Fake export certificates undermine integrity of Nigerian commodities

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The reputation of Nigeria as a credible exporter of agricultural goods is being put at risk as some exporters continue to circumvent stipulated standards and exporting goods using fake phytosanitary certificates.

In many cases, unscrupulous exporters, without the knowledge of owners of the agricultural goods, ship such consignments out of Nigeria without the appropriate export certificate being procured. In other cases, no export certificate is even procured at all, and this only becomes evident when the shipments get to the destination and encounter challenges. At this point, either of two options become available; return such goods to Nigeria, or destroy them at the destination port.

Vincent Isegbe, director general, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Servcie (NAQS) in an exclusive interview, bemoaned this practice that contributes to Nigeria getting a bad reputation in the international community, while also resulting in monetary losses for the owners of agricultural goods.

“Some exporters just print the certificates (on their own) in order to avoid quarantine, and the owners of the consignment don’t usually know what has been done,” said Isegbe. According to him, National Plant Protection Organizations from several importing countries frequently request for verification of the phytosanitary certificate for consignment sent to their country. “Where those goods did not pass through quarantine, we say we don’t know about it. Once the quarantine says we are not aware, the exporter is left on his own,” he explained.

“By implication either the commodities are sent back to the country or destroyed at the point of import, which does not augur well for Nigeria and the person who has suffered to package these things for export,” Isegbe added.

According to the quarantine boss, when exported agricultural goods are rejected and owners approach the agency, it is discovered those goods did not pass through … Read More...

FG to create 4 million jobs from oil Palm production

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The Federal Government on Wednesday said it is committed to creating about 4 million jobs through oil palm production in the country .

This was made known by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Sunday Edet Akpan, at the Stakeholders Forum for the presentation of the draft Oil Palm Policy document, held recently in Abuja.

The Permanent Secretary, represented by the Director, Department of Commodity Produce and Inspectorate, (CPI) Omololu Ope-Ewe, said Federal Government is working assiduously towards ensuring the repositioning of the Oil Palm sector for optimal contribution in terms of job creation and revenue sources for both Government and the private sector.

He emphasized in a statement on Wednesday that Oil Palm which once played a predominant role in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country depends on imported ones to augment local production, which is just about 1 per cent GDP, unlike the contribution of 70 per cent GDP in the past, despite the potentiality in the sector with the propensity to sufficiently and conveniently place the country as a major oil palm producer and exporter, as against what is obtainable in the crude oil sector.

The essence of the national Oil Palm policy is to guide, regulate, protect and support both public and private investment in the sector. He therefore charged stakeholders to put aside personal and organizational interest and consider the draft policy document bearing in mind the impact it would create on the economy.

The Permanent Secretary further said that with the policy in place, the country will have a national document that would protect the sector, due diligence would be done to stimulate investment for higher productivity.

He assured all stakeholders of Government’s support for a robust oil palm industry that … Read More...

Low mechanisation limits Nigeria’s agric potential

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Low level of agricultural mechanisation on farms across the country has continued to limit the capacity of farmers to expand their cultivation areas, perform timely farming operations and achieve economies of scale in food production.

Stakeholders in the sector stated that for the country to attain high level of food sufficiency and reduce dependency on food imports, it had to improve the level of agricultural mechanisation.

Available statistics show that Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world with the country’s tractor density put at 0.27 hp/ hectare which is far below the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s 1.5hp/hectare recommended tractor density.

“Mechanisation is a very critical issue because it will help eradicate poverty of rural farmers,” Sani Dangote, president, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) and vice president of Dangote Industries Limited, said in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay.

“If farmers continue to use crude equipment, their poverty can never be eradicated. Farmers need to farm and harvest their produce using mechanisation in order to increase production and profits,” he said.

Dangote stated that the only way youths can find agriculture attractive was through mechanised farming. “With mechanisation, agriculture becomes attractive for the youths and they can take it up as a profession,” Dangote added.

With the continual drift of the young population from the rural to urban centres in search of white-collar jobs and away from the drudgery of manual farm labour, self-sufficiency in food production is becoming a herculean task.

“Currently, more than 70 percent of farm labour is provided by human power; over 20 percent is provided with draft animal power and less than 10 percent by mechanical power,” Elesa Yakubu, national president, Tractor Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), told BusinessDay.

In Nigeria, a significantly higher proportion … Read More...

Sell pressure expected to keep maize, rice, soybeans prices low till July

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Sell pressure on farmers who need cash to prepare for cultivation in the current wet farming season is expected to keep prices of maize, soybeans and paddy rice low until July. AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, a trading platform, said in its monthly market report for April that market activity was characterised by a marginal price…

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NIRSAL, MECA sign pact with World Bank on agric mechanisation

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The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), along with its technical partner on agricultural mechanisation – Machines and Equipment Corporation Africa (MECA) has signed an agreement with the World Bank’s FADAMA III-AF programme to guarantee mechanisation of agricultural value chain in Nigeria.

Following the agreement signed on Monday in Abuja, FADAMA III-AF has entrusted its Agricultural Infrastructure, which includes mechanisation equipment, irrigation systems, and storage facilities in the hands of NIRSAL and MECA, through their joint mechanisation programme- the NIRSAL Comprehensive Agricultural Mechanisation Program (NCAMP).

NCAMP, a holistic mechanisation programme designed to address the low agricultural mechanisation was launched by NIRSAL in 2017 to enable it provide up to 75 percent guarantee for banks to release the total amount required to service and repair about 10,000 tractors annually for the next ten years in the country.

The project initiators hope that the project, if well implemented, could catalyse up to N1 trillion agriculture contribution to the nation’s annual GDP.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Aliyu Abdulhameed, Managing Director/CEO of NIRSAL said FADAMA’s recognition of NIRSAL as a capable partner that would continue with the developmental activities FADAMA was commendable and raised the hope that the project would succeed.

NIRSAL is concerned that there are just approximately 6.5 tractors for every 100 square kilometres of arable land in Nigeria as against the global average of 200 tractors for every 100 square kilometres and is even more worried that most of the tractors which have gone bad are not being repaired despite the fact that the country’s need for mechanised farming.

“In financial terms, repairing 55,000 broken down tractors will cost Nigeria only N30 billion. Compare that with having to buy 55,000 new tractors which will cost Nigeria about N660 billion which is equivalent … Read More...