With mission to improve quality of life and preparedness to partner any organization whose efforts align with her mission, the Group Head, Commercial, Notore Chemical Industries Plc., Mr. Tijjani
St. James, recently, while delivering the key note address at the Premium Times Agriculture Journalism boot camp it collaborated with Premium Times to organise disclosed that it partnered with the media outfit for the event because “Premium Times has earned respect as a trusted media house, just as Notore has earned the trust of farmers with superior quality products.
Because of this and their remarkable youth followership, Premium Times are easily one of the best platforms to engage the youths of Nigeria and influence them to positive action.” He went further to state that “Notore has carried the onerous task of driving farmer education and awareness over the years. So, we see Premium Times’ efforts with this bootcamp as a complementary project that will benefit our farmers and the agricultural sector in general”.
Tijani, who also spoke about the immense opportunities in the agricultural sector, stressed that States and the Federal government must purposefully create the enabling environments through legislation and policy decisions to advance the sector.
He also briefly shared with journalist how Notore has championed the green revolution across Nigeria since it evolved from the defunct NAFCON, under the visionary leadership of Onajite Okoloko.
The address reads:
Key Note Address at the Premium Times’ Agriculture Journalism Boot camp by
Tijjani St. James Group Head, Commercial,Notore Chemical Industries Plc
Good morning ladies & gentlemen of the media, Let me start by thanking Premium Times for this wonderful initiative.
There is no doubt that journalists have a significant role to play in the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector through their reportage in many local languages and the use of diverse media platforms. What has long been lacking is the skill set for incisive journalistic coverage of the sector.
Notore is fully convinced that this bootcamp will enhance the investigative & reporting skills of all of you gathered here to spur information dissemination and educate our farmers on farming best practices. This was why Notore was happy and quick to support Premium Times when they approached us with the idea of this workshop.
Why this intensified focus on agriculture? In my opinion, there are 2 major reasons:
1. The trouble Ahead!
a. Over 180m population, majority of which lives on live on less than $1 per day. How are we going to feed this fast growing population? Trouble!
b. Dwindling oil revenues: this means revenue paucity for capital & developmental projects required stimulate economic growth and development. No wonder then that many states and the federal government have in recent times, struggled to pay civil servant salaries on time and in full.
c. Rising youth unemployment. According to the NBS, youth unemployment hovers around 43%, and this situation is further compounded the high number of graduates entering the labour market annually (about 1.8m graduates according to Ngozi Okonjo Eweala)
2. Immense Opportunities in the agricultural sector.
Apart from the fear of the aforementioned challenges, the increased focus on agriculture may be driven by the huge opportunities in the sector.
According to the FAO, Nigeria is sitting on 34million hectares of arable land. And there are multiple million ways to leverage this huge land mass to the benefit of the country.
Chris Akpotor, renowned Rice Eexpert posited that allocating a small percentage of this land mass for exclusive rice cultivation can eradicate Nigeria’s perennial rice importation (estimated at about 3million MT- FAO 2008), cause Nigeria to fully meet the estimated 7million MT annual rice demand and also provide surplus for export.
For instance, if the federal & state governments were to craft a policy framework that dedicates, say 15% of the 34million hectares (i.e. 5.1m hectares) of arable land to exclusive rice production, we could see experience about 30million MT annual rice outputs. Sold at N10, 000 per 50kg bag this translates to N6trillion revenue per annum, equivalent to Nigeria’s 2016 budget!
The foregoing analogy is presented just to illustrate in a very simple manner how the immense opportunities in agriculture can easily overrun the challenges I highlighted earlier.
How do we exploit the opportunities in the Nigerian agricultural space?
• States and the federal government must purposefully create the enabling environments through legislation and policy decisions. We all saw what the FGN agricultural Growth Enhancement Support Scheme did to agricultural outputs 2012 through 2014, and what the current government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme (ABS) has done to rice outputs in Kebbi State in the last 2 farming seasons.
The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) seeks to deliver NPK to farmers at N5500 per 50kg bag.
However, due to logistical challenges, getting the PFI NPK at the recommended price hasn’t been feasible. Thus, while we commend the PFI and ABS projects, we urge the government to equally consider inputs and farm produce haulage challenges across the rural farming hubs.
• Youth re-orientation towards agriculture & agri-business is another fundamental factor that I will urge the media to amplify. We must find a way to direct youth’s career choices to agricultural and allied businesses right from when they enlist into the tertiary institutions. The media can play significant roles in investigative journalism and feature articles on such agribusinesses from across the world.
• Linking the Universities of Agriculture to government policies and empowering them in agricultural research and development can advance agriculture in Nigeria. The polytechnics and universities of technology should be restructured to focus on producing small and medium scale farming machinery.
• The role of the private sector in driving enhanced agricultural development cannot be overemphasized. As a private Agricultural company, Notore has taken leadership in driving expansion of agricultural productivity since 2009.
And I want to briefly share with you how Notore has championed the green revolution across this country since it evolved from the defunct
NAFCON under the visionary leadership of Onajite Okoloko:
1- Superior quality fertilizer production and distribution
a. Production of specialty blends to meet specific crop and soil nutrient needs and help commercial farms attain high output levels.
b. Extensive distribution network to ensure farmers access Notore fertilizers at affordable prices in farming hubs across Nigeria’s extensive rural communities
2- Superior quality agricultural seeds production and distribution (maize & rice OPVseeds) launched into the Nigerian market in 2013 to complete Notore’s superior quality fertilizers. Over 1000m of sold and distributed to support FGN’s GES scheme in 2013.
3- Farmer Education: Notore has over 5000 employees in its commercial division dedicated to reaching small holder farmers with agricultural best practice across the deepest and remotest farming communities in all the 774 LGAs of Nigeria (except those threatened by insecurity).
The budding and development work Notore has done in the fertilizer space is what has engendered the springing up of a couple of fertilizer companies in recent years. And Nigerian farmers are the biggest beneficiaries of Notore’s efforts.
Notore is happy to partner any media house that wants to support and expand agricultural development in Nigeria.
And we invite you to come and experience how we are championing the development of agriculture across Nigeria.