How farmers can increase food production…

Livestock in Nigeria plays a big role in the livelihood of farmers and nutritional needs of the country.   Livestock also contributes to farming in many other ways.  Animals are used as draught power to pull plows or help weed farmland, and cow dung is an excellent fertilizer.

With so much at stake, farmers could benefit from simple, yet highly efficient ways to increase the health and productivity of their livestock.  These factors are often compromised when animals roam free in open pasture, exposed to disease vectors and left to feed on unwholesome grasses and plants.

One technique that can be very effective in maintaining healthy productive animals is a zero-grazing system.

In zero-grazing, livestock is kept in stalls all the time, and feed and water are brought to the animals. Zero-grazing keeps animals healthier. It can ward off diseases such as sleeping sickness caused by tsetse flies and tick bone diseases, which are so prevalent throughout Nigeria.  Zero-grazing also helps farmers increase productivity either from their current livestock or from the purchase of higher-yielding breeds of livestock which would not be able to thrive in an open pasture.

Zero-grazing has side benefits as well.  The increased efficiency of this management practice means more weight or milk can be produced per unit of feed eaten. Zero-grazing uses less land to produce more nutritious fodder plants, which allows the farmer to maximise the use of available land. Processes such as milking are easier to perform when the animals are kept corralled and calm.  Manure can be collected from the enclosure and used as fertiliser for growing crops.  Diseases are minimised because troublesome insects, such as biting and nuisance flies, are easier to control.

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How to tackle livestock disease outbreak, by expert

English: Ruptured oral vesicle in a cow with F...

English: Ruptured oral vesicle in a cow with Foot-and-mouth disease. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HOW can livestock disease outbreak be tackled? It is by a national data on animal movement, a livestock expert, Dr Aderemi Adeyemo has said.

Adeyemo, Head of General Management Department, Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, said the farm animal movement data is essential in the event of an outbreak such as foot-and-mouth disease.

He  said  there was  a need for programmes to train animal health officials. He also said the livestock  industry should ensure foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) never occurs again.

Adeyemo  stressed the need  for  a communication system that will provide  Despatch Alerts, Warning, and Notifications (DAWN) via email, voice messages, or text messages to assist farmers and  veterinarians to monitor disease outbreaks.

English: Foot and Mouth Disease Warning Sign a...

English: Foot and Mouth Disease Warning Sign at Ballygroggan. The farmer here is displaying a high degree of caution by bringing out an old Foot and Mouth sign hundreds of miles away from the current outbreak in Surrey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He said  by  not investing  in  animal monitoring  the authorities are not only jeopardising the agriculture  economy, but also putting the health and welfare of  livestock at risk.

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250,000 jobs coming from livestock production

Abuja City Gate

Abuja City Gate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 250,000 jobs are expected to be created from the livestock agricultural development value chain, the Federal Government has said.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Bukar Tijani disclosed this yesterday at the maiden Joint Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) in Abuja.

He said this will be achieved through continuous investment in the sub sector, adding that the government has commenced plans to setup a new department for animal production.

Tijani said: “Investment in the entire livestock value chain has the potential of creating an estimated 25,000 jobs within the next four years so government is ready to tap into the potentials so as to help farmers save billions of naira.

“We should be able to produce what we eat, to this end to make farmers remain on the business, the government has decided to raise tariff on farm crops that can be produced in Nigeria, so has to discourage importation,” he added.

The Minister condemned situations whereby government spends N100million on the importation of livestock product into the country.

However, he stated that the livestock transformation agenda will address the situation through plans to achieve self sufficiency in meat and livestock production by 2015.

Livestock

Livestock (Photo credit: dgroth)

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Nigerian Farmers earn $136 million from cassava export to China

THE cassava production initiative of the Federal Government has started to yield the expected dividend as farmers may have earned $136 million (about N2 billion) from the produce exported to china in the last few months.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina said in Abuja yesterday that the country has so far exported 1.1million metric tone of Cassava chips to China adding that farmers have earned close to $136million from the export of the product to China.

The Minister said it was sad that Nigeria was spending a whooping N5.6billion annually on importation of Wheat flour, when farmers could earn N254billion annually from the substitution of high quality cassava flour for Wheat flour in bread production.

He lamented the waste of over 40million mt tonne of Cassava produced in the country. He stressed the need to add value to cassava produced in the country, as against the conventional Gaari, Fufu, and starch being produced.

According to the Minister, Nigeria was partnering research institutions in order to create best seed varieties for farmers and to accelerate the Cassava production in the country.

Cassava (yuca) roots, the Taínos' main crop

Cassava (yuca) roots, the Taínos’ main crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He further unfolded plans by the government to distribute free 1, 293,000 bundles of improved cassava cuttings in the next few weeks to cassava growers in 28 states of the federation.

“In Ogun State alone, 200,000 bundles of improved variety of cassava will be given to farmers: cassava farmers in Borno state are to receive 90 trailer-load of improved variety of cassava cuttings for planting on 150 hectares”.

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NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT PUMPS N460M FOR CASSAVA VALUE CHAIN PROGRAMME

The Federal Government has committed the sum of N460 million for the implementation of the national cassava value chain programme , aimed at maximizing cassava industrial potentials.

Meanwhile, the Lagos state government has assured graduates of course I and II of its Agricultural Youth Empowerment Scheme, AGRIC-YES, that their empowerment fund would be ready soon for disbursement as its being delay as a result of due process.

On the cassava value chain programme, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina, disclosed the amount at the flag off of cassava value chain programme in Lagos held at Lagos State Agricultural Training Institute, Araga, Epe.

The programme which came under National Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, saw the distribution of 25,000 cassava bundles to benefitting registered crop farmers in the state. About 200 out of 34,000 registered crop farmers received their cassava bundles at ceremony.

The flag-off was the second in the series of the intervention under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme.  The industrial uses along the value chain include: High Quality Cassava Floue, HQCF, for the replacement of up to 20 percent wheat flour in bread with cassava.

Native and modified starches for industrial uses to replace corn starch imports. Dried chips for support and livestock feed production as well as external demand of cassava for industrial use such as large ethanol production
Sweeteners- High Fructose Cassava Syrup, HFCS: for sugar requirement for soft drink bottlers and juice manufacturers in Nigeria estimated at 200,000 tons of sugar per annum. A replacement of half of this by HFCS from cassava would create a 10,0000 ton demand.

Cassava bread

Cassava bread (Photo credit: IITA Image Library)

Fuel Ethanol, E10,policy in Nigeria; the policy of blending gasoline with 10 percent ethanol that represents a potential 1billion litres per annum market of fuel ethanol and, assuming 50 percent of feedstock comes from cassava, a new raw material requirement of 1.7 million tons of dried chips is required.

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‘Nigeria’s agric development potentials extraordinary’

NIGERIA has the capacity to be the agricultural hub of Africa and the continent’s leader in food security, the President of Rockefeller Foundation, Dr Judith Rodin, has said.

Rodin spoke after a session on financing agriculture with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister of Finance, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina in Abuja, yesterday.

The Ford Foundation boss stressed that his visit to the country was to explore areas of collaboration between Nigeria and his organization, given the nation’s potentials in agricultural business.

“We are here because we believe that Nigeria can take the lead in agriculture in job creation, production, processing, and diversification of the economy and overall contribution of the economy. The opportunities here are extraordinary. It is possible if the right things are done and we can see evidence they are being done”, she said.

Robin pointed out that the experience of the Rockefeller Foundation in helping to create the Green Revolution in Africa has convinced them that Nigeria has what it takes to take the lead in Africa.

Agriculture

Agriculture (Photo credit: thegreenpages)

The Interim Chair of the Alliance for Green Revolution, Steve Masiyawa also said that Nigeria has the capacity to to address the challenges in agriculture which it faces, emphasising the work being done to improve the country’s agriculture can dramatically improve the economy.

He urged young people to see agriculture as a viable career option because “there is money in agriculture.”

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Tapping into Nigeria’s N24bn cashew trading, export

Nigeria’s cashew trading and export, currently worth N24 billion, still has more room for investors, according to Sotonye Anga, public relations officer, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN).

“The industry which is worth about N1 trillion in terms of assets and volume of activities has over 1 million people who depend on it directly and indirectly, and there is still room for investors,” says Anga.

He explains, “Currently, Nigeria has about 600,000 surviving cashew trees spread across the East West, South and Northern Nigeria, with an average yield of about 200kg to 400kg per hectare but over 80 percent of these cashew trees are over aged – over 60 years old. Though they are still fruiting, this is the reason behind the low productivity of our cashew trees. So, investors are needed to go into planting of cashew trees so as to give boost to cashew productivity.”

He adds, “Cashew has become a national crop. Every part of it is useful in one industry or the other. Cashew nuts when processed are eaten as snack locally and internationally. It is also used as an ingredient by many food companies in developed countries. It is used as a nutty ingredient in ice-creams and chocolates, sweets, gravies, in production of cashew nut flour, etc. Because of its high level of vitamins and minerals, it is also useful in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Anga further said, “Apart from the nuts which are processed and marketed locally and internationally, the fruit can be used in producing juice. But there is no standard cashew juice processing factory in Nigeria. This calls for massive investment as cashew juice is more nutritional than orange juice. Rather than exporting the fruits for industries abroad, the juice can be produced here in Nigeria and exported creating jobs and wealth for investors.”

But the industry like others in Nigeria has its own fair share of challenges. Anga says, “The jute bags which are used in packaging about 70kg raw cashew nuts sells for about N500 per bag. As a result, producers use nylon bags which costs N50 per bag and its quality deteriorates and this reduces its market value internationally.

“So, we want the government to subsidise jute bags like other inputs for farmers. We also expect more support in various other areas from government so as to make our international tradeof cashew more competitive.”

Twin cashews - cashew oil is extracted from th...

Twin cashews – cashew oil is extracted from the outer shell of the nuts, shown at the end of the yellow drupes in this photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He says the cashew industry has been largely neglected by past governments, and therefore cashew farmers have remained poor, but Adewunmi Adesina, the current minister has promised support to the sub-sector.

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