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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).

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq,, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Gold Steadies After Initial Gains on Reports of Israel’s Strikes in Iran



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Gold, often viewed as a haven during times of geopolitical uncertainty, exhibited a characteristic surge in response to reports of Israel’s alleged strikes in Iran, only to stabilize later as tensions simmered.

The yellow metal’s initial rally came on the heels of escalating tensions in the Middle East, with concerns mounting over a potential wider conflict.

Spot gold soared as much as 1.6% in early trading as news circulated regarding Israel’s purported strikes on targets in Iran.

This surge, reaching a high of $2,400 a ton, reflected the nervousness pervading global markets amidst the saber-rattling between the two nations.

However, as the day progressed, media reports from both countries appeared to downplay the impact and severity of the alleged strikes, contributing to a moderation in gold’s gains.

Analysts noted that while the initial spike was fueled by fears of heightened conflict, subsequent assessments suggesting a less severe outcome helped calm investor nerves, leading to a stabilization in gold prices.

Traders had been bracing for a potential Israeli response following Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, raising concerns about a retaliatory spiral between the two adversaries.

Reports of an explosion in Iran’s central city of Isfahan further added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, prompting flight suspensions and exacerbating market jitters.

In addition to geopolitical tensions, gold’s rally in recent months has been underpinned by other factors, including expectations of US interest rate cuts, sustained central bank buying, and robust consumer demand, particularly in China.

Despite the initial surge followed by stabilization, gold remains sensitive to developments in the Middle East and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Investors continue to monitor the situation closely for any signs of escalation or de-escalation, recognizing gold’s role as a traditional safe haven in times of uncertainty.

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Global Cocoa Prices Surge to Record Levels, Processing Remains Steady




Cocoa futures in New York have reached a historic pinnacle with the most-active contract hitting an all-time high of $11,578 a metric ton in early trading on Friday.

This surge comes amidst a backdrop of challenges in the cocoa industry, including supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions, and rising production costs.

Despite these hurdles, the pace of processing in chocolate factories has remained constant, providing a glimmer of hope for chocolate lovers worldwide.

Data released after market close on Thursday revealed that cocoa processing, known as “grinds,” was up in North America during the first quarter, appreciating by 4% compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, processing in Europe only saw a modest decline of about 2%, and Asia experienced a slight decrease.

These processing figures are particularly noteworthy given the current landscape of cocoa prices. Since the beginning of 2024, cocoa futures have more than doubled, reflecting the immense pressure on the cocoa market.

Yet, despite these soaring prices, chocolate manufacturers have managed to maintain their production levels, indicating resilience in the face of adversity.

The surge in cocoa prices can be attributed to a variety of factors, including supply shortages caused by adverse weather conditions in key cocoa-producing regions such as West Africa.

Also, rising demand for chocolate products, particularly premium and artisanal varieties, has contributed to the upward pressure on prices.

While the spike in cocoa prices presents challenges for chocolate manufacturers and consumers alike, industry experts remain cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the cocoa market.

Despite the record-breaking prices, the steady pace of cocoa processing suggests that chocolate lovers can still expect to indulge in their favorite treats, albeit at a higher cost.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Leverages Cheaper US Oil Imports to Boost Production



Crude Oil

The Dangote Petroleum Refinery is capitalizing on the availability of cheaper oil imports from the United States.

Recent reports indicate that the refinery with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day has begun leveraging US-grade oil to power its operations in Nigeria.

According to insights from industry analysts, the refinery has commenced shipping various products, including jet fuel, gasoil, and naphtha, as it gradually ramps up its production capacity.

The utilization of US oil imports, particularly the WTI Midland grade, has provided Dangote Refinery with a cost-effective solution for its feedstock requirements.

Experts anticipate that the refinery’s gasoline-focused units, expected to come online in the summer months will further bolster its influence in the Atlantic Basin gasoline markets.

Alan Gelder, Vice President of Refining, Chemicals, and Oil Markets at Wood Mackenzie, noted that Dangote’s entry into the gasoline market is poised to reshape the West African gasoline supply dynamics.

Despite operating at approximately half its nameplate capacity, Dangote Refinery’s impact on regional fuel markets is already being felt. The refinery’s recent announcement of a reduction in diesel prices from N1,200/litre to N1,000/litre has generated excitement within Nigeria’s downstream oil sector.

This move is expected to positively affect various sectors of the economy and contribute to reducing the country’s high inflation rate.

Furthermore, the refinery’s utilization of US oil imports shows its commitment to exploring cost-effective solutions while striving to meet Nigeria’s domestic fuel demand. As the refinery continues to optimize its production processes, it is poised to play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy landscape and contribute to the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

Moreover, the Nigerian government’s recent directive to compel oil producers to prioritize domestic refineries for crude supply aligns with Dangote Refinery’s objectives of reducing reliance on imported refined products.

With the flexibility to purchase crude using either the local currency or the US dollar, the refinery is well-positioned to capitalize on these policy reforms and further enhance its operational efficiency.

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