THE African Development Bank, AfDB called on global partners to join hands to lift one billion people worldwide out of hunger and said it was leading the way by investing US$24 billion in African agriculture over the next 10 years in the largest such effort ever.
“We are not winning the war against global hunger,” Bank President Akinwumi Adesina told an agriculture conference at Purdue University in Indianapolis on Tuesday, 25 September.
“We must not get carried away,” he added, referring to statistics showing a decline in the global population living on less than two dollars per day. In reality, the number of hungry people in the world had increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, he said citing the latest World Food Security and Nutrition data.
Adesina told the audience that included researchers, implementing organizations, business leaders, policymakers and donors that simple technical and scientific methods were already making a whole difference to farm yields and income in Africa. While such technologies to deliver Africa’s green revolution exist, they are mostly just sitting on the shelves, he said.
“The release of water efficient maize varieties now allows farmers to harvest good yields in the face of moderate drought,” he noted. “Today, rice varieties exist that can give yields of 8 tonnes per ha. Cassava varieties exist with yields of up to 80 tonnes per ha. Heat tolerant and disease resistant livestock and technologies for ramping up aquaculture exist.”
Bank experts put current comparative yields at 1.5-2 tonnes per ha for rice and 10-15 tonnes per ha for cassava.
What was needed urgently was deployment of supportive policies to ensure technologies are cascaded down to millions of farmers. “All Africa needs to do is to harness the available technologies with the right policies and rapidly raise agricultural productivity and incomes for farmers and assure lower food prices for consumers.”
The Bank has launched its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a $1 billion initiative to extend the use of farm technologies. TAAT is currently engaging seed companies, public and private entities, and financial institutions in 27 countries to make technology available to a total of 40 million African farmers.
Combining targeted subsidies for farmers with a market-based system for rapidly expanding access to financing for farmers and agricultural value chains is the fastest way to get many people out of poverty to a sustained pathway for economic growth, Adesina added.
The conference on “ Scaling Up Agricultural Technologies for Transformation” marked Adesina’s fond return to his alma mater.
“It was here, as a graduate student, that I began the journey of searching for ways to get technologies into the hands of millions of farmers,” he said. Adesina was to go on to make a huge impact on the transformation of agriculture in Africa, including implementing game-changing policies in his years as Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development before taking up his post at the Bank in September 2015.
Adesina said the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa needed particularly urgent intervention due to the ravages of climate change. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that Africa will add 38 million to its number of hungry people by 2050 as a result of climate change. The Institute forecasts that Africa will experience major food shortages by 2020 and beyond, while malnutrition will be on the rise over the next 20 years.
The Bank’s ongoing initiatives had the objectives of growing income for farmers, stabilizing prices for staple crops, reducing losses and stimulating multiplier effects in local economies. With its Staple Crop Processing Zones and other initiatives, the Bank is demonstrating how this can be done.
“The African Development Bank put feeding Africa as one of its topmost priorities when it launched its Feed Africa strategy in 2015 and is investing $ 24 billion in agriculture for Africa over 10 years – the largest ever such effort,” the Bank President said. Across Africa, the Feed Africa Strategy is supporting the development of policies, markets, infrastructure and institutions that will ensure that agricultural value chains are well developed and that technologies reach several millions of farmers.
Adesina called for global partnerships to establish Staple Crop Processing Zones across Africa.
“The SCPZs will provide several advantages for rural economies. They will create markets for farm produce. Raw materials will no longer be moved out of rural areas, but as finished value-added products. Post-harvest losses will be substantially reduced. Well integrated agricultural value chains will develop, with supportive logistics, especially warehousing and cold chains,” Adesina added.
The African Development Bank has already started investments to develop these SCPZs in a number of pioneering African countries, including Ethiopia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. It expects the processing zones to be active in about 15 countries in the near-term.
Makinde flags off construction of ultra-modern local govt service commission secretariat
Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Friday, flagged off the construction of the office complex for the Local Government Service Commission and Local Government Pension Board, noting that those opposed to the project would be silenced when they see the outcome.
Governor Makinde, who maintained that the state government has commenced a gradual rehabilitation of the secretariat complex which, he said, had been left to degenerate over the years, added that the process would not abate until the entire structure was given the desired face-lift.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying these while unveiling the 3D design for the office complex.
The governor maintained that the idea of the office complex came from the Local Government Service Commission itself, while he also noted that in 11 months when the project would be completed, opposition members criticizing the government would be silenced.
He said: “It is my pleasure to be here today to flag off the office complex for the Local Government Service Commission and the Local Government Pension Board.
This was not my idea but that of the Permanent Secretary of Local Government Service Commission.
“We thought we should lay our own foundation and start a campaign of regenerating the secretariat. Oyo State had the opportunity of having the very first modern secretariat then and, several years later, it is still those structures that we keep seeing. They were not even renovating them, they were just painting the exterior, only.
“We did not do anything for the 100 days in office of this administration but, much later, we released 15million Naira to each ministry to renovate their offices. And I am glad, indeed, that the Secretariat is wearing a new look, not only from the outside but even from the inside. Renovation work is also going on at the Governor’s Office.
“In about 11 months, we will be coming back here to commission the edifice. So, I thank the chairmen and chairpersons of the local government areas and the local council development areas, because everybody came together to buy into the vision. And by that your singular action, we were able to raise a substantial amount that is needed for the construction of this structure.
“Where I was coming from, we played a little bit of politics but this is governance. When we initially came up with this idea, some people said we were taking money from the government’s purse. I think they will shut their mouths permanently in another 11 months.
“I congratulate the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and Local Government Service Commission and Local Government Pension Board. It is your idea and baby and we will support you to see to its completion.”
In their separate speeches, the chairman of the Oyo State Local Government Service Commission/Local Government Staff Pension Board, Honourable Aderemi Ayodele, and the secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Oyo State Council, Comrade Olusegun Abatan, described the flag off of the office complex as historic.
Abatan, who praised Governor Makinde for seeing to the payment of about N5 billion in gratuities to retired workers of Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Parastatals, said that Makinde’s administration was purposeful.
According to him, the administration has so far paid N1.98 billion to retirees of primary schools while local government retires have got about N3.2 billion.”
He further stated that in the last one year, the administration, apart from paying 100 per cent pensions to retirees, has been releasing N274 million monthly for the payment of gratuities of retired Primary School teachers and Local Government staff.
He noted that so far, the sum of N3.5 billion has been paid as gratuities to retirees by the administration, noting that the efforts of the Makinde government have culminated in the socio-economic development being witnessed in the state.
COVID-19: SON moves to harmonise locally produced ventilators to meet global standards
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on Wednessday disclosed that it has begun harmonising the production of ventilators developed across the country to conform with the international standards toward containing COVID-19 pandemic.
SON’s Director-General, Osita Aboloma, made this disclosure in a statement in Lagos, following the unveiling of locally manufactured ventilators produced by Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro in Ogun.
SON’s DG, who was represented by its Ogun Office 1 Coordinator, Mr Jerome Umoru, was at the unveiling.
SON urged various inventors to ensure compliance with ISO 5080601/2/12/3020 and Medical Electrical Equipment part 11 for clinical care.
He noted that adherence to the standard will ensure ease during the process of conformity assessment and product certification.
He stressed that the certification of locally produced ventilators, air purifiers and hand sanitiser machines would put the nation in its pride of place globally.
“We are partnering with the institute in ensuring that various machines produced in the country meet the required standards so as not to end up in the shelves,” Aboloma said.
He also added that the standards body of the unification was also aimed at saving the nation’s foreign exchange spent on importation of ventilators to fights against COVID-19.
Aboloma advised private sector investment in such innovations to enable inventors to go through the next stages of clinical trials and obtain the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) mark.
He reiterated SON’s support toward sustaining local production of essential materials to fight the COVID-19 pandemic through quality assurance.
“In our efforts to address the ongoing pandemic, we have diligently assigned officers to inspect the ventilators and alcohol-based hand sanitisers under production.
“We have one common standard for each product. We want to ensure that what we are producing meets the standard and once it does, we will certify it.
“We will also continue to monitor activities so that they do not rest on their oars in producing quality goods.
“I have presented a copy of the Standard to the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, and it is the ‘golden rule,” he said.
SON promised that the moment the institute was able to meet the basic parameter on requirements, certification of the innovations would be fast tracked.
“SON is ready to partner with all technical institutions, especially those involved in the production of life saving equipment and materials at this time.
“This is so that their products will meet minimum requirements of the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS), and undergo certification under the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) scheme,” he said.
The SON director-general revealed that in no distant time, consumers would be empowered through product authentication scheme to determine the quality and conformance of products at the point of purchase.
He said that those without necessary certifications would be rejected.
Just In: Makinde distributes palliatives to persons living with disabilities
The governor, who stated this at the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan during the distribution of palliatives to PWDs, maintained that pretenders and impersonators will never again be allowed to take what rightly belongs to PWDs in the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the distribution of palliatives to PWDs is the third phase of the palliatives distribution in the state, with the state having distributed palliatives to 90,000 poorest of the poor households as well as the distribution of seedlings, herbicides, pesticides and other farm inputs to 10,000 farmers in the first and second phases.
In his speech, the governor reiterated his promise to set up an agency for persons with disabilities, noting that his administration has not forgotten its commitment in that regard.
He added that the agency will be in place before the administration’s second anniversary in office.
He said: “When I walked in here this morning, I thought of the pictures in my archive. We have all met. We have all taken pictures together. So, you are not new to me and I am not new to you. It is just the continuation of the relationship that we started, even before I became the governor of this state.
“The bottom line is that, before now, we went into the records and we saw that every time you say you are putting up a programme for the people living with disabilities, you only have 20 per cent of the data being correctly presented. About 80 per cent will just be able-bodied people taking benefits that belong to the people living with disabilities. But we have been able to crack that and solve it. So, never again will pretenders or impersonators in Oyo State take what rightly belongs to people with disabilities.
“When we said they should bring names of persons living with disabilities for them to be included in the administration at the local level, some people thought we would not check. So, they brought the names of able-bodied people. We called and asked around and discovered that it was the names of able-bodied people that were submitted. So, we removed their names.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank you for your support during the election and the present administration. We made promises during the electioneering and promised to involve you in every facet of this administration and we are on that path.
“This is the third phase of palliatives distribution. The first stage is for the poorest of the poor amongst us. We distributed palliatives just like this to 90,000 households. Some who are farmers called me and said we should give them seedlings to increase their productivity when they get to their various farms. We listened to them and, in the second phase, we distributed seedlings to the farmers.
“Now, this is the third phase, which is for the vulnerable within us and it will be for 30,000 households. So, we are flagging it off with yourselves because you are among the vulnerable in our society.”
Governor Makinde, who stated that he was aware that his promise to set up an agency for PWDs has not been fulfilled, said the promise will come to fruition, as he has kept a record of all the promises he made during the electioneering.
He implored the PWDs to continue to adhere to the directives of the Oyo State Task Force on COVID-19.
Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Adviser to the governor on Agribusiness, Dr. Debo Akande, said the event was a reflection of Governor Makinde’s commitment to ensuring equity and equality in the running of the state, adding that with the governor, all citizens and residents of the state are equal.
He maintained that the food security and emergency committee, which is in charge of palliatives distribution, did due diligence to ensure that all persons present at the event had their data checked and clarified.
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