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Oyo promises integration of local farmers into development plan

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Oyo State government on Friday reassured smallholder farmers of improved support and integration into the development plan of the state, in accordance with the four-point agenda of Governor Seyi Makinde administration.

This, the government said, would spur productivity and enhance the quality of food consumed by the people in the state.

This assurance was given by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Adeniyi Adebisi, while declaring open a four-day training for Agric Extension Workers, organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, at the OYSADEP office, Apata, Ibadan.

Adebisi noted that the training is one of the government’s ways of addressing the declining number and low skill of small scale farmers, which he said had hampered the adoption of best practices and new innovations, resulting in low productivity and rejection of Nigerian products abroad.

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He promised the infusion of modern farming technology, financial assistance along with training and retraining of Oyo State farmers to engender quality assurance in the agricultural value chains.

Speaking further, he commended the federal government for relentlessly improving and building the capacity of farmers across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, and for donating three motorcycles to Oyo State for agricultural extension delivery.

He said the development would help smallholder farmers in the state overcome the teething challenges associated with farming, thereby alleviating poverty and unemployment, while also boosting food sufficiency.

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In his remarks, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Mahmoud Abubakar, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaja Balikis Abdulateef, hinted that one of the key recommendations was to build the capacity of youths and existing practitioners in Agric Extension delivery system and equipping them with best global practices and tools to enable them to deliver efficiently.

The ceremony also had in attendance other management staff of the ministry, farmers, participants from the 33 local governments of Oyo State, among others.

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Agriculture

Nigerian government develops new agricultural policy to drive the sector

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The Federal Government has begun the development of a new agricultural policy tagged National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) covering 2021 – 2025.

Dr Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, revealed this on Friday in Abuja at a media briefing to commemorate 2021 World Food Day.

It would be recalled that former President Goodluck Jonathan introduced the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) in 2012, which was an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.

The goal of the ATA was “to build commodity value chains and the institutions required to unlock the country’s huge agricultural potentials with the targeted outcome such as add 20 million tons of food to the domestic food supply by 2015, create 3.4 million jobs and ensuring import substitution through the acceleration of production of local staples; aimed at reducing dependence on food imports and turning Nigeria into a net food exporter”

The ATA was built on the principle that agriculture is a serious business and should be supported.

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Under President Muhammadu Buhari, Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP)(2016–2020) was floated, as it centred on food security, import substitution, job creation and economic diversification.

It focused on making Nigeria’s agriculture more productive, efficient and effective; creating jobs, generating foreign exchange and reducing food importation; while the APP was designed to address two main challenges – the inability to meet domestic food requirements, and an inability to export at levels required for market success.

Commenting on the upcoming NATIP, Abubakar said it is being developed to provide an integrated approach to agricultural development in terms of access and application of improved inputs, linkages between agricultural research and training institutions, input provision for farmers, agricultural mechanisation, extension services, provision of rural Infrastructure, access to affordable funding, climate change management and sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and security of agricultural land and investments.

The Minister further disclosed that a National Policy on Agricultural Extension of Nigeria and the Policy Implementation Strategy (PIS) has also been developed, which is awaiting presentation to the National Economic Council, Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly for approval and legislation.

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The policy, according to him, when approved would improve agricultural extension services in the country and help increase better production and better environment.

To boost food production, he said, the Ministry had partnered with the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to ensure adequate domestic production and marketing of NPK fertilizers at an affordable commercial rate and timely delivery to farmers.

“This has aided resuscitation of 41 blending plants, quality control, created about 250,000 jobs, saved foreign exchange and support food security in the country.

“It has also increased annual production of cash crops. In addition, the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 to provide regulatory framework aimed at guaranteeing the supply and distribution of quality fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers for food security has been launched,” the minister explained.

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Agriculture

FG approves genetically modified maize for open cultivation

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The Federal Government has approved the environmental release and open cultivation of ‘Tela’ Maize, a new maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research(IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

This was contained in a joint statement issued by Alex Abutu, Communications Officer, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), West and Central Africa, and Yakubu Dodo, Information Officer, IAR, Zaria in Abuja on Sunday.

The new variety of maize is resistant to armyworm, stem borers, and is also tolerant to moderate drought.

The statement said the approval was contained in a certificate issued to IAR by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).

“The certificate, dated October 8, 2021, with permit code no. NBMA/CM/003 was issued to IAR for General\Commercial Release of Tela maize, effective from October 8, 2021, to October 5, 2024,” the statement said.

In granting the approval, NBMA considered the advice of the National Biosafety Committee, the National Biosafety Technical Sub-Committee, and the risk management report provided by the applicant.

“The Agency was convinced that there are no known adverse impacts to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account risk to human health.

“The permit, pursuant to this decision, is without prejudice to other extant legal requirements”, according to the statement.

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It stated that the permit authorised the holder and persons covered by the permit to commercialise the Tela maize variety.

Reacting to the decision, Prof. Ishiyaku Mohammed, Executive Director, IAR, said it was really inspiring for IAR to secure NBMA’s approval for the commercial release of the drought-tolerant and insect-resistant Tela maize.

“This goes to further highlight IAR’s capacity and commitment to providing effective solutions to agricultural problems facing our farmers and optimizing food security for Nigerians.

“The approval will open the way to combating the devastating effects of both drought and insect pests, through the deployment of this new variety of Maize into our farming system.

“The next step is to further evaluate the performance of this new variety by farmers on their fields, in all the major maize growing belts in Nigeria,” Mohammed said.

He disclosed their intention was to seek another approval by the National variety release committee, before making the seeds commercially available for farmers to plant in the 2023 cropping season.

Dr Canisius Kanangire, AATF Executive Director, said the approval had shown that Nigeria was really the giant leading the way in Africa and ensuring that smallholder farmers benefited from the technology.

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According to him, the approval was a sign that progress had been recorded, especially in the quest to expand the options for smallholder farmers on the continent.

Dr Sylvester Oikeh, AATF Tela maize Project Manager, said this was the beginning of a new era for maize farmers in Nigeria.

Prof Rabiu Adamu, the Tela maize Principal Investigator, also said with the release, the Institute had been permitted to conduct multi-location trials to evaluate the yield and adaptability of the Tela hybrids.

“The highest yielding hybrids exhibiting tolerance to drought and resistance to stem borer and fall armyworm will be released to farmers for cultivation, ” Adamu said.

The Tela maize project in Nigeria was part of an international consortium coordinated by AATF, involving Bayer, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), and the National Agricultural Research Systems of seven countries since 2018.

The countries included Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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