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Cooking Gas Prices Soar to N1,200, Causing Concern and Potential Return to Firewood Usage

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Amidst growing concerns over the skyrocketing price of cooking gas, investigations have revealed that a kilogram of cooking gas is now being sold for between N1,000 and N1,200 in several parts of Nigeria, provoking alarm and uncertainty among consumers.

A supply disruption and scarcity of the product are believed to be driving the surge in prices.

Reports from Lagos State depict an alarming picture with 12.5 kilograms of cooking gas being sold for N12,000 at some retail stations.

Also, in the outskirts of Lagos, like Mowe, Ibafo, and Magboro along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State, a kilogram of gas is priced between N1,150 and N1,200. Several retail stations have run out of stock, leaving many consumers in a lurch.

The situation is not limited to Lagos; Kano also experiences increased prices with some vendors selling a kilogram for N880 or even higher, compared to the previous price of N750.

Marketers attribute the price hike to the high cost of transportation, which is influenced by the rising cost of diesel.

Also, the weak naira, limited bulk storage, and scattered terminals are contributing factors to the crisis.

The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALGAM) President, Oladapo Olatunbosun, has warned that if the government doesn’t intervene promptly, the price of a 12.5kg cooking gas cylinder could reach as high as N18,000.

He emphasized that concerted efforts are needed to ensure the product remains affordable for all Nigerians.

An oil and gas expert, Dr. Dauda Garuba, expressed concern that the surge in cooking gas prices could lead to a resurgence in firewood usage, with adverse environmental consequences.

While the government is working with the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd (NLNG) to ramp up supply, deregulation remains a significant challenge.

This worrying trend underscores the urgent need for the government to address the root causes of the issue, ensuring that cooking gas remains accessible and affordable for all Nigerians.

Failure to do so could have far-reaching consequences for the country’s economy and environment.

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Commodities

Geopolitical Uncertainty Drives Gold Prices Higher Despite Fed Rate Cut Concerns

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gold bars - Investors King

As tensions simmer in the Middle East and concerns loom over Federal Reserve policy, gold continues its upward trajectory, defying expectations and reinforcing its status as the ultimate safe-haven asset.

The latest surge in gold prices comes amidst escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

Reports suggest that the United States and its allies are bracing for potential missile or drone strikes by Iran or its proxies on military and government targets in Israel. Such a significant escalation in the six-month-old conflict has sent shockwaves through financial markets, prompting investors to seek refuge in gold.

Despite initial setbacks earlier in the week, gold resumed its blistering rally, buoyed by the specter of geopolitical uncertainty.

On Wednesday, the precious metal witnessed its most significant decline in almost a month following a hotter-than-expected US inflation readout.

This unexpected data led traders to recalibrate their expectations for Federal Reserve interest rate cuts this year, causing the yield on 10-year Treasuries to surge above 4.5%.

However, gold’s resilience in the face of shifting market dynamics remains remarkable. Even as concerns mount over the Fed’s rate-cutting trajectory, the allure of gold as a safe-haven asset persists.

Prices hover just shy of a record high reached earlier in the week, propelled by robust buying from central banks.

Market analysts interviewed by Bloomberg anticipate further gains in gold prices, citing continued geopolitical tensions and strong momentum in the market.

The precious metal’s near-20% rally since mid-February underscores its enduring appeal as a hedge against uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

At 9:54 a.m. in Singapore, spot gold rose 0.3% to $2,341.58 an ounce, signaling continued investor confidence in the metal’s resilience.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, meanwhile, remained relatively unchanged near its highest level since November.

Silver, often considered a bellwether for precious metals, held steady after reaching a three-year high, while platinum and palladium also registered gains.

As the world navigates through a complex web of geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, gold remains a beacon of stability in an increasingly volatile landscape.

Its ability to weather market fluctuations and maintain its allure as a safe-haven asset reaffirms its timeless appeal to investors seeking refuge amidst uncertainty.

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Price Surge Propels Cameroon Farmers Towards Cocoa’s Lucrative Future

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A quiet revolution is underway in Cameroon as farmers enticed by soaring cocoa prices are abandoning traditional crops to embrace the lucrative world of cocoa farming.

The recent surge in cocoa prices has prompted a wave of optimism among farmers, signaling a shift in the agricultural landscape of the West African nation.

Banyuy Elsie Kinyuy, a 57-year-old high school tutor from Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, epitomizes this transformative trend.

In November, Kinyuy made a bold decision to invest in a 3-hectare parcel of land in a rural area, approximately 200 kilometers northwest of her home. With determination in her heart and cocoa trees in her hands, she planted the seeds of her future retirement income.

“I remember earning 1.5 million CFA francs ($2,458) from these crops at one moment, whereas cocoa could barely give me 600,000 francs to 700,000 francs,” says Jean-Marie Mbida Obam, a 61-year-old farmer who has decided to return to cocoa farming after a hiatus of three years.

“I am back and prepared to completely revive all of my plantation. The cocoa price now is very good,” he adds, highlighting the allure of cocoa amidst the price surge.

The catalyst for this seismic shift lies in the global cocoa market dynamics. Double-digit production declines in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the top two cocoa-producing nations, have led to a scramble for beans.

Bad weather and a shortage of fertilizer have plagued cocoa farmers in these countries, causing a significant drop in production.

Consequently, cocoa prices on the New York futures exchange have skyrocketed from below $3,000 to $10,000 a ton in just a year.

Cameroon, with its favorable climate and fertile soil, has emerged as an attractive destination for cocoa cultivation.

Forecasts by the International Cocoa Organization predict a 3% increase in Cameroon’s cocoa crop, reaching 300,000 tons, amidst a global shortage.

Encouraged by such projections, farmers like Kinyuy and Obam are seizing the opportunity to tap into the potential of cocoa farming.

However, the journey towards a cocoa-rich future is not without its challenges. Traditional practices and land tenure systems often pose obstacles to aspiring cocoa farmers.

The need for modernization and access to resources such as land, finance, and technology remains paramount for sustainable cocoa cultivation.

Moreover, the European Union’s stringent regulations aimed at combating deforestation pose a looming threat to expansion plans in the cocoa industry.

Chocolate makers are now required to ensure that every bean imported into the EU is sourced sustainably, adding another layer of complexity to the cocoa supply chain.

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Commodity Titans See Record Profits in 2023 Amid Ukraine Fallout

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The world’s largest commodity trading firms have once again emerged triumphant, raking in record profits amidst the aftershocks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Despite some decline from previous years, industry leaders such as Vitol Group and Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. have reported staggering net profits to solidify their positions as dominant players in the global commodities market.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Vitol Group, one of the foremost players in the energy trading sector raked in $13 billion in net profit in 2023.

Meanwhile, its rival, Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., posted a profit of approximately $2.7 billion.

Though slightly lower compared to previous years, these figures represent a significant leap from historical earnings and underscore the resilience of these commodity titans in navigating turbulent market conditions.

The surge in profits extends what has been the most profitable period in the history of the commodity trading industry.

Over the past two years alone, the four leading privately-owned energy traders—Vitol, Trafigura Group, Mercuria, and Gunvor Group—have collectively generated net profits exceeding $50 billion. This astronomical increase dwarfs earnings from previous years, highlighting the unprecedented profitability of the sector.

Sebastian Barrack, head of commodities at Citadel, a leading hedge fund in the sector, described the profits accrued by the top commodity traders in the past two years as “really astronomical.”

Speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, Barrack emphasized the unparalleled success of these firms amid evolving market dynamics.

However, the soaring profits come at a time of heightened scrutiny from governments and regulators.

The fallout from the war in Ukraine has placed the industry under increased scrutiny, prompting concerns about energy security and the role of commodity traders in global markets.

Moreover, a series of investigations into corruption have cast a shadow over some of the largest trading houses, exposing a culture of wrongdoing within the industry.

Despite these challenges, the profits amassed by commodity traders have translated into immense wealth for a select group of individuals. Several traders and executives have become billionaires or multi-billionaires as a result of the industry’s unprecedented success.

Vitol, Trafigura, and Gunvor are primarily owned by a relatively small number of individuals, further concentrating wealth within the industry.

The remarkable profitability of commodity traders in 2023 reflects the resilience and adaptability of these firms in navigating complex market conditions.

Despite facing geopolitical uncertainties and regulatory scrutiny, the industry continues to thrive, buoyed by strategic investments and a diversified portfolio of trading activities. As commodity traders look ahead, the challenge lies in sustaining this momentum and navigating future uncertainties in an ever-evolving global landscape.

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