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FG Provides Credit Facilities for Fanners he Federn! Government has made good its promise to out-grow- · ers association by giving members input loans and credits. This is in coUaboration Witll the National Sugar Development Council. The input loans and credits were given to members of 40 out-growers association in conjunction with Bank PHB, the Central Bank of Nigeria and National Agricultural Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NAJC). This was disclosed by Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye at the 3rd meeting of the National Council on Cornmerce and Industry held at Tahir Guest Palace Hotel, Kano State . The input loans and credit were facilitated by National Dev!'lopment Sugar Council, Federn! Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Bank PHB , the Central Bank and National Agriculturn! Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NAJC). The Minister said that the scheme has already taken off in Savannah Sugar Company, Numan and was


By Crusoe Osagie expected to spread to other s sugar companies in due course. According to the Minister, "food and beverages manufacturing companies are continuously encouraged to increase local content in their finished products. We have put in place a policy that would stimulate a significant increase in the transformation of 'our agriculture praduce for consumption and as raw materials for industries" Senator Martins-Kuye said that in promoting local sugar production, the Ministry has provided new guidelines ,for companies granted approval to import unfortified raw sugar for industrial use, adding that the guidelines cover the packaging and labeling of their products . "The objective here is to ensure at least 70% local contents in national sugar consumption by 2015", he said . He expressed the hope that in line with global practice, the trade and industrial policy thrust of the country will be reviewed to encourage the growth and develop-

ment of the non-oil sector of the economy by projecting the interest of domestic producers against the influx of subsidized, dumped products. According to the Minister, the policy emphasis on Made in Nigeria Products will give the much needed fIllip to the av~abil­ ity of locally manufactured

goods. The Minister Doted that the MiniStry has a good working relationship with

development partners which has been very cordial and rewarding, adding that they have jointly sponsored cassava processing factories in Kuje, Federal capital territory and Masalea, Nasarawa state as weU as common facility centre in Aba, Abia state. In his speech, the Executive Governor of Kano State , Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau said that Kano state has initiated a multi billion naira Economic City known

as Kanawa International Market which is being handled under Public Private Partnership (PPP). He added that his government initiated another Public Private Project for the construction of new fish market with a provision of more than 2000 shops, cooling system and other facilities. He reiterated that the state government was committed

to the provision of Independent Power Project

by signing an agreement with a Chinese fIrm for the provision of 126 Megawatts of electricity. MaUam Shekarau noted that the state provided multi-billion naira Tamburawa Water Treatment Plant which supplies 150 million litres of water for domestic and industrial consumption, adding that they have also commissioned the second phase of the project in Watari which will provide 75 million litres of water daily.

InrI Prices of Commodities Drop temational prices of key food staples have dropped during the first five onths of20 10, the latest edition of Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO's biannual Food Outlook report, has said. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 164 points in May 2010, down from 174 points in January and substantiaUy less than its peak of214 in the spring of 2008, the report notes. A faU in international prices of cereals and sugar were among the main drivers behind this decline. ' Sugar prices have tumbled , . by half from their peak at the beginning of the year under prospects of significant production increases. But, the agency noted , this still means the cost of the typical food commodity basket around the world today is some 69 percent higher than in 2002-04. Most indicators point to increasing world supplies, a leading factor behind the sharp declines in intemation· al prices of major food stapIes this year, according to the report. "The 2008-2009 food prices boom spurred plantings and production of many crops, which has ' resulted in a recovery in inventories and boosting stocks-to-use ratios, a tendency likely to prevail also in 20 I0/11 ' , it said . Early indications, according to the report, point towards another comfortable season, with world produc, tion in 2010 likely to match the record achieved in 2008, and global cereal inventories increasing for the third consecutive season. Importantly, the growth in


production may not be confmed to exporters only, as many importing countries are also expected to harvest bumper crops. The report has it that despite price decreases, the global cost of imported foodstuffs is set to reach $921 billion in 2010, someUS$IOO ·,' billion or Ir '""rcent more'.: '!' "than in20Q9,bui,still short of , ~nya 'iS again grappling the record mark of $] 'triWon _. with high levels of alia· set m 2008, when the food toxin contamination that as rendered at least 23 price crisis waS at 'its peak. Much of the anticipaied million bags of maize unfit increase will be fueUed py for human and livestock conhigher expenditures on nonsumption and trade, to the cereal products, which could dismay of the millions of rise by as much as 17 persmall-scale farmers that cent, to $650 billion, or deP':nd on the crop for food around two-thirds of global and mcome. . . food impart expenditures, The conwmnabon of the FAQ reported. countrr's m~ staple With . roil ts tabl aIIatoxm, a highly poisonous . D. atry p uc , vege e cancer-<:ausing chemical prooils and sugar are among the duced by a fungus scientififoodstuo'~ expected to drive caUy known as Aspergillus blUs higher, through ~ com· tlavus, was a result of poor bmabon of higher unport drying and storage of the volumes and pnees. grain foUowing heavy rainfaU Expenditures on these near harvest time. imported commodities are Although the situation is forecast to surpass or near grim, it is not hopeless! the record levels witnessed Scientists have developed a in 2008. cost-effective, safe, and natRising freight costs are urn! method to prevent afla, ' another factor spurring food toxin formation in maize while in the field. The bioimport"" bills, Food Outlook notes. Indicators of freight control technology works by ' rate movements are running introducing strains of the around 75 percent higher so fungus that do not produce the aflatoxin or 'the far this year compared to good guys,' in the affected 2009. fields, which, outcompete and drastically reduce the As a result, the cost of purchasing food on the internapopulation of the poison-protional market place for the ducing strains or 'the bad most economicaUy vuIneraguys'. ble groups Least Dr Peter Cotty of the Developed ' Countries Agriculture Research Service (LDCs) and Low Income of the United States Food Deficit Countries Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) and Dr Ranajit (LJFDCs) - is set to rise on the order of 10 and 14 perBandyopadhyay, a plant cent, respectively, from last pathologist with the Africayear. based International Institute

S"-. Maize fr om Future C ontamination . "avmg of Tropical Agriculture (UTA), have identified biocompetitive strains of the good fungus native to Kenya that can now be used to control allatoxin contamination in the country. According to Dr Bandyopadhyay, a single application of this biopesticide 2-3 weeks before maize . flowering is sufficient to prevent aIIatoxin contamination throughout and beyond a cropping season and even when the grains are in storage. "A. flavus strains are either toxigenic (produce aIIatoxin) or atoxigenic (do not produce aIIatoxin). Our biocontrol technology makes use of carefully selected atoxigenic strains that can safely outcompete and virtuauy eliminate their toxic relative, effectively reducing contamination of the maize

grains in fields ," said Dr Bandyopadhyay. He says that the technology's ability to continue working even when the grain is in storage ensures the safety of maize from aIIatoxin contamination. 'ThO$<' atoxigenic strains are als~arried in the grains from the field to the stores. So, even if the grains are not stored properly or get wet during or after harvest, as is happening this year, they continue to prevent aflatoxin contamination during the postharvest period," said

Dr Bandyopadhyay. Aflatoxin is a silent killer that causes liver canoer and suppresses the immune system. It also retards growth and development of children. People exposed to very high aIIatoxin concentrations experience liver failure and rapid death. From 2004 to 2006, nearly 200 unsuspecting people in Kenya died in this marmer after eating highly contaminated maize. Aflatoxin is a colorless chemical that is invisible and only laboratory tests can confum its presence and contamination lev-

els. Kenya is one of the world's hotspots for aIIatox· in. Research performed by one of Dr Cotty's graduate students, Claudia Probst, has shown that in areas where aIIatoxin is a persistent and serious problem, there is a very high occuri'ence of one of the most toxic strains of A. lIavus in the world, the S strain. According to Dr Cotty, the strain prQ<luces very high levels of aIIatoxins and dominates in regions where contamination is very high, including some areas of the US . In Africa, this S strain has been only found to be dominant in the severely affected regions of Kenya . In the US , biocontrol with atoxigenics has successfully reduced its contamination. In Nigeria , IlTA has

obtained provisional registration of the technology under the .name AlfasafeTN , a mixture of four atoxigenic strains of Nigerian origin. In 2009, maize farmers in Nigeria were able to reduce aflatoxin contamination by 80% by broadcasting 10 kglha Aflasafe™ 2-3 weeks before maize flowering . Research has shown that AflasafeT. treatments provide long-term benefits and that AllasafeT • may not need to be applied every year. IlTA, in partnership with the Nigerian govern· ment and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is working on obtaining full registration and identifying an entity that would mass manufacture, market, and distribute Allasafe™ in Nigeria to save the health and income of millions of families. The researchers are now calling upOn the government and the private sector in

Kenya to partner with them and make this biocontrol option and other manage· ment practices available to the farmers to save their much-needed harvests from future aIIatoxin contamination. Instiiutions involved in the initiative include IlTA, USDA-AAS , African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and local partners.

THISDAY, Vol.16 No.5525  
THISDAY, Vol.16 No.5525  

Saving Maize from Future Contamination