By John Oba
International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD), Climate Adaptation and Agribusiness Support Programme (CASP), National Programme Coordinator, Mr. Muhammed Idah, has revealed that the organisation as commenced the empowerment of 727,000 direct farmers in seven northern states.
Idah stated this recently in an interview with Blueprint on the sideline of the just concluded 10th National Agriculture Show, organized by the National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN), in Nasarawa State.
He said the seven states includes Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara that are identified states considered most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Adding that the initiative of the six years programme which commenced in 2015 is targeting 727, 000 farmers directly while reviving livelihoods of 4,362,000 rural dwellers in 104 local governments in the participating states.
Idah said: “We are bringing to the notice of farmers the effects of climate change. Climate change is real. People need to take cognizance of climate change in whatever they are doing particularly in agricultural activities.
“The programme targeted 4,362, 000 indirect beneficiaries, 727, 000 direct beneficiaries in 724 villages across 104 local governments in the participating states.”
Idah, who was represented by CASP Agricultural Development Coordinator, Mr. Modu Shugaba, said farmers would be supported on climate change mitigation programmes and desertification control measures.
Other areas of support include cultivation of woodlots, shelterbelts, agro-forestry, community nursery, Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP), reducing land degradation and promotion of tree crops for increased income.
“So, we are partnering with many organisations and research institutes especially NIMET to predict rainfall. Our farmers now know when the rain will start and when it is going to end, so they plan toward this and achieve their crop calendar,’’ he added.
Earlier, Director of Agricultural Land Resources and Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Sunday Edigbo emphasized on the reality of climate change and its impacts on food security and national development.
He said the rising effects of climate change especially on food production led to the initiative mainly to support rural farmers most hit by the impacts.
Edigbo identified herdsmen clashes with rural farmers in the struggle for pastures, desertification, drought among others.
Ogbeh seeks partnership with agric varsities, ministry
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh has called for increased collaborations between Universities of Agriculture(UAs) and relevant agencies of the government as part of efforts to boost agriculture.
Ogbeh made the call in Abeokuta while delivering a lecture organised as part of activities for the 23rd, 24th and 25th combined Convocation ceremonies of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB)
“The Universities of Agriculture should probably be our most important partners in the agricultural sector because agriculture cannot thrive without knowledge.
“We are determined to remodel the UAs as nodal centres of excellence and I assure you that our approach will be friendly and inclusive.
“We are concerned with mobilising the youth for agriculture.
“The UAs are fertile grounds for the accomplishment of this objective and that is why I have directed that the UAs should review their curricula and grading system to give more weight to practical agricultural activities rather than mere theory.
“I therefore seek your cooperation in ensuring that this university and the other two are truly remodeled and focused as specialised institutions of agricultural education and training in line with the vision of the founding fathers,’’he said.
The minister particularly sought the expertise of FUNNAB in the area of research and innovation, saying that the challenges in the agricultural sector required new frontiers of knowledge for significant breakthroughs.
Ogbe also asked the institution to compliment the ministry with knowledge on more efficient utilisation of resources, especially in the area of interconnection between land and land- base resources.
The minister also decried alleged deviation of the AUs from their core mandates, describing it as “a dangerous signal and a disincentive to agricultural development in the nation’’.
Nigeria has three universities of Agriculture namely the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB), Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia state.
He listed the areas of departures as including departure from the provisions of the original statute establishing the AUs, departure from the original academic and programme structure and departure from best global practices.
“Until the recent policy change, the institutional structure and functions of the UAs show a marked departure from both the norm in implementing the concept of UAs in other parts of the world.
“I urge FUNNAB and the two other UAs to take advantage of their reintegration into the Ministry of Agriculture and get enlisted as our reliable allies in the agricultural sector,’’ he said.
FAO, Bioversity seeks $98m to contain banana fungus
Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Bioversity International, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the World Banana Forum have launched a five-year global programme requiring $98 million to contain and manage a new strain, referred to as tropical Race 4.
‘Fusarium wilt’ an insidious disease that can last for years in soils and can hitchhike to new fields and destinations through a number of means such as infected planting materials, water, shoes, farm tools and vehicles poses major risks to the world’s banana production and could cause vast commercial losses and even greater damage to the livelihoods of the 400 million people who rely on the world’s most traded fruit as a staple food or source of income.
Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division, Hans Dreyer, said: “This is a major threat to banana production in several regions of the world. We need to move quickly to prevent its further spread from where it is right now and to support already affected countries in their efforts to cope with the disease.
“The long term resilience of banana production systems can only be improved through continuous monitoring, robust containment strategies, strengthening national capacities and enhancing international collaboration to deploy integrated disease management approaches.”
Fusarium wilt TR4 was first detected in Southeast Asia in the 1990s and has now been identified at 19 sites in 10 countries, including the Near East, South Asia and Mozambique in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The global programme is initially targeting 67 countries in a bid to prevent its spread and management. Without a coordinated intervention, scientists estimate that the disease could affect up to 1.6 million hectares of current banana lands by 2040, representing one-sixth of current global production with an estimated annual value of USD 10 billion. The programme aims to reduce the potentially affected area by up to 60 percent.
The Director General of Bioversity International, Ann Tutwiler, speaking on her behalf and that of the IITA, said: “There is also an important knowledge gap regarding the biology and management of the fungus and we aim to address these through this collaborative initiative, also promoting introduction of more biodiversity and improved agronomic practices into banana production systems.”
While the coordinator of the World Banana Forum, Pascal Liu, said: “The disease is also an important concern for the industry and the trade of this popular fruit.”
The five-year programme is designed to build on existing initiatives tackling the disease and focuses on strengthening local technical capacities and supporting the development of science-based technologies and tools through research on biology and epidemiology of the fungus, its detection, surveillance, rapid containment actions, soil health and the development of resistant cultivars.