Why Sokoto Should Domesticate the Child Rights Act

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Group of Almajiri children

‎By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Cruel happenings surrounding the child today have surged the calls for the respect of the rights of the vulnerable group. Globally, children suffer all manner of ill treatments; most are abandoned or ‘sold’ into slavery.
Man’s inhumanity to the child has drawn the attention of the United Nations General Assembly as well as the adoption by it of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on November 20, 1989. In a manner of domestication, the OAU Assembly of Heads of States and Governments adopted the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRCW) in July 1990. 

Being an African leader, Nigeria signed both multilateral agreements in 1991 and ratified same in 2000. The CRC outlines the rights of children under 18 to be respected and protected. It also wants the rights to be implemented. 

After hues and cries, the draft Child Rights Bill was eventually passed into Law by the National Assembly in July 2003 after which President Olusegun Obasanjo gave assent to it in September 2003. The law is named, Child Rights Act 2003.

The CRA provides certain rights for the children ‎including freedom from discrimination, right to good medical care, food, water, shelter, education. Also, it identifies certain acts as violation of child’s right. These include torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, bethrothal and child marriage, genital mutilation, etc.

It also provides for family courts to adjudicate over cases in respect of children; prohibits capital and corporal punishments for children under age 18.

Thirteen years after today, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states have not domesticated the Rights Act.

Sokoto, which is one of the states that has not domesticated the CRA, is one state which State Assembly was said to have threw the idea of domesticating the law on conception. In effect, while there was no political will on the part of government, religious and other issues were said to have truncated the moves for the Acts’ adoption.

A former member of the House of Assembly who did not want to be quoted said that “I did not support it because many of the provisions in the Act violates Islamic religion, including the issues of marriage and child upbringing.”

‎UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office (CFO) in Sokoto, Mohammed Mohiuddin told me that the Fund works under the Child Rights Convention (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

He explained that although Nigeria is a signatory to the Conventions and the states were expected to domesticate them, most of those states that have not is because of what they consider ‘questionable’ clauses.

“Domestication of the CRA helps for the welfare of children but some states see some clauses as questionable. ‎That does not however mean that they are not working for the welfare of children.
“For example in Sokoto, there are many activities on children that we are doing, led by government and supported by UNICEF‎. The only thing is that there is no legal framework to back our activities.

“So, I will say that there are not many challenges but it the CRA got domesticated, it will give some privileges and legal coverages towards the activities that the government is doing,” ‎he explained.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Save the Child Initiative Nigeria, Abdulganiyu Abubakar told me that the CRA being an international, regional and national instrument that was important to assess the efforts of governments.

“It is a great concern that Sokoto had removed itself from enlightened states. Without the Act, it means that there is no instrument to assess the efforts of government,” he said.

Abubakar posits that if the state government saw anything wrong with the Act, it could look at it and modify those sections it is not comfortable with, citing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
“If Sokoto state sees some provisions of the Act as being positive values, it has the mandate to ‎look at the clause and expunge those sections they are not comfortable with. They did same with the NHIS law and we expected same on the CRA,” he explained.

Abubakar further said that with the rate child abuse in the state, the need for the Act was now. 

“Take for example, in Sokoto state, we have handles over 100 cases of child abuse both involving girls and boys within the metropolis and local communities.‎ The Act will do well to check these rampant cases of child abuse in the state,” he emphasised.

‎Therefore, there is the need for the domestication of the Act in Sokoto state. While the state government should see the need to introduce it to the House as an executive bill, the House of Assembly should also see it as a duty to provide the law that would protect our children.

Family court‎s should be established to try cases involving children below 18 years. All stakeholders in the rights of children should embark on sensitization campaigns for the adoption of the Act in the state.

The law itself should be translated into common language for the understanding of the general populace.

Dangote Launches 25,000 Hectares of Rice Outgrowers Scheme in Sokoto

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Fantastic move

AgriCheck

Dangote, President of Dangote Group

Dangote Rice, a subsidiary of Dangote Group would launch it’s multi-million naira 25,000 hectares of rice outgrower scheme in Sokoto with a prospect of employment opportunities for the rural communities inhabitants.

According to a release by the Africa Press Organisation (APO) issued on behalf of Dangote Group, President of the Group, Aliko Dangote disclosed at the weekend that the Company would flag off a pilot project of 500 ha by Gonroyo dam, in Goronyo local government of Sokoto state on Wednesday. The dam is the second largest in the country, after Kainji.

To be performed by the governor of the state, Aminu Tambuwal, activities at the flag off will include distribution of seedlings to the primary local farmers who in turn would plant the seeds after which Dangote Rice company would purchase the rice from them for milling and processing.

It added that Sokoto was…

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Dangote Launches 25,000 Hectares of Rice Outgrowers Scheme in Sokoto

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Dangote, President of Dangote Group

Dangote Rice, a subsidiary of Dangote Group would launch it’s multi-million naira 25,000 hectares of rice outgrower scheme in Sokoto with a prospect of employment opportunities for the rural communities inhabitants.

According to a release by the Africa Press Organisation (APO) issued on behalf of Dangote Group, President of the Group, Aliko Dangote disclosed at the weekend that the Company would flag off a pilot project of 500 ha by Gonroyo dam, in Goronyo local government of Sokoto state on Wednesday. The dam is the second largest in the country, after Kainji.

To be performed by the governor of the state, Aminu Tambuwal, activities at the flag off will include distribution of seedlings to the primary local farmers who in turn would plant the seeds after which Dangote Rice company would purchase the rice from them for milling and processing.

It added that Sokoto was second after Jigawa out of the 14 states spread across the country where Dangote Rice plans to operate outgrower scheme to not only empower local farmers and create job opportunities for community dwellers as well as reduce migration to the cities but also help in diversifying Nigeria’s economy and reducing the nation’s food import bill.

Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) estimates that rice demand in Nigeria reached 6.3 million Metric Tonnes (MT) in 2015, with only 2.3 million MT of that demand satisfied by local production.

This local production shortfall leaves a gap of 4.0 million MT that is currently being filled through formal importation of rice or illegal imports over land borders. “By year-end 2017, Dangote Rice plans to produce 225,000 MT of parboiled, milled white rice. This will allow us to satisfy four percent of the total market demand within one year. Our model can then be successfully scaled to produce 1,000,000 MT of milled rice in order to satisfy 16% of the domestic market demand for rice over the next five years,” the statement said.

It noted that due to the current economic crisis, domestic prices for agro-commodities had risen dramatically over the last 12 months, making local agriculture an attractive investment. “Dangote Rice Limited (DRL) seeks to take advantage of this economic trend and the favourable policies laid out in the FMARD’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda,” adding that “Dangote Rice has a mandate to produce locally high-quality milled, parboiled rice for the Nigeria market. This goal will be achieved by sourcing the raw material (paddy) required from the Dangote Rice Outgrower Scheme.

“The Dangote Rice Outgrower Scheme would partner with smallholder and contract rice farmers to cultivate and grow rice paddy. Specifically, DRL will provide inputs, technical assistance, extension services and land preparation services and equipment directly to farmers. At harvest, DRL will recoup the costs of inputs and services in-kind and will act as a guaranteed offtaker for paddy that meets certain pre-agreed quality standards. Smallholder farmers will provide land and labour,” it explained.

The statement further explained that the centralized outgrower model enables a high level of control over product quality and quantity. “The purchasing price given to farmers will reflect each season’s market price and will be set after an extensive market price survey and consultation with all stakeholders. In the short-term, Dangote Rice will be responsible for importing all of the inputs needed for cultivation and making them available to the outgrowers.”

By end of 2017, Dangote Rice would have 25,000 Ha under rice cultivation across three sites in Northern Nigeria having identified rice-growing communities in Jigawa State (5,000 Ha), Sokoto State (10,000 Ha) and Zamfara State (10,000 Ha). “The 25,000 Ha will be farmed by nearly 50,000 outgrowers in the selected site areas. These outgrowers are already organized into cooperative associations. We will engage with these organizations to register and sign contracts with each farmer.”

It added that in addition to the outgrowers, an additional ~260 jobs would be created by the end of 2017 and the employees would serve as agronomists, credit officers as well as staff of the centralized mill.

The project has a plan to produce one million MT of rice from 150,000 Ha in the next 5 years over by scaling the business model described above to more sites and rice growing communities. “These communities have been identified and relationship building and sensitization has already begun. In addition to scaling the above model, DRL will establish and manage a high-quality seed development farm at Numan in Adamawa to reduce the costs of seeds.”

Dangote Rice will establish raw material reception, drying, hulling, parboiling units and silos in strategic areas throughout the country near the additional outgrower communities. Each site will store dried, hulled, parboiled bran rice. DRL will then transport this bran rice to a mill, where finished rice will be produced.

By Abdallah el-Kurebe 

African Cassava Sets up 563 trials in Nigeria, Tanzania to Solve Agronomy Puzzle

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Stakeholders at the annual ACAI meeting in Ibadan with Lawrence Kent of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sharing his thoughts and expectations from the meeting

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) has said that in the past year, it established 563 trials across Nigeria and Tanzania to help unlock the agronomy of cassava. 

A statement issued by the Communication and Knowledge Exchange Expert, Godwin Atser explained that the trials were part of the broader initiative by the research community led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with its international and national partners to increase the productivity of cassava and improve the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers.

“Researchers are hoping that the trials will resolve the puzzle around fertilizer recommendation, best planting practices, intercropping, and scheduled planting of cassava to ensure all year cultivation and harvesting of the root crop,” it stated in parts.

ACAI observed that, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), although Cassava was widely cultivated in Africa, its yield per hectare had remained low on the continent compared to Asia with Nigeria and Tanzania continually reporting less than eight tons of yields per hectare as opposed to Asian countries such as Thailand where yield of more than 22 tons per hectare had been reported.

This yield disparity, it further stated, puts African cassava farmers at a disadvantage as they can’t compete globally especially in terms of exports.

Dr. Bernard Vanlauwe, Principal Investigator of the ACAI Project and the Director of IITA Central Africa Hub, said the importance of cassava was not in doubt. “It is one of the most consumed staples in Africa and a source of income. The question is how can we reduce the yield gap. This where the science of ACAI comes in,” he said during the Annual Work Review and Planning in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Over the years, research on cassava agronomy in Africa has been site specific and in what may be described as pilots. The ACAI project aims to take agronomy to scale by researching and making recommendations that could be widely adopted on large scale.

Researchers who are heading the four components of the ACAI project otherwise known as use cases – fertilizer recommendation and blending, best planting practices, intercropping, and scheduled planting – say they are working towards developing decision support tools for site-specific scenarios covering nutrient management best planting practices, intercropping, and scheduled planting.

Dr Abdulai Jalloh, Project Leader of ACAI believes that the project is a game changer for cassava in Africa. “Our farmers are yet to realize the potential of genetic improvement because of poor agronomy,” he said adding that “To harness the full potential of the crop, farmers must adopt the use certified seed of suited varieties and nurture it with good agronomic practices.”

Commending the leadership of ACAI project, the Chair of the Project Advisory Committee of ACAI, Dr Linley Chiwona-Karltun also described the work done so far as impressive.