THE NATION FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2012
AGRO-BUSINESS STATE FOCUS
Imo: A new agro investors’ destination
•Labourer carrying two bags of cowpea on his shoulders to transport them from one place to another.
Don calls for restraint on unplanned shrimp cultivation A S shrimp exports continue to rise, a don Prof Martins Antetekhai has called for restraint on unplanned cultivation to halt illegal entrance of saline water into the nation’s natural water. Antetekhai of the Faculty of Sciences, Lagos State University (LASU) said unplanned farming would result in increase in salinity of the water, thereby reducing drinking water sources and hampering crop cultivation through damage to the fertility of the land. He noted that fishermen and fish-farmers are stewards of the marine environment, adding that they have a role in the promotion of respon-
Stories by Daniel Essiet, Agric Correspondent
sible fisheries to preserve the environment. One of such is the use of non-destructive fishing techniques, which reduce the negative impact on biodiversity, including on larger, longer-lived marine organisms that are more vulnerable to depletion. He said the operators have to be careful in using marine resources so that they will still be available in the future. Strengthening the fisheries management agencies, fish-
ing community and fish workers organisations and private sector associations, he said, are critical to sustainable and equitable use of marine resources. He said there is a need to manage fisheries in the most efficient and sustainable way. According to him, a strong international legislative and policy framework for fisheries is in place with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its related international agreements and plans of action.
Worldwide, he said there are regulations establishing protected areas where no fishing is allowed. With about 32 per cent of the global of fish stocks for exploitation, depleted or recovering from depletion, the don said the future of aquaculture development prospects appear promising. He urged the government to encourage Nigerians to start rearing fish, rather than relying on captured fisheries, which are declining. He suggested that they should embark on commercial cage farming, which would enable them to grow fish instead of relying on captured catches.
Abia ADP moves to boost food production A
BROAD-based growth strategy to increase food production is being executed by the Abia State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP). The Progamme Manager, Mr Enyinnaya Elekwachi, said this is essential to meeting the increase in food demand and generating the income in rural areas. He said efforts to increase food has led to enormous gains in agricultural productivity and food production. He said the government is encouraging farmers to experiment with new technologies and management sys-
tems to spur growth and create jobs in the sector. He said the programme will foster economic development through the agric sector. One of the interventions of the programme is dedicating 50 hectares of land for the colouration with National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in on-farm Adaptive Research (OFAR) trials and seed multiplication programme of the Vitamin A enriched ‘yellow’ cassava stems at the programme’s proposed agricultural industrial complex
in Ohafia/Arochukwu Local Government Areas of Abia State. The programme is working with the Leventis Foundation (Nigeria) Limited for a joint agricultural school project. Other achievements include the inauguaration and donation of a cassava processing cottage industry by BATN Foundation to Saiky Farmers MPCS Limted Ubani-Ibeku,Umuahia North Local Government Area, Abia State. He said it was important for the state government to achieve success in agricultural development.
IFDC offers $725,000 credit to dealers
HE Nigeria AgroDealer Support (NADS) project assisted agro-dealers to access $ 725,000 from micro-finance organisations and suppliers, according to the International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC). The IFDC Country Representative in Nigeria Mr Scott Wallace disclosed this in Abuja. NADS, a three-year programme implemented by the IFDC from October 2009 to 2011, was financed by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). IFDC had in 2008 pro-
posed the project, to address the problem of insufficient use ofagro-input by farmers and other practices necessary for increased productivity and farm incomes. One of the major objectives of the project was to train the agro-input dealers estimated at 12,000.On the achievements of the project, Wallace said that 2,300 agroinput dealers were trained,bringing the total number of trained input dealers to 5,000, leading to increased sales. He said by supporting NAFDAC’s advocacy efforts, the project facilitated the certification of1,200 dealers in crop protection products.
Under the project, the first comprehensive directory of agro-input dealers in 16 states was compiled, thereby providing a “valuable tool for implementing new policy reforms”. It also transformed four state agro-dealer associations into regional associations covering 16 states and enhanced their membership from 400 to 2,700. Furthermore, under the project, an “extensive survey of agro-dealers was undertaken, which highlightedtheir scale of operations and needs. The country representative, however, expressed disappointment that the
planned $500,000 loan guarantee scheme intended to leverage credit for agro-dealers was not achieved because of the lack of interest in the project on the part of banks. He said: “Despite repeated efforts to change the minds of their leaders, the banks regarded the amount as smalland the risk as high and were unwilling to ease restrictive conditions for agroinput related lending.” Wallace, however, said the achievements of the project and the lessons learned presented an opportunity to capitalise on the AGRA investment and the new directions of the Federal Government.
MO is one of the most diversed states in terms of agriculture. Its economy depends primarily on agriculture and commerce and the chief occupation of the people is farming. Their cash crops include oil palm, raffia palm, rice, groundnut, melon, cotton, cocoa, rubber, maize, etc. Food crops such as yam, cassava, cocoyam and maize are also produced in large quantities. In the state there are amazing topographic changes that lend hand to the diversity of agriculture. The location of the state in the tropical rainforest gives it the ecological basis for production of a wide range of tropical agricultural crops with extensive potentialities for industrial usage There are fertile areas to grow an amazing variety of crops and support dairy and sheep farms as well. As a strategy for enhancing agricultural development, private investors are invited to participate in direct agricultural production, by investing in the planting and cultivation of agricultural crops such as maize, rice, legumes, roots and tubers. Forestry is yet to be developed in the state. Of the 490 species, only about 100 are being utilised.Viable projects that can be invested in Imo include, match splint and tooth pick manufacture, tissue paper production, etc. Investors can go into the planting and cultivation of cashew, oil palm, oranges, citrus trees, etc. The state’s most valuable livestock products are chicken eggs and broilers (young chickens). Imo is conducive to livestock production, especially rearing of goats and sheep.Modern poultry farming has been introduced in the state and is practised by a large number of people. Investors will find this sector attractive. The mechanised Imo Modern Poultry Farm atAvutu, in Obowo Local Government Area has taken the lead in private fish farming, a sector much neglected by investors in the state. It is gifted with a homogenous market with emergent economy and altering lifestyles, which has created tremendous opportunities for food producers, machinery markets, service providers and others. The message: the diverse crops, lower utility rates and reasonable workers’ compensation costs make the state a good place to do business. Determined to ensure a successful implementation of the Rural Agricultural Programme (RAP) embarked upon by his administration, the Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has called for partnership with foreign investors to
move the state forward. In a speech at an International Business Forum Nigerian-Switzerland Trade and Investment Forum- held in Zurich, Switzerland, the governor said the state government needs partnership with investors in technological skills aimed at maximising its abundant agricultural potential. He said: “We are not begging for money or handouts, rather what we need is strategic partnership that would help the state grow with adequate returns on investments.” According to the governor, the government is ready to budget 30 per cent of the total cost of any joint project as well as guarantee free land and other requirements needed by the investors. Speaking further on the occasion, the governor said Imo remains the only state , where there is zero tolerance for corruption in addition to abundant human and natural resources as well as market and labour for potential investors. He enjoined investors to disregard reports from some media houses that Nigeria is prone to corruption, adding that Imo is a haven for investors where businessmen are guaranteed profits at the shortest possible period. He said: “Now that we have unveiled our potential, we are waiting for genuine investors to come and take advantage of what we have to offer. “We don’t want ‘briefcase contractors’ who will disappear after collecting mobilisation fee for contracts, rather what we need is genuine businessmen who will partner with us for the growth of the state”. Okorocha has called on traditional rulers in Imo to procure at least five hectares of land each from their communities aimed at facilitating the forthcoming agric enhancement programme to be embarked upon by a team of foreign agric experts led by a South African, Dr. Brylyne Chitsunge. The governor reiterated his determination to boost agriculture in the state and ensure food sustainability and creation of employment opportunities for the people.
The Nation June 15, 2012