Africa’s $2.3bn agritech market remains largely untapped – report

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More than 90 percent of the market for digital services that support African smallholders remains untapped and could be worth more than €2 billion (US$2.26b), a new report by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Dalberg Advisors says.

The report which found nearly 400 different digital agriculture solutions with 33 million registered farmers across sub-Saharan Africa stated that the market penetration only accounts for six percent of the total $2.6 billion market.

“Digitalisation for agriculture has the potential not just to support agricultural transformation in Africa but to do so sustainably and inclusively for Africa’s 250 million smallholder farmers and pastoralists,” said Michael Tsan, partner and co-leader of Dalberg Advisors global digital and data practice.

“While the opportunity is immense, the report is not naïve about the challenges that remain and the significant work required by agribusiness, governments, donors, and investors to maximise the transformative impacts of digital agriculture in years to come,” Tsan said.

The study noted that with more investment in the continent’s agrictec industry, African younger population will find farming attractive.

“Digitalisation can be a game-changer in modernising and transforming Africa’s agriculture, attracting young people to farming and allowing farmers to optimise production while also making them more resilient to climate change,” said Michael Hailu, director of CTA.

“This report indicates that despite challenges, the economics are rapidly improving, with a handful of players beginning to develop viable, large-scale businesses. To reach its full potential, companies will now need to focus on converting customer reach to actual use in order for this type of model to yield returns,” Hailu said.

The report identifies online marketplace solutions such as Nigeria’s Agrikore as significant use cases of how digital tools are being built to tackle major challenges of attracting and … Read More...

NAFDAC affirms ban on methyl bromide as fumigant, in move NAQS considers affront

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The acceptability of Methyl Bromide in Nigeria as a fumigant for agricultural produce is reigniting debate on the contentious subject as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has re-stated that the chemical remains banned in Nigeria. This follows previous announcement of ban from the agency, which was subsequently countered by the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS).

In a new statement issued today by the office of Moji Adeyeye, director general of NAFDAC, the agency says its attention “has been drawn to an upsurge in the demand for methyl bromide from Nigeria.” The surge in demand, according to the statement, is sequel to the new requirement of the government of some countries, such as Mexico and India, that methyl bromide must be used as fumigant on the agricultural produce being exported to their countries.

“The use of Methyl Bromide as fumigant is banned and remains banned in Nigeria,” the statement read. “Farmers, agro input dealers and exporter of Agricultural produce are advised to use alternative pesticides which are safer, cheaper and more effective.”

This decision according to NAFDAC is hinged on exposure that may occur during fumigation activities. Effects of this exposure according to NAFDAC are drawn from studies in humans, which indicate that the lung may be severely injured by the acute (short-term) inhalation of methyl bromide. Acute and chronic (long-term) inhalation of methyl bromide can lead to neurological effect in humans, NAFDAC says.

However, Vincent Isegbe, director general of NAQS in a phone interview to clarify the development, expressed the view that NAFDAC is overstepping its mandate. According to Isegbe, there are exemptions for the use of Methyl Bromide, and these include when it is used as a chemical in feedstuff; uses that the parties of the Montreal protocol … Read More...

IFAD-VCDP Agro inputs in Taraba impacts 8,077 farmers

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At least 8,077 Taraba farmers have been supported with agro-inputs by the Federal Government assisted International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) for rice and cassava farmers between 2015 and 2019.

Fertilizers, agro chemicals, sprayers, rice seedlings and cassava stems were distributed to benefiting farmers at the occasion.

State programme coordinator, Iremia Musa, disclosed this during the flag off of input distribution for 2019 main cropping season in Sunkani, Ardo-kola Local Government Area of the state.

Musa, who said 1,781 farmers were selected to benefit from the support in 2019, added that the agency was supporting benefiting farmers with 50 percent of the total cost of inputs amounting to N64, 542,500 in this year’s cropping season.

“This exercise is to support our farmers on a matching grant basis of 50 percent contribution from farmers paid directly to the accredited input dealers at the point of collection while the programme pays the balance of 50 percent thereafter.

“This is just one of the many supports provided to our farmers to move them from an average 1.5 to 5.9 metric tones per hectare for rice during raining season and from 2.5 to 7.89 irrigated farming,” he said.

The programme manager said farmers had been linked up with off-takers to buy off their produce to avoid a situation where they would be stranded after harvest.

Permanent Secretary Taraba State Ministry of Agriculture, Jeremiah Danjuma, in a remark appreciated the efforts of IFAD-VCDP and the state government for the input support to farmers to boost rice and cassava production in the state.

He noted that the state government would continue to support genuine farmers in the state in her quest to put Taraba in her rightful place in the agriculture map of Nigeria.

Danjuma appealed … Read More...

The 10 commodities CBN is focusing in next five years, are you positioned?

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has made agriculture a focus area in recent years, and in the apex bank’s plan for the next five years (2019 to 2024), ten commodities have been identified for special intervention.

Rice, Maize, Cassava, Cocoa, Tomato, Cotton, Oil-palm, Poultry, Fish, and Livestock/Dairy, according to Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, are to record a boost in agricultural productivity through the provision of improved seedlings, as well as access to finance for rural farmers.

The ten focus commodities are highlighted below, with some prospects.

Rice

“Before the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, we would cultivate rice, but will not have buyers,” said Mohammed Suleiman Ambursa, a judge of the Kebbi State High Court, who was on his farm during a visit to Birnin Kebbi.  “The price was so low before,” he said.

Now that there more rice mills springing up, there is an increase in demand for paddy. This presents an opportunity for those who want to take advantage of producing rice, which is perhaps Nigeria’s most consumed staple food.

For the price of local rice to come down significantly, Rotimi Fashola, general manager, Elephant Group Plc, told BusinessDay the cost of paddy (which is the raw material) will have to sell well below N100,000 per metric tonne. Currently, it sells for N115,000 on the average, before other logistics costs are factored in, which could then take it to about N130,000.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria’s rice production reached 7 million tonnes (4.2 million tonnes, milled basis) in 2017, up 12 per cent from 6.3 million tonnes (3.8 million tonnes, milled basis) in 2015. Official, accurate data to ascertain consumption and the gap with production is not readily available. However, when the smuggling market is considered, the opportunities become … Read More...

Global food, commodity prices to remain low as agricultural output increases

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Over the next ten years, the prices of food and commodities are expected to remain low across the world, at least on the average, as agricultural output is projected to increase, absorbing any increase in future demands that may even be driven by population growths.

This was a major finding contained in an annual report, the ‘Agricultural Outlook 2019-2028’, a collaborative effort of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), prepared with input from the experts of their member governments and from specialist commodity organisation

The report noted that several years of strong supplies have reduced the international prices of most agricultural commodities, with cereal, beef and sheep meat prices showing short-term rebounds. For nearly all commodities covered in the Outlook, real prices are projected to remain at or below current levels over the coming decade, as productivity improvements continue to outpace demand growth.

Global demand for agricultural products is projected to grow by 15 percent over the coming decade, while agricultural productivity growth is expected to increase slightly faster, causing inflation-adjusted prices of the major agricultural commodities to remain at or below their current levels.

“Global agriculture has evolved into a highly diverse sector, with operations ranging from small subsistence farms to large multinational holdings,” José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General and Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General wrote in the Foreword of the report. Along with providing food, they added, today’s farmers “are important custodians of the natural environment and have become producers of renewable energy.”

They also noted that; in order to meet the high expectations society places on agriculture, public and private decision makers require reliable information on the likely trends of global demand, supply, trade and prices and the factors driving … Read More...