Friday, 28 August 2015

Ethiopia's youth making their mark in agriculture

Farmers in their fields in Hiyana irrigation scheme in Enderta, Tigray. ©IFAD
Farmers in their fields in Hiyana irrigation scheme in Enderta, Tigray. ©IFAD
Until now, farming has not been an obvious choice for Ethiopia's youth. Barriers to owning land and other assets have fuelled the steady migration of young people to urban centres. Now, however, the IFAD-supported Participatory Small Scale Irrigation Development Programme (PASIDP) in the northern region of Tigray is providing a viable alternative by offering some young people new opportunities, including pursuing their own farming businesses.
Thanks to a government land-registration initiative targeting the landless, most of the communities within PASIDP's target areas have benefitted. For instance, 88 households in the programme's 44-hectare irrigation scheme in Hiyana, Enderta Woreda district, are farming their own land for the first time. Among these beneficiaries, young people and 14 households headed by women have been allocated communal land.
Increased harvests and income

Abrehan Girmay shows the onions he grown in his 0.5 hectare irrigated farm in Hiyana, Tigray. ©IFAD
Abrehan Girmay shows the onions he grown in his 0.5 hectare irrigated farm in Hiyana, Tigray. ©IFAD
"I am able to provide for my family and send my two children to school with income from the farm," explains Abrehan Girmaye, a young farmer who received a 0.5 hectare plot through the scheme. "We are able to barter some of our vegetables for maize with other farmers, and if I need additional money to get by, I work as a paid labourer on surrounding farms. I do not have to worry if I am going to find work for the day as I used to when I was a construction worker." 
Previously, Abrehan was a mason, taking whatever construction work he could find in Mekele, the closest city, 30 km away. He earned the equivalent of US$0.35 an hour and was not guaranteed a full day's work. He and his family struggled to make ends meet.
Since then, his earnings have increased almost fourfold owing to increased harvests, and he is expecting to sell more this season. And Abrehan is far from alone. His community has been able to increase the total amount of irrigated farmland from 15 to 35 hectares, which were allocated through the land-registration system.  
PASIDP has provided seedlings and extension support to assist farmers in growing new crops and introducing special high-yield varieties. If farmers need extra hands at harvest, they simply hire paid labourers.
Another positive spin-off from the project has been its impact on women's decision-making. The registration scheme ensures that land is jointly owned. Now, wives get an equal say in running farming businesses with their husbands, including what to plant and where to market their harvest.
Using irrigation technologies
Sashituu Sisay Zeleka in Golina Irrigation scheme in Kobo, Amhara. ©IFAD
Sashituu Sisay Zeleka in Golina Irrigation scheme in Kobo, Amhara. ©IFAD
The benefits of the land-registration and reallocation scheme, along with the adoption of irrigation technologies, have also had an effect on young people in other project areas. Further south in the Golina irrigation area, located in Kobo, Amhara Region, Sashituu Sisay Zeleka describes how irrigation technologies have transformed her farming activities: 
"Growing sorghum, I could only harvest twice a year according to the rainy season, generating 150 kg of teff [a wheat-like grain] and 450 kg of sorghum," she recalls. "I kept the majority of my harvest for household consumption and sold around 25 per cent in the market. As my husband works as a soldier and is away from home, I was forced to rely on my extended family for support to take care of my son."
But now Sashituu's situation has changed. "I am able to irrigate my farm, I am able to harvest three times a year," she says.
Sashituu, in her early twenties, owns two 0.25-hectare plots and has successfully increased her yields to the point where she has been able to put aside the equivalent of up to US$10 every three months from her income. She can purchase better-quality seed and fertilizer, which she uses on one of her plots. In addition to teff and sorghum, she started to grow onions on her second plot and, within a year, was able to borrow money to buy two ploughs and oxen.
"I would like now to pay serious attention to my farm, as my farm is my business. I want to solely pursue farming, and I would like to start working independently," says Sashituu. "Farming is about timing, and if I work efficiently and can be the first to harvest, I can make a better profit." 
Sashituu hopes to continue saving so that she can buy an oxcart to transport her produce to market. Currently she uses a kobo – a traditional form of public transport – which eats into her profits.
Rising stars in youth leadership
Amina Ismael shows the cost of construction of the 86 hectare irrigation scheme in Betho Kebele, Oromiya. ©IFAD
Amina Ismael shows the cost of construction of the 86 hectare irrigation scheme in Betho Kebele, Oromiya. ©IFAD
In another project area still further south, which covers 86 hectares within the Oromo Special Administrative Area in Oromiya Region, Amina Ismael, a kindergarten teacher, was elected secretary of the Water Users' Association (WUA) committee in Betho Kebele.  
Amina's election is a remarkable achievement for a young woman in her community. WUAs – which manage irrigation schemes and determine water distribution – are traditionally run by elders. 
One of the features of PASIDP was the introduction of a set of general criteria that participants agreed upon to elect new WUA committee members. Candidates must be model farmers, literate and community leaders. In Betho Kebele, this created the opportunity for young people and women, including Amina, to seek positions of leadership in the WUA.                                                                                                                                                
According to the WUA's chairperson, Mohamed Ali, it was due to her authoritative position as a mentor and advocate for children's education that Amina was selected. In fact, as the only literate member on the WUA committee, she is able to keep track of finances and effectively record meeting minutes, as well as formally communicate in writing if required.  
Amina was also chosen to help engage women in the association's activities, according to the chairperson. "Sometimes women don't participate in the WUA activities because they are occupied doing household tasks. She is energetic and is able to convince and mobilize women to attend meetings and contribute to construction activities for the irrigation scheme," he says. 
The members of the WUA committee highlight the fact that women have subsequently become more active in the association and are beginning to raise questions about the development activities they will undertake.
In this way, PASIDP has set young people like Amina, Abrehan and Sashituu on the path to harnessing their potential and providing good examples of what can be achieved by investing in opportunities for rural young people. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Don’t Play Politics with Agriculture- Farmers Tell Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged not to play politics with Agriculture rather, he should piggyback on the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the immediate past administration to move the sector to the next level.
This call was made in Ibadan yesterday, at the Town Hall Meeting organised by AgroNigeria sequel to its series of on-going agric interventions across the country.

During the meeting, the farmers, as well as the participants unanimously condemned the fact that Nigeria still imports food despite the size of the country’s arable land. They insisted that no Nigerian has any reason to be hungry had agriculture be given its rightful place in the economy. They therefore called for policy consistency on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari  instead of dissipating energy and the national resources on forming a new policy.

In his opening remarks, and precisely on why AgroNigeria has been organising the Town Hall Meetings, Chief Executive Officer/EiC, AgroNigeria, and Director-General Nigeria Agricultural Award Secretariat, Barrister Richard-Mark Mbaram stated that Nigeria is presently at a point where some critical decisions need to be taken.

His words: “We have had four years of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda. One thing we need to ask ourselves at this level as agric-stakeholders is: where will the next four years take us to? We are at a point where we need to actually take some drastic decisions as stakeholders. I said that because the present administration in this country is the one I consider to have evolved out of the will of the people and so the people have been able to change government effectively.
“We must be able to hold the government responsible. And we feel that having done so, the people should also have a say as to how the government is run. For us at AgroNigeria, we do only one thing, we focus on only one sector and that sector is agriculture. This is why we felt the need to touch base with the stakeholders on the ground to find out what you consider to be the critical aspect of the sector that the government should focus on,”  Mbaram said.
Speaking passionately, as every key group was ably represented, the stakeholders outlined their challenges, the hiccups faced with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, as well as demanding for the continuous review of the policies to ensure they always reflect the interest of the grassroot in the sector.

Nigeria Can Now Produce Wheat Economically -Arc Echono

Arc Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary FMARD

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development has said Nigeria can now produce wheat economically.

This was disclosed by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Arc. Sonny Echono at a press briefing during the 1stAnnual General Meeting (AGM), of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), held at the Muson Centre in Lagos recently.
Arc Echono disclosed that in the past, wheat was introduced based on the need to do so, since wheat were imported; this according to him, was a drain on our foreign exchange and the wheat produced then was not economical but was subsidised. “This is because at a breakeven price, if the cost at which we produce a metric ton of wheat is less, how much are we going to sell?” He said
Echono however noted that with the development of two major varieties, “Norman Borlaug” and “Reyna-28” by Lake Chad Research Institute, Nigeria is now getting yield that will enable her wheat farmers compete with imported wheat.

He further said that due to the new development, the ministry is multiplying the seeds using farmers, in other to ensure that there will be enough seeds for enough farmers to plant and upscale, also the ministry has gotten the sympathy and support of Nigeria millers, to ensure that a similar quota for rice is put in place for wheat, in order to protect the local production industry and ensure that all the wheat we produce locally are first exhausted before allowing the importation of supply gap for our industry.
Echono disclosed that the ministry is also promoting substitution of wheat, so as to reduce our dependency on imported wheat, especially now that Nigeria do not have the foreign exchange to expend on wheat importation.

He noted that the ministry is targeting all the wheat farmers in the country and making available to them seeds at a very subsidized rate of about 80%; ensuring that everyone who produces wheat, if the industry have not up taken it, it will be bought from them and also ensuring that the right quality of these seeds are given to all the farmers who want to grow wheat in the wheat region.
The Government, Arc Echono disclosed, has also procure for lease a lot of implement to assist the wheat farmers such as water pump, stretchers and so on, and it will be made available to wheat farmers to encourage them to grow more wheat in the dry season.

Nigeria Must Turn To Agriculture Now, Says Buhari

 PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has declared that given the reality of the global financial situation, the time has come for Nigerians to do more than pay mere lip service to agriculture, as crude oil and gas exports will no longer be sufficient as the country’s major revenue earner.
Buhari made the declaration at an audience with Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, the Nigerian-born President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President said: “It’s time to go back to the land. We must face the reality that the petroleum we had depended on for so long will no longer suffice. We campaigned heavily on agriculture, and we are ready to assist as many as want to go into agricultural ventures.”
The President pledged that his administration would cut short the long bureaucratic processes that Nigerian farmers had to go through to get any form of assistance from government.
He told the IFAD President that improvement of the productivity of farmers, dry season farming and creative ways to combat the shrinking of the Lake Chad would also receive the attention of his administration.
“There is so much to be done. We will try and articulate a programme and consult organisations like IFAD for advise,” Buhari said, adding that foreign exchange will be conserved for machinery and other items needed for production, “instead of using it to import things like toothpicks.”
Nwanze congratulated the President on his victory at the general elections and assured him that IFAD was ready to give all possible assistance to the Federal Government and Nigerian farmers to boost agricultural production in the country.
IFAD is an international organisation dedicated to addressing issues of agriculture and poverty alleviation. It was established in 1978 and has been collaborating 


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Corporate Farmers International Limited unveils new corporate Logo

The Management of CFIL Lagos Nigeria has unveiled her new logo to the public. The new logo is to improve on her corporate profile and re-brand the company in the opportunity ahead within Corporate Nigeria.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Can reality television boost our interest in agriculture?

Farmers Apprentice  
Economists describe the impact prime-time reality television can have on an industry as ‘The MasterChef Effect.’ Now, a reality program from the United Kingdom is testing whether the format can be used to broaden the appeal of farming, writes Monique Bowley.

In Australia programs like My Kitchen Rules, The Block and The Biggest Loser have helped boost interest and spending on fine dining, home renovations and fitness.
The audience have quite a romanticised view of what it's like out on the land. We don't want to see the reality of what it's like. Caroline Spencer, Fremantle Media
Now, a farming publication in the United Kingdom is trying to capitalise on the influence of reality television by producing Farmers Apprentice.
Described as a cross between The Apprentice and The Great British Bakeoff, Farmers Apprentice is an online video series that follows 10 contestants as they compete against each other in a variety of farming challenges.
Debbie Beaton is the editorial projects director for Farmers Weekly magazine, which produces Farmers Apprentice. She says the program was developed in response to the need for massive recruitment in agriculture.
‘There was a report in the UK saying that there are 60,000 new recruits needed by 2020 in order for the industry to keep just sustaining itself,’ Beaton says.
‘The problem is, this is an industry full of worthiness, but they do everything quietly and independently. We thought ... let’s do something that's going to have some real impact. We want to unashamedly show that farming is an attractive career option.’

Farmers Apprentice  
The aim of the reality program was to reach bright young graduates and show them the challenges and benefits of a career in agriculture.
Farmers Apprentice also built on a renewed interest in food and food production, which grew out of revamped cooking programs on television.
‘Chefs have put farming back in the spotlight. They're very keen to support provenance and local food and as a result, this has played well into the hands of farmers and producers,’ Beaton says.
‘It's transforming the image of farming.’
In its first season, the web-based program reached 10 million people, and was noticed by the UK Minister for Agriculture.
However, one of the biggest questions is whether it would have sufficient appeal to work in a prime-time slot on national television.
Caroline Spencer is the director for development at FremantleMedia, and has produced highly successful reality programs that include MasterChef, Farmer Wants a Wife and The Biggest Loser.
She says an Australian reality show focused on farming would be a hard sell.
‘If you look at something like MasterChef, everyone eats, so there is a reason people want to tune in by virtue of that, ’ says Spencer.
‘If you look at Farmer Wants a Wife, it was about a universal theme—love. That's why they have such broad mass appeal and why they resonate so strongly.’
‘I think we ... have quite a romanticised view of what it's like out on the land. We don't want to see the reality of what it's like.’
Despite this, Spencer admits that reality programs have shown that with the right production, a mundane activity like cooking can work on prime-time television.
‘I never fail to be surprised by some of the challenges we put on MasterChef—like chopping onions—that we managed to make entertaining,’ she says.