The prevailing free fall of
crude oil prices owing to the refusal of the United States, Nigeria’s major oil importer, to partronise the country and the discovery of oil by many countries as well as alternative energy sources are already hurting Nigeria’s finances.
These developments have given additional impetus to the Federal government’s focus on increasing non-oil revenues.
The agricultural sector according to the experts has the largest potential to diversify the country’s economy, create jobs, ensure food security and expand foreign exchange earnings.
An economist and Managing Director of CMC group, Eniola Olagbe commented that the continuous decline of the international oil prices will affect Nigeria’s fiscal management and there have been strings of responses from major stakeholders including leading firms and major contributors to the country’s GDP.
According to him, there has been an important shift in government policy towards emphasising agricultural transformation from subsistence to agric business in the country.
“Although a larger percent of African youths still believe agriculture is a primitive vocation meant for the uneducated rural peasant engulfed in a vicious circle of poverty and not what a young person should practise, it is gradually changing he said.
Olagbe added that the perception was gradually eroding as the number of youths in the agricultural sector was increasing in comparison to the past when youths shied away from agriculture because of the drudgery.
On his part, the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Lagos Chapter, Mr. Femi Oke, Nigeria’s population is expected to be more than double its current number by 2050.
He said the future of the country is in the hands of the Nigerian youths and that without a vibrant agricultural sector, the country’s future may not be viable.
Oke explained that oil money has not transformed Nigerian agriculture over the last 30 years. It has not fed hungry people or developed rural areas.
“You cannot eat oil, at least crude oil, and since Nigeria is a developing country unless Nigerians act fast to seize the opportunities at hand that are existing in agriculture there will be no headway for economic development”, he said.
He emphasised on the need for Nigeria to learn from England, India and Vietnam, saying that from the 18th Century India to Vietnam today, agriculture has proven that it can drive economic growth.
The AFAN boss who is also a Cassava farmer explained that GDP growth generated by agriculture has been shown to be at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors.
President, Jonathan Trust Fund (JTF) Mr. Abiodum Dada however stressed the need to change the primary assignment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to farming for the country to create more jobs.
Nigerians he said should expect to see major improvements in the agricultural and mining sectors of the economy.
“Our past was agriculture and mining and so is the future of this country.
“These two sectors are capable of employing millions of Nigerians and also generate foreign earnings for the government through export.
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.
Business1 day ago
NEPC Blames Zero Export From North-East On Insurgency
Business1 day ago
Dealers Accuse SON Of Encouraging Production Of Substandard Steel Products
Business1 day ago
Nigeria’s Imports Rise To 8.2trn In Q3 – NBS
Business1 day ago
Investors Lose N598bn As Large-Cap Stocks Decline
News1 day ago
Total Energies, OML130 Partners Commission 11 CSR Projects
Business1 day ago
South-East Traders Petition CBN Over Illegal Bank Deductions
Front Pix1 day ago
Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow
Business1 day ago
Rising Food Prices Fuelling Inflation In Nigeria, Others – IMF