Nigeria needs 100,000 tractors to be food sufficient – Association

Tractor Owners and Hiring Facilities Association of Nigeria (TOHFAN) said on Tuesday that the country needed between 70,000 and 100,000 functional tractors to meet its mechanisation requirement and food sufficiency.

Alhaji Danladi Garba, National Chairman of the Association, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the country had about 34 million hectares of land under cultivation.

According to him, Nigeria does not have up to 7,000 functional tractors that could provide services at any given time to farmers.

He said that the association, in 2018, got no fewer than 28,000 bookings for cultivation services from farmers but was only able to provide services to 7,000 farmers.

Garba said the delay was due to inadequate number of tractors in the country, adding, “currently, we have 552 tractors. We are in 31 states across the country.

“Farmers are requesting services from us, but we are not able to provide the services.

“As at 2018, we had 28,000 bookings by farmers; but we were able to provide services to only 7,000 because of inadequate number of tractors in the country.

“We have 34 million hectares under cultivation; if Nigeria can become a food secure country, we need between 70,000 to 100,000 tractors.

“Looking at the number we have now, we cannot take care of the requests that come into our platform because the penetration level of tractors in our country is less than seven tractors in a radius of 100 square km,’’ he said.

The national chairman said the association had plans to procure between 200 and 400 tractors to add to its fleet to enable it meet farmers’ mechanisation demands before the end of April.

Garba also said that plans were underway by the association and the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) to procure additional 200 tractors for the association.

This, he said, would help the association to provide services to farmers, especially in the forthcoming wet season farming.

“This year, we planned additional 1,000 tractors into our fleet.

“With NAMEL, we are expecting 200 tractors to come; but the arrangement has not been finalised.

“Through our own arrangement, we are looking at between 200 and 400 tractors before the end of April.’’

On sustainability of tractors, Danladi said the association had trained and certified operators and mechanics to manage the equipment. (NAN)

Society advocates commercialisation of grass-eating fish species

The Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) has urged the Federal Government to commercialise the culturing of herbivorous fish species, to tackle high cost of fish production.

The society made the call in Lagos on Thursday during the National Fisheries Stakeholders Forum, tagged: “Harnessing the Potential of Non-State Actors in Fisheries and Aquacultural Development in West Africa”.

Participants at the forum said that aquaculture researchers should develop the herbivorous specie (grass-eating fish) and make them available to farmers, so that Nigerians would have variety of fish species to choose from.

Dr Lukman Agbabiaka, National President of FISON, said Nigeria could not continue to propagate ‘fish eating fish’ policy, which was not helping the industry.

Agbabiaka said that fish is a major ingredient for fish meal production, which has a negative effect on the cost of production, and trickles down to the cost of retail prices of fish.

“The cost of producing fish in Nigeria is very high; and this is due to the fact that fish meal, which takes over 70 per cent of the cost of production, is majorly from fish.

“We should be looking at cultivation of herbivorous fish, which is the fish eating grass specie. We cannot continue to propagate fish eating fish, because that is what kills the sector.

“Over 70 per cent of production goes into fish feeds; but grass will be cheaper to cultivate, and the grass-eating fish is very delicious,” he said.

Agbabiaka urged stakeholders in the sector to diversify into other value chains, especially the shell and scale fish sections, because of the opportunities embedded in the sections for economical relevance.

Mrs Folake Areola, a former Director of the Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF), said that the herbivorous fish specie like grass cap should be considered.

According to Areola, the grass cap specie is very delicious and commands a high market price in the international market, compared to other culture fish species.

“We need to commercialise production of the grass cap, to expand the local and international markets. There is currently no focus on the specie even though it is in Nigeria.

“There is also mallet, which most coastal communities already know, and people love their taste and flesh; so, what are we waiting for to develop that specie? Nigeria needs varieties,” she said.

Mr Babatunde Olusegun, Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that there was a demand gap of about 2.4 million metric tonnes of fish.

According to Olusegun, Nigeria currently produces 1.1 million metric tonnes of fish, while the annual demand is 3.5 million metric tones, giving room for importation to close the deficit.

He called for private sector partnership to create an enabling environment through well-thought out policies, to guide the growth of the industry.

Over 70% of rice in Nigerian markets is foreign – Report

Despite concrete and visible interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) via the Anchors Borrowers Programme (ABP) on the rice sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, over 70 per cent of rice in Nigeria markets are foreign or imported.

In a three-week survey on the rice market across the six geopolitical zones in the country, Economic Confidential team observed that foreign rice such as Mama Gold, Royal Stallion, Rice Master, Caprice, Falcon Rice and Basmati are sold alongside Nigerian rice namely: Umza and Fursa Crown from Kano, Mama Happy from Niger, Labana Rice from Kebbi, Olam Rice from Nasarawa, Abakaliki Rice from Ebonyi, Ofada Rice from Ogun State, Swomen Dama from Plateau, Lake Rice of Lagos/Kebbi States among others.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the CBN have reacted to the latest report.

Stakeholders in the rice subsector, namely, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and Rice Processors Association of Nigeria(RIPAN) however gave kudos to the apex bank for the timely intervention and banning of rice since 2015, a development that has seen growth in local production of rice and serious saving of foreign exchange.

The stakeholders in separate interviews laid the blame for the inflow of the banned commodity on the doorsteps of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS), adding that for the federal government to make meaningful impact in its fight against smuggling of the commodity, serious attention must be paid to the various porous borders which the Nigeria Customs Service has the constitutional responsibility to man.

The development is coming almost four years after the federal government banned the importation of the commodity through land, sea and air.

As part of efforts to reach different markets across the six geopolitical zones of the country, the investigative team spread its dragnet to Singer Market Kano; Utako Market, Abuja; Terminus Market Jos; Mile 3 Market Port-Harcourt; , Main Market, Onitsha; Ogbete Market in Enugu, G-Cappa Market, Lagos and Jimeta Main Market – Yola.

On-the-spot checks by this intelligence magazine show the preponderance of foreign rice in these markets by merchants who said that profits coming from foreign rice far out-weigh the local rice which majority of those interviewed believed has more nutritional value than the foreign rice.

The dealers buy local rice at about N13,000 per 50kg bag, while they sell it customers for between N15,500 to N16, 000. The same merchants pay about N11,000 for the smuggled foreign rice and sell to consumers between N17,500 and N19,000 per bag.

Speaking on the disparity between the cost of local rice and smuggled foreign rice, Paul Nwadike, a rice distributor at Ogbete market in Enugu said: “My brother, let me tell you that gains we receive from selling foreign rice are more than the local rice because local rice is more costlier.”

Auwal Mukhtar a merchant in Singer Market Kano said: “There is more market for us in foreign rice because it’s cheaper.”

Mr Nwadike said. ‘tell them to bring the cost of local rice down” he pleaded.

Another rice merchant, Mustafha in Utako Market, Abuja, noted that “I try as much as possible to buy foreign rice because my customers prefer them and they are cheap.”

Asked whether the quantity of local rice in the market is more than the foreign rice is, he said no!

The same goes for Terminus Market Jos, Mile 3 Market Port-Harcourt, Main Market, Onitsha.

The traders were reluctant to disclose how they got large supplies of foreign rice.

One of them said: “Bros (short for brother) you want to spoil our business? How can we tell you the source of our business?”

The rice traders in separate interviews attributed the upsurge of rice smuggling to the ineffectiveness of Customs service urging the government to take necessary steps to overhaul the Customs and its strategies to combat the menace.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Customs Service, Joseph Attah, lamented the deadly activities of rice smugglers in Nigeria.

Attah said: “How much efforts are really enough. All our warehouses and available places are filled up with seized smuggled rice. The smugglers are becoming so deadly as a number of death have been recorded from our confrontations with them.

“In fact, the federal government recently gave a directive that rice and other relief materials in the warehouses should be distributed to orphanages and Internally Displaced People Camps to address the plights of the victims as well as to free the warehouses.

“We now urge the major stakeholders to join us in the campaign against the deadly activities of smugglers through advocacy and sensitizations that will lead to attitudinal changes in the part of the smugglers.”

Also speaking on the same vein, the Central Bank Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said local rice has more nutritional value than foreign rice. He, however, disagreed with our survey that the quantity of foreign rice in Nigerian market far outweigh the local arguing that the apex bank through its intervention has put smiles on the faces of rice farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain.

“I don’t know the parameters used in your survey in terms of quantity of rice both foreign and local. But I can assure you that Nigerians would not like to go back to the dark days of rice importation”, the CBN spokesperson said.

However, late last year, Economic Confidential recalls that the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) debunked the report by the United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade that Nigeria imported three million metric tons of rice in 2018.

The US report had said the import figure is 400,000 metric tonnes higher than the quantity of the product that was imported in 2017.

The report also stated that Nigeria’s local rice production dropped from 2016 to 2018 compared to the situation in 2015.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s neighbour, Republic of Benin, however, recorded an increase in rice imports from Thailand, from 805,765mt in 2015 to 1,647,387mt as at November 2017.

Though the government had claimed a reduction in the importation of the commodity, existing statistics should be a cause for concern as only Nigeria consumes parboiled rice while Benin prefers white rice, an indication that rice imported to Benin residents are being smuggled to Nigeria through the land borders.

Economic Confidential wholly agrees that while legally imported rice continues to decline, the majority of rice in the Nigerian markets are imported smuggled rice for which the country loses huge revenue that should have accrued to it.

Despite the ban, smuggling of rice has continued to thrive as huge quantities of the commodity flood the local market daily.

Nigeria to set up cashew processing plants in four states — Ogbeh

The federal government says it plans to set up cashew processing plants in four states of the country to add value to the product and create employment, wealth in the country.

Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this in an interview with the BENGBENRO NEWS in Abuja.

Mr Ogbeh said the move would also reduce the waste of cashew fruits and delay in the export of raw nuts out of the country.

According to him, we are currently wasting an estimated 8 million tonnes of cashew fruits annually.

He said the long term solution to the delay in export and stocking of cashew nuts at the ports is for Nigeria to be an exporter of finished products and not raw materials.

story. [PHOTO CREDIT: Nuts.com]
The federal government says it plans to set up cashew processing plants in four states of the country to add value to the product and create employment, wealth in the country.

Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this in an interview with the BENGBENRO NEWS in Abuja.

Mr Ogbeh said the move would also reduce the waste of cashew fruits and delay in the export of raw nuts out of the country.

According to him, we are currently wasting an estimated 8 million tonnes of cashew fruits annually.

He said the long term solution to the delay in export and stocking of cashew nuts at the ports is for Nigeria to be an exporter of finished products and not raw materials.

Mr Ogbeh listed the states where the plants would be set up to include Enugu, Benue, Kogi and Oyo.

“The challenge is usually access to credit because a good processing cashew line will cost you about two million dollars to do something like 10 to 20 tonnes a day. We are targeting that to set up at least one plant each in Enugu and Benue, two plants each in Kogi and Oyo state, these are the leading cashew producers now.

“We want to assure the cashew stakeholders that in our next level activities, we intend to stop the export of raw nuts and to process all our cashews here and we hope by the grace of God, to have one or two plants ready before next year.

“We are talking with the Brazilians now. We want to bring in machines from Brazil to process the cashew fruits into juice which has a high content of vitamin c.

“It is very good for the health because we are currently wasting an estimated eight million tonnes of cashew fruits annually, throwing them away,” he said.

Mr Ogbeh added: “That is what the Cashew Association of West Africa told me, in Nigeria alone, that we waste eight million tonnes.

“This is our concern, we are very troubled with this development but later in the year, I will have a meeting with the cashew producers and farmers association to sit down with the CBN and get some help.’’

The minister, who lamented that the country has been major importers of goods and services, said the government is determined to change the trend.

“The challenge facing Nigeria is that we have been an importer nation which has destroyed our economy.
“We want to change now and become a nation of exporters.

“We have to find unorthodox ways of finding capital for those who want to grow these industries because, on their own, it is impossible for them to meet the conditions of banks and financial institutions.

“It is impossible for them to raise the necessary capital which is why the CBN initiatives are very important to us and we have been working with them and we are achieving results.

“The treasury of Nigeria including the CBN has to find a way to by-pass the obstacles, the mountains, the rivers, blocking our way to industrial growth.

“If not, we will remain perpetually poor and we will remain permanently incapable of creating wealth and creating jobs for our people,’’ he said. BENGBENRO NEWS

Ogbeh laments ‘extremely disturbing’ delay clearing Nigeria’s agricultural products for exports

Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has appealed to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to ensure speedy evacuation and clearing of agricultural produce for export.

Mr Ogbeh made the appeal in an interview with the BENGBENRO NEWS in Abuja.

He was reacting to current delay in evacuation of cashew nuts worth $300 million for export to Vietnam.

He described the situation as disturbing.

The minister said the development negated the federal government’s desire to make the country an exporting nation.

“It has been brought to our notice that cashew nuts worth 300 million dollars destined for export to Vietnam have been stuck in Lagos.

“And as we know, they are usually locked in containers at high temperatures and if these cashew nuts remain there for too long, they get spoilt and that is extremely disturbing.

“It has happened before and this also compromises our desire to become an exporting nation so we are very concerned.

“We have spoken to the Ports Authority Managing Director and she told us that she will make every effort to do something about it.

“We are appealing to them, to see what they can do to speedily evacuate this product,’’ he said.

Mr Ogbeh explained that the long term solution to delay in the export of cashew is to stop the exportation of raw nuts.

“The solution to delay in the export of cashew is to stop the exportation of raw nuts.
We must begin to add value to the commodity by processing it before eventual export,” he said.

According to him, the ministry is working to organise credit for would be processors to enable them to process the cashew so that the business of selling raw nuts would be totally eliminated.

“We are discussing this with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and with any other agency that will support our initiative,” he said.

Corroborating, Tola Faseru, the National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) told BENGBENRO NEWS that the development would become a disaster if not addressed quickly.

Mr Faseru who commended Mr Ogbeh for responding swiftly to the woes of the exporters said the development is due to the ports inefficiency.

According to him, this is a big problem for cashew exporters because we are in the season now and this portends great danger to us.

“We want to thank the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development who himself is a cashew stakeholder for showing concern.

“It shows his genuineness to ensure that agriculture is taken to the next level. We hope that his concerns will bring a change very quickly if not, there will be disaster.

“The road to the port is so bad to the extent that containers are tripping off on the road.

“For almost one month, trucks are still on their way without entering the ports and they are carrying goods that have tendency to perish as well as deterioration in quality.

“It is so sad and killing and not much fund is being made available to exporters. Thank God for NEXIM Bank that is showing sensitivity to get money to exporters now,’’ he said.

He also appealed NPA to do everything within its power to ensure that the cashew nuts get to their destination without further delay. BENGBENRO NEWS

Nigerian maize production increases more than twofold between 2015 and 2018 – Farmers Association

The Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria says production of the commodity increased from eight million tonnes to 20 million tonnes in Nigeria between 2015 and 2018.

The president of the association, Bello Abubakar, said this at the Nigeria Maize Conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

The event, which has as its theme, “Integrated Pest Management: Key to Profitable Maize Farming,” was organised by a company, Bayer Middle Africa.

“As at 2015, we had eight million tones while in 2018 it increased to 20 million tonnes,” Mr Abubakar said.

He attributed the increase to the introduction of technology into farming and the researches made by the association.“Everyday, we are making research on how to improve maize production in the country,” he said

“Now we have seed companies that came with varieties that will give from eight to 12 tonnes per acre,” he said.

He applauded Bayer Middle Africa for its interest in maize production.

He said one of the biggest challenges facing the association is Agronomic practice.

Agronomic practices are a vital part of farming systems. These are practices that farmers incorporate to improve soil quality, enhance water usage, manage crops and improve the environment.

Agronomic practices focus on better fertilizer management as a way of improving agricultural practices.

Bayer’s Commitment to Maize Production.

Bayer said it took two approaches to improve the productivity of maize in West and Central Africa.

The approaches are Intergrated Pest Management (IPM) and Intergrated Weed Management (IPM).

Speaking on their efforts to improve crop production, the Regulatory and Development Manager of Bayer Middle Africa, Ahmed Bello, said IPM is the combination of different approaches to controlling pesticide on maize feed.

Mr Bello said the aim of IPM is to reduce pest pressure and keep them at low levels.

“IPM has been adopted increasingly as a tool for managing resistant pests” he said
“It involves the use of a range of diversified control techniques, embracing physical, chemical and biological methods in an Intergrated fashion without excessive reliance on any one method.”

He said there are different ways to solve the problem of pests, not only with chemicals but with biological and cultural practices.

Mr Bello said his company was committed to bringing solution to farmers on the menace of pests and weeds.According to him, IPM’s components include Intergrated Weed Management (IWM). This management helps to control weeds in the farm

Speaking on the IWM, Ekea Udensi described it as a tool for managing herbicide-resistant weeds.

Mr Udensi is a lecturer at the Department of Crop Science and Animal Science in the University of Port Harcourt. He was also the one of the speakers at the event.

“The purpose of IWM is to reduce weed pressure and keep weeds at low levels,” he said.

Bayer Middle Africa is a company involved in pharmaceuticals, healthcare and crop science.

It said its interest in maize production is because maize is a major crop in West Africa and Nigeria.

Maize is grown in many parts of the world, with USA, China and Brazil the leading producers.
Highlights of the event include the launch of Lagoon 575SC, which is a herbicide; and Belt Expert, a pesticide.

Nigeria to eliminate chemical fertilisers – Ogbeh

The federal government says it will gradually phase out the use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture to ensure the production of healthy foods for the people.

Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this on Sunday while inspecting the first organic banana plantation by an Indian company, Contec Global Agro Limited in Kwali.

Mr Ogbeh, who expressed worry over the increasing numbers of liver and kidney diseases among young people, explained that the objective was the elimination of dangerous elements from foods.

He noted that the move would also help to reduce the damages in the soil through the application of fertilisers.

‘‘We are slowly going to begin to eliminate chemical fertilisers. Organic nature means that this is what nature is all about without polluting it with salt, the chemical fertilisers are salt.

‘‘They damage the soil of all kinds and over a while, you find out that the soil is no longer good for you because they destroy the microbes which make the soil more productive. We need to make the food healthier because a lot of self-poisoning is going on in the country.

‘‘Even the machines we use to grind tomatoes in the market, metal rubbing against metal; particles of heavy metals getting into the food.

‘Suddenly, you see a young person in the hospital, like 20 years of age suffering from liver and kidney problem and you ask, do you drink alcohol, he says no, then what is happening?

‘‘We are not probing enough but we want to start in agriculture, eliminating dangerous elements from our food.

‘‘The place to begin is the farm, right from where you are planting, from the soil, from the bio-chemicals, the water, all of that has to be controlled and then you have healthy foods,’’ the minister said.

Mr Ogbeh said the company was already conducting an experiment to develop microbes from the soil in the laboratory and putting them back into the soil without the use of chemicals.

The minister, who commended the owners of the organic banana farm, said that the Federal Government would continue to support both local and foreign investments in the agriculture sector.

‘‘We are happy that in spite of the difficulties people face, they still remain and invest.

‘‘This is the message from Mr President, stay close to the investors, and give them all the support they need. If there are things you can’t handle yourself, come and tell me about them and I will do that,’’ he said.

Thomas Chackunkal, the Managing Director, Contec Global Agro, the initiators and owners of the banana farm, said the plantation was a 250 hectare biologically safe demonstration farm.

Mr Chackunkal said the banana plantation would be replicated in Osun, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Taraba, Edo and Oyo States.

‘‘We want to attract the young people. We want a holistic approach to provide all the basic needs like housing, schools, primary health care,’’ he said.

Contec agro develops organic farming products such as bio-seed, bio-fertiliser, and bio-planting to help Africa develop its agricultural industry and ensure food security for the populace. BENGBENRO

Adequate funding for livestock farming

Prof. Gregory Okagbare, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), has called on the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders to adequately fund livestock farming to boost nutrition in the country.

Okagbare made the appeal during the institution’s 13th Inaugural Lecture with the theme “That All May Eat”, at the university on Wednesday.

According to him, livestock farming should move from the present traditional system where animals fend for themselves through housing to a technology and business oriented production system.

He said despite the resources at disposal, the Nigerian livestock industry was still in a pitiable state and needed urgent attention to be able to boost food production in the country.

“The livestock industry requires an urgent attention if the country is to be self-sufficient in animal protein and to ensure that all eats.

“Every community should set aside areas within their communities for livestock rearing and farming.

“Livestock farming must gradually move from the present traditional system to a technology and business-oriented production system,” he said.

Okagbare added that government should also sensitise the citizens to establish cottage industries that would process livestock products into other food items and industrial raw materials.

“There is need for an inter-disciplinary approach such that veterinarians, crop producers, government and royal fathers be mobilised for the development of livestock industry in Nigeria.

“Government should also ensure that security operations are strengthened in farming communities to enable farmers harvest their products as when due,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, stressed the importance of animal science, noting that the lecture will further serve as a wakeup call for students to enrol into the department of Agriculture since more experts are needed.

Cashew exporter wants storage facilities at seaports

A cashew nuts exporter, Mr Mathew Obot, on Friday appealed to the Federal Government to provide storage facilities at the country’s seaports to enhance preservation of commodities before export.

Obot made the appeal in an interview with the BENGBENRO NEWS on Friday in Lagos.

He said that the absence of such facilities at the country’s ports was having negative bearing on export of produce and was discouraging many people from continuing with produce trade.

The exporter, while considering the feasibility of fresh tomatoes export as being championed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said that absence of storage facilities was the bane of the trade.

“Because of the paucity of the facilities, I do keep my produce far away from the port for preservation before transporting it to the port when the vessel is ready to sail.

“This process is double expenses; instead of taking it direct to the port from the places I bought it, I have to take it to another location for preservation.

“Many of my colleagues who cannot bear the cost of logistics involved in the business are no longer trading in it. Even we who are in it are just trying to exist,’’ he lamented.

He said that for the country to get it right in the balance of trade in the area of produce export, such facilities needed to be in place.

Obot added that the sector would create the more needed jobs in the value chain and encourage influx of foreign exchange and less pressure on the dollar as being witnessed currently.

According to him, apart from tomatoes, there are many other produce for which Nigeria has comparative advantages in the world market. BENGBENRO NEWS.

Real reason Buhari did not participate in Presidential debate – Nnamdi Kanu

The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to participate in weekend’s presidential debate.

Kanu said the President’s action has vindicated his claims that the President was cloned.

Kanu made this known in a radio broadcast to his members on Monday.

He further blamed South-East governors whom he described as “stooges” of the northern establishment for allegedly orchestrating the labelling of his group as a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government.

Kanu added, “It has come to my attention that some people may have elected to misinterpret what I said regarding election boycott.

“The same way some Lagos-Ibadan gutter media attacked my expose on Jubril but today, everything I said about the impostor is unraveling one after the other.

“This news broke this evening (Saturday) that President Buhari will not participate In the presidential debate.

“What does this tell you? It goes to confirm what I told all of you that Jubril will never participate in the presidential debate because he’s not Buhari.

“This evening, I will offer clarifications to remove whatever ambiguity mischief makers may have introduced in their desperate attempt to dampen the spirit of our people.

“I must make it categorically clear that we IPOB are boycotting the forthcoming elections starting with the February 16 presidential election.”