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Osinbajo: Farmers to Secure Credit at Single Digit from Bank of Agriculture

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo monday said efforts were being made to ensure that farmers secure financing from the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) at single digit interest rate in a determined move to boost agriculture as part of government’s diversification strategy.

He said the Federal Ministry of Finance had practically concluded plans to recapitalise and re-engineer the BoA adding that the bank should be ready to give single digit rates by the end of the quarter.

He said with the current double digit interest rate and reluctance by commercial banks to lend to agriculture, there was need to develop alternative model for financing the sector in the short term.

He said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower programme has been useful and had recorded huge successes in local rice and wheat production through the provision of loans at single digit.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the unveiling of the “Green Alternative: the Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020” which is a four-year blueprint on growing the sector, he said repositioning agriculture was critical for economic transformation.

He said the sector would not only be revived to achieve food security but also have the capacity to produce and export to earn foreign exchange.

He said the inability of past administrations to adhere to policy direction and the unbridled importation of items which ought to be produced locally, coupled with high interest loans to farmers were some of the major drawbacks to the development of the sector.

He said the current administration inherited a near colapse economy and had to take far reaching decisions to reposition it.

According to him, one of the most critical component of the plan was to position agriculture as arrow-head of its recovery efforts.

“There’s no question at all that if we get agriculture right, we will get our economy right,” he said.

He added that the roadmap identified the inability to meet domestic requirements which is more of productivity challenge as well as inability to export at levels required or market success adding that the Green Alternatives will solve the challenges.

He said: “You cannot have a policy of encouraging local production of food and on the other hand, have a high tarrif on imported agricultural equipment. There’s no way that we can encourage local production when we allow unbridled importation of the same thing that we are trying to produce.

“There’s no way we can do the scale of agricultural production both for domestic consumption and export without ensuring local improved seedling development alongside those that we import. And of course, encouraging the works of the agents of the ministries of science and technology who have been making great breakthroughs in local development of agricultural equipment.”

Osinbajo said as part of the 500,000 teachers that federal government plans to recruit, about 100,000 will be trained as extension workers for the farms.

He commended the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, for what he described as his unbridled advocacy for a new policy on agriculture and for also spearheading the policy development within a short period.

Nevertheless, Ogbeh thanked both President Buhari and Osinbajo for their support in ensuring that a blueprint on agriculture was developed.

The minister said the new document was not entirely new as it was built upon the Agricultural Transformational Agenda (ATA) of the previous administration.

He maintained that the present administration had no intentions to jettison good ideas from the past regime noting that policy summersaults were often costlier than new initiatives.

He said adjustment would be made to past administration’s policies where necessary.

He expressed confidence that with the recent interventions, “It won’t be long before we begin to cruise to reasonable altitude.”

He said government would work with state governments to put over 200 dams located across the country into use.

He added that stakeholders would now be expected to use only duly certified fertilizers by government as well as adhere to advisory of soil conditions for bumper yields.

The federal government has already invested massively in soil mapping/testing aimed at increasing crop yields.

He said adequate security arrangement was being put in place to shield local and foreign investors into agriculture from the snares of armed robbery and kidnapping.

On the new policy document, Ogbeh said there had been no alternative to oil and gas in the past 30 years while agriculture had totally been relegated, a situation which according to him led to annual food import bills at a historic $22 billion.

He said given Nigeria’s population projection, the government cannot continue to subsidise feeding, adding that “We have to feed or perish.”

He said tales of widespread hunger will be brought to an end as government expects bumper harvest this year, bouyed by innovations in fertilizer utilisation and education of farmers on new ways of doing things.

Essentially, the new 129-page policy document produced by the ministry of agriculture after extensive consultations with stakeholders, among other things, targets three key pillars including productivity enhancements, crowding in private sector investment and institutional strengthening/realignment.

The key objectives is to grow the agricultural sector to between six to and 12 per cent annually; doubling agricultural household incomes in 6 to 12 years and integrating agricultural commodity value chains into the broader supply chain.

Other immediate targets are to drive job growth and wealth creation as well as ensuring enhanced capacity for foreign exchange earnings.

The six focal areas of intervention include institutional setting and roles, youth and women, infrastructure, research and innovation, and food and national security as well as climate smart agriculture.

He said currently, government’s drive towards food security is in progress particularly for rice, maize, sorghum, millet, wheat, and animal products and tomato paste.

The minister added that the new policy would further educate the people on how to keep bees which are critical for pollination of farm produce particularly tomatoes.

He also said government is presently addressing the issues around cattle rearing and the incessant conflicts with farmers, adding that it is also working with state governments to secure the grazing reserves for herdsmen, a situation that could limit movement and reduce confrontations.

Ogbeh said government’s focus was also to promote commercial agriculture to go side by side with subsistence farming in order to boost exports.

He said a lot of investments would go into palm oil and lemon grass oil productions for export.

He said the new document will also require all undergraduates in tertiary institutions to own farms on campus.

The minister lamented that the 774 local government areas in the country have almost collapsed when it comes to agriculture, stressing that they all must be brought back into the system.

He said whatever the problems of local government are they must be productive or better scrapped.

He, therefore, enjoined every Nigerian to take to farming to save the ailing economy while assuring them of government support.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Oil Prices Decline on Rising India COVID-19 Cases, U.S Inflation Concerns

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Global oil prices extended a decline on Friday following a 3 percent drop on Thursday as coronavirus cases rose in India, one of the world’s largest oil consumers.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, declined by 35 cents or 0.5 percent to $66.70 a barrel at 5 am Nigerian time on Tuesday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell by 28 cents or 0.4 percent to $63.54 per barrel.

The commodity super cycle rally just hit a hard stop and the energy market doesn’t know what to make of Wall Street’s fixation over inflation and the slow flattening of the curve in India,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

The crude demand story is still upbeat for the second half of the year and that should prevent any significant dips in oil prices,” he added.

Prices dropped over a series of key economic data that stoke inflation concerns and forced experts to start thinking the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates to curb the surge in inflation.

An increase in interest rates typically boosts the U.S. dollar, which in turn pressures oil prices because it makes crude oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

This coupled with the fact that India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, recorded more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths for a second straight day on Thursday, dragged on the oil outlook in the near term.

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Brent Crude Rises to $69 on IEA Report

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Crude Oil - Investors King

Oil prices rose after the release of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA)  closely-watched Oil Market Report, with WTI Crude trading at above $66 a barrel and Brent Crude surpassing the $69 per barrel mark.

Prices jumped even though the agency revised down its full-year 2021 oil demand growth forecast by 270,000 barrels per day (bpd) from last month’s assessment, expecting now demand to rise by 5.4 million bpd. The downward revision was due to weaker consumption in Europe and North America in the first quarter and expectations of 630,000 bpd lower demand in the second quarter due to India’s COVID crisis.

The excess oil inventories of the past year have been all but depleted, and a strong demand rebound in the second half this year could lead to even steeper stock draws, the IEA said yesterday, keeping an upbeat forecast of global oil demand despite the weaker-than-expected first half of 2021.

However, the upbeat outlook for the second half of the year remains unchanged, as vaccination campaigns expand and the pandemic largely comes under control, the IEA said.

Moreover, the global oil glut that was hanging over the market for more than a year is now gone, the agency said.

“After nearly a year of robust supply restraint from OPEC+, bloated world oil inventories that built up during last year’s COVID-19 demand shock have returned to more normal levels,” the IEA said in its report.

In March, industry stocks in the developed economies fell by 25 million barrels to 2.951 billion barrels, reducing the overhang versus the five-year average to only 1.7 million barrels, and stocks continued to fall in April.

“Draws had been almost inevitable as easing mobility restrictions in the United States and Europe, robust industrial activity and coronavirus vaccinations set the stage for a steady rebound in fuel demand while OPEC+ pumped far below the call on its crude,” the IEA said.

The market looks oversupplied in May, but stock draws are set to resume as early as June and accelerate later this year. Under the current OPEC+ policy, oil supply will not catch up fast enough, with a jump in demand expected in the second half, according to the IEA. As vaccination rates rise and mobility restrictions ease, global oil demand is set to soar from 93.1 million bpd in the first quarter of 2021 to 99.6 million bpd by the end of the year.

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OPEC Expects Increase In Global Oil Demand Raises Members’ Forecast on Crude Supply

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OPEC meetings concept

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) yesterday lifted its forecast on its members’ crude this year by over 200,000 bpd and now expects demand for its own crude to average 27.65mn bpd in 2021.

This is almost 5.2mn bpd higher than last year and around 2.7mn b/d higher than an earlier estimate of the group’s April production.

According to the highlights of the organisation’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR), OPEC crude is projected to rise from 26.48 million bpd in the second quarter to 28.7 million bpd in the third and 29.54 million bpd in the fourth quarter of the year.

The report also indicated a fall in Nigeria’s crude production from 1.477 bpd in February to 1.473, a difference of just about 4,000 bpd before rising again in April to 1.548 million bpd, to add 75,000 bpd last month.

OPEC stated that its upward revision of members’ crude was underpinned by a downgrade in the group’s forecast for non-OPEC supply, which it now expects to grow by 700,000 bpd to 63.6mn b/d against last month’s report’s projection of a 930,000 bpd rise to 63.83mn bpd.

The oil cartel projected that US crude output would drop by 280,000 bpd this year, compared with its previous forecast for a 70,000 bpd decline.

On the demand side, OPEC kept its overall forecast unchanged from last month’s MOMR, stressing that it expects global oil demand to grow by 5.95 million bpd to 96.46 million bpd this year, partly reversing last year’s 9.48mn bpd drop.

Spot crude prices fell in April for the first time in six months, with North Sea Dated and WTI easing month-on-month by 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

On the global economic projections, the cartel said stimulus measures in the US and accelerating recovery in Asian economies might continue supporting the global economic growth forecast for 2021, now revised up by 0.1 percent to reach 5.5 percent year-on-year.

This comes after a 3.5 percent year-on-year contraction estimated for the global economy in 2020.

However, global economic growth for 2021 remains clouded by uncertainties including, but not limited to the spread of COVID-19 variants and the speed of the global vaccine rollout, OPEC stated.

“World oil demand is assumed to have dropped by 9.5 mb/d in 2020, unchanged from last month’s assessment, now estimated to have reached 90.5 mb/d for the year. For 2021, world oil demand is expected to increase by 6.0 mb/d, unchanged from last month’s estimate, to average 96.5 mb/d,” it said.

The report listed the main drivers for supply growth in 2021 to be Canada, Brazil, China, and Norway, while US liquid supply is expected to decline by 0.1 mb/d year-on-year.

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