Heritage Bank, GEZAWA set to transform Nigeria’s agric sector to huge commercial hub

L-R: Ibrahim Muhammad-Fari, Cluster Head/Experience Centre Manager, North Zone, Heritage Bank; Ahmad Isa-Dutse, Regional Head, North-East & North-West, Heritage Bank; Jude Monye, Executive Director, Heritage Bank; Binchang Binfa, MD, Makarios Global Resources Ltd and Project Consultant to Gezawa Commodity Market & Exchange Limited; Haj. Bilkisu Aliyu, Head of Operations – Project Implementation, Gezawa Commodity Market & Exchange Limited and Adelana Ogunjirin, Team Lead, Agric. Finance & Export, Heritage Bank, during the Heritage Bank signing of MoU, as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd, in Kano, at the weekend.
L-R: Ibrahim Muhammad-Fari, Cluster Head/Experience Centre Manager, North Zone, Heritage Bank; Ahmad Isa-Dutse, Regional Head, North-East & North-West, Heritage Bank; Jude Monye, Executive Director, Heritage Bank; Binchang Binfa, MD, Makarios Global Resources Ltd and Project Consultant to Gezawa Commodity Market & Exchange Limited; Haj. Bilkisu Aliyu, Head of Operations – Project Implementation, Gezawa Commodity Market & Exchange Limited and Adelana Ogunjirin, Team Lead, Agric. Finance & Export, Heritage Bank, during the Heritage Bank signing of MoU, as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd, in Kano, at the weekend.

 

The Nigerian agricultural sector is set to witness a huge growth, as Heritage Bank Plc the lead settlement bank for Gezawa Commodity Market (GCMX) has collaborated with key stakeholders to revolutionise agricultural value-chain, aimed at providing fully integrated ecosystem for commodity Exchange.

Heritage Bank was appointed as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two firms, whilst over 10, 000 farmers in 3000 cooperatives in the 44 local governments of Kano States were hosted.

The partnership between Heritage Bank and the Exchange would facilitate the ease of agro commodity trading in a more structured way, especially with the closeness to the Dawanu, the largest grain market in Africa.

The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, who was a panelist at the 2nd GCMX Farmers’ Cooperative Forum in Kano at the weekend, stated that the partnership is targeted to de-risk the sector that would bring about structured and enhanced agro-business and attain food security that leads to economic development.

Sekibo, who was represented by the Executive Director, Jude Monye explained that the partnership which would help bridge the huge gap associated to risk, will fast track effective price discovery mechanism and traceability and enhanced trade settlement services.

Specifically, the bank’s helmsman stated that under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Heritage Bank would provide on-lending funding to aggregated farmers in the 2020 farming season to grow various products that will serve as raw materials to the processors, thereby ensuring market linkages and access to the market as well as reduce importation and conserve Nigeria’s external reserves.

L-R: Alh. Faruk Rabiu Mudi, Panalist; Alh. Abdullahi Sidi-Aliyu, Director Export Development & Incentives, NEPC; Jude Monye, Executive Director, Heritage Bank; Alh. Kabiru Mohammed, MD, Bank of Agriculture; Prof. Abdu Yaro Kust, representative of the VC, Kano State University of Science & Technology and Alh. Isyaku Mohammed, Business Executive, Commercial Banking, North, Representative of MD, Sterling Bank, panelists at the 2nd GCMX Farmers’ Cooperative Forum in Kano, where Heritage Bank signed an MoU as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd,  at the weekend.
L-R: Alh. Faruk Rabiu Mudi, Panalist; Alh. Abdullahi Sidi-Aliyu, Director Export Development & Incentives, NEPC; Jude Monye, Executive Director, Heritage Bank; Alh. Kabiru Mohammed, MD, Bank of Agriculture; Prof. Abdu Yaro Kust, representative of the VC, Kano State University of Science & Technology and Alh. Isyaku Mohammed, Business Executive, Commercial Banking, North, Representative of MD, Sterling Bank, panelists at the 2nd GCMX Farmers’ Cooperative Forum in Kano, where Heritage Bank signed an MoU as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd, at the weekend.

According to him, with its assigned position  Heritage Bank would play a pivotal role in ensuring that there would be an effective and readily available platform for market linkages among players in the agribusiness value chain, involving FMCGs, warehouse operators, collateral managers, processors, farmers’ cooperatives to transact in a seamless way that guarantee quality, quantity, payment and delivery.

Speaking the event, the ED/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo affirmed that the initiative would help foster diversification of non-oil export trade.

He, however, stated that NEPC would ensure that the primary for the signing of the MoU would be achieve, whilst calling for the need to ensure adequate and seamless supply of agricultural commodities for the business to be sustainable.

The Gezawa Project Consultant, Binchang Binfa, Managing Director of Makarios Global Resource, disclosed, “the ultimate goal was to unlock the vast potential of agricultural value chain via partnerships and synergy with likeminded enterprises, organisations and institutions that will mutually create wealth, generate local employment and contribute significantly to the economic growth and GDP the nation.”

He stated that the Exchange would provide services on price discovery and transparency, increase foreign exchange earning capacity, commodity storage and warehouse receipt system, employment generation of 15, 000 direct and indirect jobs, investment opportunities, increase in non-oil export, ease of doing business, weather report, soil test report, as well as 24/7 online trading of commodities on alive trading platform. 

Nigeria Rice can Compete Globally– Agric Minister

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has lauded the effort of  rice farmers in Nigeria, stating that it will help actualize Government’s agenda in the Agricultural sector being food sufficiency, job creation and economic growth.

According to a press release signed by Ezeaja Ikemefuna,  Director, Information (FMARD),
the Minister, made this disclosure during a working visit to rice farms and mills of Stallion Group Limited, Popular Farms and Mill Limited – the producers of  Stallion rice in  Kano State  .
Alhaji Sabo Nanono noted that the Nation’s land border closure had resulted in an accelerated and increased output by rice milling plants in Nigeria , adding the boost would  reduce the high rate of unemployment.
The Minister reiterated that with the improved production rate, Nigeria rice is bound to compete favourably in the global market the moment exportation begins, in his words, ” if we maintain this momentum in the next two years, we may export rice to other countries “.
He informed that the Ministry would convene a forum for all relevant stakeholders in the rice sub sector to dialogue on how to improve on rice Seedlings , farm inputs  among others. According to him, ” this meeting should take place in the next three to four weeks”..
The Minister further said  that “I see no reason why a 50kg bag of rice should be sold for N17,000, the same paddy rice is sold at N8,500 and maximum processing expense is N2,000 making a total of N10,500, it is unpatriotic to sell a bag more than N14,000 – N 15000.”
He stated that the primary focus of the Ministry is Mechanization of the Agricultural sector, strengthening Research Institutions, Extension Agricultural Services and Livestock/Diary development.
The Minister lauded the Stallion Group for efforts towards improving rice production and creating jobs for Nigerians. He urged other investors to key into Agribusiness because of Its numerous financial benefits.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Managing Director ,Popular Farms and Mill Limited, Mr. Amit Kumar Rai Stated that “Stallion Group Popular Farms and Mills Limited, has invested over US $70m to boost production of agric business, especially rice and sesame in Nigeria. It operates the biggest rice mill in Kano with an annual installed capacity of 430, 000 metric tons. It has a consolidated capacity of 1.7 Mn Metric tons”.
Mr Rai further said that “the group is investing also in additional milling facilities  locally in order to obtain self-sufficiency in rice production . he  highlighted  some of the popular brands of  the group include :Tomato King, Double Bull, People’s Princess and Super Champion”.
He pointed out that the group organise training and distributes rice farming tools free to out growers across the rice producing states in Nigeria as part of its dedicated services in the rice value chain initiative.
He informed that ” About 20% of these beneficiaries are women who diligently work alongside their male counterparts in the fields to support their families. the group believes that focus on empowering communities leads to more progressive farmers and greater economic and social opportunities for households. It works through Public Private Partnership with  Federal Government ’s agriculture objectives to train small scale farmers”.
The  Minister  also visited the Premier Seed Nigeria Limited and Value Seeds Limited, in Zaria, Kaduna State. Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono reemphasised the overall goals of  the policy principles of the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP) , stating that it would concentrate on providing an enabling environment for stakeholders at  the federal and state level to play their distinctive roles.
FG Sets Up Industrial Processing Zones To Target More Investors

The Federal Government has commenced the setting up of Special Agro- Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) as a major strategy in the economic diversification programme of the current administration and repositioning for sustainable economic growth and development.

This according to a press release by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Director Information ( FMARD),was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono  as he declared open, the Inception Workshop in Abuja, marking the take-off of the project in the 6 (six) geo-political zones of the country.
Nanono stated that the SAPZs aims at helping to develop competitive processing capacity through the promotion of private sector investment, enabled by investment in public goods, policy interventions and the provision of desirable support services and skills development.
The Minister noted that the SAPZs will boost value addition to agriculture, improve competitiveness and in effect, reduce food imports, assure food sufficiency, create jobs for teaming Nigerian youths and in turn grow the nation’s economy by generating revenue.
Nanono said that the plan is to develop the SAPZs within a period of three (3) years across the country in areas where core economic value can be unleashed for the benefit of the rural population.
 The Minister noted that agricultural mechanization will be the main vehicle for strategically implementing the SAPZ program on an intense scale.
The SAPZs which are to be built around Brownfields – areas with developed and existing infrastructure such as rails, roads, power and irrigation systems, is being developed with the support and collaboration of the African Development Bank (AFDB) and financiers like International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).
The core implementing Agencies including the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Bank of Industry, and Bank of Agriculture among others broke into 4 cluster groups to appraise critical commodities in the value chain and proffer the way forward.
To ensure the immediate take-off of the project, the Minister will on a later date inaugurate an SAPZ technical team that will drive the process.
The Ministers of Federal Capital Territory, Water Resources, Finance, Budget & National Planning and Industry, Trade & Investment and other relevant stakeholders were duly represented at the occasion.

FG To Develop Agricultural Service Centers In 632 LGAs Nationwide

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono has stated that the Ministry would kickstart Agricultural Mechanization programme in 632 Local Government Areas in the country.

The policy would ensure that Nigeria achieved food security, job creation and economic growth.
The Minister made this known when he received  in audience the Executive Governor of Benue, Dr. Samuel Ortom, in his Abuja office over the weekend.
Nanono noted that the initiative is expected to involve a full technology package transfer that would cover all stages, from agricultural production to industrial processing and down to marketing.
The Minister informed that the programme would affect 632 Local Government Areas (LGAs), across the country. According to him, ‘’ each LGAs will have service centers and each centers will have a brand new tractor fully equipped with the admin and IT workshop, there would  also be stores for seeds, fertilizer and excess produce. With these, we will link farmers up with processing industries especially clusters at the local government producing the same thing will be provided with processing plants’’.
He pointed out that the mechanization services would be driven by the people in the local government areas and he also encouraged individuals and groups to come up with proposals of how to manage the service centers, adding  that the Federal Government will guarantee the facilities.
The Minister further explained that ‘’ the investment of potential manager of the service centers may not be more than N 5-6 million, but they will own assets worth the tune of N150 million for a period of 15 years’’
Giving a Breakdown how the programme will generate Income , the  Minister said, ‘’a tractor that works for an estimated N 60,000 -N75,000 per day, can make income of about N30,000-N40,000 per day  after expenses and with this the service centers can pay for the tractor in an average of 6-7 years. Mark you, the  tractors can last for about 25 years’’.
The Minister emphasized that ‘’ the loan we are getting can only finance 10,000 tractors, the gap for improvement in terms of bridging the gap in Agricultural mechanization is so huge. But we hope that this will work very well so that the private sector can drive it’’.
Nanono pledged that the Federal Government will partner with Benue Government ‘’each of  its LGAs will benefit. On the issue of soya beans production, we are taking a critical look into this area as a means of boosting food production and creating employment. We have enormous market potential for soya beans in China’’
In his remarks, the Executive Governor of Benue State,Dr. Samuel Ortom noted that ‘’ if you ask me, Nigeria’s major challenge is not the security problem alone, but unemployment and agriculture remains the one sector that has the capacity for creating jobs, and wealth for the teeming jobless youths. If we are able to engage the youths, we will have fewer problems in the country’’.
Dr Ortom assured the Minister of the state’s commitment to partner with the Ministry, he said, “we are committed to partnering and  collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure we provide food security for Nigeria and beyond. Benue state is 35,000 sq meter of land, more than 95 percent of the land is arable and most of the food produced in the country can be produced in Benue state. And they are able to do all year round farming’’.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development Hon. Mustapha Shehuri has stated that the Federal Government would partner Global Fortunes Ltd. to establish Agricultural Industrial Parks (AIPs) across the Six-Geopolitical Zones of the country in order to create jobs and ensure food sufficiency in the Agricultural Value Chain.

Shehuri made this disclosure when he received a delegation of the Global Fortunes Ltd led by Mr. Kidron Israel, in Abuja over the weekend.

The Minister pointed out that the project is going to be Public Private Partnership driven; adding that with the Federal Government is committed to the development of the agricultural value chain in Nigeria.  He said the project if implemented would ensure food security and create more employment for Nigerians.

He also noted that ‘’even with the huge infrastructural deficit in Nigeria, we can still embark on this project, because the government is focused on diversifying the Nigerian economy.’’

The Minister said he will visit the Taraba State Agricultural Industrial Park with the relevant directors to see the model of the park that is the state.

He stressed the need for the Federal Government in collaboration with the State Government and other relevant agencies to partake in the project in order to fastrack progress.

In his remarks, the Director, Department of Agribusiness, Dr. Aminu Babadi, said the project is a welcome development but mentioned that some of the challenges that could hinder the smooth take off include; energy and space utilization.

In his presentation, the Manager, Global Fortunes Ltd, Mr. Kidron Israel said that the company is using this opportunity to establish Agricultural Industrial Parks across the six geopolitical zone of the country.

He also said that the system is the fastest way of changing the old farming culture to a state-of-the-art modern farming and also the fastest way of growing the economy.

Fed Govt to streamline livestock programmes, policies

Image result for Alhaji Sabo Nanono

The Federal Government has said it will streamline the livestock development programmes and policies for effective management of the sector, adding that it would further assist in addressing conflict with farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who made this known on Thursday in Abuja during the launch of Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN), organised by Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited, said the livestock industry is worth over N30 trillion and contributes about 17 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Nanono, lamenting that the public and private sectors do not take the livestock sub-sector serious, said the government was ready to partner investors to boost local dairy production to cut importation.

On the objectives and expected outcomes of the programme, the National Team Leader, ALDDN, Sahel Consulting, Mr Ernest Ihedigbo, said it would create an enabling environment for local sourcing through engagements with government and relevant private sector stakeholders.

Ihedigbo said ALDDN is also aimed at increasing the milk yield of 75,000 cows from 15,000 dairy households by at least 30 percent resulting in the production of about 190,000 litres of milk per day at the end of the program.

On financial inclusion and income diversification, he said the women dairy farmers are the major target of the intervention which includes partnering with financial institutions and other programs to provide dairy farmers with more than easier access to services such as savings accounts, micro credit, Islamic banking, mobile banking, group savings among others.

While speaking further on training and extension, according to him, “ALDDN will provide training on good dairy practices, nutrition education, hygiene education and behavior change. The training will be disseminated through extension agents, including female agents to increase the participation of of women dairy farmers”.

Ihedigbo who stressed further on infrastructure development said the program will improve farmer’s access to clean water by constructing solar boreholes in targeted dairy communities.

“The program will work with the government and the processors to support an enabling environment for local sourcing of milk. It will commission robust analysis of existing policies and policy reform opportunities on the dairy enterprise value chain including prevailing regimes of import tariffs and levies among others”, he said.

Foreign Rice in Nigerian Markets have drastically reduced — -Report

The interventions of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) through the partial border closure against smuggling and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) via the AnchorsBorrowers Programme (ABP) on the rice sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, have drastically reduced foreign rice prevalence in the Nigerian markets, bringing the figure to 37%, Economic Confidential can report.

Recall that Economic Confidential conducted a 3-week survey on foreign rice imports and smuggling in April last year to the effect that over 70 percent of rice in the Nigerian market were foreign.

In the latest one month survey on the rice market across the six geopolitical zones in the country, the economic intelligence magazine observed that foreign rice such as Mama Gold, Royal Stallion, Rice Master, Caprice, Falcon Rice and Basmati have reduced almost have of the last year figure and thinning out due to the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS) in partnership with the task force set up by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

In the survey and investigations carried out, Nigerian rice namely: Umza and Fursa Crown from Kano, Mama Happy from Niger, Labana Rice from Kebbi, Olam Rice from Nasarawa, Abakaliki Rice from Ebonyi, Ofada Rice from Ogun State, Swomen Dama from Plateau, Lake Rice of Lagos/Kebbi States among others have dominated the Nigerian Rice markets.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and stakeholders in the rice subsector have reacted to the latest report.

Stakeholders in the rice subsector, namely, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) however gave kudos to the apex bank for the timely intervention and banning of rice since 2015, and the combined task force, a development that has seen growth in local production of rice and serious savings of foreign exchange.

The stakeholders in separate interviews attributed the current success level on the political will of the Buhari administration to tackle the menace headlong, the cooperation of the stakeholders to give adequate and timely information of smugglers and their activities to the task force team and the encouraging raids on various warehouses by the Nigerian Customs Service which led to serious seizures and reduction of foreign rice to the present level.

As part of efforts to reach different markets across the six geopolitical zones of the country, the investigative team of Economic Confidential spread its dragnet to Utako Market, Abuja; Terminus Market Jos; Mile 3 Market Port-Harcourt;, Main Market, Onitsha; Ogbete Market in Enugu, G-Cappa Market, Lagos, Jimeta Main Market, Yola and Singer Market Kano.

On-the-spot checks by this intelligence magazine show the dominance of local rice in these markets by merchants who however admitted that profits coming from foreign rice far out-weigh the local rice, just as the majority of those interviewed believed local rice has more nutritional value.

The dealers buy local rice at about N14,000 per 50kg bag, while they sell it, customers, for between N16,500 to N18, 000. The same merchants hitherto pay about N15,000 for the smuggled foreign rice and sell to consumers between N22,500 and N25,000 per bag.

Speaking on the gradual disappearance of smuggled foreign rice, Mrs. Angela Okafor, a rice distributor at Ogbete market in Enugu said: “My brother, let me tell you that Customs are everywhere ooh. I can’t even tell whether you are one of them. But as you can see, go inside and check, no more foreign rice in my shop. You can see only Nigerian rice here. And I am making profit.”

Ahmed Sule, a merchant in Singer Market Kano said: “There is more market and profit for us in foreign rice, because it’s cheaper, but government and customs have removed foreign rice from the market and only local rice I am trading in now”

Mrs. Okafor earlier interviewed said. ‘tell them to bring the cost of local rice down” she pleaded.

Another rice merchant, Hajia Rilwanu in Utako Market, Abuja, noted that “I try as much as possible to buy foreign rice, but they are scarce and so I rely on Nigeria rice now because customs personnel are everywhere watching. I don’t want wahala. Check inside you can see only local rice in my shop.”

The same goes for Terminus Market Jos, Mile 3 Market Port-Harcourt, Main Market, Onitsha.

The rice traders in separate interviews attributed the decline of rice smuggling to the border closure and frequent raids by Customs service in collaboration with sister security agencies.

When contacted for his comments on the level of foreign rice prevalence in the Nigerian markets, the CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor said stakeholders in the rice value chain are smiling to the banks and if you visit the markets,

Okoroafor noted that the volume of rice importation into the country had drastically declined as the CBN had not allocated any foreign exchange for the importation while there had been a massive production of high-quality Nigeria’s rice in most of the states.

Also speaking in the same vein, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah said the rice farmers, millers and processors and daily smiling to the banks.

“The partial border closure by the federal government has boosted the local capacity in massive Nigeria rice production, creating job opportunities and generating huge revenue to the national coffer.

The border the closure has also addressed the challenging issue of trans-border crime and criminalities fuelled by non-compliance with ECOWAS Protocol on the transit of goods by neighbouring countries.

“All our warehouses and available places are filled up with seized smuggled rice. In fact, the federal government recently gave a directive that rice and other relief materials in the warehouses should be distributed to orphanages and Internally Displaced People Camps to address the plights of the victims as well as to free the warehouses”, he said.

The National Chairman of Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Maifata said the percentage of foreign rice smuggled into the country through land borders have reduced drastically and will definitely hit the zero level.

“I can confidently tell you that the level of smuggling foreign rice will soon come down to a zero level”.

“In general, this has helped our local processing industry to work at full capacity and the farmers are able to sell all that they produce, and this has encouraged many more farmers to join rice farming”, he said.

Govt urges farmers to take ownership of irrigation schemes

irrigation schemes

The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, has called on farmers and Water Users Associations (WUA) to take ownership of public irrigation systems in the country.

Adamu said this at the opening of a two-day workshop on Institutional Strengthening and Management of Public Irrigation Schemes in Keffi yesterday.

He said this would enable sustainable development for food security and poverty reduction.

According to the minister, it is important for all stakeholders to adopt the Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM) model, which has been known to be the solution to challenge of increasing irrigated agriculture.

Adamu, represented by Mr Tauheed Amusan from the ministry, noted that the Agricultural Policy Thrust of the present administration saw irrigation and drainage as a catalyst for change in attaining food security and employment creation.

He said with the Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM ) concept, farmers and water users would take ownership of the schemes and maximise the returns.

Adamu said the administration saw the need to improve food production and sufficiency, hence the formulation of a National Roadmap toward increasing the country’s irrigated agriculture landmass, which stood between 150,000 and 170,000 hectares.

According to him, the National Irrigation and Drainage Policy, approved in 2016 also called the roadmap and action plan, was in three phases to achieve no fewer than 500, 000 irrigated landmass by 2030.

He said the roadmap was being implemented through the river basins and implementing agencies such as the World Bank in its Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project.

Adamu expressed optimism that with a functional irrigated agriculture, the challenge of feeding increasing population from rural-urban migration would be addressed.

Earlier, the Director, Irrigation and Drainage with the Ministry, Dr Elijah Aderibigbe, noted that PIM model allows for involvement of all stakeholders from project identification stage to implementation stage to promote sustainability.

According to him, there is the need to develop legal framework in PIM to enable all stakeholders know their rights, roles and responsibilities in the management of the scheme.

Aderibigbe said there was the need to reverse the trend of superiority of government workers over farmers and water users, adding that this was the key to successful irrigation schemes.

He said the interest of the farmers must be considered through consultations, frequent interactions among others, adding that this would allow for joint management of the schemes.

“For a functional irrigation system, the needs assessment of all interest groups must be identified from beginning stage, not just at the implementation stage alone,‘’ he said.

Earlier, an Irrigation and Drainage Expert, Mr Inuwa Musa, called for the speedy passage of the National Water Resources Bill into law, adding that this would help to put into rest continued controversy around ownership of water resources in the country.

According to him, the issue of financial autonomy for River Basin authorities could not be over emphasised as this will help in promoting inclusion and sustainability.

FIIRO Boss Calls For Transformation of Agricultural Sector

Acting Director General of Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr Chima Igwe has called for transformation of Agricultural sector in Nigeria.
Igwe stated this in Lagos during the Annual Agricultural Summit organized by Nigeria Association of Agricultural Journalists (NAAJ).
The Annual Agricultural Summit was themed: Bridging the Investment Gap in Agricultural through Information.
He said the transformation of the sector is needed to serve as agent of economic recovery and growth.
“In the past few years, Nigeria and Nigerians experienced a sudden and significant drop in economic activities which led to the loss of the purchasing power of our currency, the Naira. Although Nigeria has been able to exit the recession, the strangling effects might still be seen lingering with the possibilities of a relapse if the nation does not diversify.
“Upgrading and improving the agro-allied production and production processes, mining and other relevant manufacturing sectors, upgrading and improving the existing traditional and local technologies, making new discoveries and innovations through research and products and services development in all sectors of the economy,” Dr Chima said.
On the same vein, Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Dera Nnadi, who represented the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) said Nigerians need to produce what they eat to grow the economy.
But the Lagos State Commissioner of Agriculture, Prince Gbolahan Lawal appealed to Nigerians to key into the Agricultural revolution of federal government so that more jobs can be created.
FIIRO boss later explained that technology and innovation are veritable tools for national growth and development.
He said, “For national growth and development, national security and economic recovery and diversification, research and development in the fields of science, engineering, technology and innovations must be at the forefront because it is the foundation of any successful industrial revolution and industrialization.”
The Chairman of Elephant Group, Mr Tunji Owoeye added that the border closure has been opening doors of opportunities to Nigerian farmers.
Meanwhile, Agricultural journalists later recognized the outstanding personalities that have contributed to Agricultural development in the country.
IITA Unveils Digital Tools In Cassava And Maize Farming Systems      

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in the framework of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), has unveiled a series of digital innovation tools in cassava and maize cultivation to policy makers in Nigeria to empower extension workers and farmers in the country.

Commissioners of Agriculture and Rural Development, Permanent Secretaries as well as heads of Agricultural Development Programs (ADP) from more than 24 states are among the key stakeholders at the official presentation of the tools which was scheduled to take place at a one-day meeting on the IITA campus in Ibadan on Monday.

The theme of the event is tagged: “Digital Tools: Disruptive innovations in cassava/maize farming systems.’’

Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General, explained that the institute is sharing the digital tools with state government officials to help solve the problem of poor extension services which is one of the major reasons why Nigeria’s agricultural sector has underperformed in the last three decades.

“Currently, extension- farmer ratio in some states is estimated at one extension agent to 4000 farmers,” he said. “These large numbers of farmers per extension agent undermine the effectiveness of the traditional extension system.

According to Dr. Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development & Delivery, “The objective of this one-day meeting is to share these digital tools with commissioners of agriculture, permanent secretaries, and other state actors for dissemination in their various states to empower the extension system and farmers.

“Through this approach, we hope that states across Nigeria will be able to increase their agricultural productivity and ultimately the incomes of farmers,” Dr. Dixon who successfully led the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project added.

In the last 5 years, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project has developed integrated weed control methods that are helping farmers to double the productivity of cassava and maize. These recommendations are being scaled out to farmers through a variety of digital platforms in the framework of the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI).

The ACAI project has already distributed mobile phones and mini-projectors loaded with videos on the Decision Support Tools to extension agents. The agents, in the first phase of dissemination, are working in Oyo and Benue States using videos to educate farmers in rural areas on the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management and Best Planting Practices.

“Engaging policy makers at this point will help in amplifying the use of these digital tools for the benefit of resource-poor farmers,” Dr. Dixon added.

The tools to be presented include videos, radio programs, cassava seed tracker, Akilimo, IITA Herbicide Calculator, e-commerce site and IITA News App.