National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer, African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa Development/African Peer Review Mechanism (AUDA-NEPAD/APRM), Princess Gloria Akobundu on Tuesday revealed that application of innovative Junacao Technology will improve and boost food security, reduce malnutrition, create jobs as well as alleviate poverty in Nigeria.
Juncao Technology is an environmental friendly system that capacitates smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs to grow mushrooms from dried, chopped grasses, without cutting down trees and damaging the environment.
The technology could also be used for producing cattle feed, methane gas and minimize soil erosion to combat desertification.
She stated this in Abuja at a three-day workshop on application of Juncao and its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Princess Akobundu then called on the government of China to partner with the Nigerian government to domesticate Juncao Technology in the country’s universities of agriculture.
AUDA NEPAD boss disclosed that, the technology when domesticated would create direct and indirect jobs, promote agro business, ensure sustainability and enhance nutrition.
According to Akobundu, other benefits of the technology would add value to the economy and grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
According to her, Agriculture and food production are important facets of the Nigerian economy, accounting for a significant proportion of total employment in the nation and also the main source of livelihood for most people.
“Therefore, to tackle the challenge of food insecurity, we must harness the yet untapped possibilities in the agricultural sector. We can move closer to the goal of attaining Zero Hunger (Sustainable Development Goals 2)
“If we explore new options like the Juncao technology. The technology will contribute greatly to the achievement of UN agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063 and will also help to ensure that smallholder farmers, rural women and youth have sustainable livelihoods and decent employment for poverty eradication and food sufficiency.
“To achieve the laudable benefits of the Juncao Technology, AUDA-NEPAD/APRM as a national focal agency for the project will work closely with the public and private sectors and all relevant stakeholders both at the national and sub-national levels.
“The Agency also has proper structures put in place which include 37 State Coordinators and 774 Local Government Focal Point Officers. The Agency’s innovative strengthening of smallholder farmers’ capabilities towards productive land restoration amid covid-19 was initiated to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic.
The Government is doing its best to alleviate poverty in the country, but with a population of more than 200million people and over 60% of this falling within the youth bracket, there’s real danger of communities being exposed to insecurity, youth restiveness and malnutrition except deliberate measures are put in place to forestall their occurrence. In my view, one way of doing so is to domesticate the Juncao technology in Nigeria.”
Speaking on the benefit of the innovation, Princess Akobundu revealed that Juncao Technology will help to create direct and indirect jobs; promote Agro Business; it will enhance nutrition; it will curb youth restiveness and boost security as youths will be gainfully engaged; and it will add value to the economy and grow the Gross Domestic Product.
While declaring the workshop open, the Minister of Agriculture And Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar said innovation will help to improved Nigeria’s livelihood and human development.
Minister who was represented by the Director federal department of Agriculture Engr Abudullahi Abubakar said the workshop is holding at a time when Nigeria is moving away from overdependence on oil and diversifying into agriculture for sustenance, income generation and foreign exchange earnings.
”Mushroom farming is one of the many farming businesses in Nigeria that promises huge money prospect but yet to gain ground.
”Available information reveals that the gap between demand and production per year is about 900 tonnes.
”Expectedly, this capacity workshop on will stimulate more interest that can escalate the production of mushroom to meet local demand and for export,” he said.
In his contribution, Mr Matthia Schmale, UN Resident Coordinator, Nigeria, expressed gratitude to the AUDA/NEPAD coordinator and the ministry of agriculture for embracing the first phase of the technology in 2019.
According to him, the technology is not new in Nigeria, the first Juncao site was established in Abador in Bauchi State with the objectives of combating desertification and addressing the effects of climate change.
In his remarked, the People’s Republic of China Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Cui Jianchun, expressed his country’s readiness to partner with Nigeria to develop research on economic affairs with the aim of up scaling agricultural production technologically.
“We are working on developing research on economic affairs.”
NASC, IITA signs MOU on Community based Seed entrepreneurship
National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to train thousands of community based Seed entrepreneurs as part of efforts to improve seed production and marketing in four north east States of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe.
The project, funded by USAID, will involve training and supporting 2250 seed producers to become Community Based Seed Entrepreneurs (CBSE) in the four intervention states and facilitating the formation of these CBSE into 150 community based Seed enterprises cooperatives.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at the NASC headquarters in Abuja which happened to be his last official duty before exiting the Council as the Director General, Dr. Olusegun Philip Ojo, said the Council is responsible for ensuring that farmers have good quality seeds and that the Council works with several partners.
“And most of the innovations and technology introduced in the seed industry were done in collaboration with organisations like yours. So when the idea of partnering with IITA came, we were happy to embrace it. We want to continue to expand our collaborators and partners because we are positioning the Council as centre of excellence for seed industry in West Africa.
“For your information, Nigeria produces over 50% of good quality seeds in West Africa and we have become force of a sort when it comes to seed production. So now we get several references from organisations to come to us for the seed they need.
“IITA has been a good partner as we have been able to partner on several projects such as seed codex, among other. The community seed project is very dear to our hearts because, the seed companies alone cannot take care of all the seed needs of farmers and the need to ensure that farmers at the downstream and local level have access to the best of genetics, that is what the programme is addressing, especially in the north,and seed is a game changer in agriculture, it would be good if the project can be replicated across the country to make seed available for the farmers at the grassroots,” he said.
Also speaking, before signing the MoU, IITA Chief of Party, Prakash Kant Silwal, said through its Northeast Regional Office, it has collaborated with the activity in training 1,937 Community Based Seed Producers on improved seed production and marketing techniques in Adamawa and Borno States between 2020 and 2022.
He said the organisation has also monitored the seed fields of these CBSPs and provided the needed support and guidance, tested the samples of the seeds produced by the CBSPs at its Seed laboratory in Gombe.
“Attended the annual Agricultural inputs Fair organized by the Activity to create necessary awareness for the smallholder farmers on the need to plant certified seeds instead of grains.
“All the above have significantly increased the use of certified seeds by smallholder farmers in intervention communities and resulted in an increase in yield and income.
“Scaling up of interventions in seed system development: Recently, our donor (USAID) expanded the scope of the Activity to scale-up interventions in seed system development in the existing states (Borno and Adamawa and expand into Gombe and Yobe states). This will involve supporting 2,250 seed producers to become Community Based Seed Entrepreneurs (CBSE) in the four intervention states and facilitating the formation of these CBSEs into 150 community-based seed enterprises cooperatives.
“In achieving this, the Activity still needs the continuous support of NASC as contained in the MOU that we are signing today.
“I am happy to announce that this is already happening as the activity and NASC Officials are currently organizing training for the selected 2,250 CBSP in improved seed production and marketing techniques across the four intervention states of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe. Other activities will follow suit,” he explains.
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