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Rivers And Agric Initiatives In 2009

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Agriculture has been described as mankind’s primordial occupation and has been a veritable anchor in the sustenance of many households, who have depended on their homestead farms for food security and to drive the grassroots economy.

Agriculture produces the raw materials for a large number of industrial processes, and has also provided a most effective solution to the problem of unemployment in developing countries, especially given the right policy and related incentives and support.

The sector has proven to be the strongest and most effective driver of wealth creation and serving as an engine of growth in the Small Medium Enterprise sector, which is the hub of employment, income-generation and wealth creation in any emerging capitalist system.

The strength and power of any nation depends on its ability to feed her population.

The economic growth of the most developed and developing economies is based on agricultural policies and programme.

At a time when the global economic crisis is taking its toll on nation’s economy, the world needs to be reminded that it is not everyone that works in offices and factories. The crisis is threatening the small scale farmers and rural areas of the world where 70 per cent of the world’s hungry live and work, according to global estimates.

With an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, according to FAO report, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

In Nigeria, prior to the discovery of oil, the country was an agriculture driven-nation, exporting large quantities of palm oil, groundnuts, cocoa etc., but today the agricultural sector lies in ruins as attention has been shifted to oil and gas.

Though several policies have been initiated by successive governments in an attempt to encourage agriculture but to no avail due to lack of the political will to implement those policies, inconsistencies, corruption and total negligence. Some of the Agric policies include Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, Presidential Initiative on Rice Production, Presidential Initiative on Cassava Production, National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS), DEFRI and others.

In Rivers State, in an attempt to change the ugly trend of total neglect on agriculture and to diversify the economy of the state, the Rivers State Government, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has in 2009, the year under review planned to reactivate the State-owend moribund Risonpalm Oil Nucleus and Delta Rubber under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the envisaged new acquisition of 10,000 hectares of land for oil palm and rubber plantings.

This he said would enhance production and generate massive employment opportunities for the youths.

According to the Rivers State Commissioner for Agriculture, Emmanuel Chinda, the major objective achieved in agriculture by the present administration is the payment of the arrears of 2008 and 2009 counterpart fund contributions to the Rivers State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) agricultural projects which the National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS), Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP), Community Based Natural Resources Management Programme (CBNRMP) and FADAMA III targeted to touch the lives of the rural populace of the state.

He said the micro-credits scheme of the state government through the microfinance banks was designed to assist rural formers and fisher folks obtain hitherto, scarce credit facility for increased agricultural production, adding that support was also given to large farm establishments and cooperatives in the state to access the commercial agriculture credit facility put up by the federal government and facilitated by the Central Bank of Nigeria with a view to boosting food production in the state.

The Commissioner further maintained that the State Government has during the year 2009 installed palm oil processing mills across different sites in the state with plans to also install rice processing mills that have been received at difference centres, noting that the projects when successfully executed, will encourage the development of oil palm and rice estate farmers whose production capacity were limited due to lack of availability of processing facilities, also it will enhance household incomes and create employment opportunities in the benefiting communities.

To boost food production, government in 2009 provided substantial agricultural inputs at subsidised rates to farmers, revitalised the feed mills and hatcheries at Rumuodomaya and Atali farms, resuscitated the divisional agricultural farms, cassava multiplication project and has attracted increased funding to the agricultural sector, Chinda noted.

Effort was also made to ensure that the organise private sector invest their capital in agricultural production, processing and marketing with a view to enhancing agricultural production as well as achieving food security in the state.

Stakeholders in agriculture who spoke to The Tide commended the efforts of the Amaechi  led administration in agriculture compared to the neglect imposed on the sector by the past administrations, especially on the past administrations, especially on the projects that are counterpart fund dependent like the FADAMA, RTEP, (BNRMP) NSPFS.

According to the Rivers State Fadama III co-ordinator, Mr. Kingsley Amadi,  the payment of the counterpart fund for 2008/2009 has enabled the World Bank to release the initial deposit of $600,000 for onward disbursement to farmers in the state.

 He explained that in each of the states, 20 local government areas will benefit and 10 communities will benefit and in each of the 10 communities 10 Fadama Users Groups (FUGs) are expected to benefit, noting that in the state, 1,100 FCAs/FUGs have been registered as cooperative while another 1,100 are in the making all under the courtesy of counterpart fund paid by the government to boost agriculture

In spite of the progress made on agriculture in 2009, governments at all levels should strategise to tackle the challenges posed by climate change, long spells of draught, many years of neglect on agriculture, increasing use of arable land for production of crops that can be turned into biofuels, lack of knowledge of fertiliser and agro-chemical use, pollution in the coastal areas, militancy and sea piracy in the Niger Delta.

Government should prioritise agriculture and increase its budgetary allocation to the sector, rehabilitate the decayed rural infrastructure like the feeder roads and farm estates to enable farmers produce and transport their produce to the available market. There should be adequate re-orientation of youths towards earning a living through agriculture, processing mills and storage facilities should be constructed to enhance availability of produce all round the year and to curb wastages of produce.

Capacity building and training young school leavers on agriculture should be encouraged, provision of farm inputs, adequate funding of agricultural agencies like ADP and others, should be maintained.

Inconsistencies in the policy thrust of government on agriculture should be discouraged if progress must be made in agriculture in 2010. Farmers accessibility to micro-credit, markets, information on modern farming methods/technology and mechanised farming should be encouraged.

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Buhari Seeks UK, EU Countries’ Partnership On Green Energy Policy 

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President, Muhammadu Buhari, has stressed the need for a long-term partnership between Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the European Union (EU) on green energy policy.
Buhari, who made the call in an interview with Bloomberg News, said the UK and EU countries should invest in the planned 4000 km pipeline meant to bring Nigerian gas, regarded as the largest reserves in Africa, through Morocco, to Europe.
According to the President, when completed, the gas pipeline project would help to address gas supply crisis in Europe.
“We need long-term partnership, not inconsistency and contradiction on green energy policy from the UK and European Union.
“Investment is hampered by their broad-brush moratorium on overseas gas projects, while at home the same projects are classified as green.
“It does not help their energy security, it does not help Nigeria’s economy, and it does not help the environment. It is hypocrisy that must end.
“To change, the UK and EU countries should invest in our planned 4000 km pipeline to bring Nigerian gas, the largest reserves in Africa, via Morocco, then onto Europe”, he said.
The President explained that the gas pipeline project, connecting Nigeria to Europe, which was conceived four years ago, had since been unveiled.
Recalling that on June 2 the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) entered into an agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its construction, he said, “concurrently on July 1, the NNPC will become a Limited Liability Company and be subject to more robust auditing and commercial disclosure obligations.
“It will help stimulate investment and boost transparency, where corruption has deterred the former and stymied the latter.
“My administration is the first to pass this landmark reform in our oil and gas sector, after two decades of predecessors’ failure to do so, no doubt due to vested interests,” he stated.
Buhari, however, noted that criminality and terrorism in Nigeria’s oil-producing regions had continued to hamper oil production.
Consequently, called on the Western allies to sanction all terrorist groups operating in the Niger Delta region and other oil-producing states in the South-East and South-South zones.
“It would help if our western allies designated IPOB as a terrorist group, given their complicity in damage to pipelines and infrastructure,” he said.
Buhari also revealed that the country had invested in the security forces, including the one billion dollar military deal with the U.S. for the acquisition of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.

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Nigerians Collect 3m Passports From 2019-2022 – Aregbesola

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Minister of Interior Affairs, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, says a total of three million passports were issued to Nigerians between 2019 to 2022.
He used the opportunity to warn officers and men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) against extortions and hoarding of passport booklets to create an undue scarcity in the system.
The minister, who disclosed this at the official launching of the Enhanced e-Passport in Benin, Asaba and Warri passport offices, and the commissioning of the passport production centre at the Benin Passport office, Edo State Command, lauded the achievement of the NIS.
“It will interest you to know that between 2019 and now, as difficult as that era was, the Nigerian Immigration Service has issued over three million passports to Nigerians. It is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria.
“Last year alone, 1.3 million passports were issued. Also, last time I checked, over 250,000 passports remained uncollected by applicants”, he said.
He assured that the exploitation of Nigerians seeking to get their passports will no longer be tolerated by him, saying that erring officers will be seriously dealt with.
“Whoever disregard any Nigerian,  whoever exploit any Nigerian in their quest to get this document will be dealt with personally by me. This is the last time I am going to warn”, he said.
Aregbesola said President Muhammadu Buhari expressed regrets on hearing that Nigerians are always denied passports, stressing that with the enhanced e-Passport, denial of passports will no longer be experienced.

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NDLEA, NAGAFF Collaborate Against Illicit Drug Importation

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National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has called for a working relationship with 100 percent Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in order to curb the Illicit importation of drugs through the seaports.
Speaking at a courtesy visit to the secretariat of the 100 percent Compliance Team in Lagos, Commander, Tin Can Island Port NDLEA, Mr. Aminu Abubakar warned freight forwarders and their importers to desist from Illicit drug clearance from the ports stressing the need for proper sensitisation of importation.
While calling for the support and cooperation of the NAGAFF Compliance Team, Abubakar urged freight forwarders to desist from the spread of hard drugs through the seaports by sticking to their legitimate duties.
He noted that since the NDLEA launched the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) in Abuja, several seizures have been made during cargo examination at the ports, with freight forwarders arrested and jailed for their  involvem in the importation of hard drugs.
The NDLEA boss stated that from January 2022 till date, the agency has intercepted 1500 Kilograms of Tapendatol with a value of over N6million amongst others at the seaports.
According to him, Tapendatol is another type of Tramadol drug which is more potent and dangerous than the usual Tramadol.
“The agency has different units and strategies through which we fight the menace and monster of drug abuse, and trafficking into our country.
“This is the suppression of the supply of drugs, which we do at the seaports. We profile some containers at the seaports, and based on the profile, we target such consignment and ensure we conduct proper examination.
“Sometimes we work with intelligence information or on the basis of profile which informs what we do.
“The agency has some strategies, which include counselling drug abusers and public enlightenment on the effects and prevention of drug abuse. There are also rehabilitation centers”, he said.
It will be recalled that the Chairman of the NDLEA recently launched call centers which would soon be operational, where one can report issues or seek for help.
“We have gotten 1500 kilograms of Tapendatol drug worth over N6million from Apapa and Tin Can ports.
We can only imagine what it will do if it gets to places where it is intended. Nigeria is already in crisis. We have the problem of banditry, kidnappings and youth restiveness and the root cause of these acts emanate from abuse of drugs”, he stated.
On his part, the National Coordinator of the 100 Percent Compliance Team, NAGAFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, explained that most freight forwarders become liable to the crime of hard drugs importation because 60 percent of freight agents at the ports use their company names to import consignments on behalf of the importers.
While assuring NDLEA of the group’s support, the NAGAFF Compliance boss noted that about eleven members of NAGAFF have been innocently detained in prison due to such acts.
Tanko, however, stressed that freight forwarders should desist from using their company’s name to ship in consignments in favour of the importers to avoid being liable when there are infractions.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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