COTTON FARMERS GET IMPROVED SEEDS FROM RMRDC

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Cotton farmers under the aegis of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) have received four metric tonnes of improved cottonseeds from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC). The Director-General of the council, Dr. Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, while addressing the farmers at the official ceremony held at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, recently, said the council was concerned by the declining performance of the Cotton, Textiles and Garment sector (CTG), and was, therefore, motivated to continue boosting cotton production.

 

He said this was to enable idle ginneries starved of cotton seed to come back to operation. “In continuation of the boosting programme, RMRDC presented 5.82 tonnes of cotton seeds to farmers in 2015 and 4.3 tonnes of improved cotton seeds (SAMCOT 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13) to all cotton farmers under the umbrella of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) in 2016.

 

The council is today providing additional four tonnes of cotton seeds (Samcot 8, 9 and 10) to farmers under the umbrella of the National Cotton Growers Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN) for this year’s planting season,” he said. Dr. Ibrahim lamented that out of the 54 ginneries available in Nigeria, only 22 were functioning, albeit at very low capacity utilisation. He added that this trend had a spirally limiting effect on the cotton value chain development locally, culminating in the folding up of several textile industries (83) between 1995 and 2017, and leaving only 23 functioning at low capacity utilisation.

 

“Ginning capacity of the existing ginneries is about 650,000 tonnes of seed cotton but current production is less than 60,000 tonnes per annum; representing about 10 per cent capacity utilisation,” he stressed.

 

Also speaking, Prof. Ibrahim Umar Abubakar, the Executive Director, IAR, Zaria, stated that the institute had developed six different cotton varieties for local use. He emphasised that the present administration’s focus was on the need for diversification of the economy from oil-dependent to agriculture. He said agriculture was contributing about 45 presently to the nation’s GDP. In an effort to achieve economic diversification, the government has tried to revive cotton production through the activities of the Presidential Committee on Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG). The director also said there was enormous potential associated with the entire cotton value chain.

 

He, therefore, challenged the private sector, ginners, farmers and all stakeholders to assist in mass production of cotton seeds in order to meet national demand. The President of National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NACOTAN), represented by the National Secretary-General, Alhaji Hassan Buhari, expressed gratitude to RMRDC and other relevant stakeholders for making cotton seeds available to NACOTAN for the 2017 planting season. He, however, challenged government to assist in the area of cotton market to enable cotton farmers market their produce easily.

 

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AFDB WORKING WITH PARTNERS TO ACCELERATE IMPLEMENTATION OF DROUGHT RESILIENCE PROGRAMME

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Ahead of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it would work with partners to accelerate the implementation of the Drought Resilience Sustainable Livelihood Support Programme (DRSLP) in the Horn of Africa.

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on June 17 and aims to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is used to remind stakeholders that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.

This year’s theme examines the important link between land degradation and migration. Among others, environmental degradation, food insecurity and poverty are causes of migration and development challenges.

The African Development Bank has several programmes in place in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and has provided emergency support to countries facing drought.

For instance, early this year, the AfDB signed a loan and a grant amounting of US $7.14 million to finance the fourth Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Program in Eritrea.

Launched in 2013, the Drought Resilience Sustainable Livelihood Support Programme (DRSLP) aims at addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability in drought-prone areas, with particular emphasis on pastoralists and agro-pastoralists to promote disaster risk reduction, ecosystem rehabilitation and sustainable livelihood base transformational and developmental practices.

DRSLP was to ensure that the necessary infrastructure to reduce and minimize the recurrent drought in the region are in place. Implementation of the DRSLP has faced initial start-up delays due to various factors

The Bank is launching, in close collaboration with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) secretariat, a mid-term review of the DRSLP to revisit the projects’ components and implementations modalities and put in place urgent and concrete measures to accelerate its implementation particularly in Somalia and Ethiopia.

Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Program – Project II (DRSLP II) in the Horn of Africa is part of a multinational program that covers Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Indeed, the magnitude and severity of food insecurity resulting from extended droughts have reached unprecedented levels this year.

The world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War with more than 20 million people requiring humanitarian assistance.

More coordinated support and assistance is urgently needed.

The African Development Bank participated in a five-day mission to the Horn of Africa which concluded Tuesday, June 13 alongside representatives from the African Union, United Nations agencies, the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the World Bank.

In Ethiopia and Somalia, the delegation witnessed first-hand the dire situation facing millions of displaced people in the region.

As a result of prolonged drought and conflict, a large proportion of the population in the affected countries is in need of food assistance, as families face limited access to food and income, together with low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production.

Also, the Horn of Africa region – comprising Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Uganda – is one of the most climate-hazard prone and food insecure regions of the world. Beyond land and water resources, the region is facing complex challenges in managing its environmental and renewable natural resources – forests, fish, and the ecosystems on which they depend – in a sustainable way.

Forest reserves are diminishing due to use for heating and cooking in poor households resulting in soil erosion, and damages to grazing habitat for livestock is on the increase. In addition, while charcoal is a traditional source of energy and fuel, demand for this energy source drastically affects forest reserves and further reduces rainfall exacerbating aridity.

The socioeconomic impacts of displacement and forced migration due to drought and environmental pressures are significant. Refugee and displaced populations pose significant pressure on weak local and national institutions and strain national and local governments and host communities.

The African Development Bank is committed to working with the international community to improve the living conditions of Africans who are displaced due to extreme climate conditions.

“The Bank has committed $24 billion towards agriculture in the next 10 years, with a sharp focus on food self-sufficiency and agricultural industrialization,” AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said recently. “The recent drought and famine facing some countries (South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda) deserve swift action, as 20 million face food insecurity and severe malnutrition. The Bank is taking action and is planning to deploy $1.1 billion, following Board approval, to address the crisis and ensure that drought does not lead to famine.”

 

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SESAME FARMING IN AFRICA: THE LITTLE SEEDS WITH BIG POTENTIAL

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Sesame is popular amongst African farmers and is commonly referred to as the ‘survivor’ plant – it can resist drought where other crops fail and it doesn’t require much fertiliser making it less expensive to cultivate. It is this remarkable drought resistance, requiring 66 percent less water than grain sorghum and an impressive 75 percent less water than corn to cultivate, that makes it noteworthy of its tag as the ‘survivor plant’.

Its hardiness is further demonstrated in instances where researchers have found that sesame cultivation reduces nematode populations within the soil environment. This potential pest resistance property is a further boost in lowering production costs, and an attraction for farmers in low-income countries in Africa.

Growth and agronomic characteristics

Sesame (Sesamumindicum) is a broadleaf summer crop that belongs to the Pedaliaceaeplant family which has bell-shaped flowers and opposite leaves. It is an erect annual plant that can reach between 4 -7 feet in height at maturity. On average, sesame varieties grown commercially require 90 to 110 days from planting to reach physiological maturity.

Sesame is adapted to fertile, well-drained soils but is not salt tolerant and medium textured soils are most favourable. Sesame prefers neutral to slightly alkaline pH, with moderate fertility and will not thrive properly in heavy clay soils or irrigation water containing high concentrations of salt. Cultivation requires a warm, moist, weed-free seedbed, with raised beds being the most preferred to allow for good soil moisture around its extensive root system while providing a method of keeping the moisture off the stems. Generally, the seedbed preparation is similar to that of cotton plantations as they tend to have similar moisture requirements.

Planting is the most critical aspect of growing sesame. And farmers will need to examine poorly established stands and replant them. The application of a balanced commercial fertiliser at planting time is advisable and only necessary on soils of low to moderate fertility for satisfactory production or stands. At maturity, the sesame seeds need to be harvested as dry as possible and stored at 6% moisture or less, which improves their postharvest conditions, as the small seeds are become compacted, limiting the flow of air around them and could become rancid as a result.

Versatility and utility

Sesame seeds are very versatile in their utility and contain 50-55 percent oil and 25 percent protein. Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed, with a rich, nutty flavour, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. The seeds are used in baking, to top bread, buns and bagels, in crackers and in cakes. The ground seeds are used in East African cuisine in soups, fish dishes and used as condiments. The oils are also used in salad dressings and cooking oils, as well as making some margarines.

Sesame oil keeps well and resists rancidity even in many parts of the world where there is inadequate refrigeration, due to the presence of an antioxidant, ‘sesamol’. Industrial uses of sesame oil include its utility in manufacturing paints, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, bath oils, insecticides and pharmaceuticals (as a vehicle for drug delivery). Furthermore, sesame seed oil is being investigated as a cell-growth regulator that slows down cell growth and replication.

Sesame production in Africa and Olam’s ‘Sustainable Villages Programme’

Olam has been in the sesame business for more than a decade and enjoys a strong leadership position and is a preferred supplier to some of the world’s big sesame customers. Sesame forms a core part of its Edible Nuts business unit, in addition to cashews, peanuts almonds and hazelnuts, and Olam’s strong presence in origins across the globe enables it to offer reliable, year-round supplies at competitive prices.

Nearly 55 percent of the world sesame production is in Africa, with Sudan in pole position and other countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria also recognised as notable producers and exporters from the continent. However, the yield per hectare in Africa is still low (between 150-250kg) and remains a critical factor that could be improved upon. The gap in yield quality and farm losses for producers exists in part because of critical factors such as the knowledge gap, poor crop management practices, and use of appropriate technologies.

In view of this Olam launched the “Sustainable Villages Programme” in Nigeria 2011 to improve the yield ratios of sesame production and the deliver a value-based agro-enterprise that is beneficial across the entire production chain. The crop from this programme was channelled to Olam’s multi-billion naira processing facility in Sagamu, Ogun State. The programme involved some 1,500 farmers in 2016 of which 39% were women. The programme supported farmers from Jigawa, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Benue states of Nigeria.

The overview of the programme has been one of a success story across several variables, including the critical factor of improved crop yield. Over the 2016 period in review (see summary table below), 950 farmers were trained in the areas of good agricultural practices and provided with free seeds to plant along with farming inputs like Fertilizer and herbicides, consequently, there was a high correlation between their newly acquired knowledge and the increase in crop yield. A total of 350 tonnes was procured from 1,200 hectares, and notably, this yield was a 100 per cent traceable. Olam’s programme also focused on the socio-economic conditions of small-hold farmers which had both direct and indirect impact on a farmer’s overall productivity and wellbeing of his family. Notably, investments in both educational and water and sanitation infrastructure were made for the benefit of the farming communities.

Summary of the Key production facts (2016)

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Sesame seed farming in Africa has the potential to grow. This growth can be seen both in the number of smallholder and commercial farmers engaging in it across a good number of countries as well as the net volumes of the viable crop that is harvested and processed. Africa has an enormous advantage over its main Asian competitors because of the availability of arable land and the presence of more affordable labour. These two variables, in conjunction with the sesame plant’s naturally robust and hardy physiology and remarkable versatility,make it truly a survivor plant for agriculture on the continent.

It does, however, call for a concerted approach to harness this potential and address the critical need for an improved yield. The highlighted Olam intervention above, using an integrated programme to build collective capacity of farmers and improve their socio-economic conditions is a great example of the kind of meaningful engagement that is needed. This comprehensive approach of the Sustainable ‘Villages Programme’ stands to meet the deficit in crop yield and productivity, by addressing all three of the earlier highlighted critical factors of bridging the knowledge gap, improving the poor crop management practices, and increasing the use of appropriate technologies.

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These three factors underpinning the potential for African farmers to improve their sesame crop yields is not an exhaustive one but is nonetheless illustrative of a simplified approach that can have significant results on the continent. Olam’s Sustainable Villages Programme is an embodiment of this approach and stands to produce the desired results over time as it is rolled out in other farming communities.

Adefeko is the chairman of NACCIMA Export Advocacy Group

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COLEACP TRAIN-THE-TRAINERS’ CYCLE: CALL FOR EXPRESSION OF INTEREST

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Through “Fit For Market Programme” (FFM), COLEACP continues in supporting Nigerian companies from the horticultural sector. The actions put in place to support Nigerian enterprises to become more competitive on the domestic or international markets are based on 2 operational components:

 

  • Direct support to supply chain operators in order to implement systems complying with new market requirements.
  • Technical and pedagogical capacity building of local consultants and experts, in the aim to help companies to access to expertise and advice that will help them to comply with those requirements.

In this context, we are pleased to inform you that COLEACP is launching a training-the-trainers’ cycle for experts based in NIGERIA.

 

This training cycle offers to strengthen experts on technical topics, like food safety, crop protection, sustainable production, social responsibility, but also on training and communication methods and tools.

 

A first phase will be done through our e-learning platform, followed by onsite workshops.

 

If you are interested, it is necessary to respond to this call for expression of interest by Sunday 25th of June, 2017 at the latest. Click Here to download the express of interest invitation letter

 

DIZENGOFF NIGERIA INVITE THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO CASE TRACTOR LAUNCH ON THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017

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SPECIAL INVITATION TO THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF CASE TRACTOR

We are pleased to invite you as a Guest to a most historic occasion by Dizengoff Nigeria, at NAF International Conference Centre, Kabo, Abuja, FCT- Nigeria.

As part of our continued investment in the agricultural sector, in which we operate and to contribute to raising the efficiency and standards of farming in Nigeria, Dizengoff Nigeria has just gone into an exclusive partnership with CASE International on its state-of-the-art mechanized farming equipment (CASE Tractor) which will carter for the Nigerian private, public and large scale commercial farmers. 

Your presence at this event will indeed add further significance to the occasion, as we shall be most delighted to welcome you.

Date:            Thursday, June 15, 2017

Venue:          NAF International Conference Centre, plot 496 Ahmadu Bello Way – Abuja, FCT – Nigeria (Close to Next Cash and Carry)

Time:            10:00am

We look forward to receiving you at this historical event.

Thank you in anticipation.

Signed

Antti Ritvonen

CEO/Country Manager

NIGERIA RAMPS UP SUPPORT FOR SMALLER-SCALE BUSINESSES

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The licensing of a new state-owned SME bank in Nigeria should address a longstanding key obstacle to broad-based growth in Africa’s largest economy.

In a key move, March saw the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approve the license for the Development Bank of Nigeria, whose role will include supporting small businesses by offering them competitively priced financing in the form of loans with lower than usual rates of interest and longer tenures.

The government is seeking external financing for the new institution and is currently awaiting approval for the loan facility from the national assembly. Should the proposal be accepted, the bank will receive $1.3bn in seed money from development finance institutions. The World Bank will contribute $500m along with $450m from the African Development Bank, $200m from the German Development Bank and $130m from the French Development Agency. The lender is also in talks with the European Investment Bank for further financing.

 

Small players, big impact

The new bank will look to remedy what has long been a significant hurdle to stoking more inclusive growth in Nigeria. Data from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) show that 96% of the country’s businesses are classified as SMEs, and they contribute 75% of national employment and account for as much as half of total GDP.

However, as is the case across the continent, a lack of finance is a major problem for smaller-scale ventures, especially new entrants. In a recent National Bureau of Statistics/SMEDAN survey, 73.24% of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) cited financial assistance as their number one priority. According to the bureau’s findings, only 4.2% of 17.2m MSMEs had managed to access loans or overdrafts from financial institutions.

Although there is ample liquidity in the local market, banks are often unwilling to lend to SMEs, with a lack of credit history and collateral among the reasons given for their caution. Broader lending growth has slowed in Nigeria, plateauing in 2016, as banks moved to protect themselves from rising numbers of non-performing loans (NPLs), which doubled over the year to reach 13% of total loans.

High interest rates, along with short loan tenures, also pose impediments to financing. The central bank chose to hold the key interest rate at 14% at the end of March as part of efforts to contain inflation, which stood at 18%.

 

Additional assistance

The Development Bank of Nigeria is only one aspect of the government’s push to increase SME lending. A national collateral registry set up in 2016, meanwhile, aims to help SMEs overcome another hurdle by making movable assets acceptable security for loans. The measure is expected to prove particularly useful for smaller enterprises operating in the informal sector.

Launched in May 2016, the registry became operational in November as an online system to allow borrowers and lenders to register assets such as machinery, livestock and inventory, while also allowing lenders to determine security interests.

Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) crisis has also hampered SME access to finance. Low oil prices and the ensuing recession last year forced the government to dip into dollar reserves, creating shortages and leading to a high black market exchange rate. Larger companies often have better access to Nigeria’s foreign exchange as they can better meet the requirements of the CBN to purchase dollars.

In a bid to redress the balance, the CBN announced plans in April to begin offering SMEs a sum of $20,000 per quarter through a wholesale forex window, which has been given $100m to support smaller enterprises.

The new window will provide smaller business with the dollars they need to import raw materials and machinery, while also reducing related paperwork through the introduction of a specialised form for SMEs requiring only basic documentation.

 

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NABG LEADING ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT STUDIES OF AGRI-INPUTS POLICY AND REGULATORY REFORMS

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The Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) has partnered with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to invest in evidence-based agriculture policy and regulatory options in Nigeria. The investment covers policy and regulatory reforms in the importation, manufacturing, distribution and quality control of fertilizers to improve crop production and productivity.

 

The investment extends to market price stabilization mechanisms for both farm inputs and outputs. The goal of NABG is to reach millions of smallholder farmers with improved, consistent and affordable agri-inputs, especially certified seeds of improved varieties and hybrids and soil specific fertilizer blends in partnership with AGRA.

 

As the apex organized private sector agribusiness platform in Nigeria, NABG is leading the joint efforts to ensure all stakeholders and investors are given the opportunity to make inputs into the policy and regulatory reform. NABG is creating a seamless opportunity for win-win outcomes to the private sector and public sector investments in the agribusiness space. There is a new paradigm going on in Nigeria.

Sani Dangote, President and Chairman of NABG remains bullish on calling for the institutionalization of price stabilization mechanisms to drive competitiveness.

 

Dangote said, “There is no money available for government to continue with the National Agriculture Growth Enhancement Support Scheme as we know it. Our farmers need guaranteed markets and price stability for their produce to be competitive against cheaper agricultural imports. The processors demand consistent supply of raw materials to help create jobs and diversification of the economy.”

 

AGRA has helped NABG to mobilize local talents to provide technical analysis of the economic impact of policy and regulatory reforms for agri-inputs and services in Nigeria.It is critically important that Development Partners engage local talents to work with organized farming cooperatives, contract growers and with the food and agro-allied industries alongside Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

 

Stakeholders at the Economic Impact Analysis Workshop concluded that “government must focus its efforts on affordable pricing of fertilizer, agro-chemicals and certified seeds.” There is need to establish an institutional framework to drive productivity through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and price stabilization mechanisms.

 

AGRA is expected to intensify investments in Nigeria by continuing to help strengthen private sector agribusinesses and the capacity of smallholder farmers to meet the demands of food processors and consumers at large.

SANI DANGOTE ELECTED PRESIDENT OF NABG

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On December 13th 2016 in Abuja, the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), the apex organization of all agribusiness stakeholders in Nigeria, held its Annual General Assembly Meeting at the Reiz Continental Hotel.

Sani Dangote, Chairman of the NABG Executive Leadership Group (ELG) was elected President. Dangote will continue to serve as Chairman of the Executive Council.

Other elected Exco members were Chief Emmanuel Ijewere, the CEO of Best Foods as Vice President, Antti Ritvonen, the Managing Director of Dizengoff W A (NIG) Ltd) as Secretary, and Akin Sawyerr, Secretary of AFGEAN as Treasurer.

Individual members representing their Association were elected to the Administrative Board, representing Key Segments of the agriculture value chain development including small, medium and large farmer organizations and women farmer associations.

Dr. Tony Bello, CEO of H2AFoods Nig. Ltd was appointed Director General.

Over the past year, NABG has grown from one Segment, the ELG to 22 registered Association members consisting of hundreds of individual members.

According to the newly elected president, “we need to engage and appoint more people with the level of commitment, dedication and sacrifices” that has been demonstrated by some key members of the ELG and notable individuals such as Temitope Oluwo, former Acting Secretary. Oluwo was referred to as “madam NABG” attracting the applause of the House of Delegates.

Later in a press briefing, and citing the case of his tomato factory, Dangote said: “we are working on innovative financing and market price stabilization mechanisms to resolve the issues of supply security to meet the market demands of food and beverage processors in Nigeria.” This is why VP Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Executive Governor of Kano State and the Minister of Industries, Trade and Investments recently visited our out-grower farmers in Kano. “The farmers were very happy” he said.

The second NABG AGM was sponsored by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) under the Micro Reforms for Africa Agribusinesses (MIRA) and by the USAID Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (NEXTT) project.

Signed
Dr. Tony Bello, NABG Director General
13th December 2016