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FGN/IFAD-VCDP Distributes  N134.6m Agric Inputs  To  Anambra Farmers

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The Federal Government /International Foods and Agricultural Development/Value Chain Development Programme (FGN/IFAD-VCDP) on Wednesday distributed inputs worth N135 million to 1,260 wet season rice and cassava farmers in Anambra State.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Foster Ihejiofor, disclosed this while monitoring the distribution of the inputs to farmers at Umunze, Orumba South and Achalla, Awka North Local Government Areas respectively.
Ihejiofor said the inputs, comprising bags of NPK and Urea fertilizers, cassava cuttings, rice seed and litres of selective and non-selective herbicides, came from the partnership between the state and FGN/IFAD-VCDP.
“In line with the partnership, a benefitting farmer who must be a member of a cooperative society, paid 50 per cent of the cost, while the remaining 50 per cent was paid by the State Government and FGN/IFAD-VCDP,” he said.
The Commissioner said he was impressed with the commitment shown by the farmers, saying that Government’s expectations was that beneficiaries should ensure production of more foods.
“You should ensure that the inputs you received are put into use by producing more foods to reduce the high cost in the market.
“Do not sell the inputs in the markets because anyone caught in such act would be sanctioned. The state government’s intention is to make Anambra a food basket of the country,” he said.
The Programme Coordinator, FGN/IFAD-VCDP, in Anambra, Mr Emmanuel Agwuncha, said the group was funding farmers who cultivated between one and five haectres of rice or cassava.
“Each cassava farmer is expected to get 200kg of NPK, two litres of selective and non-selective herbicides and 50 bundles of certified cassava cutting.
“For rice farmers, each person will get 200kg of NPK, 100kg of Urea fertilizers, two litres of selective and non-selective herbicides and 40kg of certified faro 44 rice seeds,” he said.
He expressed regret that the redemption of the inputs was coming a bit late, saying that the delay was due to late passage of their budget.
“Our budget for the year 2022 was approved sometime in May/June last year, we usually begin our budget process from community levels before the steering committee’s approval.
“It is after that, that we move to federal level where the delay often occurs, but if after the approval by the steering committee we are permitted to execute our budgets, the delay will no longer occur,” he said.
Agwuncha, who encouraged farmers to take advantage of opportunities available to increase yields, added that a lot of opportunities abound for participating farmers.

“Some farmers are already getting six tons from one hectare, we do not want to go down, we are ready to support you to even do more.

“We have enough extension officers, we have farmer-field business school where farmers learn and we equally have demonstration plus in each of the clusters,” he said.

An official in the Project Coordinating Unit, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Awka said he was impressed with the performance of farmers and IFAD-VCDP officials at the event.

A beneficiary from Umunze,. Mr James Igweka, thanked the FGN/IFAD-VCDP and Anambra State Government for the gesture and promised that they would not betray the terms of the partnership.

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Agriculture

FG Charges Agric Colleges On Vocational Trainings, Skills Acquisition

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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.

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Agriculture

Don Advocates Tech-Driven Approach To Agric, Food Production

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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.

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Agriculture

Potato Harvesters Applaud Agric End Point, Production

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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.

Lilian Peters

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