SPEECH AS GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE MONTHLY MEETING OF HEADS OF MISSIONS OF EUROPEAN UNION MEMBER STATES COUNTRIES DELIVERED BY CHIEF AUDU I. OGBEH, HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, NIGERIA IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY, 14TH MAY 2019 AT 10:00AM.

It is quite clear that Nigeria and indeed a large number of African countries have a major crisis on their hands. It is the crisis of the youth. It is well known that over 60% of Africans are below the age of 40. Given the stunted pace of development across the continent over the last few decades, this means that a great deal of anxiety exists for both the youth themselves and the governments of Africa-especially Africa, South of the Sahara.

Ordinarily these challenges should not be the burden of Europe, as African nations should be expected to face these challenges squarely. After all, a youthful population should be an asset and not cause for anxiety. The tragedy however is that a combination of factors in the last three decades have rendered Africa totally incapable of dealing with these-as with many other problems. Among them are the following:

  1. Uncontrolled population growth
  2. Ill-digested economic theories such as the structural adjustment program-whose application made it impossible for sustainable growth over a period of three decades.
  3. Excessive borrowing for ill-advised projects which led to an incapacity to repay loans
  4. Total lack of industrial capacity and inability to face social problems in education, healthcare and political management.

The result of all these is that an increasing number of young people have finished school and simply can’t find a job to do. Factories, the few that were, have closed. The textiles have shut down, as in the case of Nigeria.

Agricultural development generally declined, and Nigeria slowly, steadily became a nation incapable of rising to the industrial challenge which currently faces us. So, today, extreme violence as exemplified by Boko-Haram, restiveness in the Niger Delta (fortunately on the decline), hopelessness and criminality in Zamfara State – all of these have resulted in a crisis of migration. First, from the rural areas to the cities; and now from the cities across the desert heading for Europe.

This situation makes governments across Africa and especially the Federal Government of Nigeria extremely uncomfortable. We recognise it as extremely undesirable because we know it is neither sustainable nor acceptable. Large-scale migration across the desert through Libya to Europe cannot be seen to be a solution to our challenges. It is not fair to Europe that large numbers of young people should simply cross the desert heading North with no skills to offer, nor definitive purpose of positive contribution to the European economy. Many of them now arrive even without a passport, and therefore constitute a major problem to the nations of Europe. We do not as a people want it to continue and are therefore determined to take steps to bring it to a halt.

Solutions to the Problem:

Fortunately for Africa, and for Nigeria in particular, Agriculture offers us huge opportunities for solving this problem, and our current agricultural agenda targets action to create wealth through crop, livestock, tree crop and fisheries production and, most importantly, value addition. We want to take steps to make sure that our children do not continue to live a life of hopelessness. Nor continue to dream that arriving in Europe means instant wealth and comfort. We want to teach our children to work, to earn a living and not continue to be a burden to our European friends and partners.

We envisage that by embarking on this program, we would begin to immediately reverse migration first from the cities to the villages, and even from the cities in Europe, back to Africa. Because it is not for lack of what to do, but lack of will to do what is right.

In today’s expose, there may not be enough time and space to spell out all the details of what we intend to do, but in the agricultural sector as we have shown in the last three and a half years.

We have proved that we can produce our own rice and achieve savings of $5million a day. The CBN Governor recently confirmed that $21Billion USD has been saved on our food importation bill alone in the last thirty-four months.

We are the world’s largest producer of cassava, but no local value addition to convert this product into ethanol, industrial starch, syrups, glues, and even shopping bags as is currently promoted in today’s sustainable agenda. There is a vast opportunity in cassava to convert the leaves and peel into livestock feed for large ruminants, especially. We intend, to achieve this and more, in the current Livestock Transformation Agenda, and have promoted significant investment in the upstream value chain of cassava in the last four years.

(Highlights of A Few of our Important Agricultural Value Chains that represent huge market opportunities for development and represent a strong comparative advantage for Nigeria, albeit an untapped advantage, till now.)

  • Palm-Oil: A time was when Nigeria accounted for 43% of world’s total output of palm oil. We are now down to two (2) % of global production. The few major commercial producers of oil palm in-country have all confirmed a market gap and need to plant over ten (10) million trees, annually.
  • Groundnuts: Africa once accounted for 77% of world’s total output of peanuts. The famous pyramids of Kano where groundnuts from North-Eastern Nigeria.
  • Tomato: We are the fourth largest producer of tomato in the world, but we have almost zero capacity to add value to it or preserve it.
  • Fruits: We have some of the finest mango, oranges, and avocado pears in the world, but we have zero capacity for fruit juice concentrate production.
  • We have 20 million cows. One-third of cattle in West Africa are in Nigeria, but we have the lowest milk production capacity of all the cattle in the world, of less than 1 litre per cow.
  • Fish: We still spend close to $650 million a year importing fish.
  • Cotton: Nigeria had one of the biggest textile industries in the world in the 60’s and early 70’s. We had 145 Mills; Today that industry has totally disappeared. Textiles mills are gone. Cotton production down to near zero.
  • Sugar: We depend almost completely on brazil for sugar production. Although some local effort is being carried on now in Nigeria. It will require significant support to fully industrialise.
  • Cashew nuts: We are among the world’s top 7 producers of cashew, but we depend on Vietnam and India for the processing of the cashews and export to Europe.
  • Goats and sheep: We are among the largest producers of goat and sheep, although accurate figures don’t exist on these things. Yet the demand for goat meat in the middle-east is so huge it can hardly be met.

We were among the top producers of cocoa, today we have declined to number seven, globally.

  • Jute bags: Four decades ago, we had jute-bag factories for packaging our grains. Jute and Kenaf grow here in Nigeria. Today we are totally dependent on polypropylene bags for packaging agro-produce. This is thoroughly unhealthy and unsuitable according to FAO.
  • Hides and skins: Hides and skins constituted our major export items three decades ago. Today they’ve disappeared from our export list. Though we are aware they are still exported, in certain cases illegally to other countries.
  • Sorghum: we are the second largest producers of sorghum today in the world, but we are challenged by problems of aflatoxin and the yield per hectare is pathetically low.
  • Pineapples: whoever has tasted Nigerian pineapples will know that it is indeed a delicacy. We made efforts in the past to produce and export. We failed to sustain it. We have some of the finest avocado pears in the world. We have not been able to register in the world as a major shea butter exporter. We could do the same in pawpaw and passion fruit.
  • Bananas- banana production thrives well in the Cameroons, right next door to us here. We have very good Cavendish bananas but not produced to international standards.

These and many more are the things which lend themselves to easy exploitation. And these are the things we want to seek, of you our European partners to do because the migration must and can stop. What is needed therefore is the following:

  1. Mobilisation of young people in different parts of the country.
  2. Creation of awareness of the potential within Agriculture
  3. Organising the youth into geo-cooperatives in the various states of the federations.
  4. Acquisition of land for them
  5. Sourcing of capital-which is our biggest setback. Agriculture still receives less than 5% in credit from the financial institutions, forcing Government to unwillingly participate in direct credit support through the Central Bank’s Anchor Borrower Program
  6. Improvement in Research and organic agro-practices.

Where do you come into this?  You are our partners. We seek your help as we search for cheaper credit for agricultural practices, machinery, either from you or any other parts of the world which can help young people apply themselves to these activities because the hoe and cutlass belong to a bygone age.

Training of these same young people within Nigeria on agricultural best practices and standardisation-so the things we produce can meet European and world standards without the deficit of chemical and unnecessary fertiliser infestations.

Our request therefor is this-that we join hands with you the European Union to set up a joint operation here in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture to plot out details of when and where these activities can happen, and to source for whatever support you can offer.

We believe that in doing this, we shall find longer term solutions far cheaper and more humanly acceptable than the burden of having you patrol the Mediterranean in a desperate effort to prevent this armada of young people invading your shores.

In implementing this, we would like to set up a technical team to break down our areas of need, areas of operation and to tabulate the gains which will follow very swiftly. A Cost-Benefit Analysis would show estimates of this. Because this embarrassment is something we want to end and with your cooperation we think we can achieve it

You will find attached a proposal, which provides high-level details on what some of these programs would look like in detail.

What we want to do?

Having enumerated these items and these issues, our contention is that by returning our attention to agro-industry, with strong support from the European Union member states, and our development partners, we can within a few years, see the desirable results even in reverse migration from the diaspora to Nigerian cities, and from the cities to the rural areas. The strength and unity of our country depends on these rural areas’ development and growth as a country with strong roots with an economic backbone steeped in agro-industrialisation.

Speech by Hon Minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh At The Opening Ceremony Of ApiExpo Africa 2018

Speech By The Honourable Minister Of Agriculture And Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh (OFR) On The Occasion Of The Opening Ceremony Of ApiExpo Africa 2018, Abuja, Held At The Abuja International Conference Center On 25th September, 2018.

 

Protocol

 

It gives me great pleasure to be part of this edition of ApiExpo Africa. This edition of ApiExpo Africa, as you may know is the first on the west coast of Africa and Nigeria is delighted to be hosting Africa and top global players in the Apiculture Industry.

 

The theme of ApiExpo Africa 2018, “Beekeeping Industry for Wealth Creation, Economic Diversification and Sustainable Development” underscores the huge untapped potential inherent in the Beekeeping subsector. As you may know, in most developed countries and some developing climes, Beekeeping has created jobs for men, women and youths along the entire value chain from production, processing, packaging and marketing. Beekeeping is known to have generated income and improved the livelihood of small holder farmers in these parts of the world.

 

It might interest you to note that the value of global business of the Apiculture industry is estimated at about $200 billion comprising honey production, beeswax and other bee hive products and most importantly pollination. Of this value, Africa represents a teaspoon of less than 10% despite her huge potential (Nigeria inclusive).

 

Presently, with the downtime in the oil economy, Nigeria is exploring diversification of her economy. Agriculture has been identified as the frontline economic powerhouse, for growth of agro-allied industries and providers of jobs and income. Furthermore, the Beekeeping subsector has been identified as a low hanging fruit and a major driver in the green revolution taking place in Nigeria’s Agricultural sector. Most importantly, Government recognises the role bees play in increasing yield per hectare of crops through pollination and its multiplier effects, including provision of jobs in pollination services as well as well-structured production of honey and other hives products.

 

Noteworthy also, is the fact that the United Nations has set aside the 20th of May every year as the World Bee Day. World Bee Day presents an opportunity to recognize the role of beekeeping, bees and other pollinators in increasing food security, improving nutrition and fighting hunger as well as in providing key ecosystem services for agriculture.’ – José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. The United Nations believes that the protection of bees and other pollinators will significantly contribute to solving problems with global food supply and eliminating hunger. It will also contribute to efforts to halt further loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems, as well as to the objectives of sustainable development defined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Nigeria is not left out of the Apiculture Revolution as Government is assiduously working towards providing the enabling environment needed for the growth of the industry. As part of the ‘Agricultural Promotion Policy-The Green Alternative’ – currently under implementation, Nigeria is implementing the Apiculture Roadmap aimed at transforming the country to one of the top players in the global apicultural Sphere.

To this end, the Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development opened a clear budget line for Apiculture & Beekeeping and commissioned the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Honey Production, Bee Health & Pollination Services to develop a new policy framework on Beekeeping. By including strategic sister ministries and support agencies, Trade & Investment, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Raw Materials Research & Development Council, a more robust industry development intervention is now more visible and impacting.
In the same vein, Government in conjunction with the Africa Union Inter-Bureau for Animals Resources (AU-IBAR) Government has also established the Nigeria Apiculture Platform (NAP) as the driver of the development of the Apiculture sector in the country. The Nigeria Apiculture Platform provides at the National level an engagement platform for all players along the Apiculture Value Chain ranging from beekeepers, processors, packers, associations, cooperatives, researchers, academia, policy makers, financial institutions and even consumers.

 

To foster growth, Government is currently building the capacity of Beekeepers and processors on modern technologies and conscientiously training start-ups to develop the much needed critical mass for sustainable growth of the industry. Strategically, also, Government is building the capacity of her Veterinarians on Bee health with a view to developing a work force to protect the Bees from diseases and pest incursion and other adverse conditions (Pesticides and adverse climate change).

 

In addition, Government is supporting beekeepers and processors with the necessary inputs and equipment, single digit interest credit loans to engender transformation from subsistence to commercial apiculture practices. Nigeria has records of traditional beekeeping methods dating back centuries. Presently, interventions mostly focus on the introduction of modern and semi- modern beekeeping methods in the use of Kenyan Top Bar Hives, Langstroth hives, among others.

 

Furthermore, the country is developing a National Residue Monitoring Plan (RMP) for honey, a pre-requisite for enlistment on the EU-3rd country listing. It’s worrisome that most Africa countries do not have RMP for honey; majority are also not on the EU-3rd country list largely due to non-compliant to required standards which borders on food safety. This is worrisome as these products are currently consumed within the continent posing threat to public health

 

In conclusion, increase in consumer preferences for natural and organic alternatives to sweeteners, growing demand from beverages industry for honey as substitutes to sweeteners; demand from pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industry for honey and other hives products (propolis, pollen, beeswax, royal jelly etc) will further increase the already huge demand for honey. It is therefore, pertinent that Africa makes concerted effort to increase its share of the global market for honey and other hives products.

 

The 6th edition of ApiExpo Africa has been designed to allow for intense cross fertilization of ideas on strategic measures to reposition Africa Apiculture Industry, offering sound technical sessions, B2B meetings, roundtable discussion, networking and market linkages. It is therefore my wish that there will be an “Abuja declaration” that will kick start the African Apiculture Revolution with a clear road map for the evolution of Africa Apiculture Industry. It is also my hope that this declaration will lead to:

  • Global relevance and international recognition of Africa Beekeeping industry products, services and research leading to an improved continental image.
  • Establishment of Africa as the investment destination of choice for Global Apiculture resource, leadership and human expertise.
  • Expansion and increased investments and participation by Industries & Small and Medium Scale Enterprise in the Apiculture/Beekeeping industry in Africa.
  • Improved and increased participation of youths and women in Beekeeping and by extension, Agriculture.
  • Promotion of value addition and standards
  • Enhanced regional and international trade

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, at this juncture, I urge all delegates, participants and the general public to make the most of ApiExpo Africa 2018 as we begin this great journey to harnessing the full potential of the African Apiculture Industry.

 

Thank you and welcome to Nigeria