Stories by Steve Agbota
Nigeria is yet to tap benefits of sugarcane farming despite the huge potential of raw sugarcane to generate about N2.5 trillion annually when turned to finished goods.
With overall sugar consumption in the region of 1.5 million tonnes, Nigeria is the largest consumer of sugar in Africa after South Africa, but the industry is still dependent on raw sugar imports.
In a recent statement attested to by African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nigeria produces two per cent of its requirement, estimated at 1.7 million tonnes while importing 98 per cent of the commodity.
Despite the Federal Government’s interventions through incentives to create an enabling environment for investors such as zero per cent duty on machinery and spare parts by companies, as well as 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar, recent statistics show that Nigeria currently spends N200 billion on importation of sugar and consumes about 1.43 trillion metric tonnes of sugar yearly.
The sugar sub-sector, which is classified as employment spinning sector of the economy, is capable of creating job opportunities for millions of Nigerians and generating income for farmers who are into sugarcane farming.
Recently, the Director of Policy, Planning, Research and Statistics of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Mr. Hezekiah Kolawole, said that sugarcane can provide an alternative source of electricity in Nigeria, adding that sugarcane has the capacity to generate 411 megawatts of electricity and create 117,000 jobs but regretted the business has been neglected in Nigeria.
He stated: “Sugarcane is not only used for the production of sugar and fuel ethanol but can also be used for the generation of electricity and in the production of a host of other derivatives including food preservatives and seasoning, as well as industrial chemicals used in the pharmaceutical, leather and other industries. The government should adopt sugarcane as a raw material for the generation of electricity and production of industrial goods, which would have gone a long way in solving the problem of shortage of power supply in the country.’’
The Coordinator, Agribusiness and Youths Empowerment of Community of Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria (CASON)/Managing Director, Universal Quest Limited, Mr. Sotonye Anga, said there is need to commercialise sugarcane production across Nigeria and emulating what other successful sugarcane economies have done.
He added: “A deliberate sugar policy that will be followed through is required now. If Nigeria has a sugar master plan, what are we doing? Is it about creating a master plan? What are the implementation strategies? We need to implement the sugar master plan to the letter and doing this means that we must deliberately boost our local production, which will solve the problem and it would be in the best interest of Nigeria.”
He said stopping importation of sugar completely and rebuilding sugarcane industry will enable Nigeria to reduce the pressure on the naira as so much is spent importing sugar into Nigeria, adding that if Nigeria can cut the massive import of sugar by replacing it with locally produced sugar, it will save the country a whole lot in terms of the huge spending that goes into sugar importation, which will also mean creating a lot of jobs for people.
Said he: “We need to come back to the basis and do things right. What we need to do now at this critical point is to stop complete importation of sugar. We need to rebuild our sugarcane industry. In building that, we need to enable our sugarcane farmers to go back to commercial sugarcane production and we have to support our agric businesses to go into serious and deliberate sugar product refinery.
“When they know there is enough business for them, it means they have a guaranteed market, then give them a justification to be stable in production of sugarcane knowing that there is existing capacity that would turn whatever sugarcane that is produced into finished product and once that is done, it means we have a enough sugar product for local consumption and we have enough to export across Africa and other places.”
Commercial pig breeding turns peasant farmers to millionaires
Commercial pig breeding is growing fast across the nation and the rest of the world owing to the fact that farmers are making millions from the business.
Pig farming, also known as piggery, is said to be making investors and entrepreneurs smile to the bank on a daily basis due to high demand in Nigeria.
Despite the huge profitability of piggery, many Nigerians are still overlooking the business because of ignorance of how it works
Pig farming in Nigeria can play an important role in eradicating unemployment, poverty, malnutrition while also generating additional income. Raising pigs commercially can afford one the opportunity to both meet his family’s nutritional demands and earn some extra cash.
Being one of the most reproductive livestock in the world, breeding processes of pigs is easy and simple because the gestation period is not more than 115 days. A female pig (sow) gives birth to piglets twice a year and produces more than 10 kids each time. After delivery, the kids will be fed on breast milk for the first nine weeks, after which the sow becomes suitable for mating again.
A fully-grown pig goes for as much as N35,000 depending on the weight. Now, imagine for a year if a farmer is able to rear 100 pigs to maturity. Such farmer will be making N3.1 million from the sales. If the farmer decides to take it higher by rearing like 2,000 pigs in a year, the farmer will be making up to N62 million.
Considering how fast pigs reproduce, it would not be much of a big deal to rear 100 pigs in a year.
In 2014, in a forum organised by the Commercial Agric Development Programme (CADP) team, former Commissioner for Agriculture, Lagos State, Gbolahan Lawal, said that pig production business in Lagos State alone has the potential of generating about $2 billion annually. There are two piggery estates in the state, which are located in Oke Aro and Gberigbe in Ifo and Ikorodu local government areas respectively with a total of 250 pens being managed by 1,200 farmers of the total 2,350 pig farmers in the state.
Oke Aro Pig Farm Estate has the largest concentration of pig farmers in the West African sub region and has patronage from as far as Republic of Benin.
The Managing Director of Abibcom Farms, Mr. Habib Stephen, who spoke to Daily Sun, said the business is profitable especially when the system of breeding the animals is productive, as a potential farmer must have a qualified male for breed selection among offspring, which is very important.
For swine production, he said potential farmers must take note of some key raw materials and vital in animal formulation, which include, palm kernel cake, cassava and other waste products, which are important to pig feeding.
Potential farmers are advised to consider the following factors in order to keep their pigs healthy, productive and free from adverse climate and all types of predators, which include housing, feeding, breeding, marketing, pig farm sanitation and proper nutrition for pigs.
FG targets 7m tonnes of rice annually
The Federal Government has said that the present administration is targeting an annual production of seven million tonnes of staple rice with the new technology of rice production from 2017.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, dropped the hint during his meeting with a delegation from the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA), led by its Chief Representative, Mr. Nakamura Hirotaka, in his office.
The Minister lauded the Rice Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Pilot Project (RIPMAPP) developed by JICA, especially the new technology to small scale rice processors, saying that rice production which was three tonnes per hectare has improved to seven tonnes per hectare in some states of the federation with the new technology of rice production and new formula of fertilizer production and soil mapping in which each state has its own soil mapping and soil texture, which made the production high.
Ogbeh thanked JICA for its support to Nigeria and assured them of full collaboration that would be needed to develop the nation’s agricultural sector. He emphasised the need to take the milling machines provided by JICA to rural areas to complement the bigger ones, which are mostly in the urban areas.
The Minister informed JICA of the Federal Government’s plan to buy some rice milling machines from Japan, which would be proposed in the 2017 budget and urged them to explore the idea of converting rice chaffs to briquettes for household uses.
He said Nigeria would continue to leverage on its relationship with JICA and asked them to convey Nigeria’s appreciation to Japanese government.
While presenting an overview of RIPMAPP, the Director, Department of Agribusiness and Marketing Development in the Ministry, Mufutau Azeez, explained that the RIPMAPP in Nassarawa and Niger states, which government officially requested the Japanese government to implement was borne out of its desire to address the challenges facing the post-harvest processing of rice in the country.
He added that the main purpose of the project was to develop human resource capacity of officials of the Ministry, rice producers, processors and marketers of the two states, namely Nassarawa and Niger states.
Speaking earlier, the Chief Representative of JICA, Mr. Nakamura Hirotaka, thanked the Ministry for the bilateral relationship existing between the two countries, saying he was in the Ministry to brief the Minister on the progress made so far on the establishment of RIPMAPP in Nassarawa and Niger states by Japanese experts on rice production.
Hirotaka noted that JICA had been supporting Nigeria since 1970 in rice cultivation, assuring Nigeria of their full support while promising to kick-start the distribution of the new technology of milling machines to states so as to enhance food sufficiency in the country.
Govt to increase bilateral trade with Iceland
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, has reiterated Nigeria’s willingness and commitment to increase trade exchange and continued bilateral relations with Iceland.
The Minister also expressed Nigeria’s desire for improved balance of trade with Iceland. The Minister stated this when he received in his office, an Iceland delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mrs. Lilja Alfredsdottir.
The Minister welcomed the partnership with Iceland in the area of fish production, especially on post-harvest losses in fishery.
He highlighted inadequate power supply as one of the challenges confronting fish production in Nigeria, as his Ministry looks forward to stabilising the Niger Delta region for preservation of fish.
On some of the requests by Iceland, especially on duties paid on fish, Ogbe said his Ministry would liaise with the Ministry of Finance and get back to the delegation. He also requested for contact list of private sector organisations in Nigeria that Iceland would want to relate with so that his Ministry can open discussions with them.
Earlier, Iceland Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mrs. Alfredsdottir, requested for a total understanding of Nigeria’s needs regarding commodity prices, in order to enhance trade between the two countries. She also called for improved trade balance and exchange between Nigeria and Iceland, urging for a formal mechanism between the two countries as Iceland would like to explore available opportunities to improve export from Nigeria in order to enhance trade balance between the two countries. She solicited a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen trade relationship between the two countries.
As part of mechanism to reduce losses in domestic fish production, Mrs. Alfredsdottir hinted on the provision of solar system to reduce the challenge of power supply.