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Angry Indian farmers gather near parliament to protest over farm laws

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By Gistflash News

July 22, 2021

Indian farmers, protesting against new agriculture laws they say threaten their livelihoods, started a sit-in on Thursday near parliament in the capital, renewing a push for repeal of the laws.

In the longest-running growers’ protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on major highways leading to New Delhi for more than seven months.

On Thursday, police in New Delhi escorted 200 farmers from protest spots on the outskirts to Jantar Mantar, a large Mughal-era observatory in a central area that doubles as a protest site.

“We are here to remind the government again that the anti-farmer laws need to be rolled back to protect Indian agriculture and millions of poor farmers from a complete takeover by large corporations,” Rakesh Tikait, a leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of the largest grouping of farmers, told Reuters.

Farmers complained that before being allowed to gather at the central site, their identity cards were checked by police, who have tightened security, erecting barricades and check posts to deter violence.

The protest follows a clash with police by thousands of angry farmers late in January after they drove tractors into security barriers. One protester was killed and more than 80 police injured citywide.

“Throughout the monsoon session of parliament, 200 farmers will go to Jantar Mantar every day to hold a farmers’ parliament to remind the government of our long-pending demand,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, another leader of the farmers.

Parliament ends its monsoon session early in August, and the farmers have been allowed to gather until Aug. 9.

In parliament, key opposition leaders, such as Rahul Gandhi and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, asked the government to tackle the farmers’ concerns and roll back the three controversial laws.

Many senior members of Gandhi’s Congress party, which is the main opposition group, gathered in the compound of parliament, carrying placards that read “Save the country, Save the farmers,” and shouting slogans of support.

The farm laws introduced in September 2020 will help boost growers’ incomes, and the government was willing to talk to the farmers, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters in parliament.

Farmers, however, say the new laws favour large private retailers by freeing them to buy farm goods outside government-regulated wholesale grain markets.

Reuters/NAN

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Agriculture

CBN releases N756bn to over 3m farmers to boost food security

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By Gistflash News

July 28, 2021

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has released the sum of N756.51 billion to 3,734,938 small holder farmers, cultivating 4.6 million hectares of land, to boost the Federal Government’s food security initiative.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, made this known while presenting a communiqué from the bank’s recently held, 280th meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Emefiele said that N120.24 billion of the sum was extended for the 2021 wet season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

“The sum of N121.57 billion was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries.

“For the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), N318.17 billion was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs),’’ he said.

Emefiele revealed that the apex bank also expended huge sums in its youth investment scheme, to empower Nigerian youths, and to reduce unemployment by providing to the creative sector and Information Technology.

“Under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), the Bank released N3.0 billion to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.

“Under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), N3.22 billion was disbursed to 356 5 beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion, and IT verticals,’’ he said.

The CBN Governor also revealed that the apex bank had invested close to N1trillion to boost the real sector of the economy, covering 251 real sector projects.

He said that the bank’s intervention also spanned health sector support initiatives and electricity distribution.

“Under the N1.0 trillion Real Sector Facility, the Bank released N923.41 billion to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.

“On the N100 billion, Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF), N98.41 billion was disbursed for 103 health care projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.

“Similarly, the sum of N232.54 million was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme (HSRDIS) for the development of testing kits and devices for COVID-19 and Lassa Fever.

“On the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), N36.04 billion was disbursed to 17 Meter Asset Providers to nine Distribution Companies (DisCos), for the procurement and installation of 657,562 electricity meters,’’ Emefiele said.

NAN

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Agriculture

FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu,

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By Gistflash News

July 23, 2021

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has called on the world’s richest countries to invest more on sustainable living, to ensure food security for the world’s growing population.

FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, who made the appeal to G20 (Group of 20) environment ministers on Thursday, highlighted the challenge of having to produce more food, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Today, humanity faces a triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate crisis and the impact of the pandemic (COVID-19).

“To have healthy food, we need a healthy environment,” Dongyu said.

The FAO chief also spoke of the need to address water scarcity, which according to him, affects more than a billion people, by increasing efficiency and sustainable management.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that almost a billion hectares of rain-fed cropland and pastureland are also severely affected by recurring drought.

Qu however, argued that water-related challenges could be addressed through digital innovation, better oversight and investment.

He also called for stepping up of biodiversity-friendly approaches, including more investments in related actions.

“Current levels of investment are highly insufficient,” the FAO director-general said.

He stressed that reversing deforestation would help mitigate against climate change and prevent disease outbreaks passing from animals to humans, adding that the economic benefits of halting biodiversity loss and land degradation, could amount to 1.4 trillion dollars per year.

The recently launched UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, led by FAO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), provides an “excellent opportunity to mobilise our collective efforts,” he said.

FAO is calling for urgent action to reverse the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, recommending scaled up mitigation approaches and actions, across the food and agriculture sectors.

Qu emphasised that the UN agency’s work was guided by the need to make agri-food systems more efficient, resilient, inclusive and sustainable – all with the aim of achieving the so-called “four betters”: better production, nutrition, environment and life, leaving no one behind.

The World Food Forum (WFF) – announced on Thursday, the launch of an international competition, in partnership with the non-profit Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), to support and showcase entrepreneurs harnessing technology, would drive the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems, to end world hunger.

The WFF – created for and led by the Food and Agriculture’s (FAO) Youth Committee – Startup Innovation Awards, would be presented to the successful contestants who had built companies aligned to the “four betters”, the FAO said.

“The Extreme Tech Challenge, AgTech, Food and Water competition category directly addresses FAO’s mission to defeat hunger worldwide and to achieve high-quality food security for all,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol.

“We are thrilled to join XTC in this partnership, and to leverage their extraordinary pool of transformative startups to make material impact on both our organisations’ sustained efforts to tackle this global challenge,” Bechdol added.

NAN

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Agriculture

Increase coconut production to meet demand, official tasks govt

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By Gistflash News

July 16, 2021

The State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lagos, Mrs Olayinka Akeredolu, has urged the federal and state governments to increase coconut production in Nigeria.

Akeredolu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that it was worrisome that most cottage industries in the country depended largely on importation of coconut.

She said that continuous importation of coconut from neighboring African countries was expensive, unrealistic, and unsustainable.

The state coordinator said the inability of the local production to meet the processing demand had resulted in the importation of nuts from neighbouring West African countries like Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast.

She noted that the level of production presently was inadequate and not enough to feed the cottage industries in the country.

Akeredolu appealed to government at all levels to create an enabling environment for private investors to thrive in the value chain.

According to her, the major thing now is to increase our production; the coconut we are producing in Nigeria is inadequate for us locally not to talk of exporting.

“There is not enough coconut produced within the country to feed the cottage industries.

“We can only increase our production through involvement of our private sector because it is a capital-intensive investment.

“So, we need the active participation of the private sector to buy into the programme and be interested in the coconut industry and invest in it,” she said.

The director said that Africa was not anywhere close in the list of producing countries adding that Indonesia was the largest producer of coconut, followed by Philippines and India.

She said that Nigeria needed to step up production in order to benefit from the global coconut earnings.

“If you check the major producers of coconut, Africa is not one; we are just managing to produce a little over 300,000 metric tonnes. Indonesia is already producing 17.3 million.

“We need to step up. There is global competitiveness and it is projected that by 2026, the global coconut earning will hit about 31 billion dollars.

“Nigeria should key into this global competitiveness so that we can generate some foreign exchange from coconut,” Akeredolu said.

The director urged government to provide an enabling environment for the public and private sectors to invest in coconut production.

She noted that the most important strategy to improve the sector was to increase the level of production, empower farmers with hybrid seedlings and provision of extension services.

“If we increase our production level within, then if industries are sited, they will have enough to work on, but if we must depend on importation, it is expensive, not realistic and not sustainable.

“If we increase our production then we will be able to feed the industries.

“As of today, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is not involved in demonstration farms but it is involved in research and development.

“Research institutes like Nigeria Institute for Oil- Farm Research (NIFOR) have been given the mandate to work on coconut and oil palm. And a lot of resources are being put in place for the development of that area.

“For example, it is through the efforts of NIFOR that we now have hybrids that have short gestational periods of between three and four years and dwarf coconut.

“Coconut trees are usually very tall but with research, dwarf coconut was developed with high output; with more research, more investment in it, we can improve our production,” she said.

NAN reports that data from the United Nations Statistical Office showed that Nigeria spent between 219,446 dollars and 293,214 dollars on coconut importation in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

NAN

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