The federal government has approved the appointment of Dr. Vincent Isegbe as the pioneer Director General of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS).
The appointment which took effect from 13th December, 2018, will be for an initial period of five (5) years.
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service Establishment Bill 2018, in January this year, NAQS, became a full-fledged agency of government.
According to a statement signed by Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, Dr. Chigozie P. Nwodo, until this appointment, Dr. Vincent Isegbe was the Coordinating Director of NAQS.
“As the pioneer DG of NAQS, Dr. Isegbe will be responsible for institutionalizing the administrative and management structures requisite for operationalizing the paramilitary status of the agency.
“NAQS was established to promote and regulate sanitary and phytosanitary measures with respect to the export and import of plants, veterinary and aquatic resources. The mandate of the Service is to ensure the conformance of Nigerian agricultural products to international standards, particularly, the requirements of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the International Office of Epizootics –and to stimulate international trade in Nigerian agricultural products.
“Dr. Isegebe is highly recommended for his expertise, exposure and experience in quarantine administration. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1985 and his Master’s degree at the University of Maiduguri in 1990.
“Over the years, he has also undergone several trainings and courses within Nigeria and overseas,” the statement reads in part.
Isegbe began his career as a veterinary officer in the Federal Department of Livestock, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 1989 and rose through the ranks to the position of Assistant Director before joining the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service as one of its pioneer staff in 2008.
“Upon joining NAQS, Dr. Isegbe became the Head of Collaboration, Planning and Partnership division and subsequently, the Head of Animal Quarantine Department; a position he held until he assumed the position of the Coordinating Director in 2015.
“During his term as Coordinating Director, Dr. Isegbe launched Export Improvement Initiative, a backward integration intervention designed to increase the volume of export in customary Nigerian agricultural commodities and emerging commodities such as sesame, soya bean, cinnamon, pigeon pea, sugar cane, honey and snail.
“As part of the Initiative, Nigeria exported 1,983 containers of hibiscus (zobo) flower to Mexico within the first nine (9) months of 2017 and earned $35 million as a result. Under his leadership, NAQS recently finessed a deal that won Nigeria an export order for $100 billion worth of pigeon pea from India.
“He is passionate about expanding the frontiers of export market for Nigerian agricultural products. He has also demonstrated commitment to enhancing the contribution of NAQS to the diversification of the economy.
“NAQS was recently ranked the 2nd most improved MDA in Nigeria in the 2018 ranking on efficiency in the Ease of Doing Business Report authored by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC),” he explained.
Investment in agric will create job for youth-FAO
The Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Dr. José Graziano da Silva, has called for investment in rural areas and agriculture, saying it is crucial to achieve prosperity in Africa and to guarantee the continent’s young people an alternative to migration.
According to the statement from FAO’s website, De Silva made the remarks at the weekend at the high level EU-African Alliance in Agriculture event which is part of this week’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin.
“In Africa, we need to invest in rural development aimed at creating jobs and opportunities for young people to remain in rural areas” he said. “We need youth for modern agriculture.”
While noting that half of Africa’s population remained extremely poor and food insecure, Graziano da Silva said that it is critical to channel public and private investments towards the agricultural sector.
Such interventions are particularly important in the Sahel area which is strongly hit by the impacts of conflicts and climate change.
Draining the rural migration flow
“Fostering the creation of decent jobs in rural areas, and not only in the agricultural sector, but in other areas and sectors, could help rural populations remain in their homelands,” the FAO Director-General said.
Most of the young migrants come from the rural areas but young people are essential to achieve a modern and dynamic agricultural sector in Africa, which is vital to fight hunger and poverty, and address the impacts of climate change, he said.
Therefore, it is critical to unlock employment opportunities in the agriculture sector and make it more attractive for young people.
According to FAO’s State of Food and Agriculture 2018, the number of international migrants increased from 153 million in 1990 to over 250 million today while migration from rural areas accounts for at least 50 percent of all internal movements, especially in regions with high urbanization rates.
In sub-Saharan Africa this share can be up to 75 percent.
The EU-Africa Agric Task Force
In his address, Graziano da Silva welcomed the role of EU-Africa Agriculture Task Force which will ensure new technologies reach and better serve often marginalized, rural people, including those living in fragile contexts.
FAO is already working with partners to facilitate pro-poor investments that can enable access to new technologies, capacity development, market information, networks and social protection.
NANTS to train 150 IDPs in maize, groundnut farming
National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has concluded plans to train about 150 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on modern farming in maize and groundnuts.
This is part of efforts to economically empower them and make them self-reliant.
NANTS President, Mr. Ken Ukaoha, who revealed this recently in Abuja, when the members of the Association went to Durumi Internally Displaced Camp located in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, said over the years, the IDPs have been subjected to untold suffering due to insurgency activities in the North East of Nigeria.
He assured that NANTS would work with community leaders to provide the IDPs land for farming, adding that farming tools, farm input such as fertilizers and seeds would be given to them free of charge in the next farming season.
To help them live normal life and fend for themselves, Ukaoha assured that the beneficiaries or selected number of farmers would be trained and empowered, adding that majority of the IDPs were farmers before they fled their homes due to insurgence.
Ukaoha, who donated 120 bags of rice to the IDPs in the camp, urged them to come out enmasse during the forthcoming elections to elect good leaders who would cater for their welfare.
He noted that with the assistance of his Association, the IDPs had been mobilised during the voter registration exercise to register, adding that over 3,200 eligible voters were registered at the camp.
“I urge you to vote with your conscience. We are not politicians; we are not going to decide for you who to vote for.
“But we want to encourage you to vote for right leaders. Resist the temptation to sell your votes for a pittance. Do not be swelled by money or any gift items,” Ukaoha said.
Responding, chairman of the IDPs, Mr. Ibrahim Adaba, appreciated NANTS for its magnanimity, calling on the government to end insurgency in the northeast to enable them return home.