricultural production both for  domestic consumption and export without ensuring improved  local seedling  development alongside  those that we import and of course encouraging the work of the  agencies of the Ministry of Science and Technology who have been making great breakthroughs in local development of agricultural equipment.”
The vice president posited that major hindrance to  the development of the agriculture sector is finance where double digits interest rates  charged on loans is nearly impossible for any farmer to meet.
“Financing of agriculture is also a crucial policy with double digit interest rate at the moment, and the almost religious reluctance by banks to lend to agriculture. We must develop some funding avenues in the short term. The Ministry of Finance has practically concluded plans to capitalise and re-engineer the Bank of Agriculture. We expect that before the end of this quarter, the bank should be ready to give single digit interest rate loans to farmers,” he said.
Also giving the Keynote address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh said a key target of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016-2020) is aimed at doubling agricultural household incomes in 6- 12 years.
He said the Green Alternative Promotion Policy has five major strategic thrusts including achievement of self-sufficiency and sustainable food security, reduction in import dependence and economic losses, stimulation of agro exports for enhance foreign earnings, enhancement of wealth and job creation as well as achievement of economic diversification to make the economy less oil dependent
According to Ogbeh the “Green Alternative “ Has three pillars, the first pillar is Productivity Enhancement, comprising nine key components namely access to land, soil fertility, access to information and knowledge, inputs, production management, storage and processing, marketing and trade, consumption and nutrition. The second pillar is crowding in private sector investment entailing greater access to finance, promoting agribusiness and investment development while the third pillar is Institutional Strengthening of the Ministry with its parastatals and agencies
“Some of the key targets that we are seeking  to achieve within the plan period and beyond as quick wins under the three pillars include growing the agricultural sector annually between 6%-12%, doubling agricultural household incomes 6-12 years, integrating agricultural commodity value chains into broader supply chain and driving job growth  and wealth creation” he said
The Minister added that the  launch of “The Green Alternative “today is an attestation that the change that the overwhelming majority of Nigerians canvassed for and openly welcomed by giving Mr President a resounding victory in the last  Presidential election in 2015 is at work in the agricultural sector
“In this policy, you will see us navigating through the agricultural terrain, trucking on virtually every aspect” he said the APP touched on the human element.  Reflecting on years of agricultural neglect where agriculture was seen as the refuge for the wretched, touched on land use, soil types and correct use of fertilisers for maximum yield” he said Adding that we dealt with seed, quality and availability, extension, research as well as irrigation among others.
Ogbeh maintained that “the essence on Green was to capture the essence, spirit and orientation of the new policy document. The emphasis on Green is deliberate, to underscore not only the imperative of building a strong, vibrant and resilient economy, but also a green refreshing, transformative agriculture led economy”
He added that “It is to ensure mutual complimentary between efficient, effective and productive agricultural production, systems and processes, without causing further harm or and environmental sustainability, especially mitigating the effects of climate change to enable the habitat continue to support or eco system”
The Minister who asserted that government is a continuum, stated the need to build on the foundation inherited from the previous administration
Speaking on the successes of the administration, he it included the  drive to achieving self-sufficiency being on course, commitment to all year round agriculture through increased investment, reactivation of the extension system as well as working tirelessly to bring an end to the incessant  conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.

The Federal Government says it has directed fish importers to go into backward integration via commercial aquaculture production of pond and cage culture to boost local production of fish.

Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of state for Agriculture and Rural Development, said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the onset of a two-day stakeholders’ workshop on the WorldFish Nigeria Research Programme.
Lokpobiri said that the move was necessary to enable the country to reduce its fish imports and meet the demand gaps in fish production in the country.
He said that the national demand for fish stood at 3.2 million tonnes, while the production rate currently stood at 1.1 million tonnes.
“Our fish is basically imported and we want to see how we can develop a cheaper way of feeding fish to enable the cost of production to be low.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has directed all fish importers to go into backward integration through commercial aquaculture (pond and cage culture).
“Some of the companies which have complied have been duly certified and can now export their fish and fishery products, including shrimps, to the international markets,’’ Lokpobiri said.
Dr James Apochi, the National Project Coordinator of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP), said that the project was promoting aquaculture production.
He said that for the country to achieve self- sufficiency in fish production; it must invest in the production of fingerlings and fish feeds as well as post-harvest fish processing.
The project coordinator said that the National Centre of Specialisation (NCoS), adopted by WAAPP, had generated and released 11 technologies to facilitate fish production.
He noted that techniques for the production of all-male tilapia species, which could contribute 30 per cent to the current annual fish stock of the country and production of all-round fingerlings, was generated.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with an international organisation, WorldFish, to increase fish production in the country.

ATA Nigeria: FG Releases Forms for N12.3 Billion Cassava Nigeria Agricultural Transformation Agenda on course as FG Releases Forms for N12.3 Billion Cassava Loan

cassava In EkitiThe Federal Ministry of Agriculture has sent through the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), forms for distribution to farmers in the 36 states of the federation for them to benefit from the N12.3 billion loan meant to boost cassava production in the country.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the loan was recently signed between the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) and the NCGA in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture with a mandate for the farmers to cultivate 60,000 hectares of cassava.
The commencement of the process for the disbursement of the loan was disclosed at the weekend in Akure, Ondo State by the National Chairman of the association, Mr. Segun Adewunmi, who during a meeting 2,000 forms had been allocated for each state.
The chairman, who stated that the forms were meant for peasant farmers that were registered members of the association, added that other categories of farmers who want to benefit would need to apply on another form that would be ready within one week.
Adewunmi stated further that none members of the association, who wish to benefit from the loan would need to deposit 20 percent equity loan volume required into his account in BoA.
To avoid improper utilisation of the loan, Adewunmi explained that the programme involved proper monitoring of the farmers by the association from the beginning of the loan to the sales of products.
He explained that the programme was designed in such a way that the inputs would be delivered to the farms in kind while they would only be given money to pay for labour.“It is the duty of the association to ensure profitable sales of products of the farm, repayment of loan to the bank and delivery of profit into the account of the farmer,” he said.
While directing the state chairmen of the association to commence the sale of the forms to members, the chairman said advertisement would also be made on the media for the registration and how to obtain the forms for the loan.
He advised farmers to form themselves into cooperative societies that can own specialised farm equipment such as tractors, cassava planter, harvesters and others.
Adewunmi disclosed that the association had written letters to the state governments in the country, requesting for provision of enabling environment for the successful operation of the programme in their various states.


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