The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) contributed 56 million dollars into Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the 2017 production season.
IFAD Nigeria Country Programme Officer, Dr Ben Odoemena said this on Monday in Abuja at the mid-term review of the programme.
Odoemena explained that 9.2 million dollars of the money was injected into Benue through the IFAD programme beneficiaries, thereby saving the country the foreign exchange that would have been expended on rice importation.
The officer said that 15,000 tonnes of paddy rice were produced while 10,000 jobs were created during the period under review.
‘‘In Benue alone, more than 3,000 jobs were created and overall, 10,000 jobs has been created, comprising paid jobs of more than 7,000.
‘‘This laudable goal was achieved due to the political will of the participating state governments and this has gone a long way to boost rice and cassava production in the country,’’ he said.
He stressed that aside supporting farmers, the programme had resulted in the construction of feeder roads to enable farmers to access their rice and cassava farms.
He said the programme also constructed modern rice mills in states to enhance its quality.
Odoemena said that more attention was now being focused on meeting the food needs of the country as well as earning more foreign exchange from exports and to diversify the nation’s economy.
He said in all the participating states the programme had opened the floodgates of opportunities for rice and cassava farmers and improved their livelihood.
“Looking at it critically, all the beneficiaries, mostly the youths, formed into cluster groups are now enjoying sustainable growth and yields in their annual returns from their investments.
“This could be attested to by the number of youths who attested to the success stories in all the participating local government areas,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, Dr. Ameh Onoja, described the programme as a success story because it had empowered so many youths going by the assessment.
He said that 45,000 farmers in the six participating states of Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun and Taraba had in the last three years embraced rice and cassava farming.
Of that number some of them engaged processing and marketing, to develop sustainable Value Chains for the two commodities.
Onoja said that the various interventions of the programme had significantly contributed to increased production, productivity, boosting income levels.
He also said that there had been enhanced value addition and market opportunities, as well as access to quality seed and planting materials among rice and cassava producers, processors and marketers in all the participating states.
FG Charges Agric Colleges On Vocational Trainings, Skills Acquisition
The Federal Government has directed Federal Colleges of Agriculture to devote more time and resources to vocational and skills acquisition training programmes to boost food production and ensure food security in the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, gave the charge in Abuja at the meeting of the Executive Directors of the National Agricultural Research Institutes, Provosts of Federal Colleges of Agriculture, and Directors of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria.
The Minister, who was represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Dr Aliyu Sabi Abduallahi, charged them to focus more on practicals and less on theories to enable the beneficiaries of such trainings to have practical and working knowledge of agricultural businesses.
Furthermore, Kyari directed the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) to work with key stakeholders in the agricultural education sub-sector to actualise the directive.
The Minister further charged them to use the available lands within the various agricultural research and training institutions for agricultural production.
He said, “You will recall my earlier directive that available lands within the various agricultural research and training institutions should be channelled toward agricultural production.
“I therefore wish to reiterate that all of you should key into this initiative of the ministry aimed at promoting food production in the country”.
The Minister, who underscored the importance of agricultural research, noted that to “drive agricultural transformation, research and training plays a pivotal role.
“Agriculture is the singular most important sector that can transform the economy of our great country to meet the growing demands for food, nutrition, industry and jobs.
“Accordingly, increase in agricultural productivity is the key determinant for socioeconomic transformation and thus livelihood improvements in Nigeria.
“Improvement in agricultural productivity has been proven to take millions of people out of food insecurity and low-income status to food security and improved living standards.
“It is the engine room for agricultural development and our priority as a Ministry is, therefore, to reposition the National Agricultural Research system for greater productivity”.
Kyari, while revealing the reason for the Federal Government’s insistence on the implementation of ARCN Act, said the amendment of the Act has made provisions for “efficient management of research and training, including the establishment of spin-off companies to commercialise research products and innovations generated by our institutions”.
He, therefore, urged them to strengthen the platform as a means of increasing the internally generated revenue of their institutions to augment the available fund for research, training and extension activities.
In his welcome remarks, Professor Garba Sharubutu, Executive Secretary of ARCN, commended the Minister for his contributions to the development of the council, recalling that the minister was one of those who initiated the amendment of ARCN Act 2021.
Sharubutu noted that the meeting was convened for various stakeholders to deliberate on the content of the amended ARCN Act as well as consider the issues of revenue generation, performance based evaluation system and the restructuring of ARCN.
Don Advocates Tech-Driven Approach To Agric, Food Production
The Secretary-General, Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Professor Yakubu Ochefu, has called for a technology-driven approach to modern agriculture and food production in Nigeria.
He stated this while delivering the 31st convocation lecture of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) titled, “From Baby Boomers to Generation Alpha: Interrogating Generational Dynamics and Agricultural Education in Nigeria”, held recently in Abeokuta.
The former Vice Chancellor of Kwararafa University, Taraba State, outlined the transformative potential of precision agriculture, drones, robots, driverless tractors, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, soilless farming and vertical farming (urban agriculture).
The lecture delved into generational dynamics, tracing cycles from the silent generation (great-grandparents) through the Baby Boomers (grandparents), Generation X (parents), Millennials (young adults), to Generation Alpha (teenagers).
Ochefu highlighted the 25-year generational cycle in African societies, emphasising three generations co-exist with distinct experiences and pre-occupations.
Describing the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) as the architects of the current technology-driven world, Professor Ochefu stressed the need for Nigerian universities, particularly higher institutions, to embrace the virtual reality of Generation Z.
He urged them to shed conservative traditions, acknowledging that universities play a dual role—offering ideas that shape society, while also holding onto traditions that may no longer align with current realities.
Earlier, the chairman of the occasion, Professor Saka Adelola Matemilola, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, had commended the relevance of the lecture, noting the significant shift from crude agricultural practices to a technology-intensive era.
The traditional ruler stressed the importance of encouraging technology-savvy individuals born in the age of digitalisation to take interest in agriculture.
Potato Harvesters Applaud Agric End Point, Production
The harvesters of a local Potatoe farm in Rumuepirikom Community, Port Harcourt, have described the joy associated with harvest as commendable, compared to the stress put in during the farming processes.
The harvesters, who spoke to The Tide in a chat in their farms, said the only thing that cushions the stress and challenges of farming is good harvest.
One of the farmers, Mrs Oluchi Sunday, said potato yields well if it is planted on a good soil where there is enough sand.
She noted that the problem with farming and agriculture is lack of funds to purchase good seed and vast farm lands.
“Farmers need grants and not loans. We cannot meet up with loans which would be required back even before the crops mature for sales.
“This is why the loan applications are embarrassing most farmers who borrowed money from them to put in their farm businesses”, she said.
Another harvester, Mrs. Chimereodo James, said potato is very easy to plant and harvest, adding that one cannot compare it with vegetables that die at the touch of little flood.
Responding to the issue of mechanised digital farming, she said the State is lagging behind in agriculture, compared to other States, especially the Northern part of the country where government takes agriculture very seriously and even provides lands, tractors, seeds and funds to lure youths into mechanised farming.
She called on the Governor of Rivers State to execute the agricultural programmes as promised, adding, “his moves towards alleviating the plight of the people so far has been very encouraging”.
Another farmer who pleaded anonymity said the State is capable of diversifying her economy through agriculture, noting, “Etche alone if empowered can produce what can feed the State and also exports”.
He also called on agricultural associations to emulate what their counterparts in other States are doing to help their States and the nation at large.
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