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We’re Losing $362.5m Annually To Dried Cowpea Ban, NAQS DG Laments

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The Director General of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Dr. Vincent Isegbe, has expressed disappointment over the ban on dried cowpea, noting that Nigeria was losing over $362.5million annually.

Isegbe, who stated this recently at the inauguration of the members of the Standing Committee on Agro Zero Initiative, said Nigeria should restore conventional export control measures at all ports of entry to optimize its comparative advantage in agricultural commodities and diversify the economy.

In a statement by NAQS’ Head, Media, Communications and Strategy, Chigozie Nwodo, recently, he said that Nigeria was the largest producer of dried cowpea in the world, accounting for almost half of the global production.

He noted, however, that Nigeria was not among the top 10 leading exporters of dried cowpea in the world.

He pointed out that this sad paradox was essentially due to the absence of proper gate-keeping to ensure that commodities passed for export meet pesticide residue standards and other phytosanitary requirements.

“Lack of export quality guarantees and the resultant off-and on pattern of the export traffic of Nigerian dried beans was costing the country $362.5million in foreign revenue annually,” he said.

Speaking on the weak link in the bean value chain, Isegbe said that the ban was occasioned by an export control gap which allowed the shipping of dried beans with pesticide residues higher than the permissible threshold.

He mentioned that the results of the extensive fieldwork and laboratory analyses done by NAQS showed that the challenge of high pesticide residue in Nigerian beans was not nested in the farm.

Isegbe reported that the bean samples collected from the farms had low pesticide residues –beneath the maximum residue level (MRL) of Nigeria’s trading partners – while bean samples collected from the warehouses had high pesticide residues, above the MRL.

According to him, this wide differential indicates that high pesticide use was traceable to the bulk buyers, aggregators, and exporters.

In an attempt to protect their stock against weevils and other storage pests, these set of actors usually lace their beans with pesticides liberally; thereby, raising the pesticide residues in the commodity above the MRL and unwittingly rendering them ineligible for export.

He remarked that NAQS was carrying out an intensive public awareness on the dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides.

Isegbe said that the agency’s message on integrated pest management, the proper use of pesticides, and good agricultural practices (GAP) is breaking through to farmers, offtakers, warehouse owners, and exporters in the beans producing belt and across the country.

He expressed hope that a shift away from synthetic pesticides to biopesticides and organic agriculture among agricultural value chain players will bring the country closer to the point when Nigeria can dominate the global cowpea market and other markets where the nation can assert its comparative advantage.

 

 

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Gov Uncovers 3,900 Ghost IDPs In Borno Camp

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The Borno State Governor, Prof Babagana Umara Zulum has fished out fake internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a IDPs camp in Maiduguri during a surprise visit to the camp.

Around midnight, yesterday, Zulum showed up at Mohammed Goni College of Islamic and Legal Studies in Maiduguri, where internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Abadam Local Government Area of northern Borno were being camped.

Zulum immediately sealed the entrance and supervised a headcount to identify actual IDPs, in order to put a stop to rampant cases of dubious residents pretending to be displaced, who spend day time at IDP camps to share food meant for IDPs, and towards the night, they return to their homes to sleep, with some of benefiting from other means through which the state distributes food to vulnerable non-IDPs in communities.

The governor’s mission, which ended past 1am, discovered that out of 1,000 households in the records of humanitarian officials, 650 households comprising 3,900 IDPs were ghosts.

No fewer than 450 households were found to be real IDPs after Zulum’s midnight headcount which was conducted by the governor alongside an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Air Commodore M. T. Abdullahi, and two commissioners (Agriculture, and Local Government and Emirate Affairs).

In humanitarian system, a household normally consist of at least six persons who are either related through families, or chosen to stay together for the purpose of receiving household aids.

Officials, who were part of the midnight headcount, said Zulum was not averse to approving support for any citizen who may be vulnerably in need of food since there is a committee doing that.

The governor also expressed opposition to some residents making dubious claims in other to take what is meant for IDPs while also benefiting from other existing welfare activities that target non IDPs

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Troops Chase Boko Haram Fighters Out Of Borno Town

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Soldiers, yesterday, prevented Boko Haram fighters from mounting a barricade on Damaturu-Maiduguri highway in Borno State.

The soldiers reportedly engaged the insurgents in a gun battle around Mainok and Jakana towns.

A commercial driver said that the incident happened shortly after the usual daily road closure was eased in the morning.

Troops usually close the road in the evening and open it at 7am, every day.

The driver said suspected insurgents who were about to mount road barricades and attack travellers were overpowered and driven away by soldiers.

“We were on our way to Maiduguri after spending the night in Damaturu when we were stopped by soldiers at a place after Mainok.

“We were earlier asked to turn back and later we were told to stay there. Shots were later fired ahead of us, which sounded like gunfire exchange. We were asked to proceed after about thirty five minutes,” he said.

He said extra patrols were stationed along the road.

Boko Haram has made life a hell for those who ply that route.

It was on the route that a newlywed bride was abducted last week but she was freed 24 hours after.

Before decorating the new service chiefs, last Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari gave them a few weeks to tackle the widespread insecurity in the country.

 

 

 

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Suspend 25% Contribution To Federation Account, FAAN Begs FG

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has called for the stoppage of its 25 per cent revenue contribution to the Federation Account.

FAAN said this would help it to address some infrastructure gaps.

The General Manager, FAAN, Mr Rabiu Yadudu, made the appeal during an oversight visit of the Senate Committee on Aviation at the Lagos Airport, yesterday.

Yadudu decried accumulated airlines debt to aviation agencies, particularly FAAN, adding that a particular airline owed N13billion for services rendered and unpaid.

Yadudu noted that one way to ensure development in the industry was to allow revenue generated by agencies in the sector to be ploughed back.

The managing director said that the practice was obtainable across the globe and was also part of the international standard and recommended practice.

“The industry still has an infrastructure gap to stabilise; therefore, government’s support in stabilising the industry is needed.

“This can be achieved by suspending the contributions to the Federation Account in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) Doc 9562.

“This document on airport generation provides that revenue generated by the airport should be transparently re-invested wholly in operating and developing airport facilities,” he said.

Yadudu said revenue generation was low as only two airports – the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) mainly sustained other airports expenditures.

He also highlighted the global economic challenge, both national and international, which had affected airline operators, causing them to reduce fleet, frequencies or withdraw operations, thus affecting the agency’s revenue generation.

Yadudu lamented the rising operating and maintenance cost of the new terminals and existing ones due to inflation and the devaluation of the naira.

However, the managing director said the agency was tweaking its plans to make other airports that were not breaking even to perform.

He also said the airport management had embarked on aggressive debt recovery, while introducing a Pay As You Go system, adding that it had also commenced a cashless policy among other loophole blockage areas.

Responding, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said the idea was commendable, noting that the issue was constitutional and would require a constitutional review to achieve.

Adeyemi stressed the need for rehabilitation of airports.

“There are quite a lot of airports in the country that we need to start looking at budget inclusion for next year, not this year.

“We will not wait till there is a mishap before we start looking at fixing the runways which are in bad shape, a number of them since they were constructed have not been touched, and at times when you land in some of these airports, you don’t need to be a pilot to know that the plane will not maintain a balance,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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