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Osinbajo: Farmers to Secure Credit at Single Digit from Bank of Agriculture

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo monday said efforts were being made to ensure that farmers secure financing from the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) at single digit interest rate in a determined move to boost agriculture as part of government’s diversification strategy.

He said the Federal Ministry of Finance had practically concluded plans to recapitalise and re-engineer the BoA adding that the bank should be ready to give single digit rates by the end of the quarter.

He said with the current double digit interest rate and reluctance by commercial banks to lend to agriculture, there was need to develop alternative model for financing the sector in the short term.

He said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower programme has been useful and had recorded huge successes in local rice and wheat production through the provision of loans at single digit.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the unveiling of the “Green Alternative: the Agriculture Promotion Policy 2016-2020” which is a four-year blueprint on growing the sector, he said repositioning agriculture was critical for economic transformation.

He said the sector would not only be revived to achieve food security but also have the capacity to produce and export to earn foreign exchange.

He said the inability of past administrations to adhere to policy direction and the unbridled importation of items which ought to be produced locally, coupled with high interest loans to farmers were some of the major drawbacks to the development of the sector.

He said the current administration inherited a near colapse economy and had to take far reaching decisions to reposition it.

According to him, one of the most critical component of the plan was to position agriculture as arrow-head of its recovery efforts.

“There’s no question at all that if we get agriculture right, we will get our economy right,” he said.

He added that the roadmap identified the inability to meet domestic requirements which is more of productivity challenge as well as inability to export at levels required or market success adding that the Green Alternatives will solve the challenges.

He said: “You cannot have a policy of encouraging local production of food and on the other hand, have a high tarrif on imported agricultural equipment. There’s no way that we can encourage local production when we allow unbridled importation of the same thing that we are trying to produce.

“There’s no way we can do the scale of agricultural production both for domestic consumption and export without ensuring local improved seedling development alongside those that we import. And of course, encouraging the works of the agents of the ministries of science and technology who have been making great breakthroughs in local development of agricultural equipment.”

Osinbajo said as part of the 500,000 teachers that federal government plans to recruit, about 100,000 will be trained as extension workers for the farms.

He commended the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, for what he described as his unbridled advocacy for a new policy on agriculture and for also spearheading the policy development within a short period.

Nevertheless, Ogbeh thanked both President Buhari and Osinbajo for their support in ensuring that a blueprint on agriculture was developed.

The minister said the new document was not entirely new as it was built upon the Agricultural Transformational Agenda (ATA) of the previous administration.

He maintained that the present administration had no intentions to jettison good ideas from the past regime noting that policy summersaults were often costlier than new initiatives.

He said adjustment would be made to past administration’s policies where necessary.

He expressed confidence that with the recent interventions, “It won’t be long before we begin to cruise to reasonable altitude.”

He said government would work with state governments to put over 200 dams located across the country into use.

He added that stakeholders would now be expected to use only duly certified fertilizers by government as well as adhere to advisory of soil conditions for bumper yields.

The federal government has already invested massively in soil mapping/testing aimed at increasing crop yields.

He said adequate security arrangement was being put in place to shield local and foreign investors into agriculture from the snares of armed robbery and kidnapping.

On the new policy document, Ogbeh said there had been no alternative to oil and gas in the past 30 years while agriculture had totally been relegated, a situation which according to him led to annual food import bills at a historic $22 billion.

He said given Nigeria’s population projection, the government cannot continue to subsidise feeding, adding that “We have to feed or perish.”

He said tales of widespread hunger will be brought to an end as government expects bumper harvest this year, bouyed by innovations in fertilizer utilisation and education of farmers on new ways of doing things.

Essentially, the new 129-page policy document produced by the ministry of agriculture after extensive consultations with stakeholders, among other things, targets three key pillars including productivity enhancements, crowding in private sector investment and institutional strengthening/realignment.

The key objectives is to grow the agricultural sector to between six to and 12 per cent annually; doubling agricultural household incomes in 6 to 12 years and integrating agricultural commodity value chains into the broader supply chain.

Other immediate targets are to drive job growth and wealth creation as well as ensuring enhanced capacity for foreign exchange earnings.

The six focal areas of intervention include institutional setting and roles, youth and women, infrastructure, research and innovation, and food and national security as well as climate smart agriculture.

He said currently, government’s drive towards food security is in progress particularly for rice, maize, sorghum, millet, wheat, and animal products and tomato paste.

The minister added that the new policy would further educate the people on how to keep bees which are critical for pollination of farm produce particularly tomatoes.

He also said government is presently addressing the issues around cattle rearing and the incessant conflicts with farmers, adding that it is also working with state governments to secure the grazing reserves for herdsmen, a situation that could limit movement and reduce confrontations.

Ogbeh said government’s focus was also to promote commercial agriculture to go side by side with subsistence farming in order to boost exports.

He said a lot of investments would go into palm oil and lemon grass oil productions for export.

He said the new document will also require all undergraduates in tertiary institutions to own farms on campus.

The minister lamented that the 774 local government areas in the country have almost collapsed when it comes to agriculture, stressing that they all must be brought back into the system.

He said whatever the problems of local government are they must be productive or better scrapped.

He, therefore, enjoined every Nigerian to take to farming to save the ailing economy while assuring them of government support.

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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Top Five US Oil and Gas Firms Lost $307bn in Market Value Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Crude oil

Market Value of US Five Largest Companies Decline by $307bn in 2020

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the oil and gas industry was faced with slumping prices. However, with a record collapse in oil demand amid the coronavirus lockdown, the COVID-19 crisis has further shaken the market, causing massive revenue and market cap drops for even the largest oil and gas companies.

According to data presented by StockApps.com, the top five oil and gas companies in the United States lost over $307bn in market capitalization year-over-year, a 45% plunge amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Market Cap Still Below March Levels

Global macroeconomic concerns such as the US-China trade war and the oil overproduction set significant price drops even before the coronavirus outbreak. A standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first months of 2020 sent prices even lower.

After global oil demand plunged in March, Saudi Arabia proposed a cut in oil production, but Russia refused to cooperate. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production and cutting prices. Shortly Russia followed by doing the same, causing an over 60% drop in crude oil prices at the beginning of 2020. Although OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production levels to stabilize prices a few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis already hit. Statistics show that oil prices dropped over 40% since the beginning of 2020 and are hovering around $40 a barrel.

Such a sharp fall in oil price triggered a growing wave of oil and gas bankruptcies in the United States and caused a substantial financial hit to the largest gas producers.

In September 2019, the combined market capitalization of the five largest oil and gas producers in the United States amounted to $674.2bn, revealed the Yahoo Finance data. After the Black Monday crash in March, this figure plunged by 45% to $373bn. The following months brought a slight recovery, with the combined market capitalization of the top five US gas producers rising to over $461bn in June.

However, the fourth quarter of the year witnessed a negative trend, with the combined value of their shares falling to $367bn at the beginning of this week, $6.2bn below March levels.

Exon Mobil`s Market Cap Halved in 2020, Almost $155bn Lost YoY

In August, Exxon Mobil Corporation, once the largest publicly traded company globally, was dropped from the Dow Jones industrial average after 92 years. As the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, the company has suffered the most significant market cap drop in 2020.

Statistics indicate the combined value of Exxon Mobil`s shares plunged by 52% year-over-year, falling from almost $300bn in September 2019 to $144bn at the beginning of this week.

Phillips 66, the fourth largest gas producer in the United States by market capitalization, witnessed the second-largest drop in 2020. Statistics show the company`s market cap dipped by 49.6% year-over-year, landing at $22.9bn this week.

The Yahoo Finance data revealed that EOG Resources lost over $21bn in market cap since September 2019, the third-largest drop among the top five US gas producers.

Conoco Phillips witnessed a 42% drop in market capitalization amid the COVID-19 crisis, with the combined value of shares plunging by almost $30bn year-over-year.

Statistics show Chevron witnessed the smallest market cap drop among the top five companies. At the beginning of this week, the combined value of shares of the second-largest US gas producer stood at $141.5bn, a 36.9% plunge year-over-year.

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Gold Hit 26.8% ROI YTD, the Highest Increase in Value Among Top Assets

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Gold Bars

Gold Delivers 26.8% Return on Investment Year-t-Date

As the world’s earliest form of currency, gold has long been considered a reliable store of value. Unlike banknotes, stock, or other assets, the precious metal managed to preserve the investors’ wealth throughout the years, especially in times of turmoil in the financial markets.

According to data presented by AksjeBloggen, gold hit a 26.8% YTD return on investment, the highest increase in value among top assets.

Gold Return Rate 8.5% Higher than in 2019

Investors tend to focus on gold in times of market volatility, considering it to be a ‘safe haven’ in crises like the coronavirus. In 2019, the value of gold increased by 18.3%, revealed the Blackrock data. The precious metal continued the impressive performance in 2020 with a 26.8% YTD return, 8.5% more than in 2019.

Statistics show that last year, the S&P 500 index increased in value by 31% but was outperformed by Nasdaq, which grew by 35.2%. The MSCI Europe index rose by 26.1% in 2019. China A-shares followed with a 22.3% ROI.

However, the COVID-19 crisis had a massive impact on popular assets, causing a sharp fall in their values during the first half of 2020. The Blackrock data revealed the Nasdaq YTD return hit 23.9%, 11.3% below the 2019 performance. China A stocks reached 10% ROI YTD, much under the 22.3% return in 2019.

Statistics show the S&P 500 index had an 8.4% value increase in the nine months of 2020, almost four times less than in 2019. MSCI Emerging Market Index reached a 4.9% value increase in the same period, compared to 13% in 2019.

The Blackrock data show that crude oil, FTSE 100, and MSCI Europe index witnessed the most significant drop in the nine months of 2020, with their values falling by 34.6%, 22.4%, and 11.5%, respectively.

Global Demand for Investment Gold Surged by 100% YoY

Although many investors value gold as an important portfolio asset, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in global demand for the precious metal.

The World Gold Council data showed the global demand for investment gold increased significantly since the beginning of the year.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, it amounted to 279.2 metric tons. By the end of March, this figure jumped by more than 93% to 539.6 metric tons. The increasing trend continued in the second quarter of the year, with global demand for investment gold hitting 582.9 metric tons, an almost 100% jump year-over-year.

Statistics indicate the global demand for gold for investment purposes hit a record-breaking 1,152 metric tons in the first half of 2020, the highest figure so far.

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Oil Prices News: Oil Gains Following Drops in US Crude Inventories

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markets energies crude oil

Oil Prices Gain Following Drops in US Crude Inventories and OPEC High Compliance Level

Global oil prices extended their 2 percent gains on Thursday after data showed U.S crude oil inventories declined last week.

The price of Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is measured, gained 0.2 percent or 7 cents to $43.39 a barrel as at 12:10 pm Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude appreciated by 8 cent or 0.2 percent to $41.12 barrels.

Oil prices extended their three days gain after the American Petroleum Institute said the U.S crude inventories declined by 5.4 million barrels in the week ended October 9.

The report released after the market closed on Wednesday revealed that distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, declined by 3.9 million barrels. Those stated drawdowns almost double analysts’ projections for the week.

Much of the fall is due to the effects of Hurricane Delta shuttering U.S. production in the Gulf of Mexico, and as such, will be a transitory effect,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

“Therefore, I am not getting too excited that a turn of direction is upon markets, although both contracts are approaching important technical resistance regions.”

Also, the report that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, referred to as OPEC+ attained 102 percent compliance level with their oil production cuts agreements bolstered global oil outlook. Suggesting that demands for the commodity are likely not growing and could drag down prices in few weeks, especially when one factor in the reopening of Libya’s Sharara oil field, workers returning to operation in Norway and the Gulf of Mexico.

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