The Global Environment Fund (GEF), in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is implementing the Food Systems, Land Use, and Restoration (FOLUR) in Ondo and Cross River States with the target to protect the forest reserves from encroachment as a result of agricultural activities.
The Country Representative of the FAO, Dominique Kouacou, who was represented by Mrs Nifesimi Ogunkua, at the opening ceremony of FAO-GEF 7 FOLUR National Inception Workshop, with the theme, “Promoting Integrated Landscape Management and Sustainable Food Systems in the Niger Delta of Nigeria”, said this collaborative effort underscores FAO’s commitment to advancing agricultural landscape in Nigeria and contributing to the broader goals of sustainable development.
He said the landscape of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region holds tremendous ecological significance, recognized internationally for its lowland tropical rainforests with high conservation value and carbon stock.
The Acting FAO Country Representative, however, said unfortunately, the region is experiencing alarming rates of deforestation, primarily driven by agricultural expansion, especially in Cocoa and Oil Palm cultivation.
“In response to this critical situation, Nigeria has actively sought to participate in the GEF-7 Food Systems, Land Use, and Restoration Impact Program.
“The GEF-7’s FOLUR-IP Project is designed to transform the Niger Delta’s cocoa and palm oil production systems and landscapes towards sustainability and resilience, delivering multiple environmental and social benefits through its compartmental activities.
“The National Project Coordinator of FOLUR, Professor Oladapo Akinyemi, said the project supported by Global Environment Facility (GEF) being implemented by the FAO and the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) is the operational partner to the FAO”, he said.
He explained that the project is basically promoting land use system and food system in Niger Delta region with focus on Ondo State and Cross River State.
Professor Akinyemi further noted that the project is trying to focus on how to develop the country’s degraded forest so that it will be replanted with forest trees and make sure that there is no longer the degradation of the forest.
The Minister of State for Environment and Ecological Management, Dr Iziak Salaco, said this inception workshop is a response to Nigeria’s request for FAO-GEF developmental project, particularly on food production and land restoration.
Nigeria Needs 5MT More Of Maize Production -ARI
The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) has said the current maize production in the country stands at 15 million metric tons (MT) while Nigeria needs 20 million (MT), leaving gap of 5 million.0The Principal Investigator, Tela Maize, Prof. Rabi’u Adamu, made the assertion on Tuesday when demonstrating samples of Maize Seeds at a farm in Karaye Local Government Area of Kano State.
While speaking during the demonstration of the New Varieties of the seeds tagged “Seeing is believing farming field day”, Prof. Adamu said Nigeria needs additional 5 million metric tons, MT, to bridge the gap in maize production demand in the country.
He said the current maize production stands at 15 million metric tons while Nigeria needs 20 million MT, leaving gap of 5 million.
The shortage in the maize production demand was a result of invasion of pests, especially Fall Army Worm that destroyed the crops.
According to him, “That is why the IAR developed the improved maize varieties that are resistant to the Fall Army Worm in order to boost the production to meet the demand.
“This variety would help farmers double their yields as they are resistant to Fall Army Worm. They are also hybrid making the crop grow in not more than three months.
“It will make Nigeria bridge the deficit of 5 million metric tons maize production demand in Nigeria”.
Speaking on the occasion, the Executive Director, Institute of Agriculture Research, Prof. Ado Adamu Yusuf, decried the attitude of farmers who had failed to embrace the use of improved varieties.
Prof. Yusuf said improved variety will cut cost of production, improve high yield, be resistant to fall army and be drought tolerant at the long run increasing food production and food sufficiency.
The institute has a mandate for genetic improvement of several crops, especially those crops that matter most to Nigerians and their economy.
It will be recalled that the hybrid varieties were demonstrated on a half-acre farm belonging to one farmer Nasiru Adamu.
However, speaking to journalists, Adamu said he had lost huge amount of money to the invasion of the Fall Army Worm for about five years.
He added that since the introduction of the varieties, which were tried on his farm, he had witnessed rapid growth and higher yields.
He said the maize varieties that were demonstrated on his farm were planted on September 1st, adding that the farm is now set for harvest in the next three weeks.
At the end of the event, the farmers voted for variety A, which got 59 votes ahead of varieties B, C, and D.
Expert Applauds Fubara’s Decision To Revamp Songhai Farm, Agric
An International Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) consultant, Ambassador Larry Goodwill Ajiola, has applauded the decision of the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, to revive the Songhai Farm and the entire Agriculture sector.
Amb. Ajiola who is also the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rumoumasi Metrixx Co-operative and Credit Society Limited, Port Harcourt, told The Tide in a chat that “this is one of the best decisions the Government of Rivers State has taken in the best interest of the people of the State”.
The CEO said the farm will offer Jobs in diverse areas of specialisations as thousand of Rivers people will be engaged.
“The farm is a great asset of Rivers State under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Programme of the United Nations for 2030.
“It will bring and supply food to Rivers State and its environs at full capacity production, in addition to full export of its remaining produce”, he said.
The Co-operative guru noted an investment in the agriculture sector will not only provide value food chain, but would also boost the economic status of the state in terms of diversification from oil and gas.
It would be recalled that Governor Fubara in October said his administration was set to revolutionise agriculture in the state, using the Songhai Farms in Bunu Community, Tai Local Government Area, as a launch pad.
Fubara revealed this during an inspection visit to the Songhai Farm, where he was conducted round some sections of the facility by the Manager, Dr Sammy Jaja.
The visit, Fubara explained, was sequel to the decisions at the National Economic Council meeting where the need for diversification of the economy dominated discussions in order to cushion the current economic hardship experienced by the citizenry.
The Governor further said revamping the Songhai Farms will serve the purpose of diversifying the economy of the State, get the people engaged meaningfully, and increase the food sufficiency in the state.
By: Lilian Peters
Nigeria’s GM Potato Concludes First-Year Trial
The Genetically Modified (GM) Potato Project ongoing in Nigeria has concluded its first-year multi-locational confined trial in three locations, with the Biotech potatoes showing a significant yield advantage over conventional varieties planted in the country.
Preliminary results from the three locations, namely Kuru and Bokkos in Plateau State, and Kusuku in Taraba State, show that the biotech potatoes had a uniform yield advantage of over 300 per cent when compared to the best-performing variety in the country when no fungicide was applied.
The trials are under the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership (GBPP), a five-year project coordinated by Michigan State University that focuses on the commercialisation of late-blight disease-resistant potatoes in farmer-preferred varieties in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria.
The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the International Centre for Potatoes are other strategic partners in the project, which is implemented in Nigeria by the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike.
The GBPP Principal Investigator, Dr Charles Amadi, said he was excited by the promising results, which showed clearly that biotech potatoes can contribute significantly to the mitigation of devastation caused by recurrent outbreaks of late blight in the potato-growing areas of Nigeria.
He added that this will help increase yields and secure farmers’ investments and the livelihoods of stakeholders in the potato value chain.
Some of the farmers who participated in the trials were full of praises for the modified variety, saying it outperformed their conventional varieties and calling on the federal government of Nigeria to expedite action on the commercialisation of the biotech potato to ensure farmers have unhindered access to its tuber seedlings.
The Chairlady of Kusuku Potatoes Farmers Association, Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State, Mrs Rosemary Samson, said she and her fellow farmers have been planting potatoes for years but have never witnessed such high-yielding and very productive varieties as the biotech potatoes.
“For the past years, we have been farming potatoes on this land. I have farmed potatoes for more than 20 years.
“The problem on the land is poor yield, insect destruction, and the rustiness of the potatoes. This variety is completely different from our experience. This one yields very good, and rustiness is not like in the past”, she stated.
Another farmer, Genesis Johnson, the Chairman of Potato Farmers from Gembu, said he came to witness the harvest of the Irish potato, which is resistant to pests and disease, and he was very impressed with what he saw.
“In previous years, we have been planting Irish potatoes, but we have not witnessed a potato that is resistant to pests and disease.
“We spend so much on chemical spray to reduce diseases and insect attacks, yet what we get at the end of the day is not proportional to the investment.
“With this biotech potato, we are encouraged that hope for a bumper harvest is possible and also, with little investment, our efforts will yield good results. We are appealing to the federal government to avail us of this variety of Irish potato; it will give us more income and more food on our table.
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