Unveiling the FCT Mega Rice Pyramids at the International Trade Fair Complex, Abuja, Buhari said the event showed that the country was making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.
The president expressed the commitment of his administration towards implementing home-grown policies targeted at securing food for all Nigerians.
Buhari, said that the unveiling of the pyramids is a testament to the fact that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has started yielding fruitful results.
He said: “Fellow Nigerians, our gathering here today, is no doubt a testament to the fact that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is working.
“Indeed, these sky-high pyramids for which we are gathered here to commission are part of our commitment at achieving national food security and economic diversification through home-grown policies targeted at securing food for all Nigerians.
“As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyse the agricultural productive base of the nation,”.
The President said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme was designed to encourage investments in agriculture and empower smallholder farmers as drivers of transformation in the agricultural sector.
He further said that the Programme had continued to receive commendations, since its introduction, as it has become one of the reference points in the administration’s agricultural revolution effort.
According to him, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has so far supported over 4.8 million smallholder farmers across the country for the production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock.
“In fact, the Programme speaks loudly in its giant strides as it has increased access to finance by our rural farmers, who before now were virtually excluded from the financial system.
“Today rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 Million Metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of ABP, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 and 2015 was less than four metric tons annually,’’ he said.
On his part, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said the intervention by the bank in the Nigerian agricultural sector led to the massive reduction in imported rice from Thailand to 58,000 metric tons at the end of 2021 as against 1.3 million metric tons imported in 2014.
Emefiele said that Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) was started in November 2015 to provide aid to farmers and influence the value chain of various commodities in Nigeria, adding that ABP has also catalyzed the rural economy and has built a sustainable framework for financing smallholder farmers in Nigeria.
He said: “The Programme has developed an ecosystem among all nodes of the agricultural value chain and these linkages can be better optimized through synergy among all stakeholders.
“We are delighted that these efforts have yielded fruits in not just increasing the availability of rice, but also in moderating prices, reducing imports and increasing job creation in the country. For example, Thailand alone exported 1.3 million metric tons of rice to Nigeria in 2014.
“The ABP was launched in 2015 to curtail these imports, and since then, we have seen incremental reductions in rice imports from Thailand. By 2016, rice imports from Thailand had fallen to only 58,000 metric tons. As of the end of 2021, they only exported 2,160 metric tons to Nigeria, thereby saving us foreign exchange and helping preserve jobs in Nigeria.”
The Apex Bank Governor disclosed that beyond increasing national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, significant improvement of productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per hectare in 2015 to between about 5 metric tons per hectare in 2021 was also recorded.
Speaking on the sidelines, Mr Ado Hassan, Secretary of the Kano State chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) said the country will commence exportation of rice in the near future to engender the twin benefits of food security and economic diversification.
He dispelled insinuations that the rice pyramids on display were not solely rice, stating that the commodity was brought in by rice farmers in virtually all states of the country.
“The rice here is from all over the country. RIFAN has always been real, it is not possible to deceive 200 million Nigerians with a project like this.
“For the fact that Nigeria has not imported even a grain of rice in the last four years is enough proof that we are already self-sufficient in the commodity. The cultivation of rice is a reality and it will continue to happen,” he said.
Hassan disclosed that Nigeria has become the highest rice-growing country in Africa due to the support of the Federal Government and the intervention of the CBN.
Agriculture: Soludo imports two million Malaysian palm oil seedlings, coconuts
…… targets N160 billion yearly profit
Governor Charles Soludo says his government has begun importing one million palm oil seedlings and one million coconuts from Malaysia, hoping to make N160 billion annual revenue for Anambra.
Deputy Governor Onyekachi Ibezim disclosed this while inaugurating the 2023 farming season at Alex Ekwueme Square Awka.
Mr Ibezim, who represented the Anambra governor at the event, said, “We started importation of one million palm oil seedlings and one million coconuts from Malaysia last year. These species have three years maturity period.”
He added, “When this investment fully matures, the off-takers will be processing the fruits of these plants, and over N160 billion will be yearly income from this window.”
The Anambra deputy governor also revealed the state government’s plan to irrigate 10,000 hectares of land for rice farming at Ifite Ogwari community in Ayamelum LGA for rice cultivation, stressing that agriculture can create wealth and employment opportunities for thousands of people.
Mr Ibezim said that based on the abundant opportunities in the sector, the government listed agriculture among the priority areas of investment in the 50-years development plan of Anambra.
He called on farmers to commit to the sector as the government will always support them in their activities.
Foster Ihejiofor, the agric commissioner, said the state’s focus is on “biological farming,” not on producing food.
“It is about preserving our environment and ensuring the sustainability of our food system. Biological farming, aka zero budget, carbon farming or regen-Ag, launched in 2022 by Governor Chukwuma Soludo, is a sustainable agricultural system,” Mr Ihejiofor explained.
The commissioner urged farmers to embrace the new farming system, saying, “Biological farming is not just environmentally friendly, it is also economically beneficial to farmers as it reduces the cost of inputs while improving soil’s health, plants’ health, nutrients, among others.”
Envoy says modern ranching will curb farmer-herder conflict in Nigeria
The Denmark Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Sune Krogstrup, has called for modern ranching as a way of curbing the perennial farmer-herder conflict and empowering local farmers in Nigeria.
The envoy disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja while unveiling plans for the inauguration of Arla farm, a Danish-designed state of the art commercial dairy farm in Kaduna state.
The ambassador said the Arla farm project which is a public-private partnership with the Kaduna State government will be officially inaugurated on May 25 in Kaduna state.
He noted that the project was part of efforts to deepen strategic bilateral relations between Nigeria and Denmark, thereby reinforcing shared values and mutual cooperation.
He reiterated Denmark’s commitment to strengthening collaboration with Nigeria in the area of agriculture and food safety standards through cutting-edge technology and international best practices.
“In terms of Food and Agriculture This is another important area of focus for for us.
” We have a very good cooperation with Nigerian authorities on improving food safety standards and we are also very proud to cooperate closely with Arla the Danish dairy producer.
” In fact, next week (Thursday), I will be attending the formal opening of the Arla state of the art commercial dairy farm in Kaduna state,” he said.
Krogstrup expressed optimism that the farm, first of it’s kind in Nigeria will go a long way in
boosting the local economy, empowering local herders and de-escalating tension between herders and farmers.
He therefore called for the establishment of such farm projects across the country by relevant stakeholders, due to its economic and security benefits.
“Now that farm (Arla) will have a tremendous impact on the local economy and economy in terms of direct and indirect jobs created.
“In addition, when herders setup to become milk farmers, it also reduces tensions over access to land between herders and farmers.
” So in my opinion we need many more projects like this one, he said.
NAN reports that Arla foods, the renowned Danish diary company (makers of Dano milk) recently took delivery of 216 Danish Holstein Heifers (a breed of cow) for its Kaduna dairy farm.
The farm project which started in 2019 as part of Arla’s plan to develop a sustainable dairy sector in Nigeria is set to create thousands of employment for farmers and locals, especially in the area.
NAN also reports that the Federal Government had in July, 2022 announced plans to increase milk production from the current 600,000 metric tonnes to 1.6 billion metric tonnes by 2024.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who gave the short-term target, said the government will provide the needed infrastructure to enhance milk aggregation and distribution and that the plan will reduce the 1.3 billion dairy importation bill.
25 Million Nigerians May Face Food Crisis By August 2023 – FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the Nations (FAO) has estimated that 25.3 million Nigerians are in danger of experiencing food crisis between June and August 2023 unless urgent steps are taken to scale up and sustain livelihood and food assistance.
FAO said this was contained in its October 2022 Food and Nutrition Analysis.
The analysis reportedly indicates that about 17 million people including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees in 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were in “crisis or worse level” through October 2022.
Of that number, three million are living in Borno, Adamwa and Yobe states, FAO said.
“Furthermore, an estimated 25.3 million people are projected to be in crisis or worse levels during the 2023 lean season (June – August) with 4.4 million in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, if immediate steps to scale up and sustain livelihood and food assistance are not taken,” it added in a statement.
The statement noted that the Government of the Royal Kingdom of Norway renewed its funding cooperation with FAO aimed at helping the most vulnerable populations in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba states with a special focus on women-led households.
The three-year intervention will benefit 43,990 households (about 307,930 individuals), according to FAO, with at least 45 percent of them being women as direct beneficiaries receiving items such as agricultural inputs, livestock assets, and energy saving stoves.
The beneficiaries reportedly include IDPs, host communities and returnees of relocated households with special attention paid to women-headed households.
Speaking in Abuja at a signing ceremony to kick-start the project’s implementation, the Ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of Norway to Nigeria, Knut Eiliv Lein said his country remained committed to supporting the efforts to restore the conflict-affected livelihoods in the North-East.
“This project we are signing here today is part of Norway’s larger support to Nigeria in general, including humanitarian efforts specifically targeting those in need in the North-East region.
“We have partnered with many organisations in addressing a number of issues, including health, food security, democracy, gender equality and more,” Ambassador Lein said.
On his part, the FAO Representative in Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Fred Kafeero appreciated the support by Norway, describing it as another milestone in strengthening the commitment in the fight against poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition in Nigeria.
“The new project, whose agreement we are signing here today, marks the continuous and fruitful collaboration, and partnership that exists between the Government of the Royal Kingdom of Norway and FAO in Nigeria,” Mr. Kafeero said.
“Thanks to this collaboration for years now, the conflict-affected populations of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states have greatly benefited from the agricultural-based livelihoods support that has enabled them to improve their food security as well as build their resilience.”
The support aims at enhancing resilience to the humanitarian crisis, climate variability and change of vulnerable communities; and building resilient livelihoods in the BAY states against the negative effects of climate change, FAO said.
The beneficiaries, who will reportedly receive special training on animal husbandry, farming and agribusiness, are IDPs, host communities and returnees of relocated households with special attention paid to women-headed households.
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