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BusinessDay 11 Apr 2018

C002D5556 30 BUSINESS

C002D5556 30 BUSINESS DAY Wednesday 11 April 2018 In association with ag@businessdayonline.com Nigeria’s cassava producer status dented as starch, flour imports hit $654mn JOSEPHINE OKOJIE AND BUNMI BAILEY Despite being world’s largest cassava producer, Nigeria is among the top global importers of cassava by-products such as starch, flour and ethanol. A recent sectorial report by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) shows that the country imported a $654 million (N235.4 billion) worth of cassava by-products in 2017. Development stakeholders attributed to the low quality of cassava flour and technology gaps in the processing of these by-products in the country. Nigeria industries have continued to import, starch, flour and ethanol in large quantities as they claim that not much local starch and flour meets their standards, saying that the market has failed to constantly supply high quality starch and flour. This puts pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserves, money that could have been saved if the country could tap into the opportunities in cassava production. “Quality and technology are the major issues still driving the importation of these by-products,” said Tunde Oderinde, team leader, Market Development Programme in the Nigeria Delta (MADE), a body promoting Nigeria cassava value chain development in a response to questions. “Technology is a major issue and our local processors are not investing, most of them just go to a fabricator to pick things up in shelves without paying much attention to the right quality the industries who are users of these by-products wants.” “We need an integrated mill where the quality and granular of these by-products are uniform and consistent without having colour,” Oderinde said. According to MAN sectorial data, Nigeria’s demand for starch is put at 600,000MT and supply is 24,000MT with imports accounting for 576,000MT (96 percent) yearly. Also, local demand for HQCF is put at 504,000MT and supply is 60,480MT, with importation accounting for 443,520MT (88 percent) yearly. Similarly, ethanol demand is put at 350 million MT and local supply is 10.5 million MT, while imports accounted for 339.5 million MT (97 percent) yearly. Starch and cassava flour are used in many across food and beverage firms for the production of caramel, biscuits, bread and confectioneries. It is also used in pharmaceutical and non-food industries such as batteries firms, gum and super glue, among others. “We in the pharmaceuticals industry import heavy tonnage of corn starch because the modified cassava starch does not meet up with the acceptable pharma standards,” Orimadegun Agboade, chairman and managing director, Orfema Pharmaceutical Industry Limited told BusinessDay. Union Dicon is one company showing massive interest in starch, having acquired 15,000 hectares of land in Ebonyi to produce cassava, starch and other food products. “Nigeria mostly operates in the upstream cassava sector rather than the downstream, which limits advantages the country can get,” AfricaFarmer Mogaji, CEO, X-Ray Farms Consulting Limited said. “The price of fresh cassava tuber from the farm is higher than the price of imported processed cassava chips. Our cassava yield is still low even if we are the largest producers, there is no equipment for planting and harvesting,” Mogaji said. “We need to competitive and this requires a lot of investments in the various value chains. We need to increase the productivity of our smallholder farmers from an average of 12 metric tons per hectare to 24 metric tons per hectare to drive down the price of fresh tubers, thereby making our by-products price competitive,” he added. Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with about 46 million metric tonnes and an average yield per hectare between 10.6 to 15 metric tonnes. The biggest challenge confronting farmers is low yield per hectare. “Farmers are not getting the yield they are supposed to get and this makes them not to break even. If the production of cassava is not attractive, farmers will not expand their production areas,” said Abdulai Jalloh, project leader, African Cassava Agronomy Initiative. He said that some of the limiting factors to increased productivity in cassava production are poor weed control and high cost of farm inputs. Research across the globe show that some countries have started using micro-nutrients to upscale cassava yields to about 100 metric tonnes per hectare with starch content of cassava up-scaled to 38 percent in Indian and 40 percent in Malaysia. Jalloh stated that If Nigeria must take advantage of the high potentials in cassava production; farmers need varieties with high starch content, adding that government must initiate policies that would boost cassava production in the country. Cassava requires less labour than all other staple crops. However, it requires considerable post-harvest labour because the roots are highly perishable and must be processed into a storable form soon after harvest, experts say. Drip irrigation seen as solution to dry season farming challenges JOSEPHINE OKOJIE As effect of the dry season begins to take its toll on cultivated farmlands across the country, farmers have been urged to embrace drip irrigation method as a way out of the challenge and deliver better crop yield. “Undoubtedly one of the most critical issues at the onset of the dry season beside insects and pests is the question of irrigation. And it is the same headache with every farmer at this period of the year whether large, medium or the small holder farmer. I believe drip irrigation provides the best solution to this problem,” Oscar Walumbe, integrated country project manager, Dizengoff Nigeria said on sidelines of the recent farmers’ summit held in Abuja. “Drip irrigation offers the most cost effective and efficient irrigation method that can be adapted by farmers across the country whether large, medium or small holders, to address the perennial problem associated with dry season farming. It is one sure method if well managed that guarantees all year round farming to enable increased crop production as well as deliver better crop yield” Walumbe said. He posited that the method holds the proverbial magic key as “the most efficient and cost effective method capable of ensuring better crop yields for the Nigerian farmer.” The drip method allows water to drip and drop from pipes running through the farm. The process helps to conserve water and properly pass moisture to soil and thereby boost yield. It also makes even distribution of fertilizers to crops possible through the process of fertigation. Underlining the advantages of the drip irrigation system propagated by Dizengoff, Walumbe disclosed that beside its simplicity in terms of installation, “it is gravity operated with heavy duty drippers with wide water passages to prevent clogging. “It uses water in the most efficient way, it is flexible and suitable to adapt to different water sources. It is equally adaptable to any soil and weather conditions, just as it enables fertigation - that is the process by which fertilizers are applied through the irrigation system. Walumbe who drew attention to the increasing devastating impact of changes in the weather predicted more difficulties in the environment and urged farmers to move away from dependence on rain fed agriculture and embrace irrigation farming, as the way out the challenges ahead. “Changes in the weather are increasingly making it difficult to plan farming tasks with any certainty, and this on its own has huge impact on production. I would expect that farmers will take that decision to embrace the irrigation method, in this instance the drip system which is cost effective and actually more efficient farming method,” he added. No plastic fish in Nigeria, says NAFDAC LAIDE AKINBOADE-ORIERE The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), on Friday denied the circulation of plastic fish in Nigeria. In a statement issued by NAFDAC Abuja, the regulatory agency said, after a thorough investigation and analysis of some suspected plastic fish samples in her laboratory, it was discovered that there is no such fish in Nigeria. According to the agency, the investigation was triggered by a report from a Nigerian consumer in Abuja that he bought a fish and discovered that it refused to cook when it was set on fire for several minutes. “The suspected sample of the fish after thorough investigation was confirmed to contain protein and fat which is normal for fish,” the statement states. “The fish was however found to be unwholesome due to serious bacterial contamination,” the statement added. NAFDAC therefore, encourages Nigerians to watch carefully the kind of fish they buy, it is, however, important to stress that there is no plastic fish in Nigeria. It would be recalled that few weeks ago, there has been the circulation of suspected plastic fish in some parts of the world in the social media. There is, however, no single case found in Nigeria so far. NAFDAC therefore, call on Nigerians to report any suspected unwholesome product including fish to the nearest NAFDAC office for further investigation.

Wednesday 11 April 2018 C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 31 ag@businessdayonline.com Stakeholders launch Nigeria’s version of RSPO for oil palm JOSEPHINE OKOJIE Stakeholders in the Nigerian oil palm industry have launched the national interpretation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for the country. RSPO requires palm oil producing countries to develop their respective national interpretation of the RSPO principles and criteria which stakeholders in the oil palm supply chain would be accessed and endorsed for RSPO certification. For Nigeria oil palm firms to be able to source finance from financial institutions and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), it must have the RSPO certification, which is a requirement for them. “The RSPO is developed by a set of principles and criteria that defines practices for sustainable palm oil production. These standards address the legal, economic, environment and social requirements of producing sustainable palm oil,” Fatai Afolabi, facilitator, RSPO Initiative Nigeria, said at a recent press briefing held in Lagos. “This would ensure that oil palm plantation owners minimise their environmental footprint and that basic rights of local land owners, farm worker and indigenous people are fully respected,” Afolabi said. According to the Stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain, the RSPO national interpretation will help build sustainability in the country’s palm oil industry. Since losing its position as one of the world’s largest palm oil producers, efforts are being geared to ensure that the country takes back its place in the comity of crude palm oil producing nations and one of such ways is the launch of the country’s RSPO national interpretation. “We need to start producing palm oil in a sustainable way if we are to take back our position in global palm oil production,” he said. Nigeria currently produces about 970,000 metric tons of CPO, while local consumption is estimated at 2.7 million tons per annum, indicating an estimated demand-supply gap of over 1.7 million MT. Ogun poultry farmers seek government incentives ...accuses SON of complicity in production of substandard feeds RAZAQ AYINLA, Abeokuta Worried by unfavourable attention given to local poultry production in the country, farmers under the auspices of Poultry Association of Nigeria, Ogun State (PANOG) have requested government at all levels to assist farmers with incentives to help develop the country’s poultry value chain. The call to develop the entire value chain of poultry production, according to PANOG was borne out of sincere desire to grow the subsector from the production of quality feeds at reasonable prices which would jerk up production, reduce prices of eggs and chickens, and serve as a natural panacea to imported poultry products. Speaking at an interactive session aimed at ‘Providing Optimum Feed at Optimum Price’ which was organised by PANOG recently in Ijebu-Ode, Blessing Alawode, chairperson, explained that smuggling of imported poultry products was possible when the production capacity of poultry farmers in the country is too low and the prices are not competitive. “Government needs to offer incentives for farmers who produce soya beans and other inputs that are used for poultry feeds and other industrial purposes, to help feed producers drive down their production cost which translates to other value chain in the subsector,” Alawode said. She declared that the less attention paid to poultry industry by government remains the major challenge facing the industry and this is affecting pricing which is making Nigeria’s poultry products less competitiveness at the international market. Alawode stated that until cogent incentives in form high-yielding soya bean seeds and farm produce that form part of poultry feeds ingredients, unhindered access to farm implements and provision of other relevant infrastructure, the production capacity of farmers would remain same and the smuggling of imported poultry products would rise again due to low production capacity. “There should be high-yielding seeds and seedlings to farmers, in that respect, the focus of government should not only be on rice and other food crops, but there should be holistic approach to all farm produce and agricultural production that are used for the production of other raw materials and goods. “In Ogun State for instance, the government has acquired tractors and farm implements which are located in Local Government Secretariats but for the farmers to get these implements for agricultural purposes, it is hell. “That is why we call on government to help us and being about policies that addresses all these challenges,” she added. James Durosaro, Animal and Poultry Nutritionist, who was one of discussants, accused the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) of not leaving to expectations in terms of standards and regulations on poultry feeds, as all sorts of feeds are allowed into the market which affects production of quality eggs and chickens. He stated that if SON has been given proper monitoring such act ought to have been prevented. “In US, we have maize grade I, maize grade II, but in Nigeria, there is nothing like that. Anybody can just supply anything without proper checking. For instance, Nigeria has the best soya in the whole world, yet it is being exported and what we have is Genetically Modified (GMO) to replace the one we have. “In most cases, SON do more of theoretical aspects in monitoring. If proper monitoring has been in place, a lot of manufacturers would have been charged to court,” Durosaro said. Cadbury Nigeria launches healthy lifestyle programme for children, families Cadbury Nigeria Plc has announced the launch of a healthy lifestyle programme aimed at bringing nutrition education, active play and fresh foods to at-risk children and their families in Nigeria. Cadbury Nigeria joins nine other countries in the Mondelez International family in this initiative, which will involve a $50million multi-year commitment to promote healthy lifestyles and address obesity. In a statement, Amir Shamsi, managing director of Cadbury West Africa, said it was the first-ever Mondelez International Foundationfunded effort in Nigeria. “The programme, which will run over a three-year period, is targeted at nearly 6,000 children and families in nine schools. It will operate in Cadbury Nigeria (Ikeja and Ondo) and focus on nutrition and healthy lifestyle,” he said. Shamsi stated that the foundation would partner Helen Keller International to teach about 6,000 children the importance of proper nutrition, physical activity and gardening through in-school and after-school activities. “Making a positive impact on the people and the planet is at the core of who we are,” added Sarah Delea, president of the Mondelez International Foundation, in a statement. “Since 2012, our partners and their programmes have been transforming the lives of more than a million children around the globe by increasing their nutrition knowledge, physical activity and access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The addition of seven new programmes further builds on our commitment to help communities thrive and improve the well-being of school-age children and their families.” Speaking on the partnership, Kathy Spahn, president and CEO of Helen Keller International, said: “We are proud to partner again with the Mondelez International Foundation to implement nutrition education and healthy lifestyle projects in Nigeria. We came together in Indonesia to improve the wellbeing of children and their families. We’re excited to now bring our combined expertise to Nigeria to encourage and instil healthy habits in children from an early age.” Cadbury Nigeria has a rich heritage of robust corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, and has, for decades, been supplying potable water to its immediate host community in Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria, among other initiatives. Edo LGA plans oil palm plantation to boost revenue IDRIS UMAR MOMOH, Benin Ok oro Ekogiawe Sylvester, chairman of Orhionmwon Local Government Council, has promised to increase the LG owned palm oil plantation by 10,000 hectares to boost revenue. Sylvester, who gave the hint in Abudu, the administrative headquarters of Orhionmwon, during an interactive session with some senior staff of the council also promised to secure 20,000 hectares of land for the cultivation of plantain, cassava, coco yam and maize. He said the gesture was part of his administration priority to revamp the economic fortune of the council through sustainable agriculture. The chairman promised that the management of Presco Plc and Okomu oil Plc will be approached with a view to improve on the existing council palm oil plantation, adding that milling machines would be installed at the already existing council palm oil plantation in Abudu. While noting that the locality is predominantly farmers, he added that the indigenes will be encouraged to be more focus in their farming, while government will provide the enabling environment. He also added that investors will be encouraged to take advantage of the abandoned farm lands in the locality to invest in any area of the agricultural sector. The council boss, who however warned that his administration will not tolerate idleness and laziness, noting that the only way for the council to be less dependence on the monthly allocation from the Federal Government is to invest in agriculture and agribusiness.

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