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Boost for Cocoa Entrepreneurs



Cocoa farm
  • Boost for Cocoa Entrepreneurs

A new cocoa economy may be on the horizon as an international organisation, German International Cooperation (GIZ), is teaching agro entrepreneurs to explore new income possibilities across the cocoa industry. DANIEL ESSIET reports.

An international organisation, German International Cooperation (GIZ), is giving agro entrepreneurs the tools they need to turn cocoa production into a viable business.

With so much money declared by international chocolate makers yearly, the organisation is determined to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty.

Cocoa production accounts for 10 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supports 10 million people, which translates to about 30 per cent of Nigeria ’s population.

GTZ’s long-term aim is to help the farmers become independent members of an agricultural “value chain”.

Across Ondo State, 18,648 cocoa farmers, made up of 7,449 women and 11,199 men in 648 groups across 10 local government areas, have received the Farmer Business School (FBS) training supported by the German Development Cooperation-Sustainable Smallholder Agribusiness (GIZ-SSAB) programme. The core curriculum covers business, good agricultural practice and cooperative skills.

According to GIZ Country Director, Dr. Thomas Kirsch, “the FBS has succeeded in changing the orientation of farmers, who now see farming as a business enterprise that needs to be well planned, to reap the highest returns from the enterprise”.

Farmers have also recorded increase income, production and yield, and group sales and purchases of input.

Speaking at the inauguration of the FBS Farmers Cooperative Multipurpose Union in Akure, Kirsch said the partnership between the organisation and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has brought business skills training to 89,040 cocoa farmers in six states – Abia, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun.

The trained farmers are coordinating the groups in each local government of the states. The apex body known as Ondo State FBS Farmers’ Cooperative Multipurpose Union Ltd has been inaugurated.

Ondo State FBS Farmers Cooperative Multipurpose Union Chairman, High Chief Ebenezer Adenisimi, said the FBS training had helped farmers to adopt business skills in their farms.

These, he noted, include record keeping of input and output, savings in banks, group purchase of farm input in large scale, group sales of farm produce to off-takers, diversification of production to generate additional income, organising and registering of groups as cooperative societies, accessing financial services from banks, keeping of farm records and putting to use good agricultural practices.

An FBS-trained farmer and leader of Igba-Otun FBS Cooperative Society, Awopeju Village, Mr. Julius Urom, noted that the group has invested in cocoa nursery, fish farming, poultry and piggery to augment their cocoa income.

He said 23 members of the society, who invested in the business with about N20,000, have increased their income base to over N100,000 inone year.

Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, lauded GIZ for the training which, according to him, led to the formation of the Cooperative Union.

He said: “The farmers’ organisation we are about to inaugurate is a product of intervention from a Development Partner – GIZ, an outfit of the Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development of Germany.”

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, praised the farmers for forming the cooperative society.

This, according to the governor, was “to enable them own the programme and become self-sustaining financially as producer groups and become less dependent on the government”.

The governor announced the donation of N25.75 million for the expansion of the Farmers Business School programme.

He said this was in fulfillment of his pledge to “work with genuine stakeholders in the development of the state”.

The Regional Director, GIZ-SSAB Programme, Dr. Annemarie Matthess, said FBS is innovative. “It fosters the business mind and skills of agricultural producers, be it men or women. After Farmer Business School, the majority of farmer graduates invest in cocoa and food production for more income,” she noted.

Matthess, represented by Ayo Akinola, a Senior Technical Advisor to GIZ-SSAB, said the FBS’s success story in five cocoa producing countries, including Nigeria, informed the expansion of FBS into 15 African countries to reach cocoa, coffee, cassava, rice, cotton, pineapple, milk, olives and tomatoes producers.

She added that the registration of new cooperatives and multipurpose cooperatives unions is “a particular achievement in Nigeria compared to our other partner-countries”.

She noted that of the 95 new multipurpose cooperatives registered between 2011 and 2016 in Ondo, 84 have embedded the acronym “FBS” in their names to show where they come from and what drives them;, adding that networking among the cooperatives and support provided by the state ADP led to the registration of the FBS Farmers Cooperative Multipurpose Union Ltd.

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Federal Government Announces Free CNG Conversion for Commercial Vehicles



The Federal Government declared on Thursday that the conversion of petrol and diesel-powered commercial vehicles to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) will be free of charge.

The announcement came after the government signed agreements with several companies specializing in the conversion of petrol and diesel vehicles to CNG.

Michael Oluwagbemi, the Programme Director/Chief Executive of the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative (P-CNGI), disclosed the details of the program to journalists in Abuja.

“Today we’ve just signed with five partners here in the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) participating in the Conversion Incentive Programme,” Oluwagbemi stated.

“The program is tackling the barrier to Nigerian commercial transport operators to convert from PMS (petrol) to gas. Most of them have said that the cost of conversion is expensive, and so what we are doing here today is basically to respond to that concern.”

Benefits for Commercial Transport Operators

The initiative primarily targets commercial transporters under various unions, including the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).

According to Oluwagbemi, these unionized operators will receive conversion kits and installation services completely free of charge.

“This is going to be done through certified conversion workshops that we are beginning to identify. We’ve identified about 123 of them, and five are here with us today in Abuja. As we expand across the country, we will activate more of them,” he said.

Ride Share Operators Included

In addition to unionized commercial transporters, ride share operators such as those working with Uber, Bolt, Lag-Ride, and Move will also benefit from the program. These operators will receive a 50% discount on the conversion equipment and free installation.

Furthermore, the arrangement allows them to pay for the remaining costs in installments, eliminating the need for upfront payments.

“We hope to add more ride share operators soon. Lag-Ride has already signed up, and we are going to send the agreement next week,” Oluwagbemi added.

Impact on Transportation Costs

Through this program, the government aims to reduce transportation costs for Nigerians. Oluwagbemi highlighted that over 20,000 kits will be available in the next three months, distributed across 25 states with existing CNG capacity.

This initiative is part of a broader palliative program funded by the National Assembly, which has allocated additional resources for the acquisition of more kits later this year.

“The agreement we signed today ensures that the savings from the conversion will be passed on to ordinary Nigerians. We will begin to see some impact in terms of reduced transportation costs,” Oluwagbemi noted.

Monitoring and Enforcement

To ensure the success of the program, the government has implemented a robust monitoring mechanism.

The Nigerian gas vehicle monitoring system will oversee the conversion process and ensure compliance with agreed pricing reductions.

“We have a very strong monitoring mechanism around conversion and the enforcement of reduced pricing for Nigerians. The framework of the agreement includes significant pass-on of savings to ensure the purpose of the palliative is achieved,” Oluwagbemi emphasized.

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Crude Oil

Nigeria’s Oil Production Rises by 25,000 Barrels Daily, Hits 1.276 Million BPD in July



Crude oil

Nigeria’s daily oil production increased in July by 25,000 barrels per day to 1.276 million barrels per day (mbpd).

This development was disclosed by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in its Monthly Oil Market Report for June, based on direct communication with the Nigerian government.

In April, production was recorded at 1.28mbpd, but it fell to 1.25mbpd in May.

Secondary sources cited by OPEC indicated a slight decrease from 1.37mbpd in May to 1.36mbpd in June.

This disparity shows Nigeria’s challenges in maintaining a steady increase in oil production.

Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), had previously stated that crude production was approaching 1.7mbpd in May.

Kyari emphasized the potential for higher production levels, recalling that during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, Nigeria’s production reached 2.2mbpd without new drilling activities.

The drop in production since then has been attributed to various factors, including theft and vandalism of oil infrastructure.

Despite these challenges, Nigeria’s oil production saw a marginal increase in April, rising from 1.23mbpd in March to 1.28mbpd, according to OPEC data.

This increase followed a significant drop from 1.32mbpd in February to 1.23mbpd in March.

Stakeholders have expressed concern over the persistent decline in production and its impact on revenue.

In response, the NNPC declared a state of emergency on oil production, aiming to address the factors hindering output.

At the Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition Week in Abuja, Kyari reaffirmed the NNPC’s commitment to tackling production challenges.

“We have declared war on the challenges affecting our crude oil production. We know what to fight, we have the right tools, and we are working with our partners to improve the situation,” Kyari stated.

The recent increase in daily oil production is a positive development for Nigeria’s oil sector, but sustained efforts are required to achieve long-term stability and growth in production levels.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Climb as U.S. Inflation Eases, Brent Hits $86



Crude oil - Investors King

Oil prices rose on Friday after traders noticed signs of easing inflationary pressures in the United States, the world’s largest oil consumer.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, had risen by 72 cents, or 0.8% to $86.12 a barrel.

Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil climbed by 85 cents, or 1%, to $83.47 a barrel. Both contracts had also gained in the prior two sessions.

Despite these gains, Brent crude oil was poised to fall by about 1% week-on-week after four consecutive weekly increases.

WTI crude oil, on the other hand, remained broadly stable on a weekly basis.

Investor confidence was boosted after data released on Thursday showed that U.S. consumer prices fell in June, fueling hopes that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates soon.

Lower rates are expected to spur economic growth, thereby increasing fuel consumption.

However, the market is still awaiting more definitive signs of action. While Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the recent trend of improving price pressures, he told lawmakers that more data would be needed to strengthen the case for rate cuts.

“Cooling U.S. inflation numbers may support the case for the Fed to kick-start its policy easing process earlier rather than later, but it also adds to the series of downside surprises in U.S. economic data, which points to a clear weakening of the U.S. economy,” said Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG.

In addition to inflation data, indications of strong summer fuel demand in the U.S. also supported prices. U.S. gasoline demand was at 9.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in the week ended July 5, the highest level since 2019 for the week that includes the Independence Day holiday, according to government data released on Wednesday.

Jet fuel demand on a four-week average basis was at its strongest since January 2020.

“The market will remain range-bound, paralyzed by opposing forces of expected demand recovery fueled by anticipation of a strong summer for fuel consumption … but sentiment remains pegged by ongoing economic weakness and uncertain demand recovery,” said Emril Jamil, a senior oil analyst at LSEG.

The strong fuel demand encouraged U.S. refiners to ramp up activity and draw from crude oil stockpiles. U.S. Gulf Coast refiners’ net input of crude rose last week to more than 9.4 million bpd for the first time since January 2019, government data showed.

However, weaker demand signs from China, the world’s largest oil importer, could counter the positive outlook from the U.S. and weigh on prices.

“The recent downside correction is evidently over, although the speed of further ascent might be hindered by falling Chinese crude oil imports, which plummeted 11% in June from the previous year,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

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