Increase coconut production to meet demand, official tasks govt
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.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State
By Gistflash News
Sept 13, 2021
NASRDA harps on space technology for precision agriculture
By Gistflash News
Sept 13, 2021
The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) says it is engaging space science technology to boost agricultural products for food security in the country.
Dr Rakiya Babamaaji, the Head, Natural Resources Management Division of NASRDA, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Babamaaji explained that space science technology could be deployed into agriculture through the application of Geospatial technology that involved Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System application.
She said that geospatial technology could be used to map and monitor the location of natural resources, take inventory of vegetation and for smart agriculture and water resources management among others.
She further said the Agency had in May, commenced a Space-Based Smart Agriculture for Food Security in Nigeria.
Babamaaji said that the programme was in line with government’s mandate to ensure food security and enable the country achieve Sustainable Development Goal Two, aimed at ending hunger and increasing availability of food.
“We are trying to use space technology in agriculture and we have a programme called Space Base Smart Agriculture for Food Security in Nigeria which will address food availability.
“Under the programme, there is the Crop Watch project, a platform used to monitor agricultural activities across the country using geospatial technology.
“Under this project, we are going to gather all the spatial data available with restrictions to agriculture, so that farmers can know what is happening in their farms, from the cropping to monitoring the farmland.
“The project will provide the farmers with the climate data, letting them know when to plant, when to apply fertilizer, different soil type in terms of fertility,’’ she said.
“We want to achieve this by engaging farmers on their phones, use of jingles in the radio which could possibly be transmitted in the three major languages and English to reach rural farmers.”
The official said they were working with relevant stakeholders in the country, including the China Academy of Science and China Remote Sensing Centre as technical partners towards achieving the Crop Watch project.
Babamaaji also said the programme would be addressing the Value Supply Chain, whereby challenges faced by farmers from the beginning of the farming season to harvest time would be reviewed.
“We are trying to look at the challenges that prevent them from achieving maximum production in their farming activities and we have chosen a farm in Kuje and in Nasarawa to start this assessment.’’
Babamaaji, however, decried the dearth of data, funding to support the project and lack of awareness among farmers on the importance of space technology to farming.
She recalled that the management of the agency has been advocating for new and advanced satellites that would aid provision of data and help to plan better towards enhanced precision agriculture.
“Most of the farmers don’t know the importance of using satellite or geospatial technology in agriculture, so there is need for us to create more awareness on that.’’
She said that the agency was taking seriously the deployment of space science technology in other sectors to advance good governance and the socio-economic development of the nation.
VON D-G urges South-East to embrace FG’s Farm Estate Project
By Gistflash News
Sept 12, 2021
The Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, has urged the people of South-East, especially Enugu State communities, to embrace the Federal Government’s ongoing nationwide Integrated Farm Estate Project.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government recently announced that it would establish Integrated Farm Estates across the 109 senatorial districts of the country.
However, the government’s plan had been faced with mixed feelings, as some people wrongly feel it is an indirect way of reintroducing the controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) project.
Okechukwu, on Sunday, urged the people of the zone and communities in Enugu State in particular to participate fully in the project as it would be community-based and managed by the communities themselves.
He said that the Federal Government’s programme, meant for the 109 Senatorial districts in the country, was a presidential mandate to close bandits’ market, provide employment and food security.
He explained that the appeal had become necessary “because our people are embarrassingly missing billions of naira budgets from the Anchor Borrowers Programme, one of the key projects in the Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution Value Chain”.
The VON boss said: “One with a progressive mind should subscribe to this people-oriented and laudable back-to-land project.
“It is clearly community-based aimed at generating mass employment, as the creation of employment is the best way to close banditry, kidnappings and terrorism in our land. For an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
Okechukwu said that it was regrettable that some people’s past-time has become stock-pilling hatred against the central government as if President Muhammadu Buhari was going to preside over Nigeria for life.
“We should not gloss over the truism that the central government remains the only common shelter, which shelters us all.
“In no distant future, Nigeria will take her destined status as the giant of Africa. Therefore, it is not pragmatic to cut our nose to spite Buhari’s face,” he said.
According to him, South-Easterner should not reject humanitarian projects which ignite employment, close bandits’ market, reduce poverty and provide food security all because of sentiments.
Okechukwu further said that he was happy that the Executive Secretary of the National Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, a South-Easterner had clarified the concept of the programme.
According to him, the true position is that the national integrated farm estate is designed to accommodate the youth from that community in order to engage them in the entire agricultural value chain.
“And it depends on what the community is interested in going into, some states are getting into poultry like in the north, in the south like Abia they’re doing fishery and rabbit rearing.
“In Oyo, the people are into rabbit rearing and crop farming and in Ekiti they are opting for crop farming.
“It is not another or anything that has to do with Rural Grazing Area (RUGA); what we have is poultry, fishery, piggery and any farming model of the choice of the community,“ he said.
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