Farmers of Ekpeye extraction have been called upon to start planting early and put the effects of the flood that ravaged their farmlands behind them to ensure that they come up with increased yields as the rains are expected to come early this year.
Giving the charge in an exclusive interview with The Tide over the weekend at his country home in Ahoada, the pioneer elected President of Ekpeye Youth Congress (EYC), Mr. Sunny Ojimini –Maduenyi, said the farmers should start planting based on the nature of their soil.
According to him, there were some soils which were ideal in planting during the dry season and there were some that were suitable for planting during the rainy season and urged the farmers to take that into consideration.
On the forecast by weather agencies in the country of early rains that may lead to another flooding, Ojimini – Maduenyi said it was not good news for the farmers.
“That prediction shows that the efforts of the people, by the farmers especially of those of Ekpeye and all other people that would be by this prediction will be in rain”, he said.
He said the forcast not withstanding, the farmers should look for improved varieties and seedlings so that they can get good yield.
He said he was aware that the government was doing something positive toward that direction, even as he said he recently saw heaps of cassava stems at the Ahoada-East local government council headquarters, “and I understand they are being distributed to farmers although I don’t know the process of the distribution”, he said.
He explained that the farmers had the advantage of buying cassava stems also from areas that the flood did not affect.
According to him, there was a time at the height of the flooding that the people of Ibaa brought a lot of cassava stems to the Ekpeye people through HRM Robinson O. Robinson, the Eze Ekpeye Logbo and the stems were equitably distributed through the Ekpeye committee on the flood to various Ekpeye communities.
On the complaints from some quarters that government did not provide enough relief materials after the flood, the former youth president said it was wrong to say the government did not to enough.
According to him, “I won’t subscribe to anybody saying that what government provided after the flood was not enough”.
He said government could not do everything and whatever government does cannot be enough because it was not peculiar to this part of the world alone.
“Government will do what they are supposed to do and they have done what they are supposed to do”, he said.
On the opinion that corn provided to the area after the flood was alien to the Ekpeye people, Ojimini – Maduenyi said being used to processing or eating corn was not the issue.
He said during the season of corn, every Ekpeye man eats corn and they sell it either roasted or cooked.
On efforts being put in place to bring the environment back to shape after the flood he said the government agencies and various NGOs know what to do.
They know what to do to bring back the soil to what it used to be.
“They don’t need to be taught because they know the appropriate thing to do”, he said.
He said the only advice he had for such agencies was to fast track the processes of restoring the environment.
“The only advice I have for them is to put in place processes to bring back the land, bring back the environment to the old order.
“Let them put machinery in fast in place as delay can be detrimental to the well-being of the environment”, he said.
IITA Develops New Potato Variety
Empowering, Novel, Agri-Business Led, Employment, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (ENABLE TAAT) has recently developed Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) species to tackle malnutrition and reduce diabetes in Africa.
The ENABLE TAAT Field Trainer of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Mr Murtalab Adedamola, made this known in Ibadan yesterday.
He said that the development of the potato species was one of the plans of IITA, aimed at combating malnutrition and attaining food security in Africa. Adedamola said that OFSP was different from the Irish potato, adding that it contained a lot of water, Vitamin A, high carotene and low level of sugar. “It has two varieties – King J and Mothers’ Delight, and it can be used for baking cake, snacks and bread.
“It is stress-free, its cultivation cycle is within three months; it is not a tuber but a root and it does not go deep into the soil like cassava.
“The growth continues even after harvesting, it is good for children and diabetic patients because of its low level of sugar. Farmers can plant a hectare with just 500kg. vines of OFSP, which multiplies.
“They should cut the vines together, bundle them together, weigh them and then plant them. Farmers can plant at a depth of 20 or 25 cm and at an angle of 45 degrees because the spacing can determine the yield,” he said. Adedamola advised farmers to always apply MPK fertiliser to the crop after two weeks of planting, as the exercise would go a long way to improve the yield if the crop had access to water. The field trainer said that the maintenance of an OFSP farm would not require much weeding, adding that the soil would crack while its flowers would shoot out to signal the appropriate time for harvesting. He, however, warned that the King J variety of OFSP was better grown in the northern parts of the country, while the cultivation of the Mothers’ Delight type would thrive in the South.
“In Cameroon, we have four varieties of OFSP and in Cote d’Ivoire, there are six varieties. Farmers are planting it already but the produce lacks market because people are not aware of its numerous benefits. “When people learn about its benefits, they will start patronising the farmers well; we will definitely have more varieties of it in Nigeria because it is a crop that can transform the livelihood of potato farmers perfectly,’’ he added.
Assembly Approves N1.5bn Agric Loan
The Niger State House of Assembly has passed a resolution granting approval to the state government to access a N1.5bn facility for the implementation of the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS).
The House passed the resolution yesterday following the presentation of the report of Joint Committees on Finance and Agriculture.
Presenting the report, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Alhaji Abdullahi Mammagi, said it interfaced with relevant stakeholders to ascertain the justification for the request made.
Mammagi noted that the facility was being offered at an interest rate of nine per cent per annum and 60 months repayment period by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“From the interface held, the committee found that the Federal Government had offered a window of facility to states to support implementation of AADS in states.
“The CBN, through Zenith Bank has offered to provide the of N1.5bn. The facility is offered for a period of 60 months, at an interest rate of nine per cent per annum.
“This is deemed to be highly competitive in terms of what obtains in the banking industry.
“Niger State has keyed into the programme as its implementation would stimulate and support socio-economic development in the state,” he added.
According to him, the repayment cost was manageable, adding that it would not be too much burden on the monthly cash flow of the state.
Similarly, the House commenced debate on the 2019 budget by the governor.
NGO Urges FG To Increase Agric Financing
The Fresh and Young Brains Development Initiative (FBIN), an NGO, has appealed to the Federal Government to increase its funding on agriculture, especially for women and youth farmers to increase their yields.
The Founder of the initiative, Mrs Nkiruka Nnaemego, made the call on Monday in Abuja at the Yfarm National Colloquium on Attracting Public Financing in Sustainable Agriculture for Youth and Women Small Scale Farmers.
Nnaemego said that the Nigerian government had committed to the 2014 Malabo Principles of ensuring increase in public funding to at least 10 per cent of the national budget to the agricultural sector.
According to her, this will enable the countries effectively implement their programmes to reduce hunger and increase productivity among in Africa.
She said that this commitment had not been achieved and it was affecting the productivity of small scale farmers, who consisted of about 70 per cent of the country’s farming population.
“This colloquium provides a unique platform for stakeholders in agriculture to brainstorm on innovative models and approaches for attracting public financing and government involvement in agriculture.
“From the Malabo declaration, which African Heads of State agreed to commit 10 per cent of their countries’ budgets to agriculture, it is unfortunately that Nigeria is still below three per cent.
“Agriculture is the way to go now since the country is looking for other options aside oil. We need to increase finance in agriculture.
“Although the Federal Government is trying, but it should try harder,” she said.
She explained that Yfarm project’s goal was to promote a youth/women-led agribusiness society by reducing poverty, thereby increasing active youth/women participation in sustainable agriculture by 2020.
She said that Yfarm Project had been at the forefront of policy advocacy, media engagement, capacity building and mentoring of rural and vulnerable youth/women in some parts of Africa.
“We celebrate outstanding youths and women, provide access to markets and business networking through our National and African Youth Agric Festivals and Concerts,” she stated.
The Project Coordinator, Food and Agriculture, Actionaid Nigeria, Mr Azubike Nwokoye appealed to the Federal Government to create an enabling environment to attract private investment. He further urged government at all levels to do their parts by increasing public financing on agriculture across all areas with comparative advantages.
”That is a failure in its own already.”
Soni appealed to the government to make available inputs by January not in April and May when such inputs were not needed.
The Programme Officer, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr Alphonsus Onwuemeka said that agriculture was in the concurrent list and urged the state governments to play their parts to lessen the burden on the Federal Government.
He acknowledged the Federal Government’s support to agriculture and urged women to take advantage of the gender unit created by government at the Ministry of Agriculture to handle women challenges.
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