A university teacher, Prof. Olubunmi Omotesho, has attributed the problems of agriculture in Nigeria and Africa mainly to climate change.
Omotesho of University of Illorin, made this known at a two-day Policy Dialogue on Crop/Livestock Integration, organised by Synergos Nigeria, in collaboration with other stakeholders in Abuja.
He said that climate change, which resulted in desertification and harsh weather, had increased problems such diseases, pests, loss of pastures, reduction of soil nutrient and fertility, among others.
He said that the mitigation strategy to be used include irrigation practices, land tenure system policy, increase in agricultural research and development, women and youth empowerment among others.
“If we are able to integrate, it will increase our production of grain, beef, milks and fibre.
“And we will have higher turnover of several segments of local economy, the potential for partnership with more benefits and increase soil cover from crops and pasture residual will be the outcome,” he said.
The Policy Advisor to Synergos Nigeria, Ms Victoria Fajemileyin, called for review of government policies to effectively implement and resolve the unending farmers and pastoralists conflicts in parts of the country.
Fajemileyin made the call on the sidelines of the Policy Dialogue on Crop/Livestock Integration.
“We are connected to crops and livestock production both at national and state levels.
“The Land Act of 1972 says local government areas are in charge of giving right to occupancy for farming and grazing.
“ECOWAS also provided a law that says for anybody to lead the herd, he has to be 18 years, but the law is not actually working here.
“The law is only concerned with the nomadic life of herdsmen and people above 18, it did not provide solutions to address gaps like the challenges of cattle rustling and kidnapping among others.
“Some people do not really know about any policy, it means that we are consciously incompetent to adhere to it, since we do not know about the policy and how it will address such challenges.
“At the end of the programme, we are going to have a communiqué that every stakeholder will go back to their states with and adopt and think of how to implement it,” she said.
Earlier, the Senior Field Manager, Synergos Nigeria, Mr Victor Adejoh, said that the dialogue was to map out ways of integrating livestock and crops production using systemic approach.
“Our goal is to look at existence policy at different levels and see how we can bring an alignment in terms of research work we have done.
“We have seen some of the existing policies implemented on the level of intervention for government and we believe it will solve a lot of issues in the sector.”
The Nutrition and Food Systems Expert, of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Mr Mawuli Sablah,commended Synergos for bringing all the stakeholders in animal and crop sector together to dialogue.
“This is a very important dialogue because it takes into account issues of farmers and herders, their challenges and conflicts.
“FAO has food systems approach where we make sure that food security comprises nutritional value to promote optimal national wellbeing”.
“It is very important for us to have this integrated approach of having crops and livestock working effectively together so we can have more synergy in these agricultural sub-sectors to work closely to advance towards agricultural policy of Nigeria.
“We cannot achieve this without dialogue because we believe dialogue is very important to advance cooperation and to ensure farmers and herders work in harmony for optimal peace to reign in Nigeria,” he said.
NAN reports that no fewer than 70 stakeholders from federal and states ministries and private sector organisations attended the meeting, which will end on Nov. 14.
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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