LIVE UPDATE: International Seminar on Comprehensive Local Agriculture Plan, #C-LAP

c-lap event
Comprehensive Local Agriculture Plan (C-LAP) event banner displayed.

Nigeria’s 774 local governments under the auspices of the All Local Governments Association of Nigeria, ALGON, is hosting an international seminar on developing agricultural assets of their respective areas.

The multi-stakeholder event, which is bringing together international experts in the area, kicks off today in Abuja.

Tagged “International Seminar on Comprehensive Local Agriculture Plan, C-LAP” the event is co-hosted by a number of local companies and international institutions and agro-allied companies.

The event will engage stakeholders into building Comprehensive Local Agriculture Plan, C-LAP as a blueprint for agricultural revolution in Nigeria using the top to up approach. The document will aid local governments to explore the hidden potentials of their areas and how to leverage on those resources for economic development.

The seminar will therefore bring together stakeholders in the agricultural value chain from all over the world and the country to brainstorm on how to help local governments benefit from their agricultural advantages.

Also, the promoters of the new scheme envision the establishment of demonstration farms of between five and 20 hectares each in each of the 774 local governments of the country. For sustainability and improvements on the value chain, the 774 farms will be linked to national retain chain, wholesale markets and mega food parks.

Expected at the two-day seminar are policy makers, top executives, farmers associations, agricultural entrepreneurs, finance experts, channel distributors, local government officials, among other stakeholders.

Follow live updates of the event here.

10:18am – Opening Prayers.

10: 21am – Introductions and recognition of dignitaries

10:22am – Dumebi Kachikwu, Chairman Accelerated Building Technology gives welcome address.

Kachikwu said the idea of C-LAP is to gather data, plan for local farms. He said C-LAP started out of personal farming project he was to start in Delta State.

“I found out there is no information. There is no scientific data on anything”.

Kachickwu said through C-LAP, farming can help alleviate poverty in Nigeria.

He said local governments are too dependent on other tiers of government.

He lamented that despite invitation to 774 local governments and the importance of the seminar to them, only one chairman showed up at the event.

Participants applaud the participating chairman from Adamawa State.

“How can we make progress when people who are meant to take the lead in driving development in their areas does not take it serious?”

10:36 a.m.:  Abubakar Aliyu, a representative of ALGON takes the stage.

“Agriculture is undisputed the highest employer of labour in sub-Saharan Africa and should be taking seriously. I hope this seminar will serve as a landmark in the development of agriculture in rural areas,” Mr. Aliyu said.

Balraj Sikka, Chairman, Local Organizing Committee while giving his inaugural address said if there is no farmer there is no food. He said the seminar is geared towards discussing the challenges of rural farming. The main focus is involving micro level planning by using technology to enhance farming.

“We have to develop and change the face of the common farmer that is why we are partnering with ALGON in this project.. Now we havve the technology to manage land resources and this can help improve the quality of far production in Nigeria,” Mr. Sikka said.

He lamented that Nigeria is one of the largest producers of tomatoes yet it’s still being imported.

“I am from India and we have faced challenges in farming but with the help of technology and mechanized tools, we were able to overcome some of them. we hope with this plan Nigeria can improve tremendously in the future”, Sikka.

He noted that the C-LAP plan will help in job creation and building of infrastructure in the rural areas. He appealed to all Nigerians to come together and improve agriculture in the country.

10:57am: C-LAP seminar Organizing Secretary, Tanay Joshi, takes stage to unveil the C-LAP project.

Mr. Joshi said progress of any nation in the world is ensured by agriculture and ensures balance of trade.

“Nigeria has experienced challenges in agriculture in this can be attributed to the oil boom. Nigeria should not just depend on oil. Over the years Nigeria was once a champion in cocoa, tomato and other food products,” he said.

He said Nigeria has poor policy plan for agriculture. He said of all the policies being made, if it’s not backed with the right planning and comprehensive local agriculture plan, it won’t achieve its maximum set goals.

Mr. Joshi noted that technology and enlightenment is key to improvement in agriculture.

“Considering the farmers first is the watch word for C-LAP. We have outlined range of products that exist in Africa that can be introduced to local farmers.

“The missing point is the technical know how.”

He said the plan aims to support agencies by providing 3800 tractors for local farmers.

Mr. Joshi said 3096 farmers are currently benefiting from the C-LAP project.

11:14 am: Exhibition of documentary on Agriculture in Nigeria.

11:20am: Mr. Joshi officially launches the C-LAP project amidst applause.

11:29am: ALGON chairman Delta State, Ikpoko Malik, speaks.

Mr. Malik said he was supposed to hand over as the ALGON chairman but he shifted it forward so as to be a part of the inaugural event of C-LAP.

“The reason why we are where we are in Nigeria today is because the local government system is not fully operational. If C-LAP is prepared to bring jobs, infrastructure and improve our agriculture, i think this is what everybody should tap into”, he added.

11:35 am: Tea Break.

11:59 am – Panel 1: Strategies for agriculture development to improve rural livelihoods.

12:00pm – Introduction of panelists.

G. B. Ayoola, the keynote speaker of the 1st panel takes the stage.

Mr. Ayoola, a professor, introduced what he described as sanctity of policy process. He said there is relationship between policy and strategy.

“In the policy template, policy adoption, approval, legitimization and review are key to drive progress in agriculture”, he said.

Mr. Ayoola noted that 99.9 per cent of poverty in the country are domiciled in rural areas. He said the bulk of strategy and implementation of agricultural plan should be focused on rural areas.

While highlighting the frame work of farming strategies, he said C-LAP is bottom up of deliberate drive for agricultural development in Nigeria.

Citing section 17 and 18 of the Nigerian constitution, Mr. Ayoola said the state is the driver of agricultural development.

“They said we are coming out of recession in the second and third quarter of 2017. According to the statistics, the oil sector contributed 1.6 per cent to the boost in the economy while non oil sector inclusion of agriculture only contributed 0.045 per cent. This shows that we are still dependent and driven by oil and not agriculture.”

Mr. Ayoola also said the operation feed the nation and other related campaigns are just noise making campaigns with little or no effort in driving an upward improvement in agriculture.

He highlighted three obligations expected from government to improve agriculture, they are: Right to food; obligation to protect the right of the people’s access to food; necessity to fulfill right to food in special circumstances by directly delivering food to the right people such as IDPs, malnourished children.

Mr. Ayoola concluded his keynote speech with three points: that Agriculture should be bottom up and not top down; That the 36 states of the nation are more powerful in generating growth in Agriculture than the federal government; and that C-LAP should operate in a definite philosophical framework.

“Rural Infrastructure is key,” he said

Another panelist, P. J. Udo said more emphasis should be laid on fish production and importation.

“Despite the enormous resources we have in the country for fish farming, we still import fish”, Mr. Udo said.

He urged Nigerians to key into fish farming.

“Most of the fish farms are concentrated in the south part of the country. if we can use resources well, we can produce 2.5 millions tonnes of fish per year.

“We have a potential of frozen fish here if we can put to practice what is proposed by C-LAP.”

He said with the intervention of C-LAP something different is underway.

Ayodele Balogun, a panelist laid emphasis on constraints of people living in the rural areas.

He said rural dwellers are faced with challenges of good water supply, electricity, infrastructure among others and yet the rural dweller is expected to produce the food that feeds the nation.

He said government needs to rethink the policies and campaigns for agriculture. He said rather than helping the farmer directly, government should start removing those constraints of the rural farmers.

“Government should start thinking of building access roads, rural education, infrastructure, quality health care and data for the rural areas.

“Effectively improved productivity can come if the farmer market prices are real and the farmer is not faced with competition from subsidized imported product.”

Aisha Yakubu Bako opined that government and other agencies should focus on facilitating the local farmers with an enabling environment for the sale and preservation of farm products.

“I think this is where C-LAP should take the lead. New ways have been invented to preserve tomatoes with plastic creates. So far in Nigeria we have 24,000 crates whereas we need about 6 million crates and this crates costs N3,000.

“These crates should be subsidized and made available to farmers for as low as N1,000.”

While commending the C-LAP organizers, a participant stressed the need for government to lead the way.

“I was expecting to see the minister of agriculture or his representative here and other government agents in the agriculture sector. C-LAP is good initiative which the government needs to support vigorously”, he said.

In a swift reaction, Heather Akanni, the technical adviser to the minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, took the mic.

Ms. Akanni said though the minister did not get the invitation for the event but as a lover of improvement in the agriculture sector, He is aware of this project.

“That is why am here. The minister will be properly briefed on the outcome of the event.”

She said Mr. Ogbeh is paying so much attention to the technical programme for agriculture.

“If what we produce is not accepted abroad then it’s poison. We need to pay attention to quality of the foods we produce. This is what the miinister wants and is looking at”, Ms. Akanni said.

She said the ministry is looking forward to partnering with C-LAP.

Panel session 2 : Moving forward from traditional to hi-tech agriculture through C-LAP. How C-LAP activities can bring quality inputs in improving agriculture; Demonstration of precision and hi-tech farming through integrated model farms; role of farm mechanization in agriculture revolution.

Key note speaker of the panel, Isaac Itodo, takes stage.

He said while developed economies are clamoring for a transition from industrial farming to organic agriculture, developing economies like ours are still battling with both.

Mr. Itodo noted that mechanization of Nigerian farms has remained partial and inappropriate.

“Tractorization is misunderstood as mechanization. When a farmer is supported with a 4-wheel tractor without the machinery to weed and plant, the result will still be poor harvest.

“To only have a tractor without a proper mechanized tools for farming is as good as having a pharmacy shop that only has Panadol in its shelf.

“The four wheel drive tractor dominates our farming space without other mechanized tools needed to facilitate farming. Implements for farming weeding, farming, harvesting can be attached to these tractors to increase food production.”

Itodo said C-LAP should take note of the aforementioned.

He also stressed the need for more hands to be properly equipped with training on how to use different types of mechanized tools.

“For instance, if we can train Okada riders and empower them on how to operate and use these mechanized tools, we will have a much greener economy.”

C-LAP activities should also engage other institution for the development of appropriate gadgets for farming.

A panelist, Nipol Sabharwal, in his presentation used a video to illustrate the possibility of mechanized farming in Nigeria

Mr. Sabharwal introduced the use of technology to facilitate protected agriculture.

He said his company works towards designing protected agriculture.

“We support our projects to the next level. we help our clients in building human resources by creating and training local workers in the use of hi-tech farming technologies.”

Another panelist, Gurmet Singh-Dang, spoke on commercial use of machinery for agriculture development.

He said his company is the number one exporter of tractors to Africa. “We manufacture over 500 tractors per year.”

Mr. Singh-Dang, like the last panelist, also showcased a video of how his company produces and makes use of mechanized farming tools

For Chijioke Osuji, a panelist, the value chain technology gap must be filled.

Mr. Osuji said about 200 million metric tonnes of harvested food crops are needed to feed Nigerians annually.

“Do we have the capacity to harvest, market and distribute such amount of food”? he asked.

He stressed the need for institutions to be set up and sustained for food processing in Nigeria.

“Road side drying is common in Nigeria. The farmer needs to pray for rain not to fall so his products to get dry.

“These are areas C-LAP needs to take note”, Mr. Osuji said.

He also said bio-technology and research for agriculture must not be neglected.

3:03 PM – Panel session 2 ends amidst group photograghs.

4:00pm – Panel 3: New market opportunities.

Introduction of panellists.

Ayodeji Balogun, the panel’s keynote speaker, said marketing should be started from the point of input and not output.

He spoke on commodity and value exchange in agricultural marketing economy.

He stressed the need for creating access market for harvested products especially in the rural areas bearing in mind the logistics, processing and transportation challenges that comes along with it.

“A structure should be created to define standard of products being distributed.

“There are certain questions we need to ask ourselves when we talk about marketing of agriculture products; How do we determine a standard price for a particular product considering the different areas they are coming from? What should be the distribution channel for giving capital to farmers? How do we utilize the new technology to enhance market distribution?”

Mr. Balogun explained the disparities between different farmers, their products and market opportunities.

Satyan Yadav, a panellist spoke on using C-LAP for youth empowerment in Nigeria.

He said through ‘Agribussiness’ and ‘Agriprenuership’, 10,000 youth will be employed and engaged in farm product marketing.

Mr. Yadav also said there is need for market driven farming in the rural areas.

“774 farmers will be equipped with organic adoption and precision farming through the C-LAP initiative”, Mr. Yadav added.

Kshyama Singh, a female panellist, spoke on organic farming.

She said 70 per cent of Nigerian small scale farmers only cultivate on not more than 1 hectare of land.

“Organic farming can help boost the size and quality of products of small scale farmers.

“Most country in the world make use of organic farming. In 2016 the country with the largest production using organic farming is America and it contributed to a growth to their economy”, Ms. Singh said.

Ms. Singh said Nigeria should key into such trend.

A participant said Silos will be created through C-LAP that will serve as a hub for processing food in rural areas.

He said through the initiative, seeds brought into the country should be traced to where they are coming from.

“A lot of commodities from Nigeria that go into the E.U market are rejected. There is need to improve on the quality control system.”

End of Panel session 3 amidst applause and photographs

5: 01pm – Dumebi Kachukwu, chairman of C-LAP gives closing remarks.

Closure and departure of participants

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