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lHECUi\RDIAN,Sunday;Mayn,2ou '

Agrocare By OIukayode Oyeleya

E

OSE in government should do what people gave them the mandate to do, This was a statement made in response to the inquiri es of a participa nt at the one-day agricultural summit in Epe on Tuesday, Ovora Iyamu , an official of Notore Che micallnd'ustries Ltd" producers of Notore fertili sers, drew attention to this while responding to the question on what the private investors are doing about agricultural research, The summit organised with the collaboration of the Nigerian Economic SummitGroup (NESG), Best Food Farms and Lagos State chapter of Ail Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) was aimed at bringing the farmers into a common forum with the operators of the financial institutions to enable them begin to understand each other and move private sector-led agriculture forward, Accordin g to Iyamu, "government should take it upon themselves to do research for industries, Private sector will do research, but not to the detriment of our profitability, When you start something, you don't start with what only a few will benefit from," Observing the need to pay more attention to private sector-led agricultural investments, Mr. Emmanuelljewere, chief executive of Best

Foods and chairman of the agriculture and food securi\)' policy commission of the NESG noted that' we want to give farmers protection under the Nucleus Estate Initiative (NEI) since individual farmers may not be abie to approach banks and get funds," According to him, "we are starting with crops but will soon move on to livestock What we have found in Epe local government is encouragi ng and we decided Epe will be the first place NEI will take off. Epe will tell the rest of Nigeria how to move agriculture forward," Addressing the farmers, he said, "we have here the bankers because you need money to help you fulfil your dreams. We went to' bring the biggest Fertiliser company to Epe." Ijewere obselv ed that one thing distinguishes Tanzanian fanners from Nigerians:

Banl<ers Show Renewed Interest In Agrie At Epe Summit Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria (CASON). Mr.ljewere, observed that"the great journey to see farmers speak with one voice began with AFAN and one of the three people assembled by the former preSident, Olusegun Obasanjo. The person, present at the event, was identified as Chief Femi Coker. Stella Agbeyegbe, who led a team from Oceanic Bank to Epe, observed two things she thought could help the initiatives coming up at Epe. These, she said, are size and power, elaborating that size in any business gets the bankers' attention and power is also an i.ffi-

portant attribute since, "once you are big through this arrangement, you can put people in government to take care of your needs." She was optimistic that "this Epe programme is a small beginning but has great potentials." She disclosed that the bank was about to sign an MoU with the Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), a testimony to the bank's changmg dispOSition towards agncultural fmancmg. Dr. Musa

Tarimbuka, head of agriculture desk, Fidelity Bank Pic, remarked that there are expectations from the banks." But, said he, "the first thing d,e bank will ask before assisting is: where is the market for what you produce? You also need high-yielding agricultural value chains." He, however, advised that "the farmers must be ready to show their stakes in such projects before finances can be secured from

banks." Another banker, Simeon Onyejose of the Int ercontinental Bank, said tractors cannot work on fragmented lands but if farmers get together, they can employ tractor services. Mr. Ijewere noted the efforts being made to make work easier by bringing tractors and bulldozer to Epe area for land clearing and preparation, saying market access will be part of the activities to help farmers make good returns. He also alluded to intention to foster a relationship between farmers , bankers, Notore fertiliser company and Best Foods. "For a tractor to be profitable, it must have a land of not less than 250 hectares to work on,"

Ijewere observed. He disclosed, however, that 'Best路Foods is coming to help Epe farmers to develop the land and make it more profitable.' AbiodunAdewole from FirstBanksaid land preparation, advocacy and tractor financing have been done successfully in Ogun and Kaduna State by First Bank, a nd the bank is now eyeing Epe. He noted thatthere is information challenge and that there are markets for agriculture in Nigeria and outSide, "but farmers need market information" and that "First Bank is ready to partner with AFAN." Chief Femi Coker, atthe forum, said working alon e as individual small farmers "will not profit," and advised that "farmers must team up." He called forthe expansion of lands devoted to agriculture. Mufutau AI<inlolu, Lagos State chairman of AFAN, said "out of the fi ve divisions in the state, three are agrarian. One of the problems now is, if you open up ay forest for farming, it is soon taken over by those who claim to be inheritors ofland." According to him, "farming is tedious and frustrating. The income per annum is very low, compared to other occu-

pations." Akinlolu called on the federal government to plan a radical programme for agriculture. He got emotional at a paint, complaining of banks' high interest rates and called for insurance and marketing boards to be made. more relevant to agriculture.

Oladeji Alao, representative for the perma-: nent secretary in the Lagos State Ministry of. Agriculture, announced thatthere are coop-' eratives of different types in Lagos among farmers, urging the bankers to talk to them.

Tanzanian farmers have unity. Their corn

farms, he observed, yield four times per plot those of Nigeria farmers. "Don't depend too much on government, he advised, assuring that "if you start som;thinll.good, government Will support you, and If we are strong enough, we will determine who will be counsellors or chairman during elections." He de.' scribe Epe as a farming community and uI;ged anyone who does not support farming to go elsewhere. Foluke Areola, facilitator for NESG's agriculture and food security policy commission, explained how r:<EI worh, giving fisheries as an example. She-said NEI involves an arrangement in which a big-time fish farmer grows while helping smaner ones to grow. Such a big farmer, for instance, helps smaller ones around him with inp~ts such as feeds, fingerlings, funds and sometimes advice, to help them produce well. The small fa rmers have the option of either selling the fish harvested to the large benefactor if the price is agreeable to both sides of the bargain, or to sell to other buyers. She disclosed thatAli Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Lagos State has adopted the document prepared by the Community of

Vice chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, lie Ife, Professor Michael Faborode (right). Director of the Institute Agricultural Research and Training (lAR&T), Ibadan, and Mr. Dotun Awoyemi, director of academic affairs of the university after the presentation of the inaugural lecture by Professor Ogunbodede in lie lie last Tuesday. PHOTO: OLUKAYOOE OYElEYE

IlIA Gets New Director General In November E International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has named Dr. Nteranya E. Sanginga as the new director general , to commence work on Novemben. According to a statement from the institute, "Dr Sanginga was selected from an outstanding group. His achievements in reinvigorating the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute (TBSF) of the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (ClAT), and tropical experience make him an ideal choice to take on the' much broader task of gUiding IITA into the next decade," says Dr Bryan Harvey, chair of IlTA's board, today. "We are confident that, under his administration, IITA will continue the outstanding work the

TI

institute does'in improving the lives of the tropical people in Africa and throughout the world ," he added. Currently serving as the director of the Nairobibased CIAT-TBSF, Dr Sanginga has more than 21 years of experience with the University of Zimbabwe, IITA, Internationar Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Austria, and ClAT-TSBF, in agricultural research and development, particularly in the fields of applied microbial ecology, plant nutrition , and integrated natural resources management in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Dr Sanginga, Democratic Republic of Congo (ORe), did most of his postgraduate t~aining at lITA and his PhD in Agronomy/Soil Microbiology under a joint program between IITA and the Institut

Facultaire des Sciences Agronomiques, Yangambi, DRC. He has extensive skills in research management, developing partnerships and institutional Iinkages, and institution building. The statement exr.lained further that, "under his eadership, the ClAT-TSBF portfolio rose from $1.2 million in 2003 to over $14.5 million in 2010, and its research-fordevelopment agenda expanded from focusing on western Kenya to covering the major agroecosystems of east, central, and southern Africa." He was also said to have played a major role in the creation of the Consortium for Imp'roving Agriculture-based livelIhood in Central Mrica-(ClALCAI that includes three internationa research centres (IITA, CIAT-TSBF, and Biover-

sity), university partners in Belgium, national research and development partners in DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda. His career has also focused on bUilding the capacity of young scientists in Africa. He has trained more than 30 PhD candidates at the National Universiry of Congo, School of Agriculture and Universiry of Zimbabwe, who now hold leadership positions in their countries. Prior to transferring to ClATTBSF, Dr. Sanginga, according to the report, "spent 14 years in lITA in various capacities, including principal scientist and head of the soil microbiology unit; proj, ect coordinator of Improvement of high intensity fooa and forage crop systems and Short fallow systems to arrest land degradation due to land use intensification;

and leader of the multidisciplinary program Improving and in-

tenSifying cereal-legume systems in the moist and dry savannas of West and Central Africa, collaborating with many scientists in national and international institutions." In his presentation to the board of IITA, Dr Sanginga was reported to have said that, as the new DG, he would organise and strengthen lITA's research and research partnerships, building on its past achievements and enhancing its scientific and administrative capacity to deliver on its mi~sion of "increasing agricultural production, food securio/, and income in tropical nations. Dr Sanginga will succeed Dr Peter Hartmann whose tenure is expected to end on October31.

THE GUARDIAN, 22 May, 2011  

IITA Gets New Director General in November

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