Nigeria Agricultural News Digest

We Need Funds Not Phones, Farmers tell FG
Farmers across the country have criticized the plan by the Federal Government to distribute mobile phones to 10 million farmers. They described it as a misplaced priority. A member of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria in Delta State, Dr. John Akwara, said phones do not appear on the list of priorities of an average Nigerian farmer. He said, “What we need are funds not phones. We also need to see some sincerity in the people who are in the ministry of agriculture because they are fond of ‘cornering’ things meant for farmers for their personal use.

Lower Niger Basin Authority to Irrigate 4,000 Hectares
The Lower Niger Basin Development Authority says 4,000 hectares would be irrigated at the Kampe irrigation project in 2013 to boost food security. Abubakar Aduragba, the Managing Director, of the authority disclosed this in an interview in Abuja on Tuesday. Aduragba said that paucity of funds had hindered the completion of the project in 2012 as scheduled. ''Four billion naira was budgeted for our projects in 2012 but N2 billion was released; we are still owing our contractors a huge sum of money for our own projects. ''Most of the projects we implemented last year were constituency projects, which are mainly boreholes and small irrigation projects. We hope to cultivate the remaining 2,100 hectares at of the Kampe irrigation project located in Kogi; we were able to cultivate 2,000 hectares last year.

Govt Unfolds Agricultural Sector Rescue Plan
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Akinwumi Adesina, has described the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) introduced in the outgoing year by the ministry as the saving grace for the sector in the period. At the end of the year review of the ministry’s activities in Abuja, he remarked that, “but for the GES, Nigeria would have seriously felt the impact of the flood disaster that occurred in some parts of the country.” With a strong determination to break away from the rot of the past and the ineffective, inefficient and corruption-ridden distribution of fertilisers and other government subsidised inputs to farmers, President Goodluck Jonathan mandated the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to come up with a mechanism that would be farmers-friendly and get the items directly to them. Therefore, the GES was initiated. The scheme, which was principally to deliver government subsidised inputs directly to farmers using their GSM telephone sets kicked off on May 9, 2012 in Ekiti State.

FG: Nigeria to Spend N23.4tr on Rice Importation
The Federal Government disclosed weekend that $150 billion (N23.4 trillion) will be spent to meet Nigeria’s annual rice demand by 2050 as the nation’s population and appetite for imported rice continues to rise. It also revealed that Nigeria currently imports five million metric tonnes of rice and that the figure will increase to an estimated 36 million metric tonnes by 2050. These revelations were made by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) workshop on Financing Nigeria’s Agricultural Revolution. According to the minister, “Nigeria is now the largest importer of rice in the world. As our population rises, demand for rice is projected to rise from the current level of five million MT to 36 million MT by 2050. Unless Nigeria begins an aggressive import substitution programme for rice, it will spend $150 billion annually importing rice by 2050 and the nation will be broke,” he said.
He disclosed that the Federal Government’s policy for now is to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production by 2015.

Food Crisis Looms in Nigeria –Agric Minister
With a fast growing population that is outpacing food production, Nigeria may witness a food demand crisis within the next two decades, the country’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has disclosed. The minister, who made the observation in a presentation at the Capital Markets’ Workshop jointly hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said this portends an irony as Nigeria has the capacity to meet and exceed local food demand.
According to the minister, the imminent food demand pressure on Nigeria is consistent with recent global trends that have caused major rise in demands for food and the subsequent increase in prices. “In the last few years, food prices have been soaring. This is stimulated largely by an increase in worldwide food demand,” Adesina said.

$500m Loan from AfDB Coming for Agric
The nation’s agricultural sector received a major boost yesterday as the Country Programme Officer of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr. Peter Sturmheit revealed plans to provide a credit facility of $500million to support small scale farmers in the country. He spoke at a stakeholders’ workshop on the formulation of the bank’s Assisted Agricultural Value Chain Income Enhancement Programme, in Abuja, adding that government requested the loan from the bank to further support its value chain. The loan, which is aimed at boosting farmers’ production capacity, is to be administered by the Bank of Industry (BoI).

Stakeholders Lament Budgetary Allocation to Agric Sector
Some stakeholders have described the N81.41 billion voted for the agricultural sector in the 2013 budget as inadequate, expressing worry over the commitment of the government to transform the sector. The Chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture, Emanuel Bwacha and the Chairman, National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN) Senator Abdullahi Adamu who spoke at an agricultural show at the weekend in Nassarawa State said the Federal Government had failed to adhere to the Maputo Declaration, to which Nigeria was a signatory, that 10 per cent of every member nation’s budgetary allocation should be to the agricultural sector. Bwacha said: “If there is any sector begging for a rescue, it is agriculture. Recently the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, presented the 2013 budget for National Assembly consideration. When I heard the budgetary allocation for the agric sector, I was downcast. I was demoralised. In spite of the fact that there appears to be outward movement, yet it falls short of what is expected to make an impact in the agric sector.