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Institute Catalogues Benefits In Neem-based Manure From Emeka Anuforo, Abuja

N ORDER for Nigeria to be self-reliant in fertiliser production and supply, the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology NARICT) based in Zaria has been at the frontine in research for some time now. Aspecial kind of feniliser specially adapted to the Nigerian soil, with the additional possibiliry of boosting crop yield without harming the soil, and capable of renewing the soil, fo r farmers to use farmlands over and over again is in stock at NARICT. Farmers could use this on same farmlands annually, withoutpractising shifting cultivation. The fertiliser projeer of utilises bio·resources tha t are abundant in the country, particularly neem and other seed-producing crops, like ru.bber plants, jarhropha and any oil-seedproducing plant. Dr. Ebenezer Ol<onkwo, rhe institute's director general, told The Guardian thanhe centre is now designing the plam for processing neem seeds. "Neem," he sa id, "is popularly known here as dongoyaro. The seed is cur· rently not been utilised by any industly."

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In his background to the project, Dr. Okonkwo disclosed that "when we did a research and development feasibiliry, we found use for it in various seerors of the industry. For instance, we found out that we could use the oil in the cosmetics and perfumery industry and as medicinal ingredient, biodiesel, and so on." When the oil is extracted, he added, "we use the cake to formulate organa-mineral fertiliser. We call it organa-mineral in that most times, we don't use it exclusively for feniliser formulation because the NPK(nitrogen phosphorous potassium content) of it is very low for the formulation of fertiliser. So, you include the percentages of those three ingredients to make up a good fertiliser. By the time you have the insecticidal property, it controls pest, especially termites and nematodes." He stressed that his agency had designed a production outfit for t110 processing of the

neem plant into feniliser, and that NARlCT had established a functional plant in Katsina, designed to produce 10, 000 metric tons per annum. He said; "The Katsina government has on its own established four more of the plants because of the benefits they have seen in it and, right now, they have predicted that this year's farming season, they are not going to impon any fertiliser." For Katsina State, Okonkwo noted, "all their fenilisers would be produced from the plants. We are also establishi ng one in Kebbi state, which is almost 60 per cent completed. The one in Kogi State is completed, waiting for completion. We have another one in Anambra State and the last one in Enugu State. According to Dr. Okonkwo, "the benefits are that the raw materials are abundantly available. The neem was·introduced into Nigeria to

check desenification.ln the process, a lot of it was planted." He said "statistics conducted recently shows that Nigeria has the largest population plants in the whole world. We have also attracted entrepreneurs to the whale chain. There are now large sca le suppliers of the seeds. We have also empowered our tech· nology transfer to a few investors who have set up on their own. Majority of them are estab· Iishing neem oil extraction facilities and seJling the cake." Okonkwoadded that the federal government had accepted the product as complimentary to fertili ser. He pointed our that the institute is worldng towards becoming a research instituteof internarional repute in the provision of innovati~e research and development in the processing and conversion of indigenous raw materials into valuable chemicals and chemical products for industrial applica tions.

Institute Organises Summit On

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From Abiodun Fagbemi, lIorin HE need for a prompt rerurn of commercia l agriculture imo the Nigeria's main economic sector will form the locus of discussions during a rwo..day human resource development(HRD) conference fixed for this week on Wednesday and Thursday at the campus of the Agricul tural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI),

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The evem, funded by ARMTI, is titled 'Promo· tion of Commercial Agriculture in Nigeria:

Implications for Human Resou rce Development.' Over200 participants are expected, according to the organisers. I\(cording to th e head, Human Resource Unit

of ARMTI, MrGbenga Ol<e-Owo, the conference "vi II equally provide a rorum to review previous HRD activities and discuss emerging r issues in the agricultural and rural development (ARD) sector with a view to strengthening commercial agriculture in Nigeria. lvIa Jlam Mohammed Dadawi, coordinator of Kana State Commercia l Agricu ltural Development Programme (CADP) is expected to deli ver a key note address at the event. Bags of raw materials for preparation of neem- based organominerals developed by the Nalional Research Inslitulc for Chemical Technology, Zaria on display atlhe processing site

Syngenta, Swiss BiostadtTaclde Crops' Productivity Constraints From Kelvin Ebiri, Port Harcourt

WISS Biostadt and Syngenta both agricultural g iants, agreed to work together to seek fresh options that will boost farmers' productivity, improve incomes a nd guarantee food securiry. These disclosures came recently after two firm s have completed a survey of the Nigerian agro·ecological zones with a view to understanding emerging challenges

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faced by farmers.

Th is strategy, "no doubt, has yielded result, Mirbey added, "and we are reviewing how best farmers can access and adopt our new innovations and services." He spoke during a training meeting with Biostadt at the Internatio nal Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan. The training, which was attended by delivery specialists, agronomists and other company experts

reviewed bottlenecks in the agricultural value chain and also worked out plans for a way forwa rd. Mr. Emmanuel Ajayi, managing director, Swiss Biostadt Nigeria, pointed out that "what we observed during tlie survey was the high rate of postharvest losses, especially in vegetab les." According to Ajayi, available data in Africa show that postharvest losses have

remained a big constraint with estimate ranging from 50 per cent and above, depending on countries and crops. With a porous infrastructure, postharvest losses have been recorded eve n in famine-prone regions of the.continent, he added. Sol utions proffered included the training of farmers on better use and application of pesticides, her· bicides, and improved seeds. "What we are looking at," stressed Ajayi, "in

postharvest for instance, is to offer farmers seed varieties with longer shelf life such that even wit hout preservation facili[ies, their crops will not perish on time." "At the end of the day, we wa nt to make the life of the farmer better," he assured . According to him the aim was [0 make the farmer happier by making agriculture more attractive, improving inco mes and livelihoods.

"YiouthSIn Lagos Bene fi t F A ' Cd' rom gnc re It

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By KamalTayoOropo Th f h I I fi h I I d FJRSTbatch ofloo newly tral'ned 'arme armers, w a are specia ise in pou try, IS oca pro uction to save more tha n NI billion " farming, bee-keepi ng and aUseason vegetable from what the federal governme nt expends on ers in lagos State has received a N454 mil- production, are th e first beneficiaries in the the importation of rice from other countri es. lion credit from the state government Agric-YES initiative designed by the state govHe said "the state, through the rice for job under the state's Agric Youths Empowerment ernment to produce 1,000 first class entre pre· initiative, has ~uccessfu Uy re-introduced modScheme (Agric-YES), with the aim of helping neurial elite farmers. ern rice farming into the farming system wi th them esta blish th eir own farm settl ement for He explained that part of the objectives of the an ave rage cu ltivation of 200 hectares ann umore food production . scheme was to replace ageing farmers with a Uy by the engaged 200 youths. The state government has also said it has inyoung elite farmers. These are at various levels Productiviry, he said, has increased from less creased the totaillectares for rl'ce cultl'vatl'on to of training,I internship and farm settlement at th an one t anne per h ec t are to a b au t 2.5 tonnes I overl,450 hectares, and has placedorder for 20 Araga, Epe oca government area. while the irrigation faCility in place will intonnes per day capaCity modern rice factory. Basorun added said the product from the crease this to over four tonnes per hectare In Ikeja during a mimsterial media briefing . schem e, which include over 200 crates of egg with double cropping. recently, the permanent secretary in the Min- per day, 18 tonnes of fresh fish per cycle a nd "In order to complement the two eXisting f1ce istry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Dr. Ola- about 160 tonnes of cabbage, sweet and wa ter mills at Itoga In Badagry and Idena In Epe dlvlmelon, cuc4mber, pepper and assorted lea f SlOn, the mimstry has placed order for a 20 Jlde Baso run, said each of the 100 farmers is f:~~h~~::~sd~t~e~~~~~~~l~f~r~~: entitled to a sum of N 4.54 million to operate vege table per month are a lready being martonnes-per-day capacity ultra modern f1ce face h v b 'd ' In thelf Isreall·rype farm settlement, and that keted In the state." . tory that IS expected to be fully mstaUed by i~pro~e~en~es~IJrr~I)V~ Ing crop . "the fund is expected to be paid.back Within , ',. The permanentsecretary s\lid th.e need to in-. _ Septemberat Imota in Ikorodu," Bashorun dls, . " "' ,., .. - •.• - .... ' ". ,,, ., 'fiveyea~s:" ,.. 'c rease'rlce'productlon'elYtalied encouraging · ' · c1osed. ..

cameclearro us during the visits to farmers' fields that pest and disII h II l':.'~:h~~~:~eeds':.'~~ofo~ ~n~r.~~ productivity." Their findi ngs showed that, across f . ~ ff I d A nca, armers su er ow pro uctivity due to a plethora of problems that include inadequate inputs such pesticides, herbicides, ferpoor extension services, tilisersasand among others. In some cases where inputs are available, which is usually not the case, misapplication due to poor knowledge frustrates yields and place farmers in poverty.

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THE GUARDIAN, 1 May, 2011  

Swiss Biostadt and Syngenta tackle crops' productivity constraints to improve farmers' income and guarantee food security

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