- $200m World Bank Grant Stimulates Agric
The World Bank is set to boost women and youth involvement in farming with a $200 million grant.
The new project, according to the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) Task Team leader, World Bank, Dr Sheu Salau, has been submitted to the bank’s board for approval.
Salau, who disclosed this on the sidelines of the Project’s 13th implementation support mission held in Lagos, said the project was part of the bank’s work towards reducing the cost of food by helping to boost agricultural output through increased participation of women and men.
He stressed that women and youths were a priority for the bank, and that the new project would bolster youth entrepreneurship in agriculture and agri-business.
The initiative will see the bank working with State Agriculture Development Programmes to train the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs, also referred to as ‘agri-preneurs’, and provide them with seed money through banks to finance their bankable business plans.
He stressed the importance of women and youths in all aspects of agriculture, ranging from the inputs, to the agricultural value chain including production, processing, marketing and transport, and reiterated the commitment of the World Bank to improve the farming systems; to deliver innovation and information; and to provide better tools for farmers.
He said the remaining phase of the CADP project should be devoted to support youths and women to unlock the potential of agriculture.
Salau reiterated that supporting micro and small-sized companies in the agricultural sector is a cornerstone of the bank’s strategy.
On the CADP, he said 73 percent of the activities covered under the $150 million project has been executed. This covers rice, aquaculture and poultry value chain. Through the project, Salau said states such as Lagos, Enugu, Cross River, and Kaduna have had access to inputs, financial services and skills in agri-business, efficient machinery for processing produce, market information, new technology, among others.
He said the World Bank Group will continue to support the Federal Government in addressing its developmental challenges and emerging priorities.
In the agribusiness sector alone, through CADP, the Project Operations Officer, Dr. Salisu Garba said the bank has committed S$ 150 million in projects involving rice, poultry and aquaculture across Enugu,Cross Rivers, Lagos, Kano and Kaduna States since 2010.
As of June this year, the project reached 36,332 small to medium commercial farmers through 33, 391 commodity interest groups (CIGs). The project funded 1,432 business plans under its matching grants mechanism and completed 307 km of link roads, to facilitate farmers access to technologies, services and markets.
As a result, beneficiaries have increased significantly their production, productivity and volumes of sales.
Garba said the project is back on track towards attainment of its development objectives which are to strengthen agricultural production systems and facilitate market access for targeted value chains among small and medium commercial farmers in the five participating states.
Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mike Eneh reiterated the importance of the project to boosting food production.
He informed the gathering that the main purpose of the mission was to gather inputs from the participating states for enhanced performance and the required impact.
He urged participating states to take action to invest in agriculture to be competitive and take advantage of the business opportunities, and appealed to participants to embrace and invest in technologies that would help transform the sector into a more efficient production that can allow the sector to tap into wider markets.
Eneh highlighted some of the benefits of focusing on value-adding operations and the opportunities presented for the national economy to include increased national food security, social development in rural areas, job creation, and improved tax and duty generation.
He stressed the importance of developing and strengthening local capacity, calling on the private and public sectors to come together and invest for a successful agriculture and agro-processing sector focused on value-addition.
The state Project Coordinator, Kehinde Ogunyinka, said the Commercial Agricultural Development Project, has moved fish farming in Lagos State to a new and unparalleled dimension with farmers exporting smoked fish abroad.
According to him, CADP activities in Lagos is one of the project’s success stories with efforts to invest heavily in cropping, livestock and processing as well as skills development equipping small-scale farmers involved in the value-addition chain.According to him, steps are being taken to upgrade subsistence agriculture to commercial ventures focusing on small and medium scale commercial farmers and agro-processors.
The CADP programme operates in five states: Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos focusing on palm oil, cocoa, fruit trees, poultry, aquaculture, dairy and staples such as maize and rice.
The US$150 million World Bank Project, which began in 2009, may end in May, next year.
Cuba’s Central Bank Suspends US Dollar Deposits Nationwide
Cuba, the island country located where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean meet, said this week U.S. dollars will be suspended in the country.
The mandate comes from the country’s central bank and foreign tourists have been told to leave U.S. dollars at home when visiting. The announcement was invoked at a roundtable discussion that was aired on state-sponsored Cuban television.
“In view of the obstacles that the U.S. embargo creates for the national bank system to deposit abroad the U.S. dollars that are collected in the country, a decision was made to temporarily suspend deposits in U.S. banknotes in Cuba’s bank and financial system,” the Central Bank of Cuba (Banco Central de Cuba, BCC) members said.
Yamilé Berra Cires, the vice president of the BCC, explained during the roundtable discussion that at the beginning of the Trump administration’s leadership, the U.S. tightened the embargo’s grip. The United States has had an embargo with Cuba since 1958 and the U.S. has had numerous issues with Cuba during the Eisenhower presidency and Kennedy presidency as well. After the 2008 crisis, the U.S. and Cuba seemed to gravitate toward friendlier terms during the Obama presidency.
However, BCC vice president Berra Cires claims issues have gotten worse since Trump and said 24 foreign banks stopped dealing with Cuba. Berra Cires also said during the roundtable discussion that 95 foreign financial institutions reported on the transgressions of Cuban national banks doing business with counterparties. “It is ever more difficult for Cuba to find international banking or financing institutions willing to receive, convert or process U.S. currency in cash,” Berra Cires further remarked.
“People who will be coming into the country during this time will have to arrive with a currency other than the dollar,” Francisco Mayobre Lence the BCC’s first vice president said.
Of course, after hearing about the USD ban in Cuba, members of the cryptocurrency community wanted Cuba to adopt digital currencies like El Salvador recently did with bitcoin. “It’s like [a] 50-year embargo. It’s really depressing,” one individual wrote about the Cuba situation with America on Reddit. “Will they take crypto now?” another Redditor asked in the r/cryptocurrency thread. Another crypto enthusiast responded to the question and said:
I doubt they want to be the last Latin American country to do so.
Minister-president of the Cuban central bank, Marta Sabina Wilson González explained during the roundtable discussion that Cuba had no choice but to make the decision. “We had no choice but to take this measure, which we are explaining at the Round Table, as we always do when it is a measure that affects the people, who will understand that there is no other option,” the minister detailed.
Kenya Receives $750 Million Loan from World Bank to Boost Economic Recovery
Kenya has received a $750 million loan from the World Bank to support its budget and help the East African economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multilateral lender said on Friday.
The Kenyan government has been pushing hard to secure foreign funding to fill a wide budget deficit before its financial year closes at the end of this month.
The $750 million disbursement is part of World Bank’s Development Policy Operations (DPO), which lends cash for budget support instead of financing specific projects.
The bank said some of the funds would go towards setting up an electronic procurement system for government goods and services to improve transparency.
The World Bank said the concessional loan will have a 3.1% annual interest rate. Typically, World Bank loans have zero or very low interest rates and have repayment periods of 25 to 40 years, with a five- or 10-year grace period.
On Thursday, Finance Minister Ukur Yatani presented to parliament the 2021/22 budget, with a deficit of 7.5% of gross domestic product, reduced from 8.7% for the current fiscal year ending this month.
The finance ministry forecasts a economic growth of 6.6% this year, recovering from 0.6% in 2020 when sectors like tourism and related services collapsed due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The World Bank forecasts Kenya’s economy will grow 4.5% this year, and 4.7% in 2022.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who took the helm in 2013, has overseen a jump in public borrowing. Total debt stands at 70% of GDP, up from about 45% when he took over – a surge that some politicians and economists say is saddling future generations with too much debt.
The government has defended the increased borrowing, saying the country must invest in its infrastructure, including roads and railways.
FG Spends N612.7 Billion on Domestic Debt Servicing in Q1 2021
The latest report from the Debt Management Office (DMO) has revealed that the Federal Government spent a total sum of N612.71 billion on domestic debt servicing in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.
In the report released on Wednesday, the DMO said the Federal Government paid holders of mature Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTB) N17.23 billion in January, N12.3 billion in February and N5.49 billion in March 2021. Indicating that the Federal Government paid a combined sum of N35.03 billion to NTB holders in Q1 2021.
Similarly, the Federal Government paid N537.783 billion to holders of Federal Government of Nigeria bonds in three instalments of N201.95 billion in January, N79.26 billion in February and N256.58 billion in March 2021.
The Federal Government also paid N308.38 million in three tranches to subscribers of mature FGN Savings Bond. FG paid N111.65 million in January, N97.074 million in February and N99.65 million in March 2021.
Another N8.16 billion was used to settle FGN Sukuk Rentals in March 2021. No payment was made in January and February 2021.
The Federal Government released N31.44 billion as principal repayment “in respect of promissory notes during the quarter under review.
A monthly breakdown revealed that a total sum of N219.29 billion was released to service domestic debts in January, N123.09 billion in February and N270.33 billion in March. Therefore, bringing the total amount spent on domestic debt servicing in the first quarter of 2021 to N612.71 billion.
Nigeria’s total debt rose to N33.1 trillion in the first quarter of 2021, according to the report released by the DMO.
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