|Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54 million tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about 8 tons, less than half of the realizable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare|
|LAGOS, Nigeria, April 5, 2017/ — Seed sector professionals have said that businesses selling improved varieties and high quality cassava stems for cultivation could help African farmers significantly raise their productivity. This will mean more Naira from the same land, inputs and effort. The benefits of this raised productivity will be enjoyed by all the stakeholders across the value chain in a sustainable way.
This was part of the resolutions from a national stakeholder conference on cassava seed system organized by the project, “Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System” (BASICS) that was held at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (www.CassavaMatters.org), Ibadan last week Thursday.
The meeting, which reflected on the experiences of BASICS in 2016 and refined the project plan for 2017 and beyond, brought together national and international researchers, academics, policymakers, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and farmers to a roundtable.
Making the case for urgent need for all the stakeholders to work towards a sustainable seed system in Nigeria, Hemant Nitturkar, Project Director for BASICS, reminded the participants that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54 million tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about 8 tons, less than half of the realizable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare. Researchers say one of the factors responsible for the low yield of cassava is the low adoption of clean and healthy seeds of improved varieties of cassava by farmers.
“We have to start with the right planting material and nurture it with good agronomy and weed management practices. Each of these three components has the potential to raise the productivity of cassava by 30 percent. If we do not improve our practices in seed, weed and agronomy, we are incurring a lost opportunity of about 200 billion Naira annually from each of the three issues,” he explained.
BASICS is commercially piloting two distinct pathways of seed delivery. In one, called Village Seed Entrepreneur (VSE) model, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Benue and with National Roots Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), in Abia, Imo, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, the project is helping develop a network of 130 community based seed enterprises. These VSEs will source certified stems of improved varieties of cassava from NRCRI and IITA to multiply and sell to the farmers in their vicinity. This way, the farmers will not have to go far to source quality stems for planting. In the second pilot called Processor Led Model (PLM), in partnership with Context Global Development, the project is working with large processors of cassava who will then make available quality stems to their outgrowers with a buy back arrangement for the roots produced.
Slow and low multiplication ratio has been a key constraint in cassava seed system. The project is piloting a new technology called Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) for vastly rapid seed multiplication. Once this technology from Argentina is adapted and perfected in Nigeria by the Project, it is expected to have a significant impact on the ability of early generation seed businesses to quickly bring suitable varieties within reach of farmers. The project is also working with National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and Fera of UK to improve the quality certification system in Nigeria.
Lawrence Kent, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the aim of the Project is to build an economically sustainable seed system that is profitable both to the sellers of quality stems and to the farmers who purchase and plant those stems. He encouraged all to create reusable bridges to continuously link technology developers with farmers through business oriented approaches, like the one being implemented under BASICS.
Graham Thiele, Director for the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas led by the International Potato Center (CIP); Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development and Delivery, and Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project; Amin Babandi, Director of Agriculture, FMARD, represented by Segun Ayeni, Deputy Director, Roots and Tuber crops, FMARD; Folusho Olaniyan OON, CEO, Contact Consulting Nigeria and Program Director, AgraInnovate West Africa; Emmanuel Okogbenin, Director of Technical Operations, AATF and Robert Asiedu, Director R4D, IITA-West, all shared perspectives and added their voice for all stakeholders to jointly build a strong and sustainable seed system for cassava in Nigeria and wished all the stakeholders well.
By Ossom Raphael
Abuja – The Nigeria Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) Tuesday said it supported furniture manufacturer, Alibert Products Nigeria Limited with N1.2 billion between 2013 and 2015, in a bit to encourage locally made products.
The bank since 2013 has supported various small and medium scale enterprises, promote entrepreneurial skills and export financing.
Alibert, which is a leading furniture manufacturing company in Nigeria was first granted a Medium Term Development Loan Facility (MTDLF) of N400 million by the bank in July 2013 and another MTDLF of N800 million in July 2015 to finance the expansion of its factory in Lagos the and setting up of its factory and showroom in Abuja.
Currently Alibert’s Asset volume is to the tune of N8 billion and the N1.2 billion loan from NEXIM is expected to run for five years
NEXIM Acting Managing Director, Mr. Bashiru Ali, said the back funded Alibert with equipment, financing and working capital, during an oversight visit and facility tour by the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency to the company’s factory at Idu Industrial Layout in Abuja, stating that the bank was willing to support local entrepreneurs who are willing to produce quality products and market them.
“This is the type of intervention that we believe will not only bring employment but improve Nigeria’s non-oil foreign exchange earnings.
“NEXIM funded Albert with equipment, finance and working capital and the end result of that funding is what you are seeing here. They operate with over 90 per cent local manpower content and the strategy is to build capacity at the local level, employ people within the immediate environment to ensure that people are gainfully employed” Mr Ali said.
The Alibert Managing Director, Mr. Taan Taan, explained that the company has increased it production in the last six months by 30 per cent despite the current economic crisis. He added that by the end of 2017, the company intends to increase its production by 60 per cent.
The company is currently exporting its products to some West African countries like Ghana, Benin Republic, Cote d’ Ivoire and Senegal and plans are been made by the company to begin the export of its products to the European market.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Committee on Banking of the House of Representatives, Hon. Jones Chukwudi Onyerere, said the committee was at the factory to to see if the company was properly utilizing the facility it collected from NEXIM stating that the most important thing is that Alibert is able to repay the loan facility it collected.
“And because the facility is quite huge and whether they are making proper use of the facility; and of course for Nigerians; are they indeed having value for the investment that they have made,” Hon. Jones Onyerere said.
By Festus Fifen.
In her effort to interact more with the public especially as it has to do with Government Policies and implementation, The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, held her first-ever Facebook Live session on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
The 23-minute live broadcast through her Facebook page (Facebook.com/HMKemiAdeosun), reached an audience of more than 130,000 persons within the first hour.
In a Statement signed by the Director of information in the ministry Salisu Dambatta, The Minister kicked off the Facebook Live interaction with an overview on developments in the Nigerian economy over the past few months, highlighting the Finance Ministry’s work in supporting SMEs, creating jobs, improving transparency, cutting the cost of governance, and boosting Government revenues.
Acknowledging the challenges the Nigerian economy faced recently due to low oil prices, the Minister said: “the good news is that we are working through the issues one by one, and trying to ensure that as we rebuild the economy, we get away from the boom and bust cycle of the past — we want to build an economy where, whether oil price is high or low, there’s sustainable growth for Nigeria and for Nigerians.”
The statement quoted Mrs Adeosun as saying The Federal Government, is investing heavily in infrastructure and working to create an enabling environment for businesses. One evidence of this she said is the fact that the Ministry of Finance has so far released a Trillion Naira for infrastructure projects in the 2016 budget; a level of infrastructure investment unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
The finance minister who also took time to respond to questions from Nigerians said one of the key priorities of this government is development of key infrastructures that will give way for a sustainable development programme.
The minister who hinted that the Buhari led administration has no intention to scrap the YouWiN entrepreneurship Programme also added that the Federal Government has reviewed the scheme and repositioned it as YouWiN!Connect, which focuses on continuous enterprise education and skills building.
According to her, As part of the restructuring, the principles of YouWiN!Connect would be incorporated into university curricula across Nigeria.
While answering a question on the economic recession, she said: “We got into recession because, for the last 10 years, even when the oil price was extremely high, and we were borrowing, our reserves were decreasing. We didn’t have enough of a productive economy. The only real thing that was happening and creating growth was the oil price, and as soon as the oil price went down, growth disappeared. What we are trying to do now is to reset the economy, so that we are not so dependent on oil.”
The Minister also revealed that efforts are on-going to improve payroll assurance through continuous audit and migration of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to the IPPIS Platform.
On the Federal Government’s Whistleblowing Policy, the Minister said it was introduced not only to recover stolen funds but to also serve as a deterrent against corrupt practices. “Just last week, a whistleblower made claims of long-term fraud and funds misappropriation in YouWiN!,” she disclosed, adding that the Government was now investigating those claims with a view to taking appropriate action.