Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) has announced a 60 per cent increase in annual production from 8 million metric tons in 2015 to 20 million metric tons in 2020.
Speaking at the formation ceremony of maize pyramids in Kaduna State, recently, the National President of MAAN, Abubakar Bello, stated that the increase recorded was as a result of the government’s intervention through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
According to him, “the maize, which was sourced from across the country, is the second pyramid to be formed in Nigeria by the Association since the commencement of the ABP in 2015.
“Before this administration came in, in 2015, we only had 8 million tons of maize. But by the end of 2020, it was 20 million tons. Apart from that, farmers now have access to inputs without their money but as a loan, they get the technology under the ABP.
“Where farmers are getting 20 tons of maize, now they are getting 50 tons of maize. There is a new technology of farming, there are extension services under ABP, mechanization and monitoring and evaluation, the farmers are benefiting and they have increased their production.
“The maize mills we have in the country have increased, the processors have more companies now, they now employ more people, these are the success stories of the ABP. In one season more than one million people got jobs under ABP”, he said.
He noted that factors such as high cost of production, poor access to mechanization also impacted the cost of the produce.
Speaking on the high cost of maize, Bello said the Covid-19 pandemic was a contributory factor because input production companies could not produce due to the lock down which restricted movement.
Poultry Farmers Get 40,000 Birds As Grant In Cross River
Over 1,000 poultry farmers in Cross River State, brought under seven different clusters, have been supported with a grant of 40,000 birds.
The Tide’s source disclosed that the farmers are to grow the birds in the State Government-owned ultramodern poultry farm named Calachika.
According to the source, the 40,000 birds, which are all broilers, is a grant under the World Bank assisted Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project.
Speaking the State Deputy Governor, Ivara Esu, noted the initiative will ensure constant production and supply of matured poultry birds to feed the chicken processing plant that has already been put in place and operational at the Ayade’s Industrial park.
According to him, the State Government “is happy that a lot of the farmers that belong to the clusters are youths, because Governor Ben Ayade has been passionate about youth engagements and empowerment”.
Esu commended the World Bank and the management of the Appeals Project, both at the national and the state level, noting that many have been engaged and made more efficient in the chosen agricultural value chain through different Appeals initiative, which cuts across such areas as poultry, rice, and cocoa value chain.
The Deputy Governor charged the farmers to pay good attention to things they have to do in order to prevent infection in the poultry and reasonably reduce the mortality rate.
National Coordinator of the Appeals Project, Alhaji Muhammad Jordi, on his part, said bringing over a thousand farmers together under different clusters to teach them and help them manage their chosen business is a commendable initiative of the Cross River State Government, noting that the Appeals Project in the State “has been exemplary”.
The State Project Coordinator of APPEALS, Mr. Marcel Agim, noted that the farmers know what to do in different clusters and that the 40,000 birds will be doubled in two to three weeks time.
FG Trains 200 Youths Abroad On Crop Production, Animal Husbandry
The National Agricultural Lands Development Authority (NALDA) said it has sent 200 young farmers for capacity building on crop production and animal husbandry to Israel and Morocco.
This is part of the continuation of the National Young Farmers Scheme, (NYFS) programme that President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off some months ago.
Speaking during the official handing over of travel documents to the beneficiaries in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, explained that it is a continuation of the NYFS programme that President Buhari flagged off sometime ago.
He said the programme assisted Nigeria in terms of food availability during the emergence of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, which prevented Nigeria from begging food from other countries
The NALDA scribe said the aim is also to make agriculture more attractive to the youths as the training will expose and equip them on modern agriculture and agribusiness, which will lead to massive food production for Nigerians and for more exportation of food.
Ikonne further said sending the 200 young farmers to Israel and Morocco is part of the new programme called ‘Aggressive Food Production’ in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
He also said that the youths who are drawn from the 36 states of the federation will be there for six days while they undergo intensive training on greenhouse farming and animal husbandry, explaining that Israel and Morocco were chosen because they have the expertise in these areas.
“We are running a programme we call ‘Aggressive Food Production’ and this we are doing in collaboration with the Ministry of Education as the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, is providing us with land from the universities for this.
“So, we are sending them to countries that we know have string expertise on what we are doing, Israel and Morocco. This is to enhance their knowledge and expose them to modern day practice in crop production and animal husbandry.
“200 young farmers would be sent for capacity building in Israel and Morocco. When these people go and get exposed, the next question will be how will you engaged and integrate them?.
“We already have a platform like the institutional properties, the land from the schools, state governments and their communities, which will definitely make it easier for them to be integrated.
“They will begin to teach others what they saw there and how to do it and get better yield.
“NALDA’s own will be much different and beneficial to the country because we have where they will be integrated when they come back from the training. That is what makes NALDA’s programme more sustainable and unique”, he stated.
Explaining the criteria used to select the 200 young farmers, Ikonne said “we sent out messages to stakeholders, and the stakeholders selected and sent their names, and we are making sure that all the 36 states in the federation would participate in this training so as to be able to train the people within their state and their locality”.
He, however, made it clear that, “the training is budgeted for in our budget because what ever that is not budgeted for cannot be implemented. The most important thing we have budgeted is the capacity building.
“No matter what it cost to send people to get training, the most important thing is we are building a new generation of farmers that would drive Nigeria’s agriculture”, he said.
The NALDA boss charged the 200 youths to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, charging them to focus on what they would be trained on, saying that they have a great task to deliver when they return as far as training other young farmers back home is concerned.
Some of the beneficiaries spoke on the training and what they expect after the training.
Hassan Atiku, a farmer from Katsina State, said “I cultivate maize and millet beside foodstuff. I am very happy that I am one of the beneficiaries to this trip. I want to appreciate the effort of the President by building youth capacity on agriculture because building the youths is building the nation. I am ready to acquire more knowledge on crop production”.
Group Proffers Solutions To Nigeria’s Food Crisis
A group, Actionaid Nigeria, has reiterated the need for the three tiers of government to commit 10% of their annual budget to agriculture, focus on strategic areas of extension services, and to provide credit for women.
The organisation also advised government to provide labour-saving technologies, inputs, post-harvest losses reduction supports like training, market access, processing and storage facilities.
Its Country Director, Ene Obi, gave the counseling at the National Dialogue and Dissemination on Nigeria’s Performance at the 3rd Biennial Review Exercise on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP), Wednesday in Abuja.
She said: “For Nigeria to be on track in meeting the 2014 Malabo Declaration Commitments, going forward, we hope that the three tiers of government would commit 10% of their annual budget to the agricultural sector. This will support at least 6% growth rate for the sector as postulated in the CAADP framework.
“And investments should focus on strategic areas of extension services, access to credit, women in agriculture, youth in agriculture, appropriate labour-saving technologies, inputs, post-harvest losses reduction supports (processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, market access, etc.), Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology, Research and Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as Coordination.”
Obi noted that Actionaid conducted a research and the data through the VABKIT reflected the realities of smallholder women farmers across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“This shows that nationwide, smallholder women farmers currently have only 18% access to processing facilities, 16.60% access to storage facilities, 13.50% access to off-takers/access to markets, 9.60% access to transportation for agricultural produce, and 42.30% access to trainings.
“On Extension Services, smallholder women farmers have access to only 5.26% farm demonstrations and 19.47% farmers field schools.
“On agricultural credit, they have access to less than 23% of existing credit facilities, and only 4.77% access to agricultural insurance”, she revealed.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhine, said the Ministry has begun the process of strengthening evidence-based data for effective policy formulation and tracking of performance.
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