federal government

Agribusiness Incubation: A Young Agropreneur’s Story, Post Incubation

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Johnbosco on the farm

This month we bring you a model youth of the IITA youth Agripreneur who was mentored to see Agriculture as a business. Today he has moved on to make for himself a growing and thriving business in plantain, banana and pineapple sucker production and multiplication among others, he distributes his suckers to various locations across Nigeria while he also helps farm setups both in Nigeria and diaspora with their farm management and setup. He also gives training on the production and business aspect of his mandate crops.

JohnBosco has since realized that picking agriculture as a business is the only work of life that is capable of giving massive percentage return on investment with eye-catching cost benefit ratio and higher curve of income, only if seen as a business. He thanks IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa and encourages the Private and Public sectors and the world to rise up and walk the talk with proactive measures to help Youth see Agriculture as a business.

JohnBosco advices young people who have failed before in their agribusiness not to see it as a setback as every time invested in business has an impact and enables us see ways doing business in a particular way would’nt work.

In this piece he reveals how he started and projects he is currently working on in the value chain and discusses challenges faced as it relates to youth engagement in Nigeria.

Q1. Can you briefly introduce yourself? How was growing up like for you?

Answer: My name is Ezemenaka Johnbosco, preferably called Bosco by fans. I come from Anambra state, born and brought up in Ibadan. I grew up as a normal child with passion for business and development, but with no formal foresight of what sector of business I wanted as a child. Now, I’m the C.E.O of AgroBosco – Agribusiness and Consulting, Founder – International Forum for Youth in Agribusiness ‘IFYA’ (a virtual non-formalized platform), Agribusiness Analyst for Aroms Farms Nigeria Limited and Program Manager for McPennin Nigeria Limited.

Q2. Can you please tell us how you came into farming/agribiz? Do you have a background in Agric? If No, Tell us why you considered agriculture?

Answer: I have an Agricultural background in Soil Science and Land Management, Agricultural Extension and Rural Development. There’s no doubt I had the background from a Federal Agricultural University, still I had no clue of what aspect of life I was going to make that money from, even as at my fourth year as an undergraduate. I eventually graduated and as luck would play its role, I found myself in International Institute of Tropical Agriculture as my place of primary assignment as a Youth Corper serving my nation.

I was mentored and spawned to see Agriculture as a business. From there, I gained momentum with a crystal clear vision and goal to my independence and self-sustainability, so I decided to scramble for professional experience in Agribusiness Development, Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, Public Management and Leadership.

Picking up Agribusiness as my part of life is simply because Agriculture is the ONLY work of life that is capable of giving you massive Percentage Return on Investment with eye-catching Cost Benefit Ratio and higher Curve of Income, only if seen as a business.

John bosco working on the farm

Q3. What aspect or nature of work in Agriculture do you practise? Briefly, Tell us about your work?

Answer: With practical experience in maize seed production, soybean seed production, cassava production / stem multiplication, plantain / banana fruit production and rapid sucker multiplication using macro-propagation technique and pineapple production / rapid sucker multiplication, this has helped me setup my own company. I give trainings on the aforementioned crops, help clients near and in diaspora set up farms and management, help develop Agribusiness companies in line with their business strategies to meet their business goals, help develop business plans, project plans and proposals with groovy and keen attention in Agri-start-ups for Youths.

Q4. What societal problems are you solving with your work and what solutions are you using? What are the hurdles currently being faced?

Johnbosco facilitating Macro-propagation of Hybrid Plantain

Answer: I have been giving trainings on the production and business aspect of my mandate crops to Youths and Farmers for self dependence, sustainability and enhanced income. Since commercial banks hardly finance Youths to start their venture, I’m working on providing Agri-finance with the Co-Founder of International Forum for Youths in Agribusiness – IFYA through ‘crowd-funding’ (micro fund raising through our members on the IFYA virtual platform) to set up Agri start-ups (maximum of $26,000 USD with an approved business plan).

Q5. What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture?

Answer: Youth participation is Agriculture is just the tool-box for significantly increasing food security, reducing world poverty and unemployment to ALARP level. Statistically, Youth make up the highest percentage of world’s population density with significant physiological and morphological capacity capable of deactivating the world time bomb. There’s no two ways about using Youth as a veritable tool.

Q6. What are the challenges of youth engagement in agribusiness as it relates to what you do, How do you think it is affecting Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Nigeria?

Answer: There are numerous challenges faced by Youth engaged in Agribusiness. The primary and number one challenge is ‘change of mindset’, others are secondary. Youths should have their mindset changed about Agriculture, the Private and Public sectors should help Youth see Agriculture as a business. A proactive concept and programs with strong Monitoring and Evaluation should be developed in all continents to tackle this and not just financing start-ups for Youths. Special regards to the IITA’s concept of Youth in Agribusiness, as a model in Africa. I tell you this; if you give a Youth $1 billion for an Agribusiness venture without having his/her mindset changed about seeing Agriculture as a business and the prospects attached to it, then you just poured water into a basket. I know there are so many programs and concepts about changing the mindset of Youths towards seeing Agriculture as a business, but the world has to rise and walk the talk with proactive measures. More regards to IITA for taking the lead to walk the talk on Youth in Agribusiness in Africa.

Johnbosco at the IITA youth Agripreneur incubation plot

In Nigeria, this has greatly affected negatively, considering the teeming Youth population moving into Nigerian labour market quarterly, and then you can figure out how devastating this is in Africa, having Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa. Just figure it out! Example: My friend ‘A’ is comfortable working as a freelancer with a bank and receiving a limited token as salary, while my friend ‘B’ quitted his freelancing ICT job for just a commodity in Agribusiness and now making fortune with unlimited revenue and profit generation.

Q7. What advice do you have for young people engaged in agriculture?

Answer: My advice for young people engaged in Agriculture is to see it as a business. Only then will they realise the fortune that awaits them. In business, every time invested has an impact. Failing is normal in life, but they should NEVER see ‘fail’ as a setback in any of the value-chains of Agribusiness they are into, but rather see ‘fail’ as a finding of ways that don’t work.

Q8. What do you think government should put in place to improve the agric sector in Nigeria? Suggest Advice

Answer: Nigeria government should; 1. Take Youth as a tool-box for development of the Agricultural sector. 2. Work on changing the mind-set of the Youths through Non-Governmental Organizations and private sectors who are walking the talk and proactive, and embracing these organizations with resources needed. 3. Significantly reduce the interest rates on loan and to make it easily accessible to the common Youth. Government should be proactive about the aforementioned using aggressive and diplomatic Monitoring and Evaluation framework base approach.

Here is a Youtube video of Johnbosco talking about Plantain Macropropagation in Nigeria.

Contact him via boscowjay@yahoo.com or Blog

How I resigned my teaching job in Lagos to start a big farming business in Sokoto – CEO Sawah Farms

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Ezedike Fredrick on his farm

Editors Note:

Ezedike Fredrick is a “northern farmer” who hails from Imo State.  He is a graduate of Pure and Applied Physics from Lodoke Akintola University (LAUTECH) Fredrick’s interest in agribusiness developed during his youth service year when his students became his friends. They took him to their various farms after school hours and enlightened him about the business of agriculture. He was encouraged to buy bags of onions for storage and make extra money apart from his NYSC allawe. Unfortunately, the onions spoilt but He did not give up! In fact, the situation triggered him to have a better interest in farming. Today, he is an onion, garlic and tomatoes farmer and CEO of Sawah Farms based in Sokoto state, Nigeria. Fredrick is our Young Agropreneur of the Month!

Introduction 

My name is Ezedike Fredrick. I hail from Nwagele Local Government Area, Imo State.  I had my primary and secondary school education in Lagos, so I will say I was born and brought up in Lagos State. I studied Pure and Applied Physics from Lodoke Akintola University (LAUTECH). Great Lado-ki-te!

How did you develop the interest in Agriculture and when did you consider it as a business to venture into?

My interest in agriculture developed during youth service year in Wurno Local Government Area, Sokoto State. I was posted to a school and my first new friends were the students I taught Physics, my new friends enlightened me about farming by taking me to their individual farms. They encouraged me to buy bags of onions for storage and make extra money apart from the NYSC allawe – assuring me that within few months, before my passing out parade day I would make huge returns. Unfortunately, the onions spoilt but I did not give up! In fact, the situation triggered me to be very interested in farming. This is because I wanted to know what caused the spoilage of my onions.

What aspect of Agriculture do you practice?

When service year ended, I travelled back home to Lagos but before I did, I bought a cow with the little money I had and left  the cow in Wurno with one of my friends because I knew I was still going to travel back. I worked in Lagos for some time hoping to get funds and go back to farming, but it did not work out as planned.

In March 2015, I resigned from the teaching job I got in Lagos and went back to Sokoto to learn about farming- with no money and no plan of how I was going to get accommodation. The only source of getting income was the cow I bought and left behind after youth service. Also, Language (Hausa) was another barrier but I moved around with my young friends, and volunteered to take free English lessons, this made me popular with other people around. I learnt the Hausa language and was able to communicate well with people about my wants and as God will do it a lot of people gave me advice on what to get and how to start farming. I presently specialize in the area of onions, garlic, and tomatoes farming.

Can you tell us the challenges you faced while starting up?

My main challenge while starting up with agribusiness in the northern part of Nigeria was having to call the names of chemicals used in farming in the local language (Hausa) and not in English. Also in the area of nursery development, the rain was a major factor that destroyed the seed beds while growing up.

What societal problem are you experiencing, and what measures have you implemented to curb it?  

The major societal problem that affects my business directly is the inability to get people that are educated technology wise. Also, communication is very much needed in farming – most of the rural farmers don’t have a means of communication talk less of knowing how to operate a phone. I buy phones and give to some farmers I work with, I also teach them how to operate it – so as to ease our work as a team.

What do you think about youth participation in Agriculture? Do you think funding is a major challenge for youths?

 

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I believe if the youths participate in agriculture like the way they do in the entertainment industry, Nigeria’s economy will grow. For now youth participation is still not impactful. Youths should be aware of what they are getting into- before thinking of how to fund it. In an area where a fund is available and a youth is not enlightened about what to farm- of what use is such fund! Funding is not the only challenge. Youths should show seriousness, commitment, zeal and passion for farming.

What advice do you have for young people still thinking of going into agriculture?

My advice to the young people thinking of going into agriculture is that they should first forget about making a quick profit. ‘First know what you are getting
into because it is not a course but a life experience’ so be ready to be hard working.

What do you think the government should put in place to improve the agricultural sector in Nigeria?
The government should farm directly. They have hectares all over Nigeria, let them    get involved and see what farmers go through in terms of getting inputs like chemicals, seeds, and fertilizer. They should subsidize inputs and encourage farmers to expand their agribusiness. They should also concentrate on areas known for the production of certain food crops in the past and find out why it is no more as productive as it was then –this will help them have an appropriate solution to solve such a problem.

Ezedike Fredrick  – CEO, Sawah Farms

Email: Sawahfarms@gmail.com

Twitter: @Sawahfarms

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria to Boost the Economy and Create Employment

Photo credit: Flicker

Agriculture is a very important tool for achieving the Millennium Development Goal. Agriculture is considered a catalyst for the overall development of any nation. In sub-Saharan Africa, Agriculture is a very important tool for improving growth, overcoming poverty and improving food security. It is thus a critical sector that drives the economic development and industrialization of the developing nation, and serve as a means of reducing unemployment. Increase in agricultural productivity is important for growth of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria spends close to $10 billion on food importation annually, if invested in agriculture, this amount would have generated a high percentage of employment.

 

Nigeria has huge agricultural potential with an arable land potential of 98 million hectares, out of which 84 million hectares is cultivatable, Nigeria’s agricultural potential remains untapped.  For a nation to grow its economy and provide employment, the government must be able to do massive investment in Agriculture. But the past and the current administration of this country has not been able to invest massively in Agriculture and has also not been able to tap into the contribution to the economy of the nation. There are some countries that have been able to tap into this benefit and this has subsequently created a rapid growth in economy of those countries e.g. China, Mexico, India, Taiwan, Chile, etc.

In China, agriculture led the way to the emergence of this Asian giant as a major force in the world economy. This is especially remarkable when you consider that China, with a population of over 1.3 billion people, is able to produce enough food for her people, and yet has more than enough extra to make her a major exporter of agricultural produce to the world. The importance of Agriculture as a means of generating employment and also contributing to the growth of the nation’s economy cannot be undermined.

One of the ways in which this present government can lift people out of poverty and provide massive employment opportunity for our youth is by the nation’s massive investment in Agriculture. Agriculture alone can provide millions of job opportunity for our teaming youths who are unemployed.

Factors that continues to affect Agricultural productivity which the Nigerian government have done nothing or little about are enumerated as follows;

Lack of price stability: There has not been a stable price for agricultural produce in this country.   The price of agricultural produce continues to rise and fall, price stabilization is necessary and important if farmers would make good profit from their investments. Farmers are usually discouraged, when low returns are gotten after sales of their products. The government should provide a ready market, buying from small scale farmers and selling to the bigger markets. This helps to avoid the role of middleman in the selling of agricultural products and thus helps keep prices stable.

Poor funding of research in Agriculture: One of the major constraint in agricultural productivity is poor funding of research in agriculture. There should also be an increase funding for research in Agriculture. According to research this country is losing about 24.7% of field crops to infestation of agricultural pests and diseases which usually lead to decrease in agricultural output. By providing funds for research in Agriculture, researchers will be able to breed or develop crops that will be resistance to insect, pest and diseases, therefore reducing or eliminating the use of agrochemicals and also reduce crop loses to pest and diseases. They will also be able to develop crops that are high yielding, nutritious and has fast growth rate.

Decline in agricultural extension services: There has been a decline in agricultural extension services and this has affected agricultural productivity in Nigeria. The government should focus on Agricultural extension services. By this the extension workers will be able to transfer the latest agricultural research or innovation to the farmers. They will also be able to train farmers on how to handle modern technological tools and equipment. By this the farmers will be able to put the knowledge gained into use to boost their agricultural output.

Poor funding of Agricultural sector: Poor funding is a major factor that has continued to affect the growth of Agricultural sector in this country. There should be an increase funding of Agricultural sector. The government at all levels must take the development of agriculture as a national priority. The government should dedicate a larger percentage of its annual budget to the development of the agricultural sector. The government should be able to provide loans with low or without interest to the farmers. The government should also be able to provide free and subsidized agricultural inputs like seeds fertilizers, animal feeds, day old chicks, fish fingerlings, agro-chemicals, technological equipment etc.

Lack of modern agricultural tools and equipment: One of the ways in which we have not been able to increase our agricultural production is that we continue to practice subsistence farming. We should be able to shift from subsistence farming to mechanized farming. For agricultural sector to be developed and employment generated there must be a shift from the traditional methods of farming to a more technologically advanced/mechanized method of farming and high yielding methods of planting. The government should be able to lease out new modern technological equipment at a low rate to the farmers who will not be able to afford it also subsidize it for those who will be able to afford it. By doing so the nation will be able to boost her agricultural productivity.

Lack of storage and processing facilities: Many of agricultural crops are being lost to post harvest losses, 20-40% of crops in Nigeria are being lost to post harvest losses. The government should be able to provide good storage and processing facilities to the rural farmers. Storage and processing of agricultural products is one of the major factors affecting the growth of agricultural sector. Losses experienced after harvesting is very discouraging. It is imperative for the government to put in place a system of ensuring adequate storage and processing of harvested produce as this will stand as a sure way of encouraging farmers and thereby increasing production. Storage and processing are critical in ensuring that the commodities produced at a particular period are available for consumption whenever and wherever they are required.

Lack of rural infrastructure: Infrastructure includes roads and railway system, educational and health facilities, social services such as potable water and electricity and communication system. Agricultural productivity in Nigeria has been negatively affected due to low level of development of infrastructure. In the rural areas where majority of the small holders operate, inadequate infrastructure constitutes a major constraint to agricultural investment, production and trade. Many of the youths in the rural areas have left farming and migrated to the urban areas due to lack of good infrastructure in the rural areas. Therefore government should invest heavily in rural infrastructure development that will promote private investment in all areas of agriculture.

Importation of food items: Continued importation of food items has continued to negatively affect local production of agricultural crops. We continue to import food like rice, maize, wheat, processed tomatoes, frozen foods etc. If we are going to be serious about the development of agricultural sector, we should be able to close our doors to the importation of agricultural products that can be produced or grown successfully in this country. By doing so we will be able to encourage and boost local production and processing of agricultural products.

This blog post was written by Abosede Kayode, A graduate of Agricultural Science from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun state. Nigeria.

He can be contacted via email at kayudex124@gmail.com

Meet the 35 Year-Old Entrepreneur Who Owns Nigeria’s 2nd Largest Rice Farm

Nigerians consume more than 5 million metric tons of rice every year, with a significant portion of its consumption needs sourced from imports. Rotimi Williams, an ambitious 35 year-old Nigerian entrepreneur and rice farmer, is on a quest to change that.

Williams, a former Journalist, is the owner of Kereksuk Rice Farm, the 2nd largest commercial rice farm in Nigeria by land size. His farm, which is situated in Nasarawa state in northern Nigeria, currently sits on 45,000 hectares and employs more than 600 indigenes of Nasarawa.

I recently caught up with the budding entrepreneur in Lagos, and had a brief chat with him where he recounted his journey and mused on how Nigeria can attain self-sufficiency in rice production in the near future.

What’s your educational and professional background?

I attended King’s College in Lagos. After attending secondary school at King’s College I proceeded to obtain my first degree at University of Aberdeen where I graduated with a degree in Economics. I also obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics from the same institution. My quest for more knowledge led me to enroll for yet another Master’s Degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London where I gained an MSc. in Finance and Development Studies.

Upon graduation, I landed a role as an analyst at the European Economics and Financial Centre in London. Afterwards, Euromoney Magazine- employed me where I covered the African space.

I would say that this is where my journey truly started

Photo credit: Flicker

Photo credit: Flicker

Given your background as a journalist, what informed your decision to venture into rice farming?

While at Euromoney, I had the opportunity to travel around a few African countries. These trips exposed me to countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Ghana. A common thread amongst the aforementioned nations is agriculture. Agriculture is at the very core of these countries and this got me thinking. After a few more trips, I decided to move back to Nigeria and sink my teeth into the agricultural space. Nigeria remains the largest economy in Africa from both a GDP perspective and also the strength of the size of our population.

Upon my arrival back in Nigeria, I got a job at a premier Bank where I was promised to sit on the agriculture desk – my hope was that I would gain enough knowledge of the Nigerian agricultural industry and develop myself from there.

Unfortunately, the agricultural desk at the Bank never quite achieved its set goals. I pushed hard for the Bank to adopt policies and gain inroads into the agricultural industry but my attempts were somewhat frustrated. I sincerely feel that the bank wasn’t quite ready to launch fully into the agricultural space.

As my frustration grew, I decided to quit banking and planned to go it alone into agriculture. Frankly, my decision led to a challenging sojourn as attempts to raise funding with my partner proved difficult. We started a Structured Trade and Commodity Finance company. After a while I started consulting for small agriculture companies seeking to raise capital both locally and internationally.

You currently own the second (2nd) largest rice farm in Nigeria with 45,000 hectares in Nasarawa, Nigeria. What’s the story behind your acquisition of such vast land, and what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in farming in the volatile northern region?

Two years had past and we still had no funds, so I made an offer to the farm owner, that with a 50-50 split, I would develop the farm with both personal funds and external funding. He agreed and that’s how I became part owner of 17,296 hectares of farmland. Knowing that agriculture would become the integral area of focus in Nigeria, I was bullish and ramped up the land to 55,000 hectares. I later parted with my partner as a result of unaligned views and strategy. I maintained 45,000 hectares for myself and today we have started producing, with our quality paddy being sold to major milling companies in Nigeria. However, I must add the following, I often have people ask how I learned abut farming, as everyone thinks you need a special degree in agriculture to be a farmer, but I always tell them the truth, I learnt it all on Google.   I downloaded every article I could find on rice production, consumed it and then practiced it in the fields.

Frankly, my experience working alongside indigenes of Nasarawa state has been exceptional. I have learnt over the years that if you approach people with respect even more so while one seeks to set up a business venture. Having a healthy sense of community makes all the difference in attaining one’s set objectives. I lean heavily on the wisdom and cultural approach of the indigenes to carry out farming on such a scale here in Nasarawa.

In the news today, there is a lot of talk about Farmers clashing with Fulani Herdsmen, but we think our approach has been successful. We created a scheme called the Farm Out Of Poverty initiative which I will talk about a bit more later. Under the FOOP, we are able to train approximately a hundred Fulani women in rice farming, at the same time, employing their men as our security and finally, feeding their castles from the rice straws after harvest. Today, we live in peace and all work towards the success of the farm.

What’s your fundamental objective in rice production?

In recent years there has been a concerted effort by the Federal Republic of Nigeria to adopt more wholesome agricultural reforms and policies. These initiatives are highly commendable as they seek to empower Nigerians to also engage and thrive in this industry. Quite frankly, with Nigeria’s swelling population we simply have to look inwards and increase our agricultural prowess as a nation. These initiatives have been further highlighted when we take a candid look at our importing structures. Nigeria imports a whole lot and the numbers reveal that this is not sustainable.

Kereksuk seeks to contribute its own quota to reduce the weight on our economy to keep importing rice – which is consumed in such high demand in our country.

Your farm, Kereksuk, is currently not running at optimization. Why is that?

Kereksuk’s land mass stands at 45,000 hectares; as such, we have been focusing on developing the land in phases – based on our modular plan we seek to reach full optimization by the year 2020. Our expansion plans require significant fund raising too – the scale of our planned operations would explain this.

So how much rice are you producing annually?

We’re currently doing 8,000 metric tons a year, but we are embarking on an expansion programme that’ll see us doubling our output next year.

Have you taken any steps to make your farm more environmentally friendly?

Kereksuk has taken a few initiatives to adopt environmentally friendly measures. For example, we apply organic fertilizers – fertilizers we gain quite seamlessly through our healthy relationship with the indigenes of this beautiful state. Furthermore, we feed straw from our rice to livestock and while I am not at liberty to divulge the details, we are actually working on a project that seeks to generate power from rice.

I see myself as a social entrepreneur – I appreciate engaging the collective through community involvement. This has actually inspired Kereksuk to set up a few initiatives.

Our pioneer initiative is the farm-out-of-poverty initiative. This strategic initiative targets secondary school children. The Nigerian secondary school system is evenly split into two halves – the Junior Secondary School (JSS) years and the Senior Secondary School (SSS) years. Each half lasts for three (3) years. We focus primarily on the Senior Secondary School years by selecting ten (10) students per SSS year to visit our farm.

While on the farm, the 30 students are exposed to the production and economics of rice farming. At the end of the year we set aside N50,000 ($160) per student per year. This accrues to N150,000 (approximately $500) at the end of the 3-year programme per student. We ensure that this sum is matched by a like-minded cooperative organization and the cumulative amount of N300,000 ($1,000) goes towards paying fees at the tertiary education stage.

This programme seeks to alleviate the burden of debt often associated with students and empowers the student through experience in a real-life work environment.

Kereksuk is confident that this initiative inspires and acts as an incentive to those at the lower education cadre to remain in school and aim for excellence in life.

The second phase of the FOOP involves the engagement of Fulani women in rice farming. This concept is unprecedented as there is a misconception that Fulani people are only

What reforms must government implement to ensure that Nigeria attains self-sufficient in rice production?

There is a lot of talk at the moment about rice production and self-sufficiency, but I believe that the Government needs to look at its approach closely. The aim of the government is not only to create jobs, but create wealth and at the same time boost production. However, I believe that for jobs to be created, the notion is quite straightforward, create a plan and make funds available, however, for such development to be sustainable and for wealth to be created, there is much work yet to be done. For example, in rice production, simply growing paddy and selling at market price would not create the necessary wealth for the farmer, without appropriate value addition such as milling. However, because the government lays much emphasis on integrated rice mills and par-boiled rice, these small farmers are already priced out. So for the newly created job to be truly attractive and sustainable, government needs to start thinking about the value additions by the same farmers to enable them grow their operations organically.

By Mfonobong Nsehe

Originally posted here

Follow him on Twitter @MfonobongNsehe. Email: mfon.nsehe@gmail.com.

HOW MUCH ASSISTANCE ARE FARMERS REALLY GETTING FOR THEIR AGRO-STARTUP

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We are all saying poverty and hunger can be eradicated in Africa, to be particular in Nigeria, but little had been done to help the farmers that are actually going to make this ambition come true.

Are farmers really getting the desired help that will make this goal achievable or are farmers ignorant of what they should have done to get help?

It is saddening to see that almost 95% of these farmers are peasant farmers (trying to feed their immediate family). They use traditional farming method to work so that they can have something to eat and sometimes sell in order to feed their families and to pay some bills.

Taking a deeper look, if social entrepreneurs, agricultural supporting agencies, NGO’S and government ministry in charge of Agriculture are actually fulfilling their promises – relating to supporting these rural farmers financially and educationally while offering advice to these farmers – then things would be much more better.

Imagine a farmer who owns very large hectares of land, with only cutlass and hoes to work with, the inputted effort will be less and eventually his energy will not attain much. Compare a farmer who has farm equipment available to him for farming and wealth of information regarding what he has to do, the input will be encouraging, directly or indirectly he will make positive impact in his immediately environment, his family will have food to eat, proceeds gotten from what had been sold will be used to pay bills.

Remember also these individual farmers represent their families and the resulting effect will be obvious because each family will have food to eat and poverty will be reduced. Now imagine these 95% peasant farmers being supported and monitored to make sure the funds and support provided are meeting the target, poverty will be reduced to the minimal level. Through government and farmers cooperatives, information are disseminated to these farmers.

More so, the organization in charge of this fund must liaise with local government of each state to register farmers that are going to appropriately use support that they receive when these funds are disbursed, making sure the funds are used for what it is meant for.

If farmers are actually ignorant, then they can get help – that will be a serious issue speaking from their perspective. I will suggest organizations and NGO’s rendering help to farmers should always make their presence known in each local government, encouraging them to get list of camps (villages where farmers have their farms) so that they can have their sign post and also once in a while organize outreach and seminars for farmers in those enlisted camps.

Thus, if this can be done the goal to reduce poverty and to wipe out hunger is not out of reach. Organizations must do more and farmers should always ask questions, they must be proactive in their work and also be passionate about making the goal to feed Africa achievable because wiping out hunger starts from them.

Written by Oladapo Emmanuel

Oladapo Emmanuel is an information Technology Professional, a web 2.0 and social media expert, a blogger, writer, multi-talented individual and a social activist keen to social development for a better society. He is currently a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo state.

FG releases 2 hybrid yams, 7 other crop varieties

The Federal Government has approved the registration and release of nine hybrid crops varieties developed by scientists for Nigerian farmers to boost agricultural production in the country. Dr Sunday Aladele, Registrar, National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) made this known in a statement issued on Tuesday and made available to newsmen in Ibadan.

NACGRAB is a parastatal under Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. He said the release of the crops was announced by the chairman, National Varieties Release Committee (NVRC), Chief Awoyemi Oladosu at the 24th NVRC meeting held at NACGRAB. He listed the nine successful varieties as two hybrid white yam (UMUDr/020) and (UMUDr/021), two maize hybrids (SAMMAZ 49) and (SAMMAZ 51), and one maize variety (SAMMAZ 52). Others were two cowpea varieties (FUAMPEA 1 and FUAMPEA 2), one amaranthus or leaf vegetable hybrid (NHAMAR 1) and one okra hybrid (NHOKRA 1). According to him, the yam varieties were developed by National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan. “The maize varieties were developed by Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria and IITA while the cowpeas were from Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, IAR, and IITA. “The two vegetable varieties, amaranthus and okra were from National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan,” he said. The registrar thanked the Minister of Science and Technology for facilitating the funding for the meeting. Aladele also thanked the West Africa Agricultural Programme for the financial support received so far. The Registrar announced that 166 crop varieties from Nigeria had been entered into ECOWAS catalogue. They included 59 maize, 18 sorghum, 14 rice, five pearl millet, 18 cowpea, three groundnut, 24 cassava, 19 yam, three potato and three tomato varieties. Also, Prof. Olusoji Olufajo, chairman Technical Sub Committee (Crops) said the committee had adopted the recommendation of the ad-hoc committee set up by NVRC on funding. He said the committee recommended that anybody submitting publicly bred material should be charged N50,000 and privately bred material should be charged N200,000 application fees for registration per crop variety/hybrid. According to him, 24th NVRC meeting held at NACGRAB was attended by crop scientists, breeders, seed companies and agriculture experts from all over the country.

Originally posted here:http://bit.ly/2ep3zOf

Agric engineers urge research results usage in transformation agenda

Inspecting assembly of agricultural machinery in Madagascar.

For the agricultural transformation agenda of the Federal Government to serve the needs of the people, it should encourage the adoption of and commercialization of research findings in an effort to boost food output in the country, the Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineers has said.

According to its national chairman, Babatunde Adewumi there should be a synergy between the universities, research institutes and industries in solving the agricultural mechanization challenges of the country to enhance the success of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

Speaking in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital at end the of the 14th international conference and 34th Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE) said appropriate processing, preservation and storage facilities should be developed at commercial level and adopted for value addition to reduce postharvest losses and achieve food and economic security entrenched in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

“Agricultural engineers should be innovative and build entrepreneurial skills to be able to create jobs and be employers of labour to check poverty in the land and make agriculture solve the problem of mass unemployment,’’ he said.

According to him, the national centre for agricultural mechanization should also be encouraged to perform its role more effectively through increased funding to enable it fulfill its mandate especially in the area of standardization of agricultural machinery and equipment and tractor imported into the country.

The body expressed dismay over the absence of a policy on agricultural mechanization in the country adding that the country ‘’cannot boast f food security’’ while the increasing food importation into the country ‘’is not acceptable , not sustainable fiscally, economically or politically.’’

According to him, the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) as it is today cannot be fully accomplished without effective impact of the agricultural mechanization component and deliberate intervention and collaboration with agricultural engineers.

He called for the use of agricultural waste management to create wealth in the country is at its infinitesimal level adding that while agricultural waste can contribute to the national integrated power programme.

SOURCE –Businessday Newspaper

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