• follow us in feedly

Kebbi rice farmers to get help from Thailand

By News Desk,

Thailand’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Wattana Kunwangse, says his country will provide technical expertise in production for rice farmers in Kebbi.

Kunwangse gave the assurance on Friday when he paid a courtesy call on the Emir of Argungu, Samaila Mera, in Argungu.

“The aim of my visit to Kebbi State is to explore ways of promoting the development of the rice value chain via the training of rice farmers in new methods of rice production which we have in our country,’’ he said.

The envoy reiterated the commitment of the Thai government to train farmers and officials of the state Ministry of Agriculture in new methods of rice farming.

“Thailand’s government will sponsor rice farmers to acquire agricultural training to boost their production; our focus is to develop agriculture, particularly rice production in Kebbi State,’’ he added.

Kunwangse stressed that the bi-lateral agreement between Thailand and Kebbi State in this regard would be mutually beneficial.

He however, called for more commitment in efforts to actualise the objectives of the agreement.

Speaking, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Attahiru Maccido, said that “the state is a leading rice producer in the country, courtesy of the Anchor Borrowers Programme launched by President Muhammad Buhari in November 2015.”

Maccido said the programme had raised the production capacity of rice farmers in the state from 300,000 tonnes of rice per annum to over two million tonnes.

He pledged the state government’s readiness to partner with the Thai government or any relevant agency in efforts to develop the rice value chain in the state.

The Emir of Argungu, Mera, commended the government of Thailand and the Kebbi State Government for the collaboration aimed at boosting rice production in the state.

Flood submerges 500 rice farms in Bayelsa

By News Desk,

No fewer than 500 rice farms at Okpotuwari and Ondewari communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, have been submerged by flood.

Ezekiel Ogbianko, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association in the state, who inspected the submerged farms on Wednesday, called on the federal and state governments to come to the aid of the affected farmers.

At Ondewari, a community leader, Prof. Itimi Godwin, said that the rice farms were ready for harvest before the disaster.

“We need a lot of things, particularly we want the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come and see the level of damage done here.

“As you can see, this is a colossal loss; we are calling on the federal government to come to our aid, as the people here are suffering. We need relief materials such as rice, garri, cement and roofing sheets,” he said.

NAN recalls that NEMA had earlier said that over 150,000 people have been displaced by flood in Bayelsa this year.

The site manager of Ondewari Rice Farm, Mr Fredrick Adam, said the loss was colossal and the farmers would appreciate immediate support from government.

Also, the Paramount Ruler of Okpotuwari Community, Chief Tiger Moses, said that the community was expecting bountiful harvest before the flood.

“As you can see the flood is very disturbing, our crops have been destroyed, fish settlement and plantain farms are also damaged.

“We want the assistance of the federal government and other stakeholders; right now our sources of water have been contaminated,” he added.

Nigeria can feed 600 million people with right technology – Envoy

By News Desk,

The Consul-General of Denmark in Lagos, Per Christensen, on Monday said that Nigeria could produce food for some 600 million people through the application of the right technology.

Christensen said at a One-day Danish Food Tech Exhibition and Seminar in Lagos that Nigeria has a rich arable land and population for bumper food production.

He said that Nigeria, with her arable land, population and weather, had the possibility of producing more food than Brazil, if the farmers engage in technology-driven farming.

“Let me say that the agricultural development potential in Nigeria is bigger than that of Brazil when Nigerian farmers engage in technology farming.

“Nigeria can produce food for 600million people through the application of the right technology,” he said.

The consul-general said it was imperative for Nigeria to rededicate herself to increasing food production for Nigerians, as well as regaining her position as a net food exporter.

He said that agriculture was an area of common interest to Denmark and Nigeria, and Danish companies were prepared to introduce farming technology to Nigerian farmers.

Christensen said that the development of agriculture should be an important area of cooperation for Nigeria and Denmark in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to him, there are currently about 30,000 full time farmers involved in food and dairy products production in Denmark.

He said that the Food Tech Exhibition and Seminar was organised to expose stakeholders in Nigeria’s agriculture sector to the existing technology for food processing and value Chain.

The visiting Danish companies are active in areas of logistics and cold chain, breeding and genetics, agro-industry and processing equipment, food and grain analytical equipment, ingredient and financing.

The Marketing Manager of BIC Electric, Ms Katarzyna Michalczyk, said she was in Nigeria to meet Nigerians and know of the existing opportunities for her company in Nigeria.

Michalczyk, a representative of one of the visiting Danish companies, said that the company would soon start doing business in West Africa, which would create sustainable jobs for local people.

1,000 companies compete for 12 rail projects

By News Desk,

More than 1,000 contractors are participating in the bids for 12 projects advertised by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

The corporation has opened the bids to pre-qualify the contractors for the 2018 projects.

Mr Ben Iloanusi, the NRC Director of Procurement, told the newsmen during pre-qualification exercise at the NRC headquarters, Ebute Meta, Lagos, on Wednesday.

Iloanusi said about 1,000 submissions were received across the various categories.

“The projects numbering 12 as advertised recently by the corporation in some national dailies attracted over 1,000 companies.

“The projects included emergency repair and maintenance of tracks, bridges and culvert, renovation.

“Also inclusive are upgrade of railway stations nationwide, procurement of locomotives, coaches, wagons, railway inspection vehicles and cranes, rehabilitation of locomotives and coaches.

“Others are procurement, rehabilitation and installation of equipment for mechanical, electrical, security, printing and ICT facilities; procurement of rolling stock consumables and spare parts and provision of insurance services,” he said.

The director further disclosed that the exercise may be concluded by the end of October as the procurement team had been directed to conclude the evaluation process in one month.

Niyi Ali, the Director of Operations, promised that the process would be transparent, saying the corporation will be fair to all in the pre-qualification and selection stages.

About N12 billion was approved by the Federal Government for the corporation’s projects in the 2018 budget.

Representatives of the various companies were on ground as the team verified the documents submitted by them amid tight security.

IITA wins Africa food prize

By News Desk,

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan has won the distinguished Africa Food Prize for demonstrated innovations to improve “food security” in Africa.

The pioneer in the field of “food security innovation” was announced the winner on the sidelines of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda.

According to an official statement the research institution is the first African institution to receive such distinguished award.

The independent Africa Food Prize Committee, chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has selected IITA for its deep commitment over many decades to producing a steady stream of innovations, the statement said.

Reports show that these innovations have especially boosted the nutrition and incomes of millions of people across Africa.

Commenting on the award, the former Nigerian president noted that IITA stood out for its “steadfast and inspiring commitment to a research agenda that aligns with both our African traditions, as well as the evolving needs of African farmers and consumers for the latest advances in food production.”

“From the cassava we’re still eating today, to the valuable and nutritious soybeans we now grow in our fields, to maize varieties that can withstand drought and deadly toxins – our diets and our agriculture businesses would be much poorer today without IITA’s leadership, and its willingness to forge powerful bonds with African farmers and African communities,” he said.

According to official estimates, overall, for Africans, the value of the crops developed by IITA and its partners now stands at US$ 17 billion and counting.

It said that this is underscoring the research entity’s contribution to not only Africa’s agriculture, but its economy as well.

Speaking as he received the Prize on behalf of his institution, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA’s Director General, insisted on the impact of research carried out to be scaled up and made available to millions of farmers.

“I’m extremely honoured to be receiving this prize on behalf of IITA and proud to be part of a group of researchers dedicated to building lasting and relevant solutions for the continent,” said Sanginga.

Study shows how vegetation can be improved in Sahara Desert

A study has shown that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighbouring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation, thus benefiting the region.

According to its lead author Li Yan, a postdoctoral researcher in natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois, the study is among the first to model the climate effects of wind and solar installations while taking into account how vegetation responds to changes in heat and precipitation.

Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be either beneficial or detrimental to the regions in which they are situated.

The wind and solar farms simulated in the study would cover more than nine million square kilometers and generate, on average, about three terawatts and 79 terawatts of electrical power, respectively.

“In 2017, the global energy demand was only 18 terawatts, so this is obviously much more energy than is currently needed worldwide,” Li said.

The model revealed that wind farms caused regional warming of near-surface air temperature, with greater changes in minimum temperatures than maximum temperatures.

The greater nighttime warming takes place because wind turbines can enhance the vertical mixing and bring down warmer air from above, according to the study.

Precipitation also increased as much as 0.25 millimeters per day on average in regions with wind farm installations.

“This was a doubling of precipitation over that seen in the control experiments,” Li said.

In the Sahel, average rainfall increased 1.12 millimeters per day where wind farms were present.

This increase in precipitation, in turn, leads to an increase in vegetation cover, creating a positive feedback loop, said Li.

Solar farms have a similar positive effect on temperature and precipitation, but unlike the wind farms, the solar arrays have very little effect on wind speed.

“The rainfall increase is a consequence of complex land-atmosphere interactions that occur because solar panels and wind turbines create rougher and darker land surfaces,” said the paper’s co-author Eugenia Kalnay from University of Maryland.

The increase in rainfall and vegetation, combined with clean electricity as a result of solar and wind energy, could help agriculture, economic development and social well-being in the Sahara, Sahel, Middle East and other nearby regions, according to the study.

How cameras helped Zambia reduce traffic violations

By News Desk,

Compliance levels to road traffic rules have gone up in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, after the installation of roadside cameras on some selected roads, the country’s road safety agency said on Monday.

The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) said it had recorded a significant increase in speed limit compliance since the introduction of the road safety management system in July.

In a statement, the agency said compliance levels have gone up to about 90 per cent in the last one month of operating the system while infringements on traffic rules have significantly reduced.

“We urge all Zambian vehicle owners to follow speed regulations, ensure vehicles are roadworthy and observe all traffic rules,” the statement said.

The installation of cameras in other roads across the country is underway, it added.

According to the agency, about 85 per cent of road accidents in the country are caused by human errors such as drunk-driving, speeding, and use of cell phones while driving.

Government figures show a 280 per cent jump in vehicle ownership in 10 years, reaching 700,000 in 2016.

Road fatalities surged from 10 per 100,000 inhabitants to 13.8 per 100,000 inhabitants during the same period.

FRSC tasks drivers on regular eye test

By News Desk,

Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Sector Commander, Plateau Command, Pat Emeordi, has advised commercial drivers and other motorists to go for regular eye test to know the status of their sights.

Emeordi gave the advice at a sensitisation rally organised for commercial drivers in Yandoya Motor Park, Jos on Friday.

She attributed some road crashes to sight defects, hence, the need for drivers to constantly check their sights.

“Records have shown that poor sight has greatly contributed to some of the accidents on our highways.

“So, at every opportunity, we encourage drivers and indeed all motorists to go for regular eye checks so as to avoid any ugly occurrence.

“Once your sight is sharp, the tendency of averting a crash while plying highway is high,” she said.

Emeordi stressed the need for drivers to obey traffic rules and regulations and desist from acts capable of causing carnage on the highway.

Stephen Akintola, Secretary, Plateau Chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who spoke, thanked the command for the awareness and admonished drivers to heed to the FRSC’s advice.

Highlights of the event include blood pressure and vision acuity tests at no cost to some motoring public.

CBN extends loans to 33,000 farmers

By News Desk,

No fewer than 33,974 rice farmers in Zamfara state are to benefit from the Anchor Borrowers loan of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Zamfara said on Thursday that the farmers have gone through biometric data capturing exercise in the state.

The Chairman of the Association, Isyaku Ajiya-Anka, said each farmer would receive one pumping machine, 30 kilograms of rice seedlings and six bags of fertiliser.

The total loan package is N219, 329.50 per hectare.

As part of the package, the farmers will receive herbicide, pesticide, farming services, which included ploughing, harrowing, planting and harvesting.

Ajiya-Anka said the farmers would not get the cash directly.

“For farmers who do not require all the services, the cost of services not required will be used to offset part of the loan.’’

State Coordinator of CBN Anchor Borrowers , Aliyu Hafiz, said every farmer has a card which contains all his details and the required quantities of inputs he should be given.

He said the distribution of the inputs had started in seven local government areas.

The councils are Gusau, Bungudu, Gummi, Bakura, Anka, Kaura Namoda and Talata Mafara.

Stakeholders advocate organic farming policies to protect ecosystem

By News Desk

Stakeholders in the organic farming space on Thursday in Lagos urged the Federal Government to institute policies that would promote organic farming so as to protect the country’s ecosystem.

The stakeholders spoke at the National Organic Agriculture Business Summit 2018.

The summit is aimed at addressing the various challenges facing the organic agriculture sub-sector, as they affect the people’s health and the environment.

Prof. Akin Abayomi, who manages a 300-acre organic bio-habitat forest conservation project in Osun State, said that there was urgent need for a paradigm shift towards the evolution of a pollution-free environment.

Abayomi, who is also an oncologist and internal medicine specialist, said that the focus should be on organic living that was free of pollution in the real sense.

“Taking organic foods in a polluted environment does not make sense; there is no point in doing that. Hence, we should change our thoughts from organic agriculture to organic living.

“If you want to kill a pest with an insecticide and you are exposed to the same chemical; then, you are killing yourself.

“There should be an urgent paradigm shift towards living in an environment that is free of pollution and doing things that are not harmful to the ecosystem.

“Organic agriculture in its natural habitat should be encouraged; while a stop should be made to the use of harmful chemicals that are harming the country’s ecosystem, ‘’ he said.

Besides, Ayobami said that it would take over 200 years to grow a forest.

He, however, said that with the growing population of Africa and Nigeria in particular, the production of foods via genetic modification was inevitable.

Mr Ajibola Oluyede, the Chairman of NICERT Ltd., said that the movement for organic agriculture was beginning to gain ground, while the issue of certification needed a national plan to ensure international standards.

He said that efforts should be made to separate genuine organic farmers from the fake ones, so as to ensure that all organic produce in the market were of good quality.

“The Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN) has encouraged a practice which is built on the standards of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

“The association does certification for some members for the Nigerian practice but in terms of commercial recognition, our organic farmers ought to be accredited by the regulatory bodies involved in that.

“NICERT is credited to enforce European Union (EU) standards for organic products as well as other countries. Nevertheless, Nigeria does not have an organic programme through which bodies may be credited.

“However, if you are producing what is organic, it must meet international standards. We need certification for organic producers because any farming process that does not help the ecosystem is not organic,’’ he said.

Oluyede, who noted that there was a high demand for organic produce in many foreign countries, said that the demand was somewhat insignificant in Nigeria because of the absence of legal standards.

On his part, Prof. Victor Olowe, the National President of NOAN and an agronomist in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), said that the association certified organic products for local consumption.

He said that the association currently used a process called Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) for local retail trade in organic produce, adding, however, that any plan to export organic produce would require third party certifications.

“On certification, NOAN certifies organic products for local consumption with the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), which is satisfactory for local consumption and retailers.

“For a producer taking organic products outside the Nigerian shores, he will need a third party certification from the appropriate body.

“All organic products carry labels which distinguish them from conventional farm produce, they also carry the labels to facilitate traceability,’’ he said.

However, Olowe said that the level of organic farming was very low globally, adding that only two per cent of the total arable lands were allocated to organic agriculture globally.

He also said that the association was making tangible efforts to boost organic farming, while working towards the production a bill on organic agriculture that would set an agenda for the development of the sub-sector.

The summit was convened by the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative in Nigeria, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, NOAN and the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria, among others.