‘Why we are stimulating juice sub sector

 

The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) will give 20,000 improved seedlings to farmers to boost the fruit juice sub-sector, its Director-General, Dr. Hussaini Dikko Ibrahim,

The agency has distributed improved mango and citrus seedlings that would improve their shelf life cut down on post-harvest losses.

Ibrahim disclosed that over 16,000 improved seedlings of mango and citrus were distributed to fruit farmers in the Southwest and Northcentral for the 2018 planting season.

He added that the seedlings were produced last year while the distribution was in the second quarter of this year when the rains started in the zones.

He said: “In May 2018, 4,000 seedlings of two varieties of mango –  Kate exotic species and Ogbomoso mango were distributed to farmers at a ceremony held at the FUMMAN farm in Ajaawa, Ogbomoso, Oyo State. The exercise will be yearly until adequate planting materials are available in sustainable quantities.”

Listing other interventions by the council to prolong shelf life of fruits and develop the sub-sector, Ibrahim said aside training farmers and building their capacity to comply with global standards in fruit juice processing, the council partnered with other agencies to develop seedlings with better varieties to reduce post-harvest losses.

On the challenges in the sector, he explained that they collaborated  with the fruit juice group of the food, beverages and tobacco sector of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in organising  a stakeholders’ forum on sourcing of raw materials for the industry in Lagos.

On the complaint of fruit manufacturers on the lack of what they called elite materials for fruit juice production, he said they partnered with the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT) and FUNMAN Agro-products Industries Ltd to develop improved varieties of pineapple, banana, mango and citrus using tissue culture technique.

Furthermore he said  the project provided an opportunity to drive the deployment of the improved varieties and to promote investment in tropical fruits cultivation and processing while assisting in  reducing the importation of fruits for processing locally.

He said: “It has also made the fruits more available and affordable to the populace. The project has also addressed the goals of import substitution through increased local sourcing and promotion of utilization of local raw materials”.

He also said one  of the foremost achievements of the project was that NACGRAB, NIHORT, NABDA have been upgraded to efficiently and effectively undertake development and multiplication of seedlings of most tropical fruits.

The Federal Government in 2002 placed an import ban on fruit juices in retail packs, fruit juice drinks, fresh and dried fruits, a move that made fruit juice manufacturing companies to establish orchards to feed their plants. However, local farmers have continued to battle with the nation’s severe climatic conditions which results to about 30-50 per cent loss and up to 100 per cent in severe conditions as most of these fruits get spoilt on the way before getting to the final consumers in the urban centres. The RMRDC boss noted that while the nation continues to find how to ameliorate the severe effects of the nation’s climate on the fruit juice subsector, the agency would continue to engage farmers and other strategic stakeholders to see a massive development of the sector.

He pledged the preparedness of the council to the development of the sub sector in the manufacturing industry.

Farmers raise alarm over agrochemicals adulteration

 

The growing market for agrochemicals estimated to be in excess of $308.92 billion by 2025 has attracted counterfeiters whose activities are flooding the country with huge quantities of fake products.

It is estimated that over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s close to 190 million people are said to be farmers.

Agrochemicals, such as fertiliser, pesticides, fungicides and insecticides are commonly used in agriculture to control weeds, pests, improve crop performance and yields.

Fraudsters and counterfeiters are eying the global agrochemical market estimated to net $266 billion in 2021, according to statistics.

Experts say over 20 percent  of that market share will be lost globally to the adulteration and counterfeiting industry.

It is believed that the growing agrochemicals market in Nigeria is driven by a rapid population expansion, demand for food and more people showing interest in farming.

Recently, regulators, such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) raised the alarm over the influx of adulterated and substandard agro-chemicals in many stores across the country.

Speaking in Kano during the public sensitisation workshop organised by the duo to educate farmers and agro-chemical dealers on the dangers of substandard and adulterated inputs in manufacturing process and farming,  NAFDAC Director-General Dr. Moji Christiana Adeyeye said the situation was counterproductive to the country’s drive to rejuvenate its agro-economy, and pledged the preparedness of her agency to deal decisively with those on the wrong side of the law.

Contributing SON Director-GEneral Mr. Osita  Aboloma said most of the products in the markets are substandard and adulterated.

According to him, investigations by his agency reveal that a larger percentage of agrochemicals in the market are substandard, containing contaminated contents or do not contain any active ingredients.

Others country of origin, he said, are falsified or re-labelled or expired.

Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kano State chapter, Farouq Rabi’u Mudi, said for long, farmers in the Northwest region had been suffering losses in their yearly output due to wrong use of substandard chemicals on their farmlands.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has warned: “Every pesticide user should avoid choosing products whose origin is not guaranteed. The efficacy of the products cannot be guaranteed and they can be more toxic to humans and the environment than products from a bona fide source as they contain toxic impurities normally eliminated by reputable manufacturers.”

Experts at Arjo Solution, an international firm in authentication and traceability solutions to combat counterfeiting, parallel markets and illicit trade said: “The use of fake products generates lands depletion, compromises crop yield and threaten farmers’ health.”

Palm oil makers’ profits slump to five-year low on supply glut

Palm oil makers’ profits slump to five-year low on supply glut

The relative stability in the foreign exchange (FX) market which has led to cheaper imports has dealt a blow to oil palm producers as their earnings slumped the most in five years.
Hitherto, firms like Okomu and Presco made money when the regulator imposed ban on importers from accessing foreign exchange for certain product including palm-oil and textiles in June 2015.
However, they started losing market share when the introduction of the Importers’ and Exporters’ (I & E) Window in June 2017, which strengthened liquidity in the foreign exchange market and paved the way for customers to import product.
“Foreign exchange has been more available compared to the past and the importers of agricultural input that used to patronize these firms during scarcity now have alternatives,” said Kayode Tinuoye, Fund Manager for Institutions and Private Clients at United Capital Asset Management, Limited.
“The weaker the naira the more revenue they can make from exports, but when the currency stabilizes, import will become cheaper. So exports are not as lucrative as it used to be,” said Tinuoye.
For the First six months through June 2018, after tax profits for the 2 major palm oil producers that have reported results fell by 28.15 percent to N3.98 billion from N5.55 billion the previous year.
Combined sales were down 2.78 percent to N24.59 billion in the period under review, this compares with 70.25 percent growth in the 2017 periods. The market reacted to the weaker than expected results as the share price of major palm producer’s fell.
This is in stark contrast to last year when both companies were star performers on the floor of the exchange as investors reacted positively to the slew of earning growth. Okomu’s shares have shed 3.27 percent since the start of the year while it dropped 10 percent to close at N74.70 on the floor of the exchange.
Presco’s shares have dropped 22.87 percent since the start of the year. Experts attribute slow sales to weak consumer income, supply glut brought on by illegal shipments of products to neighbouring West African countries and a plunge in global CPO prices.
“FEWSNET is reporting an 11% quarter on quarter QoQ deceleration in refined CPO prices. This is in consonance with plunging global CPO prices—an off shoot of widening surplus in the global CPO market,” ARM research said in a July 31 note to clients. Domestic CPO prices have faced a downtrend in line with global CPO prices, with prospect of widening CPO surplus.
The USDA forecasts a 51 percent jump in global surplus to 4.9 million MT) dragging global CPO prices with pass through effect on domestic CPO prices down -27% YoY to around N91,969.44/MT, according to ARM.
“There are fears the situation may get worse if the government gives import waivers “to some people for political reasons” ahead of 2019 general elections, as happened in the past,” said Okomu Chief Executive Officer Graham Hefer. Oil palm firms were unable to turn each naira generated in sales into higher profit as margins dropped.
Okomu’S net profit margins fell to 45.83 percent in the period under review. Presco saw a drop in net profit margin to 34.19 percent in June 2018 from 43.29 percent the previous year.
Okomu, which currently mills 30 metric tons of palm oil per hour, plans to double its capacity by 2020 on the completion of a $50 million plant. The company operates 33,000 hectares (82,000 acres) of oil palm and rubber trees, according to its website.
Presco trades at a current price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 10.8x versus 8.0x for main peer Okomu.
“Okomu will be in a better position to generate positive earnings when yields at its plantations start to pick up,” said Damilola Olupona, analyst at Investment firm Asset & Resource Management.

C’River Set to Inaugurate 30,0000 Tons Cocoa Processing Plant

 

 

 

The Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, has announced that the 30,000 tonnes per annum cocoa processing plant in Ikom, Central Cross River State which is currently under construction will be completed and commissioned soon.

A visibly elated Ayade made the announcement in reaction to the recent delivery of equipment for the plant, which he said would provide employment opportunities when it becomes operational.
“I am really impressed. As you can see, intellectual money is on display here. From what I have seen, the contractors deserve excellent pats on the back. This is what we call commitment and consistency,” Ayade said while inspecting ongoing work at the plant.

Ayade said the plant was configured with the capacity to process cocoa beans to chocolate bars.
“Again, we are going to be the first in Africa as this is the first cocoa processing plant that will process cocoa beans to chocolate,” the governor said.

Ayade said with the delivery of the equipment, his vision for cocoa revolution in the state was crystalising.
The governor said the plant would bring about value-chain addition to cocoa, which will ultimately enrich cocoa farmers in the state.
“This is the spirit of intellectual money and Cross River ultimately will be proud that I knew where I was going from the beginning.

“I am following an agenda that at the end of my eight years in office, when every single citizen of the state remembers my days, he or she will say this young man had a great vision.
“For all the years gone by Cross River has been producing cocoa for other states to bear the name because we did not have an off-take mechanism, we did not have a programme by government to buy off the cocoa at good rates. So, outsiders used to come in and buy the cocoa from us and grade it as cocoa from their own state,”Ayade said.

He said the plant would offer cocoa farmers in the state, “the opportunity, platform and industry to process their own cocoa, giving a premium value for money. A cocoa house is going to be built here. Once you have a cocoa farm, you just come here, collect money during harvest, we take your cocoa, so you have money for the product and you don’t have to go to bank to get a loan.”

 

Agency to Outlaw Importation of Agric Equipment

 

 

 

 

The National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM) has said that it has completed arrangement to outlaw the importation of some agricultural tools into the country.

NCAM, which disclosed this in Minna, Niger State yesterday, said the organisation would now emphasise the local production of these farming implements.

Speaking at the donation of some modern farming implements to agricultural cooperative societies in the state, the Director General of the Kwara state-based organisation, Mr. Jackson Babajide, said some of the farming tools imported into the country were becoming too difficult for rural farmers to use.

“We have discovered that farming methods and some implements are becoming very difficult for farmers in the rural communities, part of our mandate is to discover and develop small scale equipment to reduce the burden of processing to the teaming farming population across the country looking at the areas of comparative advantage

“The machines manufactured and fabricated by the centre are designed to withstand environmental hardship and could be maintained locally without any difficulty,” Babajide said.

He said it was as a result of the “remarkable achievements” of the organisation in the field of agricultural technology, that the agency decided to embark on a tour of the six geo-political zones of the country to, “showcase some of our works for interested farmers throughout the country and to reproduce them based on demand.”

The Managing Director of the Niger State Agricultural Mechanisation Development Authority, Alhaji Sadiq Ibrahim, in an address, said the donation of the modern farming tools by the agency was to encourage rural farming activities and large scale farming across the state.

Ibrahim assured that the state government would liaise and persuade farmers and other cooperative societies on the need to urgently adopt mechanised method of farming for rapid agricultural development in the state.

A Death Knell on Fertilizer Racketeering

 

 

 

In the past, the subsidy on fertilizer was a conduit where favoured individuals and companies would sweep all the money and pretended to have imported fertilizer, when there was really nothing.

But with the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), fertilizer has become available and affordable. With increased capacity utilisation and opening of new blending plants in different parts of the country, the federal government was sure to achieve its target of food security, thereby saving billions of naira that would have gone into importation and the associated leakages.

To achieve this, the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) became handy. The association is made up of plants and companies that produce fertilizers in Nigeria and also the distributors of these companies who distribute fertilizers to the farmers and retail outlets.

The Chairman of FEPSAN, Thomas Etu, told THISDAY that the initiative has saved the country millions of dollars that were initially embezzled.

According to him, sourcing 63 per cent of raw materials found in the country for inputs, have saved the country $200 million in foreign exchange.

“What we have done is to make sure that we adopt a cost-saving model as against the previous regime of subsidy. This programme therefore has also saved the Nigerian Government N60 billion in subsidy.

“Our programme is so tight that there is no type of subsidy in it which is why we called it a cost-saving model. This was how this initiative was born. Because we were importing the main active ingredients from Morocco, President Muhammadu Buhari himself initiated a trip to this country to negotiate with the Morocoan King on how we could get phosphate on a government-to-government basis.

“This yielded a good deal for the country in pricing. It was left for the committee to negotiate the potash with the government of Belarus.
“It was therefore the discounts we got from these deals and added to the value we got from sourcing 63 per cent of other raw materials locally that we then transferred to the farmers. And that was how we were able to reduce the price to N5,500 per bag.

This is so because we book the Agro dealers at N5,000 and allow them to sell to the end-users at N5,500, leaving them with a margin of just N500 for each bag sold.”
Etu also addressed the challenges of bringing competitors together especially given that the margins were not high.
“But we had to make people understand that we needed to get this done for the benefit of Nigerians. We are Nigerians and we need to create jobs for Nigerians.

“We have 32 blending plants in Nigeria that were moribund. Out of this, only five blending plants and at 10 per cent capacity because excessive emphasis was laid on importation, which also meant, by its very implication that we were exporting our jobs even when we cannot provide jobs here in Nigeria.

“Foreign exchanges that are scarce, we are spending it building other people’s economy. Anybody that is committed to this country will know that unemployment is raging like fire. Some of these factories you see, some of them have been out of operation for 15 to 20 years.

“So, we saw it as an opportunity to help get the country back on track. We were lucky that we have a president that has the interest and political will to make a difference and he was ready to make this initiative to work. And we had no option but to key in to this willingness.

“It was tough. I practically had to meet each and every one of them one after the other and make them understand that this is not politics but about building our nation and each one of us had a role to play. The president, during his speech at the inauguration of this Committee, commended the producers for dropping their differences as competitors and came together for the interest of the nation.

“He was also of the wish that other sectors, other industries would emulate what we were able to do at FEPSAN. The challenge was there, and they were challenges of business interests. But we have been able to surmount it because there was an overriding interest which was and still is the interest of Nigeria. More importantly, we saw the sincerity of the president and his team in seeing to it that this programme worked.

“Today, Nigerians can testify, farmers can testify that it has been a great initiative. I give you an example; the revolution that happened in rice production, the revolution that happened in maize production. Let me even go back to what happened in fertilizer production. What will interest you is that in 2017, because of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, Nigerians consumption stood at 1,570,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer.”

Also, the General Manager, Ebonyi Sate Fertilizer and Chemical Company limited and Senior Special Assistant to Ebonyi State Governor on Investment, Prof Ogbonnaya Chukwu, spoke on the gains recorded by the initiative.

“Now, if you allow it to attract much profit as maybe the desire of an astute businessman, the farmers may not be able to afford.
“I can tell you that throughout last year, every farmer in Ebonyi State and its environs none complained of non-availability of fertilizer unless you didn’t come to buy. It was made very affordable because NPK was sold for N5,500 to the farmers and agro dealers pick it at N5,000 a bag and sell to the farmers at N5,500.

“Agro dealers are registered business people involved in distribution, carrying fertilizer from point of production to the end users.
“They registered with FEPSAN. If you are not registered FEPSAN as an agro dealer, you cannot lift fertilizer under the PFI. The PFI intervention has been a very wonderful thing as far as fertilizer production is concern.

“We began production in April 13, 2017 and by August 30 same year, we have already produced hundred thousand and 46 bags and they farmers conveniently came here and bought 51,171 bags, which ordinarily they would have to travel far distances.”

In Plateau State, Jacob Gimbar Manu explained that initially, “people were sceptical about it, but we are knowing those behind it, we felt it’s not a programme that will fail. We felt our effort too is needed, let us support and see how we can contribute something to our nation.

“And with the big names in the sector and those that initiated the programme, they never monopolised the programme. If it was monopolised, we would have been suffering. There’s a level playing ground for everyone to participate and there’s fair play in every area of it.”
On the CBN expected loan to support the business, he revealed that the loan has not been disbursed yet.

He added, “The blending support fund you talked about has not been disbursed. But by the time that gets to us, we will definitely do better because you cannot expand in business without the support of financial institutions. If you are struggling with your hard-earned money, it ends at what you have. With financial support, you have ability to expand.

When asked to comment on the PFI initiative, Manu said “Sincerely, if you want to make proper analysis, you discover that it has reduced poverty within some areas. Poverty eradication is not just about giving you wealth, it’s for you to be able to at least have three square meal.

“When I talk about space, it is in terms of scale of your farming. I got testimony of farmers that where they used to apply 15 bags, now with eight bags, it gives them a better result with the PFI.

“The quality of the product and the way FEPSAN has put check in place, has drastically reduced the level of adulteration. Before now, I’ve seen farmers in my local government going for loan of N 100,000 and applying the fertiliser without effect and you see people collapsing and dying.

“Why? It’s because a poor farmer can’t get a loan of 100,000 to get a fertiliser that is not effective in his farm. But with the PFI, accessibility and quality is there, so the farmers are at rest.”
On his part, the executive secretary of FEPSAN, Mohammed Rabiu Kwa, argued that the initiative should be replicated in other sectors.

Cassava Growers Train Edo Farmers on Mechanisation, GAP

 

  • Edo SUBEB trains 300 teachers

 

        Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki

 

 

The Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) has completed training for farmers in Edo State on farm mechanisation and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

Explaining the rationale for the training, held in Benin City, the Edo State Chairman, NCGA, Donatus Imaghodor, noted that “The training will equip farmers with the tools and knowledge of how to increase and improve farm yield by deploying the right methods and techniques. This will enable them make more profit from the same size of land with less labour.”

He said the input from farmers at the end of the programme will assist the state government fulfill Governor Godwin Obaseki’s campaign promise to create 200,000 jobs for the youth.

“It will also assist the farmers to contribute significantly to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and make the state the food basket of the nation,” he assured.

Imaghodor expressed appreciation to Obaseki for his systematic efforts towards the development of the state especially in the area of agriculture, adding, “I appeal to the governor to help open more farmland, recognise smallholder farmers as they contribute in their little way to food security.”

A farmer, who participated in the event, Imafidon Helen, expressed delight at the training, noting, “I am happy that Edo State Government is focusing on agriculture to create jobs for youth in the state.”

Imafidon added, “This training has equipped us with the necessary information needed to embrace mechanised farming to enhance our productivity and increase our income with less labour.”

Marketing Communication Manager, Dizengoff Nigeria, Humphrey Otalor, explained that the training was organised to enlighten the farmers and assist them improve their yield.

“Edo state is a place we fill comfortable and encouraged to empower farmers because the government has shown interest in agriculture. The government is serious about creating jobs through agribusiness.”

He said the training would encourage youth in the state to go into farming and help eradicate food scarcity.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), has flagged off the training of 300 teachers drawn from 300 public primary schools in the state in the pilot scheme of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) programme.

Acting Chairperson, Edo SUBEB and Special Adviser to the Governor on Basic Education, Dr. Joan Oviawe, disclosed this when executives of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) called at her office, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

The Edo-BEST is a basic education reform blueprint that prioritises deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools in teaching, harmonises teaching and learning outcomes across locations and promotes an interactive classroom management model, among others.

The meeting was to get the buy-in of the leadership of the NUT and unveil how the reforms will revolutionise the basic education subsector in the state.

Oviawe said the scope of work for EDO- BEST would include governance and institutional development; teacher and curriculum development; community participation and partnership, and infrastructure and organisational development. She added that the reforms will be spread across the 18 Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs).

She emphasised that there was an urgent need to improve teacher quality and performance, increase numeracy and literacy levels, improve infrastructure as well as engender support system for school administration and management for increased efficiency.

She said the EDO-BEST programme would develop highly skilled teaching workforce, adding, “We have already selected those to be trained on how to use ICT tools such as tablets in the classrooms. This will help harmonise learning outcomes. The programme will also enhance the Edo State Basic Education Curriculum and restore public confidence in the quality of education offered in public schools.”

Assuring members of the NUT that the reforms are in the best interest of the state, she said, “Government is not out to witch hunt anyone, neither are there plans to sack anybody or close down schools as is being rumoured.

“The narrative in the last few years needs to change. We should put a stop to the blame game and work together to give quality education to our children. The aim of these reforms is to develop a collaborative and support structure between teachers and government to improve the system” she said.

The SUBEB boss revealed that 300 head teachers will be selected to participate in a pilot scheme of Edo-BEST programme in 300 schools. “They will be trained to use tablets loaded with lesson notes and guides that help imbibe positive classroom management procedures to effectively drive learning outcomes,” she added.

Chairman, NUT Edo State Chapter, Comrade Pius Okhueleigbe, expressed appreciation to the acting chairman of SUBEB for her efforts to reform the sector. He pledged the union’s continued support to government’s reforms to improve the state’s education sector.

Director, Bridge Policy and Partnership for Africa, Adesuwa Ifedi, said the place of technology in ensuring better outcomes in schools is incontrovertible, assuring that the Edo-BEST programme would solve some problems of inconsistency in teaching standards.

According to her, “every other sector is using technology, education must change, teachers must follow suit; teachers are nation builders. With the use of digital lesson plans, teachers can work with prepared lesson plan to ease their burden and give more time to supervise the children and manage their classrooms.”

 

 

 

 

Avocados with edible anti-spoilage coating hit US stores

 

 

 

A coating made from edible waste plant material is now used on avocados sold in US supermarkets. The material however, gives the fruits more anti spoilage capacity than ordinary avocados.

We’ve already heard about experimental edible coatings made from silk, pectin and chitosan that increase the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Created by California-based Apeel Sciences, the Apeel coating is made from non-toxic organic compounds known as lipids and glycerolipids, which are derived from the unwanted peels, seeds and pulp of various types of vegetables and fruit.

The coating is reportedly colourless, odourless and tasteless, and is typically applied to produce in a dipping process. It then proceeds to form a barrier that helps keep moisture from dissipating out of the fruit/vegetable, while minimizing the amount of oxygen that can get in. According to the company, this allows produce to stay fresh two to three times longer than would otherwise be possible.

Not only should the coating reduce the amount of fruit and vegetables lost to spoilage, but it should also allow growers to pick and ship produce when it’s actually ripe, as opposed to picking underripe produce that then ripens in stores or consumer’s homes.