RMRDC Supports Production of Bt Cotton in Nigeria

Health

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       Textile materials

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) has joined a league of other GMO advocates to support the production of genetically modified, also known as Bt Cotton in Nigeria.

In a letter to the Country Representative of Monsanto, a global seed company, signed by the Director General of the Council, Dr. Hussaini Ibrahim stated that it was concerned with the current dwindling status of cotton production in Nigeria.

RMRDC, which is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, noted that the textile sector had stabilized Nigeria’s economy when it was in full operation in the 1980s.

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           Local weaving

“The textile sector provided well over 700,000 jobs, next only to government; it contributed 25 percent of GDP and above 175 ginneries operated at above 80 percent capacity utilization; ginneries and textiles mills were beehive of activities and there were local weaving industries all over the country,” the letter read in parts.

RMRDC further observed that over the years, the textile industry had experienced near collapse leading to “jobs reduction from 700,000 in 1980 to 25,000, presently; reduction of local textile mills from 175 to 25 due mainly to lack of raw materials; only 20 out of 50 ginneries are operating as a result of non availability of seed cotton; low capacity utilisation in ginneries below 30 percent and collapsed local weaving industries.”

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            Bt Cotton variety

The Council stated that Bt Cotton is a transgenic plant that is incorporated with the Lepidopteran specific Bt gene(s) which control bollworm that belongs to the insect order, Lepidoptera.

According to it, bollworm was capable of reducing yield by up to 70 percent and farmers were distracted from growing cotton because of low profit.

“Pesticides are one of the biggest costs of production for any cotton farmer as bollworm constitutes major limiting effect on yield of cotton that is capable of reducing yield by up to 70 percent depending on the level of infestation. Cotton farmers are tempted to jettison cotton production because of low profitability as a result of cost of insecticides,” the Council stated.

It noted that although Bt Cotton was introduced to Nigeria and Burkina Faso in 2003, “Burkina Faso and China are counting gains of adoption of Bt Cotton,” adding that time was ripe for Nigeria to adopt the technology in order to keep farmers on the farm.

The Council listed benefits of Bt Cotton to include reduction of use of pesticides, reduction of cost of cultivation and hazards associated with pesticides application on humans, animals and environment, and improved opportunities to grow cotton in areas of severe bollworm infestation.

Other benefits are, it allows eco-friendly cultivation of cotton and multiplication of beneficial insects that are parasites and predators of bollworm, Bt Cotton improves yield levels and margin of profit to the farmer.

   

Sokoto, UNICEF Signs N2bn Agreement

Health

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By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Towards realizing the rights of children and women to survival, development, protection and participation, Sokoto State Government and UNICEF have signed a joint annual work plan for the year 2016.

The work plan, which is drawn to cover health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, is estimated to gulp the sum of N2.09 billion.

According to the plan, improvement of access to and use of high-quality and high-impact health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene interventions by children and women, would be achieved.

In addition, it would improve access to quality basic education by the most vulnerable boys and girls and increased school retention, completion and achievement rates for all.

While promising that the money would be used judiciously, Governor Aminu Tambuwal assured other developing partners and donor agencies that “Sokoto state government was ready and willing to collaborate with any body or organisation coming to Sokoto to support in the development of the state and well being of the people.”

Sokoto Gets Infectious Diseases Hospital, Upgrades Five Others

Health

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By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Sokoto state government has concluded plans to convert the state-owned Amanawa Leprosarium to a full-fledged hospital for infectious diseases.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal made the disclosure in Sokoto on Wednesday while addressing stakeholders on health  at the ongoing 56th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).  

According to him, approval has been given to upgrade to premier health institutions, one hospital in each of the three senatorial districts of Sokoto state, while two general hospitals would be renovated.

Additionally, the state government had earlier plan to establish cardiac and renal centers to ease the hardship of transporting patients for treatment to other countries.

He said in order to adequately preserve drugs and other items, the state government, in collaboration with USAID and other development agencies, recently renovated, equipped and commissioned two blocks of storage facilities at the State Central Medical Stores.

According to him, plans are at an advanced stage to launch emergency centers for treatment of road traffic accident cases along major highways in the State.

He said due to the importance government attaches to work of doctors; his administration has supported the activities of NMA and will continue to assist the association to achieve its desired objectives.
   

Electricity Consumers in Sokoto Stage Protest Against Blackout, Crazy Bills

Agriculture

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                  Protesters
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Electricity consumers Sokoto metropolis have staged a peaceful protest against the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KAEDCO’s) outrageously billing system with adequate power supply.

The protesting consumers allege that in spite of the continued outage of electricity being experienced, KAEDCO has, on the other hand, continued to send bills.

Numbering hundreds and displaying placards with different inscriptions, demanded explanations why bills would be sent to, especially areas where KAEDCO knew they do not distribute electricity.

“Why would you bill us for supplying darkness? You know well enough that you do not supply electricity to Old Airport. You know that for 78 hours in the month of March, we have not enjoyed electricity there. Why would you send bills to us? Why is KAEDCO billing us for God’s sunlight?” Kasimu Abdulrauf of Ofa Road, Old Airport asked?

He further alleged that “Since the privatization of PHCN, consumers have continued to suffer one form of extortion or the other in the hands of KAEDCO. Bills for residential areas reflect bills meant for factories,” he alleged adding, “In February, our bill was a little above N6,000 in spite of frequent blackouts, but the bill for the month of March jumped to over N12,000.”

The protesters warned that until electricity supply increased, outrageous billing must stop. “We warn that it is either the supply is improved or we will not accept disconnection as a result of our failure to oblige to crooked bills.”

Placards displayed by the aggrieved protesters included, “Enough of Crazy Bills,” “KAEDCO, Why Ask Us To Pay For Darkness? “Is This One Months’ Bill Or Five? “No Meter, No Bill”, “Expect the Unexpected When Coming for Disconnection”, “We Will Never Pay For What We Don’t Consume”, KAEDCO Should Stop Taking Us For Granted”, Is PMB Seeing Our Plight In The Hands OF KAEDCO.”

KAEDCO’s Public Relations Officer, Umar Tambuwal said that the recent power challenge was a national one. “Consumers should be a little patient. Efforts are being made to improve on the distribution.”

Nigeria To Beat Global Target of Malaria Extermination by 2030 – Health Minister

Agriculture

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By Abdallah el-Kurebe

As Malaria Day is being celebrated globally, the government of Nigeria has assured that the Buhari administration would strive to ensure that malaria was exterminated from the country from the 2025, five years ahead of the global target of 2030.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole Folorunsho spoke in Sokoto on Monday at one of the events to mark Malaria Day celebration.

He added that the Federal Government was also working to ensure that no Nigerian died of malaria or malaria-related illness from the year 2020.

Speaking also, governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto said that the state government recently received Trachoma drugs worth N3.1 billion in aid.

“The fight against these diseases requires collective efforts. Drugs worth billions of Naira from the inception of the programs were provided through the joint efforts of Federal Ministry of Health, Partners and State Government. Recently, the State Government received a donation of Trachoma drugs worth N3.1 billion which will be distributed in 12 LGAs of Isa, Sabon Birni, Goronyo, Rabah, Bodinga, Binji, Tangaza, Kware, Silame, Wamakko, Illela and Gada,” Tambuwal added.

He said that drugs worth billions of Naira had been distributed to all parts of the state with government receiving donations from the federal government and development partners to tackle the issues.

Nigeria alone, Tambuwal added, accounts for over 40 percent of the estimated total malaria deaths globally, a situation that was not only alarming, but must be tackled for any meaningful development to occur.

He stressed that his government would continue to provide free medical care to pregnant mothers and children under the age of five, who were vulnerable to malaria and other tropical diseases, adding that similar passion would be embarked upon so as to provide care to people living in remote areas of the state.

Insurgency: 1,934,765 IDPs in Formal Camps, Host Communities – Says NEMA

Agriculture

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      Internally Displaced Persons

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has disclosed that a total of 1,934,765 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were currently living in formal and satellite camps as well as host communities as a result of insurgency in Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi and Adamawa states.

The Yola Camp Coordinator, Sa’ad Bello disclosed this when, on behalf of the Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani Sidi,  took the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samanthan Power round the facilities at Malkohi IDP Camp in Yola, Adamawa State at the weekend.

According to a statement signed and issued by the Agency’s Senior Information Officer, Sani Datti, “There are 32 formal camps in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States with a total of 189,783 IDPs. Borno has 19 camps with 150,858 IDPs; Yobe has 9 camps with 31,988 IDPs and Adamawa, 4 camps with 6,937 IDPs.”

It added that while there were 14 satellite camps in liberated communities, mainly in Borno State with 216,184 IDPs, the camps with the highest population were Ngala with 70,505; Dikwa 53,636; Bama 27,000 and Damboa/Sabon Gari 25,311.

Sa’ad further said that host communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has a total of 1,391,613 IDPs; Borno state has the highest with 1,158, 362; Adamawa 125,689 and Yobe 107,562.

“The Federal Government through the coordinating agency, NEMA and relevant line Ministries, Departments and Agencies, have been trying to meet the needs of the IDPs in the provision of food and nutrition, non-food items (NFIs), temporary shelter, medicament, psycho-social therapy, security and protection,” he said.

He told Power that while the government continued with the efforts of meeting up the needs of the IDPs, more supports were required to be able to return them back to their communities. “Further support is needed in three critical areas, including food, non-food items (basic household needs), shelter, WASH, education, nutrition, protection, health and sexual reproductive health and psycho-social helps.”

The U.S. Ambassador to UN, Samanthan Power, who led a high level delegation from US to the Malkohi IDPs camp and host communities told them that they were there to determine what more could be done to defeat Boko Haram so that the IDPs could return back to their communities.
 
“I know how difficult these last years have been for you and on behalf of President Barack  Obama, I express my sympathy and my condolences for all you have lost and our resolve to try to make things better together,” she said.
 

Sokoto Rima Basin, Labana Farms Partner to Sensitise Farmers on Large Scale Rice Farming

Agriculture

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          Rice farm in Kebbi state

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

As the Federal Government Anchor Borrowers programme on rice farming in Kebbi State progresses, the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority (SRRBDA) and Labana Farms have began joint mobilization of farmers for large scale rice farming in the State.

The partnership is aimed at mobilizing individual rice farmers
and cooperate organizations to support the utilization of 15,000 hectares of uncultivated virgin Fadama land along the Niger valley for rice farming in Bagudo, Koko-Besse, Shanga, Suru and Yauri local governments areas.

The project manager of Niger Valley Projects of the SRRBDA, Alhaji Nasiru Modi announced this during an inspection visit to the new Labana Farms at Gante in Bagudo local government area by officials of the both parties.

He explained that the benefits to be derived from Fadama utilization
campaign for large scale rice farming included increased income for the rice farming communities; employment creation and rice sufficiency in the country such that will meet the nation’s rice demand.

Commending Labana Farms for acquiring about 1,500 hectares along the Niger valley for all year-round rice farming, the project manager also revealed that the Anchor Borrowers programme on rice farming had increased the numbers of rice farming families in Kebbi state by over 300 percent, which would eventually increase the quantity of rice being produced in the state by the same percentage.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Labana Global Ventures, Alhaji Abubakar Abbah Adamu disclosed that the decision to establish Labana Farms was informed by President Buhari’s efforts to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production, adding that Labana Farms would not only provide employment opportunities but also make remarkable contribution in saving the nation’s foreign exchange that was being lost through rice importation.

The General Manager of Labana Rice Mills, Alhaji Abdullahi Idris Zuru said that Labana Farms was expected to provide at least, 40 percent of annual raw materials requirement to Labana Rice Mills, with the present capacity of 16 metric tons per hour. “This will certainly reduce production cost and price of the processed rice,” he added.

Speaking in the same vein, the coordinator of Labana farms project, Alhaji Umaru Dodo Aliero said that “the 1,500 hectares Labana farms was established in January this year of which 180 hectares have been utilized for dry season farming; 200 hectares are being cleared to be included in the rainy season for mechanized farming. The balance of about 800 hectares will be cleared for the next years dry season farming.”

He added that, already about 200 people drown from the surrounding communities had been provided with jobs in the farm.

Windstorm Destroys Houses in Sokoto LG

Agriculture

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       A typical rain storm

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Heavy downpour and windstorm has destroyed up to 300 houses in Kebbe town, headquarters of Kebbe local government of Sokoto State.

Acting chairman of the local government, Mustapha Maishanu.
told newsmen in Sokoto on Friday that the incident which occurred recently, rendered up to 500 people homeless and were being accommodated in the 30-housing units, schools, other public buildings or with relatives.

According to him, “A delegation of the state government, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and those of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have visited scenes of the incident and assessed the extent of damage caused by the storm.

Maishanu disclosed that while the local government had earmarked N6 million to purchase food items, mats, blankets and other essential commodities, they were also waiting for NEMA and SEMA for relief materials to be supplied to the victims.

He however said that no life was lost to the storm.