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CBN approves 500,000 rice farmers’ compensation request over flood

By News desk

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved compensation for over 550,000 rice farmers affected by the 2018 flood disaster.

The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) National President, Aminu Goronyo, on Tuesday in Abuja told newsmen that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, had directed that the loan should be restructured for a period of four years.

Goronyo said: “Instead of paying the loan three instalments within a year, the loan will be restructured to be paid within four years now and be paid by installments.’’

According to him, the affected farmers were under the RIFAN/CBN/ ABP model programme would benefit from the compensation.

He said that the resolution was an outcome of a meeting with the Director, Developing Finances of CBN and RIFAN executive.

The National President explained that RIFAN only championed the case of affected farmers under its care but expressed the hope that all the registered farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) that were affected would benefit from it.

Goroyo said that the bank had also directed that a fresh loan should be given to the affected farmers so that they could go back to the field and recover their losses.

“RIFAN is working on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Presidency and the CBN to compensate the victims as promised by President Mohammadu Buhari.

“RIFAN is also seeking assistance from the CBN to restructure the loans to alleviate the suffering of the affected farmers and make them go back to the field,’’ he said.

He said that another meeting on adequate compensation to the affected farmers in under the RIFAN/ CBN/ ABP model programme Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) indicated that succour was on the way for farmers negatively impacted by the excessive rains of 2018.

Goroyo said that the compensation programmes were being finalised by NAIC and very soon affected farmers would be paid their claims.

He recalled that all the affected farmers that obtained ABP loans for the rainfall farming had appealed to the government to look into the matter.

Goroyo said that inspections of the affected states showed that the flood had submerged thousands of hectares of maize and rice farmlands.

NAN recalls that the flood destroyed over 100,000 hectares of rice farms in Jigawa, and affected 19,000 rice farmers across the 23 local government areas of the state.

Also Sokoto State said it lost an estimated 61,197 tonnes of rice valued at N27.5 billion because of the flood during the last cropping season.

Also RIFAN, Adamawa chapter, over 5,000 of its members were affected by the flood.

LASG justifies LAKE Rice scarcity, floods market with fresh stocks

By News desk

Following residents’ complaint over scarcity of LAKE rice, Lagos State Government has disclosed that the products were often subjected to different quality analysis assessment before being released to the market for consumption.

The State Government added that the its accredited stores have been stocked with the products, urging residents to visit and buy for the Yuletide season.

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Oluwatoyin Suarau, who stated this in his office on Sunday noted that Lake Rice was of good quality because it was often subjected to several test before its distribution to markets.

“The major difference between LAKE Rice and imported rice is that the imported has a minimum storage of five to six years storage life span, but LAKE Rice is fresh and wholesome”, He said.

Suarau stressed further that the price of the rice has not changed from N12,000, N6,000 and N2,500 for 50kg, 25kg and 10kg respectively adding that the government will continue to maintain the price of the product so as to make it affordable to residents.

The commissioner stated that the product was now available, stressing that there was now enough supply of LAKE Rice to meet growing demands of residents especially during the yuletide.

According to him, residents can get the product from Agricultural Development Authority (ADA) Oko Oba, Agege; Lagos Television (LTV) Complex, Agidingbi-Ikeja and other designated centers and accredited distributors across the State.

“The ultimate goal of the State government on production and marketing of LAKE Rice is to stop importation of rice and ensure that only locally produced rice is consumed by residents”, Suarau said.

Suarau noted that the need to ensure that Lake Rice circulate into the nooks and crannies of the state is key in the State government’s drive to attain food sufficiency and food security.

He assured that the State government will ensure the continuous availability of LAKE Rice in already approved designated sales centres, major markets, shopping malls and supermarkets that are in partnership with the Lagos State government and work assiduously to ensure adequate supply all over the state.

LASG disburses N7bn to 10,000 SMEs, creates 25,000 jobs


By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

Lagos State Government has disbursed atleast N7 billion to Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, targeted at contributing to growth of the economy.

The state government added the funds disbursed through Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) programme, has within three years created over 25,000 new jobs in the state.

The funds disbursed were disclosed yesterday by the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, while presenting cheques to another batch of over 2,000 beneficiaries in Ikeja.

While reeling out a breakdown of the beneficiaries, Ambode said: “Before today, which is 2,000 beneficiaries, we had a total of 3,652 female loan beneficiaries to the 4,280 male loan beneficiaries.”

The Governor added that the beneficiaries of the LSETF programmes range from the youth to senior citizens in active business in all councils, saying, the positive stories emanating from beneficiaries were pleasing to note.

“A very big validation of this programme we have embarked upon comes from the over 25,000 new direct jobs created directly by these businesses in our State. This does not include the multiplier effect of those businesses on the Lagos economy and the indirect jobs created,” he added.

While charging the beneficiaries to use the funds to grow their businesses and pay back as at when due, Ambode also expressed optimism about the sustainability of the scheme, saying it was instructive that the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had already expressed commitment to the initiative.

While appreciating various agencies and institutions who partnered with the LSETF to bring about the successes so far recorded, Omoigui-Okauru also urged others to take a cue from such by collaborating where and when necessary to further advance the objectives of the initiative.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Adeoye Olumide of Jetco Global Farms whose company was granted N3.750million loan, said aside that he applied and got the loan without knowing anybody in government, the multiplier effect of the scheme was amazing as more people would be employed to his business.

“This is so unbelievable and it is so amazing. The domino effect on the entire value chain with this empowerment is very laudable and very commendable,” Olumide said.

FAO, AfDB to battle strains in Africa

By News Desk,

Hunger and malnutrition in Africa have attracted the attention of Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) who have agreed to raise US$100 million to mitigate the problems.

In a new strategic alliance, the organisations would raise the fund million in five years to catalyse investments in African agriculture to fight hunger and malnutrition and support economic development in Africa.

The new alliance will focus, among other objectives, on enhancing investments in food security, nutrition, social protection, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development with a view to assisting African countries in their efforts to achieve the SDGs.

The two institutions would collaborate in leveraging investments in agriculture, including through public-private partnerships, to transform agriculture into a business.

The agreement envisions an initial contribution of US$15 million by the two institutions to set up a collaborative programme of action.

The Programme will aim to improve AfDB’s investment operations, increase private public partnerships, improve investment climate and portfolio performance and joint resources mobilization.

FAO’s contributions will focus on technical assistance in areas such as sustainable agricultural intensification and diversification, scaling up value chain innovations, youth in agriculture and agribusiness, agricultural statistics, and climate smart agriculture.

The two institutions also agreed to collaborate in the promotion of international policy tools, such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, developed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

The initiative builds on the AfDB’s ‘Feed Africa’ strategy. Launched in 2015, this strategy aims to mobilize US$24 billion in African Agriculture within ten years by improving markets, agricultural policies, institutions and infrastructure, developing agricultural value chains and making improved technologies available to farmers.

The agreement was signed on 28 August 2018 by AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva during a meeting in Rom Italy.

Buhari signs 2010 cocoa agreement

By News Desk,

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the Instrument of Accession to the International Cocoa Agreement of 2010.

According to the Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), President Buhari signed it following approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for Nigeria to accede to the agreement.

“Following the execution of the instrument of accession, Nigeria undertakes faithfully to abide by all the stipulations therein contained in the Agreement.

“Among other benefits, the agreement is expected to strengthen cooperation between exporting and importing member countries; improve their cocoa economies through active and better focused project development and strategies for capacity-building.

“The 2010 agreement is also expected to build on the successes of the 2001 Agreement by “implementing measures leading to an increase in the income of cocoa farmers and by supporting cocoa producers in improving the functioning of their cocoa economies.’’

He said it would also deliver cocoa of better quality, take effective account of food-safety issues and help establish social, economic and environmental sustainability.

This he said would ensure that farmers were rewarded for producing cocoa that met ethical and environmental considerations.

Low cocoa prices cripple Ghana

By Business Desk,

Without government subsidy, Ghana’s cocoa sector would have difficulty financing its core activities, said Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Joseph Boahen-Aidoo.

Government support has become critical due to the lowering price of cocoa on the world market that has made Ghana, the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, struggle to meet its obligation to farmers as well as keep developing the sector.

The cocoa sector, according to the CEO, has been compelled to cut down on a lot of its core operational cost due to the lower outturn in cocoa revenue as a result of lower cocoa prices.

While the regulator spends 2,400 U.S. dollars per ton, including 1,800 as producer price and 600 to cover buyers’ margin, haulage, storage, conditioning before shipment, global price for cocoa has fallen to 2,100 dollars.

This has left the cocoa market regulator in deficits whenever prices fall below 2,400 dollars, Boahen-Aidoo pointed out in an interview on Wednesday during the 80th Anniversary lecture of the Cocoa Research Institute.

“We have been running at a loss. In fact, last year there was a deficit of 2.03 billion Ghana cedis (428.6 million U.S. dollars). That was the difference,” he said.

This happened “because the price of cocoa hovered around 1,700 dollars and 2,100 dollars which was woefully below the operational required cost of 2,400 dollars. So any time the price of cocoa goes below that level, we are in trouble,” he said.

Stakeholders therefore fear that without government intervention, the sector could lose its right of place as the backbone of the Ghanaian economy.

“And as I have explained, we cannot also reduce the producer price because the moment we do that, farmers will leave cocoa and give out their land for other purposes, including illegal mining,” Boahen-Aidoo cautioned.

He said COCOBOD had been in talks with government to cushion the industry because, for a long while, cocoa has supported the country.

“So if price is falling on the world market, through no fault of ours, then the country has to support the cocoa farmers to sustain them because if we do not sustain them and they cut down the cocoa, as is happening in the Eastern Region, to plant rubber, then Ghana would be in trouble,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which account for about 60 percent of annual global cocoa production, are in talks to harmonise their trading in cocoa to control what goes into the market at any given time to ensure that the chocolate beans are bought at a fairly appreciable price.

BoI, Ebonyi roll out N4bn agric fund for civil servants

By News Desk

The Bank of Industry (BoI) partners the Ebonyi State Government in supporting civil servants with a N4 billion funds to improve agricultural activities in the state.

A statement from the bank  in Lagos disclosed that the agro-based fund was coming on the heels of a N4 billion MSME Matching Fund activated in July 2017.

Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director of BoI, noted that the fund was to develop and promote entrepreneurship, boost agriculture and its value chain businesses in the state.

He also noted that the fund would create a solid future for both MSMEs and the State’s civil servants who were the engine room for the execution of state policies and programmes.

According to him, the fund is being offered at five per cent and 6.2 per cent for medium term (3 years to 5 years) and working capital financing respectively, with moratorium periods of three to 12 months.

Pitan commended the harmonious working relationship of the bank and the State’s Implementation Committee (SIC) in identifying viable MSMEs across the 13 local government councils of the state.

“So far, the Bank has approved a total of 34 loans valued at over N206 million to MSMEs in the state under the Matching Fund.

“In addition, the Bank has also approved and granted loans worth over N3.17 billion (N1.81 billion disbursed) from its direct funds to 22 other businesses in Ebonyi State,” he said.

Pitan said that the sectors supported included rice milling and processing, quarry and solid minerals, food processing, roofing sheet production, water bottling and packaging, mattresses and foam production and metal fabrication.

He said that BoI also impacted the economy of the state through Federal Government’s social security scheme – Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP)- targeted at traders and artisans.

According to him, the bank supports 2,525 beneficiaries to the tune of N126.22 million.

In his remarks, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, said that Ebonyi was the pioneer of an initiative aimed at improving the lives of civil servants across the country.

He noted that proffering solution to the low and erratic earnings of civil servants ought to be addressed as a national issue, and that if civil servants were rich, the nation would be rich.

“I get so bothered about the issues of civil servants in the country, because their take home cannot match market forces and yet many states in our federation cannot pay this meager salary to civil servants,” he said.

He assured civil servants that the fund would be ready to be assessed from this month, adding that the Constitution permits civil servants to engage in agriculture.

Kano, Islamic Devt. Bank begin work on cattle colonies establishment

By NewsDesk,

The Kano state government, alongside collaborative effort of Islamic Development Bank, has disclosed plans to establish cattle colonies such that would put control on activities of traders across the state.

It said that the move was aimed at revolutionizing meat, dairy and hides and allied products production, as well as generally revamping agriculture in the state.

The State Government,  Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, stated that both the state and the bank were already working on the plan which would also ensure that herdsmen were provided with animal husbandry, entrepreneurial and other skills, and generally change the agri-business environment in the state.

Ganduje, who declared the state move during an Iftar with members of the state branch of All Farmers Association and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, yesterday at the state house, informed that the plan, when implemented would attract herdsmen who would settle in an axis of the state, access professional services and engage in economic ventures related to their occupation, thus, contributing to national development.

He lamented the recurring clashes between herdsmen and framers in some parts of the country, which has led to loss of lives and property, pointing out that movement of herdsmen from other parts of West Africa to this country, for pasture, as a result of climate change, was partly responsible for the problem.

The governor stated that the loss of grazing reserves and cattle routes resulting in inadequacy of fodder for the animals was another cause of disagreement between the two groups.

In his remarks the Branch Chairman of All Farmers Association, Kano State, Faruk Mudi Rabi’u, explained that his association was also working towards establishing sustainable, private commercial ranches in the state. He requested the support of the state government to succeed in that direction.

On his part, the chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Alhaji Husaini Umar, maintained that farmers and herdsmen in Kano were one and would continue to live peacefully with one another for national progress.