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FG Confident that Wacott Rice Investment will Boost Food Security, Jobs

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bags of rice
  • FG Confident that Wacott Rice Investment will Boost Food Security, Jobs

The food security and youth employment goals of the federal government is receiving major support with the establishment of a rice processing mill with 120,000 metric tonnes capacity in Argungu, Kebbi State by WACOT Rice Limited, a member of the TGI Group. The rice mill is part of WACOT’s expansion plan, which targets a capacity increase with additional rice plants to overall 500,000 metric tonnes in the next years.

Located in Argungu Local Government Area, along the Argungu-Sokoto road, the rice processing plant is the first rice mill to be conceptualised, executed and to be commissioned during the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Work started on the Mill in February 2016 and is scheduled to be formally commissioned in May, 2017.

During a pre-commissioning visit to the 120,000 metric tonnes mill on Thursday, the Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, commended the Board and Management of WACOT Rice Limited for keying into the ‘self-sufficiency in rice production’ goal of the federal government.

While conducting the special visitors round the N10 billion state of the art Mill, the Group Managing Director of TGI Group, Mr. Rahul Savara disclosed that the Mill will produce top quality rice, and that it will generate direct and indirect employment for 3,500 people, adding that over 50,000 farmers will have ready market for their produce. WACOT’s Managing Director, Mr. Ujwalkanta Senapati, adds that “WACOT views farmers as partners with whom we work hand-in-hand to improve agricultural production.”

Savara further revealed that the Mill is “the first rice plant in Nigeria with captive power co-generation facility and that it will generate 1 MW electricity from rice husks, thereby ensuring that all by-products and waste products are fully consumed and the environment is protected.

While commending the management of WACOT for locating the mill in his State and for completing it within a short period, the visibly elated Governor Bagudu said, “what WACOT has done shows that Nigeria has friends and a friend in need is a friend indeed”, adding, WACOT is investing in Kebbi because we have created the enabling environment for business to thrive”.

The Governor also declared that once the WACOT Mill starts full operation, a large part of the rice cultivated in the State will be processed within the state, instead of being taken elsewhere for milling. He also used the opportunity to reiterate the fact that Kebbi state is endowed with massive arable land, fit for production of rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, groundnut etc.

Also, speaking during the visit, Chief Ogbeh stated that the Federal Government will continue to encourage and support organisations such as WACOT, in its efforts to enhance and stabilise food production in the country. He commended WACOT for having faith in Kebbi State and Nigeria.

While applauding the focus of the Kebbi State government on Agriculture, the Minister said that it is anticipated that more state governments will embrace this laudable path, in order to promote food sufficiency and economic development in the country. He added that for the country to have lasting security, there must be concerted effort by all tiers of government to tackle the twin issues of food security and unemployment, as youth unemployment could be a time bomb for the country.

The Minister concluded by saying that “a time is coming when the most important person in Kebbi State will not be a politician but a farmer”.

On his part, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele lauded WACOT Limited for the feat, adding that the mill will save the country substantial amount of foreign exchange that would have gone into rice importation. He also assured the farmers that government will continue to do everything to ensure that their products are sold.

Stallion Group Bags Special Agric Sector Awards

Stallion Group has been awarded the prestigious IBCA-Outstanding Projects and Business Leader of the Year Award.

The award was bestowed on the Popular Farms and Mills Limited, a company under license of the Stallion Group.

The Popular Farms and Mills Limited, said in a statement on Sunday that the Stallion Group “would like to acknowledge the quintessential and impeccable leadership qualities and magnanimous approach of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh in the agriculture sector and their pathfinder initiative of the change agenda.”

The statement further thanked the “IBCA for creating this platform to acknowledge the real positive change makers in the agriculture sector and OPAL nomination committee for nominating and rewarding Stallion Group for the Business Leader of the Year and Outstanding Project awards.”

According to the statement, “these awards are testimonials to our efforts at expanding operations in Nigeria’s fully integrated rice value chain, resulting in a boost of 430,000 metric tonnes of rice production per annum.
“The Group is targeting production of 1.5 million tonnes of rice in Nigeria through the setting up of more milling capacities and structured farming activities.

“Stallion has established fully integrated agricultural operations including world-class rice mills at strategic locations, with the aim of promoting milling and paddy cultivation in the captive areas, thus creating a catalyst for increased local production of paddy and, ultimately, Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in rice production.

The Group’s Director, Mr. Harpreet Singh commenting on the awards said that “sensing the need for local self-sufficiency and government’s ambitions for food security, Stallion pioneered investments into backward integration, creating a fully integrated value chain.

“We are working tirelessly to improve farm yields and bring in sustainable and scalable growth to farmers,” Singh said.

To energize its backward integration value-chain chain, Stallion Group embarked on an initiative to include local manufacturing facilities for packaging and countrywide distribution infrastructure designed to meet the demands of the Nigerian people across the various states.

Consequently, the company has also established several collection centres spread across rice producing states of Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi.

The statement noted that the countrywide distribution centre initiative is driven towards not only assisting farmers in understanding modern rice farming techniques, but also focuses on distributing farm inputs and forming associations with various farmers cooperatives to lead the Nigerian rice revolution.

“It is on the imperative of this initiative that Stallion Group came up with extension services such as the Village School (a farmer’s training model) and ‘On Farm Trials’(practical demonstrations) that are being executed to import technical know-how to promote advanced rice farming.

“The major focus of Stallion has been to strengthen the farmers and their rice farming knowledge in order to bring in a rice revolution into the country. It is a multi-leveled approach not only to increase the area but also to transform the rice farm business sector through quality rice produce and farm productivity.”

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.

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The Time is Now for Global ESG Regulation: deVere CEO

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Nigel Green - Investors King

A global regulatory framework for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is now urgently required, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The ‘call to action’ from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as major financial institutions are handling a massive uptick of inflows into the sector but at the same time facing accusations of inconsistency in their approach to sustainable impactful investments.

Mr Green says: “Environmental, social and governance investing is this decade’s ultimate investment megatrend – and it has been accelerated since the pandemic began.

“There’s been a dramatic increase of inflows into the sector from both retail and institutional investors as it has become clearer than ever that human health is reliant upon healthy ecosystems; that we need to ensure the sustainability of supply chains; and that those companies with robust corporate governance and good business practice fare better in difficult times and are ultimately best-positioned for the future.”

He continues: “The trend is unlikely to slow down in a post-pandemic world. Millennials, who are statistically more likely to seek responsible investment options, are set to become the major beneficiaries of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth – an estimated $30trillion over the next few years.

“In addition, recent research reveals that the majority of environmental, social and governance investments have outperformed their non-sustainable counterparts over the last year and have had lower volatility.

“This will only serve to attract more investors.”

Given the continuing and increasing demand, Mr Green says that the regulatory landscape must reflect the situation.

“Regulators need to catch-up.  Initiatives that began in the EU are now spreading worldwide, but much more needs to be done, at a faster pace and with a joined-up approach. There remains a startling lack of consistency in definitions and data.

“Considering the momentum of the sector, the time is now for the establishment of a global regulatory framework for ESG investing.”

This, he says, will provide greater protections for those investors who are looking for profits with purpose. It will also help to reduce ‘greenwashing’, which is where an investment or company gives an inaccurate impression over its green, socially responsible or corporate credentials.

The deVere CEO concludes: “A robust standardised regulatory framework would make the sector even more attractive, which will then help investors reach their financial goals whilst proactively protecting people and the planet.”

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BMW and Ford Invest in Solid Power to Secure All Solid-State Batteries for Future Electric Vehicles

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 Solid Power, an industry-leading producer of all solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, yesterday announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies.

Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future electric vehicles.

The investment positions Solid Power to produce full-scale automotive batteries, increase associated material output and expand in-house production capabilities for future vehicle integration. The BMW Group and Ford aim to utilize Solid Power’s low-cost, high-energy all solid-state battery technology in forthcoming electric vehicles.

“BMW and Ford now share leading positions in the race for all solid-state battery-powered electric vehicles,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. “Solid Power now plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company’s pilot production line in early 2022 as a result of our partners’ continued commitment to Solid Power’s commercialization efforts.”

Solid Power has demonstrated its ability to produce and scale next-generation all solid-state batteries that are designed to power longer range, lower cost and safer electric vehicles using existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure.

Solid Power’s leadership in all solid-state battery development and manufacturing has been confirmed with the delivery of hundreds of production line-produced battery cells that were validated by Ford and the BMW Group late last year, formalizing Solid Power’s commercialization plans with its two long-standing automotive partners.

“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that’s why we’re investing directly,” said Ted Miller, Ford’s manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. “By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we’ll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes.”

“Being a leader in advanced battery technology is of the utmost importance for BMW. The development of all solid-state batteries is one of the most promising and important steps towards more efficient, sustainable, and safer electric vehicles. We now have taken our next step on this path with Solid Power,” said Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG, Development. “Together we have developed a 20 Ah all solid-state cell that is absolutely outstanding in this field. Over the past 10 years, BMW has continuously increased the battery cell competence– important partners like Solid Power share our vision of zero-emission mobility.”

Solid Power is currently producing 20-ampere hour (Ah) multi-layer all solid-state batteries on the company’s continuous roll-to-roll production line, which exclusively utilizes industry standard lithium-ion production processes and equipment.

Both Ford and the BMW Group will receive full-scale 100 Ah cells for automotive qualification testing and vehicle integration beginning in 2022. Solid Power’s all solid-state platform technology allows for the production of unique cell designs expected to meet performance requirements for each automotive partner. Solid Power’s truly all-solid cell designs achieve higher energy densities, are safer and are expected to cost less than today’s best-performing lithium-ion battery cells.

“Volta invested early in Solid Power when our team of energy and commercialization experts found they had not only promising technology, but also a fundamental focus on manufacturability. After all, a breakthrough battery will not find a place in the market if it can’t be produced at scale with acceptable costs,” said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, CEO of Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm spun out of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory focused on investing in breakthrough energy storage and battery innovations.

“The fact that Solid Power is already producing multi-layer all solid-state batteries using industry-standard automated commercial manufacturing equipment is why Volta is excited to ramp up its earlier investment. The company’s partnership with BMW and Ford will further accelerate the full commercialization of Solid Power’s batteries and position both car companies to be among the first to have EVs on the road powered by safer, affordable, high-energy solid-state batteries.” He added.

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Custodian Investment To Raise $15M Additional Capital

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Shareholders of Custodian Investment Plc yesterday gave their approval to the board of directors of the company to raise the naira equivalent of up to $15 million as additional capital through a convertible loan instrument.

The shareholders, who gave the approval at the 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the group held in Lagos, also authorised the directors to convert the loan into shares in the company at a conversion price higher than N6.00 per share or the 12-month historical daily share price of the company derived from the Daily Official List of the Nigeria Exchange Limited (NGX)for the period ended March 23, 2021.

They hailed the board and management for reporting improved financial performance and returns on investment despite the adverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted global and local economies in 2020.

Sunny Nwosu, the founding Coordinator of Independent Shareholders of Nigeria (ISAN), commended the company’s performance and returns on investment. He, however, advised that the company should consider a bonus issue to shareholders because of the robust statutory reserves and regulatory requirements.

Also speaking, the President of Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, Mr. Matthew Akinlade, said the performance was a very good one based on the financial indices.

Another shareholder, Mr. Adebayo Adeleke, commended the company for weathering the storm of 2020 and its challenging operating environment. He praised the company for the foresight of having a holding company which now enables it to make investment decisions easily.

The shareholders approved the final dividend of 55 kobo per share, bringing the total dividend to 65 kobo, having paid an interim dividend of 10 kobo last year.

Addressing the shareholders at the meeting, the Chairman of the board of directors, Dr. (Mrs.) Omobola Johnson, said, “I am delighted to report that our company recorded significant successes during the 2020 financial year despite the challenging operating environment, a fallout of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting weak oil earnings, Naira devaluation and high inflation.”

She noted that the successes recorded by the company in 2020 was an affirmation of the robustness of the group’s business model, which allowed it to quickly adapt to the fast-changing environment, the astute leadership of the company supported by energetic employees using technology to efficiently provide prompt services to clients.

According to her, despite the challenges faced during the year under review, the group more than doubled its profits by posting a profit after tax of N12.69 billion as against N6.01 achieved in 2019.

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