Nigeria Agricultural News Digest

FG to Engage 1,500 Workers in Irrigation Project

Federal Government will engage 1,500 workers through the Integrated Irrigation Dam Project in Eyekonrin-Araromi, Kwara, an official has said. Alhaji Abubakar Aduagba, the Managing Director of the Lower Niger River Basin Authority, Ilorin, announced this in Eyekonrin, Asa Local Government Area during the National Good Governance Tour to the project on Tuesday. Aduagba explained that the construction of the dam started in 2009 as constituency project of Mr Ayo Adeseun, a member of House of Representatives, which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. According to him, the 1.3 cubic metre dam will also provide 5,000 gallons of water per day for the people living in the area.

Is Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector Improving?

As Nigeria’s agricultural sector becomes more intertwined with the national economic transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, it appears investment in the sector is occurring in a complex pattern that also involves investment within and outside the country. This multidimensional investment is having strong influences on the business situation in the sector. Apparently, the sector appears geared to witness accelerated growth due to renewed public investment and a strong private sector involvement. The sector’s growth will inevitably produce employment for the country’s teeming unemployed youths. Experts observe that before the April 2011 elections, Nigeria was already facing macro-economic challenges and a questionable model of economic development leading to decades of wasteful spending on food importation, incurring huge internal debt in the process. The Nigerian economy is confronted by lots of contradictions especially on food production and uncoordinated agricultural development policies.

Farmers Count Losses after Flood

Following the flood which ravaged Kogi State late last month, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) have said crops worth more than N400 million were washed away in the recent flood that submerged farmlands in nine local government areas in Kogi. Dr Tunde Arosanyin, the National Financial Secretary of the association, who spoke on behalf of the farmers on Friday, said that about 2,000 hectares of food and cash crops, including livestock such as goats, sheep and poultry products, were washed away. Arosanyin described the loss as “monumental'', adding that of the 24 states affected by the flood Kogi was the worst hit. He expressed fears that there could be acute food shortage later in the year. Arosanyin, who was former chairman of the state chapter of the association, said it was no longer possible to plant crops this year as farmers had already ``lost the active season without hope of recovery''.

Farmer Seeks Ban on Rice Importation

Sani Nanono, a large-scale farmer based in Kano, has called on the federal government to ban the importation of rice in the country. Nanono, a former Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria in the state, make the call on Tuesday, saying that there was a need to boost the local production of the commodity in the country. “There is no reason why this country should import rice because we have all the technical conditions to produce the commodity in this country. But because of some powerful interest groups, one cannot support the ban on importation of rice,” he said. According to him, Kano, Niger and Taraba states alone can produce all the rice needed in the country if there is seriousness and commitment by government.

    Flood: FG Plans to Grow more Food through Irrigation

The Federal Government is working out a special food production plan to grow more food through irrigation in the forthcoming dry season. This is to minimise the effects of crop losses caused by the recent flooding that destroyed farms in parts of the country. Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who disclosed this during his tour of affected areas in Niger and Kwara states, said early-maturing maize seeds would soon be made available to farmers for planting. “We will also distribute improved high yielding varieties of rice, cassava and yam,” he said. He further said "while we sympathise with farmers in the flood affected areas, I want to assure them that we will do everything possible to make up for lost harvests through aggressive food production plan for the dry season. We will not abandon our farmers. “Government will put in place a 'flood recovery food production plan' that will include free distribution of improved varieties of crops and fertilisers to farmers in flood affected areas.

Ministry Embarks on Emergency Food Production

Following predictions in some quarters that the country may witness food shortage next year, after the flooding that destroyed many farmlands in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said it would embark on emergency food production. Meanwhile, the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has called for the development of Flood Emergency Master Plan for the flood plains in Nigeria. Director General (DG) of the Agency, Sa?du Mohammed, who made the call at the second ARCSSTE-E yearly lecture organised by the agency yesterday in Abuja, called for a comprehensive mapping and inventory of all flood plains in Nigeria for proper planning, awareness and enlightenment of flood prone communities in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, told the journalists that the ministry had already procured early maturing maize variety that would be ready for harvest within 60 days of planting, and would cultivate 8000 hectares of land. He maintained that the seeds had been procured and would be distributed for farmers to plant immediately the flood rescinded.