An all inclusive effort to resuscitate the defunct groundnut pyramids in Northern Nigeria has again resurfaced.
The Federal government launched the Groundnut Value Chain (GNVC) Project in Abuja yesterday, and the project promises ‘ever-green’ packages for the rural farmers in the region. The launch is aimed at reviving groundnut production, processing and value addition, as well as to provide local and export markets in Nigeria.
In the implementation of the project, 15 northern states are targeted,s including Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Bauchi. Others are Benue, Borno, Gombe, Kebbi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara states.
Ever since the groundnut pyramid of Kano disappeared in early 80s, the farmers, agricultural institutions and experts have always yearned for a system that will restore groundnut production, which once accounted for at least 70 percent of Nigeria’s export earning until the oil boom.
However, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said at the launching of GNVC project yesterday in Abuja, that the new effort had received a ‘robust’ budgetary provision for the first time in 2013.
“The groundnut value chain will produce an additional 120, 000 metric tons of groundnut grains valued at N24 billion (US$ 155 million) and supplied to small, medium and large scale processors,” Adesina said. He also noted that a set of efforts are required to enforce the plans, including “the production of 2, 000 metric tons of quality seed of improved varieties of groundnut through formal and informal seed production systems.”
Under the project, the minister informed that 600 women processor groups and 1, 000 extension agents would be trained in improved production and processing technologies, as well as participatory research and extension.
“There will be release of at least 4 new improved rosette resistant and market-preferred groundnut varieties, as well as dissemination of seed of improved varieties and production technologies to at least 180, 000 farmers. Each of these farmers will be assisted to reach a minimum of 10 farmers, with the goal of reaching at least 1.8 million farmers,” Adesina said.
Adesina, however recalled that amongst other issues, oil discovery led to general neglect of agriculture in Nigeria. According to Adesina, “the groundnut pyramids disappeared due to several factors, including drought, aflatoxin contamination of groundnut and its by-products.”
A veteran groundnut farmer based in Nasarawa state, Dahiru Wamba, who is also Publicity Secretary for National Groundnut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association (NGROPPMAN), is optimistic the new development would restore the groundnut pyramids and called on the government to assist the farmers with soft loans to expand groundnut production on their farms.
Wamba had earlier admitted that the GNVC initiative had cheered-up groundnut farmers in the country, saying “this only shows that the current agric minister know what he his doing, especially on the plight of the farmers.”
In his remarks, Adeniyi Adebayo who is the association’s National secretary and groundnut farmer based in Kwara state said “our major problem as groundnut farmers in Nigeria, is access to quality seeds. To get a rosette-free seed and high oil content seed has always been an issue for us.”
“We have over 14, 000 registered groundnut farmers across 26 states of the federation but when visited the National Seed Council of Nigeria in search for quality seed, they printed the names of all the seed companies in the country but none of these companies was producing groundnut at the time. Groundnut is a special seed.
“Another problem we always face is that of lack of funds to either commence operation on the farm or mange and expand our farms. We have the man power, land that can feed the world in Nigeria,” Adebayo stated.
Also speaking during the launching, a Bauchi state based farmer, Adamu Gidaddo, commended the ministry for its continuous assistance of small-holder farmers in his area. Gidaddo said: “In 2013, we achieved bumper harvest of high groundnut yield in our state because we accessed the improved seed from ICRISAT, and our farmer were much happy with the development.”
In his remarks, Dr. William Dar, Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), was impressed with the swift development and efforts tilted to resuscitate the groundnut production in the country. In his estimation of activities since he last visited Nigeria, he commended the ministry and pledged that ICRISAT would always support and consolidate its 38 years old partnership with Nigeria.
“Nigeria benefits more than every African country in terms of our work in groundnut, millet, soghum, and this is how important Nigeria is in the network of countries of ICRISAT,” he explained.
He also said: “we have put in place, powerful strategic research framework known as inclusive market oriented development, to make small-holder farmers central to research development, and seeing to it that they are partners from the beginning; design of the projects until these project benefits every one of them.”