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Rivers And Agric Initiatives In 2009



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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Fuel Subsidy Era Over – Tinubu 



Newly sworn-in President, Bola  Ahmed Tinubu, has declared that the era of subsidy payment on fuel in Nigeria has ended.
This, he disclosed, is because the 2023 Budget made no provision for fuel subsidy and more so, subsidy payment is no longer justifiable.
“The fuel subsidy is gone”, Tinubu declared in his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square on Monday after he was sworn in as Nigeria’s 16th President.
Tinubu said his government shall instead channel funds into infrastructure and other areas to strengthen the economy, adding that a “unified exchange rate” is guaranteed under his administration.
He promised to remodel the economy to bring about growth and develop the Gross Domestic Product through job creation, saying that “the interest is currently too high and will be reviewed”.
The new President also assured investors that multiple taxation will be reviewed to attract investments, even as he promised one million jobs in the digital economy.
Tinubu, who also vowed to rid Nigeria of terrorism and criminality, said, “Security shall be top of our administration”, adding that he will “reform security architecture, invest more in security personnel, better training and provide better equipment for security personnel”.
The President said he “will end extreme poverty, make food more abundant, ensure inclusion for women and youths, and discourage corruption”.

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Customs Holds Training For Maritime Journalists



The Nigeria Customs Service in conjunction with National Inland Waterways recently organised a two- day training workshop for members of the Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) at the famous Administrative staff college of Nigeria (ASCON), Badagry, Lagos.
Comptroller General of customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) in his key note address said from inception, one of the major cardinal programmes of the service has been effective and efficient mobilisation and sensitisation of members of the public in understanding the important statutory obligations vested on the service.
In order to achieve these objectives, he said, “it became imperative that we partner with our friends from the media to embark on educative and  enlightenment programs.
“Having gone this far on our own, we are here today, under the able hands of the ‘owners of the profession’, to enrich, update and sharpen their skills in this direction for greater achievement of our collective objective”.
Speaking, the President of AMJON, Mr. Paul Ogbuokiri, emphasized the importance of the training programme, urging participants to avail themselves of the opportunity, which will translate into improved performance in their reportage.
On his part, the Managing Director, National Inland waterways Authority (NIWA), Chief George Moghalu, spoke on its new autonomy status and how it affects its national mandate.
Moghalu, who was represented by the Manager, Legal Services, Barr. Nasiru Biyankari, affirmed that NIWA offers a very critical role in the nation’s maritime industry through the execution of development in inland waterways of Nigeria and its regulations nationwide.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, Port Standing Task Force Team (PSTT), Mr. Moses Fadipe, tasked AMJON members on accurate and objective reportage on PSTT’s operations to ensure that the public is well informed about the efforts of the team in tackling corruption at the ports.

“AMJON members are expected to adhere to ethical journalism standards and avoid sensationalism or biased  reporting ,clear and informed reportage by Amjon members can contribute to building public trust in the PSTT and its efforts to improve transparency and efficiency in Port operations”.

The retreat had various renowned academicians as resource persons.

At the end of the two days training, with the theme, “Enhancing capacity/Efficiency in Modern News Reportage”, the participants were equipped with the knowledge and skills to perform their responsibilities as core maritime media practitioners.

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Maritime: Stakeholders Set Agenda For Tinubu, Transport Minister



Stakeholders in the maritime sector have started coming up with measures for the newly sworn-in Federal Government under the leadership of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to revamp the maritime sector of the country.
The stakeholders are unanimous in saying that Nigeria as a maritime nation requires the services of a core professional, who will be courageous enough to implement some programmes that will practically empower indigenous operators in the shipping industry, while encouraging the entrance of new investors.
They said such measures include growing indeginious capacity through the full implementation of cabotage law, facilitating tonnage volume, and positioning of the maritime sector as a major contributor to federal revenue and national development.
According to the stakeholders, it is unfortunate that the maritime sector for years under different leadership derailed from its primary objectives, which is “to promote the development of indeginious commercial shipping in international and coastal trade”.
In his opinion, a maritime analyst and member of the Joint Ministerial Committee on International Maritime Organization (IMO)/Maritime Organization of West & Central Africa (MOWCA), Mallam Ismail Aniemu, said “there is the urgent need to unite the country because people have been more divided along ethnic, religious and lingual lines. This lack of unity fuels insecurity.
“Many parts of the country are unsafe, thereby creating the impression of ungoverned spaces. It’s time to improve on the security situation by not treating perpetrators of killings and other unlawful behavior as sacred cows. The laws of the land should be made to reign supreme on everybody”.
According to him, “Nigeria is overdue for a deliberate and sustained action towards economic diversification to achieve balance of trade, manufacture more for export, and creating job opportunities instead of distributing cash as handouts to the poor and vulnerable”.
On his part, the former President, National Association of Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nwike, said, “I will advise the President and the incoming  Minister of  Transportation to appreciate and embrace the global doctrine, which defined ‘Trade’ as ‘an instrument of global peace’, hence, the need to evolve and support a holistic policy aimed at promoting trade facilitation”.
Nwike said the President must deliberately adopt the relevant tools required for its actualisation, while giving priority to removal of all forms of “Red Tapes and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), including the undue prohibition of trade and closure of the border entry points.
“To this end, the immediate reversal of policy of categorised and uploaded certain regular trade items as non-beneficial to conventional foreign exchange assessment from the commercial banks excerpt for the parallel market (black markets).
“Secondly, undertake a drastic action against the  foreign exchange market administration”.
Thirdly, siad, there’s the need “to give the maritime industry a priority, especially with the consideration to massive job creation, for which the industry has the capacity to remove our teeming youths off the unemployment market.

“And, for the incoming Transportation mitnister to pursue purposeful stakeholders engagements and embrace engagement by merits”.

A Maritime journalist, Odjegba Eguono, said the President “should appoint someone with productive and leadership capacity.

“Someone who should be an industry technocrat, and, if not, a fast learner with passion to grow the maritime and transport sector like the immediate past Minister, Jaji  Sambo.

“The President and his Transportation Minister should prioritize urgent repairs and expansion of ports access roads, review terminal operators licenses, and decongest lagos ports”.

He stated that the new government should scrap the CRFFN, saying that the agency has proved unproductive and meaningless, being used as a drainpipe, contributing nothing to the system .

“The Minister should also scrap the NSDP by NIMADA and invest in MAN and NITT with the required wherewithal to carry out manpower development training.

“Finally, the incoming government should probe the NIMASA floating Dockyard and either dispose of it, or deploy it under an executive order”, Eguono said.

Stories By Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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