Following last Thursday’s heavy downpour that lasted for hours in almost all parts of the state, a farmer, Mr Godwin Akandu has described the rain as a blessing to farmers.
Akandu, who is the President of Etche Farmers cooperatives made the assertion while speaking to The Tide in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
According to him, while the months of March to April and parts of May are regarded as dry season by farmers, last Thursday’s rain could be described as a plus to farmers that had already planted their crops between March and April.
The renowned Etche farmer, however, advised farmers in the state to prepare their land for late planting in order to avoid interruption of their activities when the rains finally come.
However, farmers in some local government areas who spoke to The Tide expressed mixed reactions to the Thursday rain that destroyed some of their crops like plantain, banana and maize amongst other.
They also explained that on the whole, the advantage outweighs the disadvantages with regard to the natural watering of their cassava farms and other crops that have short life span of three to four months.
Some of such short-term crops, according to farmers from Abia, Ahoada, Ikwerre, Etche and Emohua amongst others, include, maize potato, Okro, cucumber, egusi and water melon, amongst others.
Agric, Key To Africa’s Development – UNIDO
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) says agriculture is a key sector for Africa’s development and prosperity.
UNIDO’s Managing Director, Corporate Services and Operations, Yuko Yasunaga, made this known recently while speaking on behalf of its Director-General, Gerd Müller, at a virtual side event organised by UNIDO and the African Union Commission (AUC), titles, “Building Resilient and Sustainable Agro Industries: Enhancing Africa’s Agricultural Potential”.
Yasunaga said UNIDO, as the lead agency for implementing the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) initiative, was committed to the continent’s industrialisation.
He expressed appreciation over the role played by Japan in Africa’s development and Japan’s active collaboration with UNIDO.
The Head of Industry at the AUC Department of Trade and Industry, Hussein Hassan, highlighted the need to build resilient and sustainable agro industries.
“This is vital to enhance Africa’s ability to drive structural transformation and achieve the overarching objective of feeding its 1.3 billion people,” he said.
Hassan commended Japan-Africa relations under the TICAD process and UNIDO’s role in accelerating industrial development.
He called on the partners to support the African Union Summit on Industrialisation and Economic Development slated for Niger State in November.
The summit is to provide an international platform to devise new strategic policies, resource mobilisation, and innovative partnerships, as well as play a key role in agro-industrial development of the continent.
The event was held on the sidelines of the recent Eighth Tokyo International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD8), led by the Government of Japan.
Govt Seeks Agro-Processing Dev Prioritisation
Federal Government said it would prioritise increasing agricultural processing capacity in the country.
This, it said, it would do by establishing several cottage industries to produce staple food products in which it has comparative advantage.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, disclosed this, at the recent 45th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
Umakhihe, who was represented by the Director, Department of Agriculture, Land and Climate Change Management Services, Shehu Bello, said the government would ensure a steady off-take of produce from out-growers, enhancing the income of farmers and entrepreneurs across commodity value chains.
According to him, “the Ministry will collaborate with state governments and other stakeholders towards improving the agricultural commodity value chain development to enhance the livelihood of the smallholder farmers”.
In a statement by the Chief Information Officer, Ezeaja Ikemefuna, the Permanent Secretary said the agriculture sector requires deliberate decisions being taken to boost it.
“The agricultural commodity value chain development as a cornerstone and strategic implementation imperatives for the prevailing sectorial policy framework requires a robust discussion and deliberate decisions on intervention models”, the statement noted.
He said the foundation to achieve the desired success is to commit to the provision of incentives, increase the output and quality of agricultural commodities to meet and surpass national requirements, as well as achieve a diversified economic base with Agriculture leading the way for the non-oil sectors of the economy.
He noted that through the launch of National Agricultural Technology Innovation Plan (NATIP) 2022 – 2027, the Ministry has demonstrated commitment of the sector to address conceivable challenges bedeviing the sector, with a focus on strengthening and developing the agricultural value chain.
The impact, he said, has been enormous as it contributes to food security, increases productivity and efficiency, engenders diversification, generates higher incomes and reduces post-harvest losses and above all, generates employment opportunities.
He urged the stakeholders to approach the deliberations with broad mind, and add value to all the issues for the overall impact of the sector in the economy.
He also implored them to proffer concrete and practical suggestions that would assist the Council in reaching meaningful decisions.
The Plateau State Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Hosea Finangwai, on his part, sought that the memorandum for the upgrade of the potato station at Karu be given priority on its merit.
He added that the state accounting for over 90 per cent of the production, livelihood and income of farmers is currently threatened by the monstrous potato blight.
The programme was themed, “Strengthening Agricultural Value Chains Development Process for Food Security and Economic Development”.
FG Targets $4bn Cashew Export Annually
Minister of Industry, trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, has said the Federal Government is working assiduously to earn as much as $4bn annually from cashew exports as against $450 million yearly.
Adebayo, who disclosed this at a media briefing in respect of the 16th Annual Conference of the African Cashew Alliance to be held in Abuja, said the country currently produces about 260,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts annually.
He stated that the plan is to raise the figure to 500,000 metric tones annually.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, the Minister said a lot of sensitization is being carried out on the investment opportunities of hosting the event in Nigeria.
He said investment opportunities in the cashew sub-sector “is capable of generating immense wealth and employment for Nigerians”.
According to him, this cuts across the cashew value chain from cultivation, harvesting, processing, storage, and marketing, to exporting.
He disclosed that Nigeria currently has 15 active processing plants with capacity to produce 55,750 metric tonnes, adding that other eight inactive plants have the capacity to produce 8,500 metric tones.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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