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NIRSAL, USAID to Boost Agriculture Output

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Agriculture
  • NIRSAL, USAID to Boost Agriculture Output

The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending has entered into a strategic partnership with the United States Agency for International Development to boost agricultural productivity in the country.

NIRSAL is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria to catalyse a national agricultural revolution by encouraging investments by banks and the entire financial sector into the agricultural sector.

The agreement, to be implemented under the USAID Maximising Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites scheme, was signed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, and the Managing Director USAID MARKETS II, Mr. Harvey Schartup.

Abdulhameed said the agreement was in line with the agency’s objective of providing smallholder farmers with access to modern farming techniques and practices.

He expressed optimism that the partnership would provide a strong platform to support and mentor smallholder farmers in key locations in Nigeria where USAID MARKETS II had presence.

This, he added, would be achieved through periodic training of farmers on best farming practices, provision of improved crop varieties and seedlings to boost agricultural productivity.

Abdulhameed said the pact would also involve forging commercial links between agro-processors and smallholder farmers in rural areas for easy and predictable off-take of their produce.

The objective, he noted, was to ensure a guaranteed market for agricultural produce.

He gave other areas to be implemented under the pact as capacity building on best agronomic practices, development and roll out of Nigerian agricultural enterprises curriculum, leadership training modules, grants provision and introduction of mechanisation to farmers as a result of yield increase.

“It is noteworthy that the strategic objective of the USAID MARKETS II aligns with that of NIRSAL, which is to de-risk the agricultural value chains and facilitate agribusiness,” Abdulhameed added.

The project, according to Schartup, is working across 18 states and seven value chains, including aquaculture, cassava, cocoa, rice, sorghum, soybean and maize.

He said the pact would also focus on cross-cutting issues, including local capacity building and the integration of youths, women and vulnerable populations into value chain activities.

He added that based on the terms of the agreement, NIRSAL would take over the existing structures and partners of USAID MARKETS II when it winds down in August 2017 for possible expansion of operations.

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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Dangote Cement Refutes Claim it Sells Cement High in Nigeria

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economic woes

Dangote Cement Plc has refuted the widely propagated story that the company sells cement at a significantly higher price in Nigeria compared to other African nations like Zambia and Ghana.

The management of the leading manufacturing company said it sells a bag at N2,450 in Obajana and Gboko, and N2,510 in Ibese, the amounts stated include VAT.

Devakumar Edwin, Dangote’s Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, who spoke with journalists in Lagos, said the company sells for an equivalent of $5.1, including VAT in Nigeria, it sells for $7.2 in Ghana and $5.95 in Zambia ex-factory, inclusive of all taxes.

Devakumar, therefore, described the allegation as false, misleading, and unfounded, and challenged the media to conduct independent investigation into the price of cement in some other African countries, including Cameroun, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zambia.

To ensure that we meet local demand, we had to suspend exports from our recently commissioned export terminals, thereby foregoing dollar earnings.

“We also had to reactivate our 4.5m ton capacity Gboko Plant which was closed 4 years ago and run it at a higher cost all in a bid to guarantee that we meet demand and keep the price of Cement within control in the country.”

“Over the past 15 months, our production costs have gone up significantly. About 50% of our costs are linked to USD so the cost of critical components like: gas, gypsum, bags, and spare parts; has increased significantly due to devaluation of the Naira and VAT increase.

“Despite this, DCP has not increased ex-factory prices since December 2019 till date while prices of most other building materials have gone up significantly.

“We have only adjusted our transport rates to account for higher costs of diesel, spare parts, tyres, and truck replacement. Still, we charge our customers only N300 – 350 per bag for deliveries within a 1,200km radius.

“We have been responsible enough not to even attempt to cash in on the recent rise in demand to increase prices so far,” Devakumar said.

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Samsung, Vision Care Begin Fresh CSR Activities, Earmark 12,000 Masks for Nigeria

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Samsung Heavy Industries Nigeria Limited (SHIN) and Vision Care, an international relief organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness, have launched fresh Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative to help Nigeria mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Vision Care is a member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), and participant of ‘VISION 2020’, a global initiative of the IAPB and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Vision Care has since conducted more than 25 Vision Eye Camps yearly and has grown into an international non-profit organisation serving 38 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Central-South America.

Since 2015, SHIN has worked with Vision Care in the yearly Eye Camp as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to provide free cataract surgeries to Nigerians who cannot afford the payment. SHIN has been sponsoring the eye surgeries of Nigerians on a yearly basis.

In 2019, SHIN sponsored the eye surgeries of at least 115 Nigerian patients and 224 outward patients as part of its CSR in Nigeria.

Since it started the programme, SHIN has sponsored the eye surgeries of 572 Nigerian patients, 1,593 outward patients and has also donated glasses to 99 patients.

Due to outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the yearly Eye Camp for 2021 had been called off to adhere to Federal Government’s measures in response to the virus.

Consequently, SHIN and Vision Care came up with a fresh CSR initiative this year to donate 496 bags of rice (25kg) and 12,000 reusable face masks to three states in the country to fulfill their commitment of contributing to the society.

The items will be delivered later this month.

The three states that will benefit from the donation are Lagos, Kano and Bayelsa states.

Out of the 496 bags of rice, and 12,000 facemasks, Lagos will receive 96 bags of rice and 200 masks.

SHIN also stated that Kano State will receive 200 bags of rice and 5,000 masks, while Bayelsa State will get 200 bags and 5,000 masks.

“This is an additional CSR activity from SHI in addition to SHIN’s donation of 5,000 COVID-19 test kits from Korea. The washable masks that the head office has purchased from Korea are certified to retain its effectiveness against COVID-19 transmission for up to 50 washes,” SHIN said in a statement.

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Senate Summons NICON, AIICO, Others Over N17.4bn Pension Remittances

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The Senate Public Accounts Committee has summoned the management of the NICON Insurance Plc, AIICO Insurance and other insurance companies over their alleged failure to remit N17.4bn pension fund to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.

The Senate hinged the summon on the 2016 report of the Auditor-General for the Federation which unraveled the alleged non-remittance of N17.4bn pension fund to PTAD.

Appearing before the panel on Monday, the Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, informed the lawmakers that PTAD took over the assets and liabilities of the defunct pension offices without a formal handing over.

She said, “On taking over, the directorate wrote all underwriters to make returns and remit whatever amount that was in their custody into a CBN dedicated account.

“Some of the underwriters responded to the request while some did not.

“The bank certificate of balances, accounting statements, three years financial statements and policy files requested by the federal auditor were not handed over to PTAD at the time of consolidation.

“It is worthy to note that we discovered that N17.4bn which comprised of cash, securities and properties from the nine insurance underwriters was unremitted as a result of the letter PTAD sent to them.

“These figures represent the claims by the underwriters with regards to their indebtedness.

“In order to ascertain the true position of legacy funds in custody of underwriters, the directorate appointed a consultant in 2018 who carried out forensic audit of nine out the 12 insurance underwriters and produced a final report on the recovery of the legacy funds and assets for PTAD.”

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