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FG: Rice Could Sell for N40,000 by December Unless Production Expands




The federal government at the weekend warned that unless Nigerians ramp up the production of rice, a major staple in the country, and take advantage of current agricultural policies, the product could sell for as much as N40,000 a bag by December.

The government noted that with over 3.5 million tonnes deficit in the national supply of rice, there was the dire need to put emergency measures in place to curb the rising price of the commodity, disclosing that President Muhammadu Buhari already ordered an unfettered access to his office to discuss the way forward  as part of measures to reverse the trend.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who spoke during a town hall meeting with farmers and other stakeholders in Bayelsa State, maintained that the $22billion spent annually on the importation of food was adversely affecting the economy, given that the dollars to import the product was no longer available.

The minister, who also visited some privately-owned farms in the state, with a view to partnering them in agricultural production, noted that the situation was even scarier with the recent  projection that by 2050, Nigeria’s population would have increased to 450 million.

“We were told that our population will be 450 million by the year 2050, that is 34 year from now, that is, our population will be three times this number and if we cannot feed ourselves now, how do we feed ourselves in the next 34 years.

“We have to start today, not just in production but on the entirely value food chain. Those growing the crops will only get 20 per cent of the entire food value, but those in other value chains like processing, marketing get the huge part of the value than those who are actually planting the crops.

“For your information, we spend $22 billion a year importing food into Nigeria. We don’t have any more dollars to import. That is why you see the price of rice going higher.  A bag of riwas 12,000 some months ago, but now it’s 26,000 and if we don’t start producing, by December it could be N40,000,” the minister warned.

Lokpobiri disclosed that since rice matures in three months, it was not too late for farmers to take advantage of the scarcity as there still remains a huge market for the product in the Nigerian market.

“The government has four farms in the state in our records. The average land you see in Bayelsa can grow rice, so the colonial masters were not wrong in their assessment when they said Niger Delta could feed not only the Nigerian but also the entire West Africa sub-region.

“Unfortunately, agriculture till today, is not a priority of the Niger Delta as far as the state governments are concerned because of oil,” he lamented.

He said the states in the Niger Delta had yet to give priority to agriculture the way the North-west states such as Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano as well as other states like Lagos, Ebonyi, Anambra, prioritised it, stressing that Anambra State was not owing salaries even without oil.

The minister was at the one-day interactive session with many agric supporting agencies, including the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme, WAAPP, which he said brought along about 3,000 disease-resistant stems of cassava and 8,500 improved yam seedling for Bayelsa State  farmers.

He decried the destruction of the region’s resources by militants, noting that agriculture was one sure way of discouraging militancy.

“The only way we can take our people out of militancy is actually through agriculture and this is also an opportunity to tell our people that the most important resources to any man is land and water resources.

“By the time you are blowing up pipelines, you are actually damaging the water resources. Today,  people say it will take 20 years to clean up Ogoni and we are blowing up our pipelines.

“We are the people suffering from our own decision, from our own wrong action. So, the time has come for change from blowing up pipelines as a way of drawing attention  to constructive engagement.

“There is no point for anybody to blow up pipelines, after all, you are killing the fishes in the river, you are doing more damage to our ecosystem. I want to use the opportunity to appeal to our youths to desist from destroying their own resources.

“The water resources around the environment are not even enough, so if you destroy them, you are destroying your own resources,” he said.

In his comments during the session, the President, Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide (IYC), Mr. Udengs Eradiri, said agriculture remained the sure way of taking Nigeria out of the security and economic challenges confronting her.

He said for the government to be able to woo people into agriculture, the farmers should be given adequate incentives, insisting the real farmers, not portfolio farmers, should be empowered with processing and storage facilities to give value to their produces.

“Give the fishermen, for instance, the right incentive. We have a big problem in the Niger Delta.  Agriculture is the sure way to solve the Niger Delta crisis. It is multidimensional.  If the Ministry of Agriculture, with all the stakeholders put their machinery together properly,  we can use it to solve the Niger Delta crisis.

“Young people are ready, it is just that with politics, blackmail and all that, people are discouraged. But we need to put the right machinery in motion.

“Brass fertiliser is very important to us. Government should look at the project and give the final support necessary so that the agric sector will have a lot of fertiliser from the oil and gas.

“And this will create a lot of jobs and these crises will be minimised. Agriculture is where the world is going now. The richest nations in the world are agro-based nations but they use their brains properly with technological inputs to drive the process,” Eradiri argued.

The Chief Executive Officer, Achievers Farms Limited, Dr. Jonathan Omu, said access to capital remained a critical problem confronting farmers in the country.

Omu added that even when the banks gave  loans, they usually gave loans that were  grossly inadequate, saying it was high time they started taking banks that refused to give loans to farmers to court.

Other supporting agencies and institutions whose officials attended the event with the minister, aside WAAPP, were the Bank of Industry (BoI), Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) and the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

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

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Crude Oil

Oil Slips With Energy Prices in Europe Halts Record Rally



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Oil dipped toward $72 a barrel in New York after prices of energy commodities in Europe halted a record-breaking run.

West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.6%, having reached the highest intraday level since early August on Wednesday. A rally in European gas and power prices to unprecedented levels was set to end as industries were starting to curb consumption. The surge in energy rates could temporarily boost diesel demand by as much as 2 million barrels a day as consumers switch fuels, according to Citigroup Inc.

Still, the bullish signals for oil are continuing to increase. U.S. crude inventories dropped by more than 6 million barrels last week to a two-year low, according to government figures, as coronavirus vaccination programs permit economies to reopen. Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth warned that the world is facing high energy prices for the foreseeable future.

The investor optimism is showing up in key oil time spreads widening. Trading of bullish Brent options also surged to a two-month high on Wednesday.

Prices have been pushed higher in recent days “by supply outages combined with expectations of switching from gas to oil in the power sector,” said Helge Andre Martinsen, a senior oil market analyst at DNB Bank ASA. “We still believe in softer prices toward year-end and early next year as curtailed production returns and OPEC+ continues to increase production.”

Strong prices for gas, liquefied natural gas and oil are expected to last “for a while” as producers resist the urge to drill again, Chevron’s Wirth told Bloomberg News. Norway’s Equinor ASA said Thursday it also expects European gas prices to remain high over winter.

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Fuel Scarcity: Petrol Sells N220 Per Litre in Nsukka



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Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise called petrol, now sells for between N200 and N220 per liter at the independent marketers’ service stations in Nsukka, Enugu State.

The News Agency of Nigeria is reporting the hike in the price against the official pump price of N162 per liter.

It said it started about a fortnight ago due to the scarcity of the commodity in the town and its environs.

Some residents of the town expressed deep worry over the development in separate interviews with NAN on Wednesday.

A civil servant, Stephen Ozioko, said the situation had further compounded the economic difficulties in the area.

Ozioko said many private car owners had been compelled to park their vehicles at home and move around in public transport.

He said: “Since the scarcity started, I decided to park my car and take public transport to the office and back home. N220 per liter is exorbitant and I cannot afford it considering my salary as a civil servant. I shall continue to use public transport until the situation returns to normal.”

A building material dealer, Timothy Ngwu, said the development had also led to an increase in transport fare in the area.

Ngwu said: “Some people now trek from Nsukka Old Park to Odenigbo Roundabout because of the 100 percent hike in fares from N50 to N100 by tricycle.

“Before now, transport fare from Nsukka to Enugu was N500, but transporters now charge between N800 and N1000.”

Also, a commuter bus driver, Victor Ogbonna, described the scarcity and hike in the price of petrol as “unfortunate and an ugly development”.

Ogbonna added: “Today, only a few filling stations are selling the commodity in Nsukka town, while others are shut.”

He alleged that some filling stations, which claimed to be out-of-stock, were selling to black marketers at night.

He said: “This is why black marketers have sprung up everywhere in the town, selling the commodity for about N300 per liter.”

NAN reports that virtually all the major marketers in the area have stopped the sale of petrol, claiming to be out-of-stock.

The people called on the government to urgently intervene in order to bring the situation under control and also put an end to its harsh economic effects on the messes.


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DPR Targets N3.2T Revenue by Year-End



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Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will hit the N3.2 trillion revenue target by December 2021, according to its Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sarki Auwalu.

Auwalu made the disclosure when he led a delegation of the DPR management team to the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mr Bello Gusau, in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said that 70 percent of the revenue projection had already been met. “Last year, we exceed our revenue budget. We were given N1.5 trillion but we were able to generate N2.7trillion.

“This year, our revenue budget was N3.2 trillion. By the end of August 2021, we have generated up to 70 per cent.

“So, we with September, October, November and December, it is only the 30 per cent that we will work over,’’ he said

He noted that the government took advantage of fiscal terms within the old and new legislation, thereby creating a level of increased signature bonuses.

“We reorganise the work programme that is normally being done in the DPR to key into the new operational structure as we see it in the bill, now an act.

“That programme is being handled by the planning and strategic business unit as against what we use to have because the entire work programme is supposed to show not only technical but also commercial and viability of oil fields and to guarantee the return on investment for investors.

“We have also created an economic value and benchmarking unit to key into the new fiscal provisions of the PIA,’’ he said.

Commenting on capacity, Auwalu said the country stands at the advantage of exporting skills to emerging oil and gas countries across Africa with proper implementation of the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act.

This, he said, the DPR was ready to partner with the Fund to continue to build capacity in the oil and gas sector

He noted that the Federal Government was determined to create leeway that would encourage investors and drastically improve the nation’s petroleum industry.

He further noted that no fewer than 300 legal battles in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, which had been stalled for the past 20 years in courts, had been resolved through alternative dispute resolution.

According to Auwalu, the DPR is strategising well to ensure effective implementation of the PIA.

Responding, Gusau commended the DPR for enabling the industry and enhancing business activities in the oil and gas sector.

He said that DPR remained the head of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria adding that the Fund was grateful to benefit from the wealth of ideas from DPR.

“The last time we visited, we had a good discussion and issues raised are being implemented like tracking the inflow of funds in signature bonus accounts.

“We extended the meeting and involved ministry of Finance, Accountant General office and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Sitting at field development plans and attending significant meetings, helped us to know where and what the industry is trying to do and it also helps to inform our decisions in training and capacity plans,’’ he said

He urged the DPR to continue on its effort to ensure an efficient and productive petroleum industry in Nigeria

He assured collaboration with all as the head of the implementation committee of the Petroleum Industry Act. (NAN)

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