- Rice Farmers Smiling to Bank as Demand for Local Brands Surge
Local rice farmers and millers are smiling to the bank as border closure bolstered demand for local rice, research has shown.
The inability of importers and smugglers to access the Nigerian market following the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to close the nation’s land borders has led to the surge in the price of foreign rice and eventually forced many Nigerians to shift preference to more pocket-friendly local rice.
“A whole lot of rice farmers are increasing their production areas because there is a huge market for paddy since the border closure,” Aminu Goronyo, national president, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria.
The price of local rice has declined by 19 percent in the last 10 days due to the unusual heavy harvest by farmers struggling to meet growing demand.
“This is because millers are patronising rice farmers now and off-taking all that the farmers produce immediately,” stated Goronyo.
According to Goronyo, prior to border closure, farmers were holding more than 20,000 tons of paddy as millers were not buying due to weak demand. Largely because of Nigerians preference for imported rice.
However, the surge in the price of foreign rice after land borders were closed has paved way for paddy. While the price of a 50kg local rice like Mama Pride, Umza, Classic, Mama Choice, Lake Rice, Three Brothers, Al Hamsad, among others, that rose as high as N24,000 has started moderating in the last 10 days and currently selling for N19,500.
The Chairman of Integrated Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, Mohammed Abubakar, said: “Yes, the prices of rice went up immediately after the border closure. The prices have peaked and are now coming down.”
“We would be able to meet demand and Nigerians have no need to worry about Christmas demand. Our members are already increasing their capacity,” Abubakar added.
Farmers are now shifting to rice cultivation because of the growing demand for local rice.
Muhammed Augie, chairman, Rice Farmers Association, Kebbi chapter, said: “Since the surge in prices, farmers who have abandoned growing rice have returned and even other farmers are shifting to rice cultivation because the market is there.”
“A bag of paddy rice now costs N8,500 as against N10,000 sold two weeks ago. This is because we are growing more and the harvesting season just commenced,” Augie said.
Nigeria’s Natural Gas Production Declines Despite N250bn Intervention Fund
Despite the injection of a N250 billion intervention fund into the gas sector, Nigeria witnessed a downturn in natural gas production last year, raising concerns about the effectiveness of the financial stimulus.
The Energy Institute, in collaboration with KPMG, unveiled an industry report revealing a notable drop of 4 billion cubic feet meters in Nigeria’s natural gas production between 2021 and 2022.
While Nigeria’s gas production demonstrated consistent growth from 39 billion cubic feet meters in 2012 to 49 billion cubic feet meters in 2020, the trajectory abruptly shifted to a decline, reaching 45 billion cubic meters in 2021 and further slipping to 40 billion cubic meters last year.
The Federal Government’s intervention included a N250 billion fund, facilitated through the Central Bank of Nigeria, with N130 billion earmarked for 15 selected companies for the construction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) conversion centers.
This initiative, part of the National Gas Expansion Program (NGEP), aimed to promote CNG as the preferred fuel for transportation and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for domestic cooking, captive power, and small industrial complexes.
The 15 recipient companies, including prominent names like Dangote Oil Refinery, Nipco Gas Ltd, and Greenville Liquefied Natural Gas Company, received a combined N130 billion.
However, despite this financial injection, the natural gas production figures tell a different story.
Chinedu Okoronkwo, President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, expressed dissatisfaction with the exclusion of his members from the loan, stating that inclusion would have accelerated the conversion of over one million vehicles to CNG models.
The Senate Committee on Gas, chaired by Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, has summoned the 15 companies to provide progress reports on the projects funded by the intervention.
As Nigeria aims for substantial investment in the gas value chain, these revelations raise questions about the efficacy and impact of financial interventions in the country’s critical sectors.
Experts Urge Swift Government Action on Nigeria’s Untapped N3 Trillion Logistics Sector
Experts at the Courier and Logistics Management Institute conference in Lagos have emphasized the critical importance of the overlooked logistics, courier, and transport sector in Nigeria, valued at over N3 trillion.
During the event themed “Logistics Solutions and National Infrastructure Development,” the CLMI Executive Chairman, Prof. Simon Emeje, highlighted the urgent need for the federal government to prioritize this sector, which remains relatively untapped on a global scale.
Emeje underscored the sector’s significance, stating, “Any country that does not pay attention to logistics, courier, and the transport sector cannot survive.
The government must not ignore this sector because it is the bedrock of any economy.”
The logistics, courier, transport, and management industry boasts an average asset worth over N3 trillion, offering substantial potential for job creation.
Emeje emphasized that commerce is crippled without effective logistics, illustrating the importance of the sector in facilitating trade, enhancing the supply chain, creating jobs, and propelling economic growth.
Despite its undeniable importance, the Nigerian logistics sector faces hindrances such as infrastructural deficits and weak government policies, preventing it from reaching its full potential.
Emeje called for immediate attention to address these challenges and unlock the sector’s capacity to create millions of employment opportunities for Nigerian youth.
Former Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, urged the institute to draft a comprehensive proposal for government adoption, offering assistance in facilitating engagement.
Both Shittu and Prof. Emeje called on the Federal Government to establish a dedicated ministry to foster an enabling environment for Courier and Logistics Management, drawing parallels to the recognition given to the entertainment industry.
President Tinubu Seeks Senate Approval for $8.6 Billion and €100 Million Borrowing Plan
President Bola Tinubu’s administration has formally requested the approval of the Nigerian Senate for a borrowing plan totaling $8.6 billion and €100 million.
The request was presented to the Senate through a letter read during the plenary by the Senate President, GodsWill Akpabio.
According to the letter, the proposed funds are integral to the federal government’s 2022-2024 external borrowing plan, previously sanctioned by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu clarified that the projects earmarked for funding through this loan cut across diverse sectors, emphasizing their selection based on rigorous economic evaluations and their anticipated contributions to national development.
The letter highlighted, “The projects and programs in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.”
The specified sectors earmarked for development include infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation, along with financial management reforms.
The borrowing plan’s comprehensive approach aims to address critical needs and propel the nation’s progress.
President Tinubu emphasized the urgency of the Senate’s approval, stating, “Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government to deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
This appeal follows previous successful requests, including the National Assembly’s approval of an over $800 million loan for the National Social Safety Network Programme in August.
Also, the assembly greenlighted the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act of N819 million to provide palliatives to Nigerians, mitigating the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
As the deliberations unfold, the Senate’s decision on this substantial borrowing plan will play a pivotal role in shaping Nigeria’s economic trajectory.
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