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Border closure: Mixed reactions in South-West, as Kano, Kebbi Farmers commend Government

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Border closure: Mixed reactions in South-West, as Kano, Kebbi Farmers commend Government

Farmers in the South-West have mixed opinions on the Federal Government’s border closure, with some commending the initiative while others decried it, describing it as ill-timed and insensitive.

A prominent farmer in Ekiti and a legal icon, Chief Afe Babalola, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the closure, saying it would tackle smuggling in the country.

Babalola said that Nigeria was abundantly endowed with agriculture potential and other natural resources but the country was still grappling with food insufficiency and economic dislocation due to its over-reliance on imported products.

The Chairman of Ekiti state chapter of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Adebola Alagbada said the association would always support any government initiative or policy to empower farmers as long as such policies were not designed to create hardship for the teeming populace.

However, rice millers and dealers in Ido-Osi Local Government Area in Ekiti, condemned the Federal Government’s new policy to close the land borders.

They lamented that the sudden action of ‎the Federal Government to close the borders had caused astronomical rise in the prices of rice both foreign and locally produce ones.

A rice dealers, Mr Godwin Owolabi said that before the closure of the borders, the price of bag of rice was between N15,000 and N16, 000, but it had shot up to between N24,000 and N30,000.

Owolabi appealed to the Federal Government to reconsider its decision on the closure of the land borders to make rice and other food items available for consumption and at affordable cost.

The Chairman of Farmers Association in Ido-Osi Local Government Area, Mr ‎Oluropo Dada said: “I am surprised that the Federal Government decided to close land borders to stop importation of rice and other items, when it had not first provided needed funds or loans for farmers to farm.

“In Ido-Ekiti, we do not have good farm implements to cultivate food and cash crops, we ‎make use of labourers to help make heaps but with good tractors and funding, we will be ready to plant rice”, he said.

In Osun, Mr Ismaila Ayodele, a member of Osun Rice Farmers Association said the closure of the nation’s border by the Federal Government to prevent rice importation would encourage local production and bring more gains to the local rice farmers.

Ayodele said with the ban on importation of foreign rice into the country, wealth and employment were being created in the three value chain of production, processing and marketing.

“The reason locally produced rice is more expensive than imported one is because of failure to adopt mechanised farming.  If locally produced rice is cultivated by mechanised methods, the cost of production will be lower.

“Research also reveals that 25 per cent to 30 per cent of farm yield is lost during harvest, meaning if we have the necessary equipment, a farmer that gets 70 bags of rice on his farm can easily get more than 100 bags on the same farm,” Ayodele said.

Dr Olabisi Awoniyi, Assistant Director of Commercial Agriculture and Training, Niger River Basin Authority explained that demand for locally produced rice in Nigeria was higher than its production; and this had created a deficit that was yet to be met.

“More people will now get into rice production and possibly the local farmer will be able to meet up with the demand.

“The border closure has boosted the demand for locally produced rice since there is no access to imported rice”, he said.

The official said that while the development had seen local farmers smiling to the bank as a result of huge profits, the reverse was the case for consumers.

According to him, government has to bring out measures to cushion the effect on the consumers.

Mr Matthew Aileme, a farmer and rice miller in Ayede/Ogbese area of Akure North Local Government in Ondo State said many more people had taken interest in rice production with the closure of the borders.

“I want Federal Government to help people that like to take rice farming as a business either in kind or in cash to enable them to take off because the demand for our local rice is now more than before. It is now hot cake in town.

“I can tell you categorically that the closure has added value to rice production across the country, especially here in Ondo state because the rate of demand is higher than it used to be,” he said.

An Ofada rice farmer, Mr Segun Akinwunmi confirmed that the border closure had resulted in increased demand for the Ofada rice in Ogun but the inability of the farmers to meet up with the demand had pushed the prices up.

“Before now, we normally sell a 50kg bag for between N25, 000 and N28, 000 but now we sell for about N35, 000.

“Though Ofada rice has always been more expensive when compared to the foreign rice, but that occurs during the dry season and not during the rainy season like this,” he said.

However, Mrs Olubisi Adegoke, a caterer, said that the border closure had affected her business “because we are unable to get quality rice to cook for our customers.’’

“The cost is killing our business; local rice with stones goes for N15,000 while local rice without stone is N21,000.

“We need urgent help to cope with the reality on ground,” she said

However, for the farmers in Kano and Kebbi states, border closure is probably the best thing ever done by the Federal Government to farmers in the country.

Rice processing companies also hailed the decision, saying it had brought value to local rice in the country.

Alhaji Faruk Rabi’u, the Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kano state chapter said farmers were now more confident in producing more rice.

“The border closure is a clear indication that the Federal Government is ready to boost agricultural production by insisting on the patronage of the home products.

“With this development, farmers will have more confidence that their produce will be patronised. Therefore they can invest more on their farms because they know that after harvesting their farm products will be sold.

“If we continue to import foreign rice, despite the fact that the locally produced one is the best for our health, people will continue to buy it.

“Therefore, I am calling on the government to continue to give us all the necessary support as farmers.

Also read:  Nigerians will soon enjoy benefits of border closure — Ajayi

“Most of our people go for the foreign rice not minding its low quality and risks to their health. The one we produce is more qualitative than the foreign ones”, Rabi’u said.

An industrialist, Alhaji Aminu Ahmed, also commended the Federal Government for its decision to close the nation’s borders to check smuggling of foodstuffs and other goods into the country.

Ahmed, who is the Managing Director of Tiamin Rice Milling Plant in Kano, said the border closure would revitalise the nation’s industries and give entrepreneurs hopes of survival in the country.

“The border closure has received significant support from the Nigerian Rice Producers who said the policy is greatly making an impact on the home grown rice,” he said.

He said his company was now producing 320 tonnes daily with over 300 permanent staff and 600 casual workers.

“The closure of land borders is working and if government sustains it, in the next few years, Nigeria will start exporting its own rice after feeding its citizens, that is where we are heading now,” he added.

Alhaji Muhammadu Jega, a large scale farmer, who holds the traditional title of Sarkin Noman Kabbi said it would be a great mistake to open the borders now.

“We should increase the production of rice until we reach a level that we don’t need to import as we have it in abundance even waiting to be exported.

“Nigerians should understand the difference between the imported rice and the ones we produce here in the country; between the fresh and preserved one.

“I believe we can produce rice that we can feed ourselves and even export to other countries.”

The General Manager of one of Nigeria’s largest rice mill – Labana Rice Mill Limited – Alhaji Abdullahi Zuru said in spite of support to farmers and processors through the CBN  by the Federal Government, the import of rice through borders had negatively affected production of rice in the country.

“When the Federal Government is supporting and funding rice production and processing in Nigeria and the rice is being smuggled into the country on daily basis with impunity, through our borders.

“We have more rice farmers, more rice mills in Nigeria and yet foreign rice was flooding our markets by the day.

“Before the closure of borders, from February to March this year, it was disclosed by the National Association of Rice Millers of Nigeria that more than 20 million bags of rice had been smuggled into the country from different borders.

“I want to state without fear of contradiction, additional five million or more had been smuggled into this country afterwards.

“So this situation had led to the closure of some rice mills, suspension of production in some rice mills in Nigeria and was discouraging farmers to embark on dry season farming this year.

“Most of the rice mills, if you go to their warehouses then, they have produced so much such that they filled all the warehouses, they had nowhere to stockpile their products and as a result of that they stopped production.

“But now, we are looking for paddy rice to buy as our warehouses have been almost empty as we produce and sell and buyers are coming more and more,” he said.

Zuru commended the Federal Government for the closure of the borders, adding “it is a good move in the right direction”.

 

 

Economy

Fuel Scarcity Will Soon Disappear, NMDPRA Tells Unbelieving Nigerians; Depot Managers Disagree 

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…Insist there is still serious supply gap***

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has assured Nigerians that the prevailing fuel crisis ravaging various parts of the country would soon disappear. His audience largely disbelieved him.

NMDPRA Coordinator in Delta, Mr Victor Ohwodiasa, gave the assurance when he led a team of the regulatory authority on an unscheduled inspection visit to some petroleum depots at Ifiekporo, on Thursday evening and Friday in Delta.

The Ifiekporo Community is in Warri South Local Government area of Delta.

Ohwodiasa said that a lot of vessels laden with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) known as Petrol were already coming into the state.

He said the regulatory authority would ensure that the vessels discharge products as quickly as possible.

“We will ensure that the depots receiving these products lift them out to the end users.

“By the time we have all the depots wet with PMS and they are lifting regularly, the looming scarcity we are experiencing will disappear,” Ohwodiasa said.

Nigeria, 99 others Back Agreement Against Illegal, Unregulated Fishing
President-Muhammadu-Buhari

The agency’s coordinator said the essence of the visit was to ensure that depots with the products dispensed to licenced retail outlets, eliminate middlemen and also avoid diversion.

“Once we get our daily manifest, we send our men out to make sure that those trucks get to their actual locations.

“There might be one or two infractions; we have apprehended about two persons for product diversion and they were made to face the full wrath of the law.

“As a regulatory authority, saddled with the responsibility of regulating the Midstream and Downstream of the Oil and Gas sector in Nigeria, we will continue to do what we need to do.

“This is to ensure that the products are available and adequately and fairly distributed within Delta and neighbouring states,” he said.

Ohwodiasa said the NMDPRA would carry out intense routine surveillance, adding that it would sustain the tempo to ensure that the right things were done in the Midstream and Downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.

He, however, urged people to stop panic buying, assuring that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to ensure the availability of petroleum products in the country, particularly during the Yuletide season and beyond.

Ohwodiasa added that NMDPRA would ensure that the products get to the consumers at the right price, quality and quantity.

Among the depots visited were: Matrix Energy Group, Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd. and AYM Shafa Ltd.

Speaking on behalf of Matrix Energy, Mr Francis Ibe, the Terminal Manager, Matrix Energy, said that the PMS stock level at the Warri Depot was 14 million litres on Thursday.

Ibe said as of the evening of Thursday, it had trucked out over four million litres.

“With what I am pushing out, I know it will not be enough. Before now on weekly basis, we were receiving 40 million litres of PMS, but at the moment, we barely received 40 million in two weeks. So you can see the difference.

“Forty million litres in one week as against receiving one vessel in two weeks cannot solve the problem. There is a serious supply gap,” Ibe said.

Also, Mr Luke Nnajieze, the Depot Manager, Pinnacle Oil and Gas, Warri Depot, said that the current stock level of the company in Warri as of Thursday morning was 3.1 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Nnajieze added that the Automated Gasoline Oil (AGO) was 2.9 million litres. At the moment, we are out of stock of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK).

“On daily basis, we trucked 2.5 million litres to 3 million litres of PMS,” he said.

Nnajieze identified heavy vehicular gridlock as a major challenge confronting their business in the area, calling on the government to assist in expanding or fixing the bad access road.

He also called for the dredging of the Escravos Bar to allow bigger vessels to navigate and bring in petroleum products.

A respondent who spoke on condition of anonymity however said: “What I hate is telling innocent people deliberate lies. We all know supply is grossly inadequate; and yet, we keep hyping lame duck assurances!”, he said, adding that it was like the government, knowing that it was now on its last lap, has seemingly relaxed…!

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Oyo Govt efforts in agribusiness already yielding positive results- OYSADA DG

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Oyo Govt efforts in agribusiness already yielding positive results- OYSADA DG

…Fails to indicate how OYSADA positively tinkers with availability of agricultural products*** 

 The Director-General, Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), Dr. Debo Akande, on Friday stated that the state government efforts in agribusiness were already yielding positive results.

Akande made this known at Fasola Farm in Oyo while welcoming Mr. Ben Langat, the Managing Director, Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria PLC, who led other members of the company on a facility tour of the farm.

The Maritime First learned that Ben Langat’s visit may be connected to his company’s readiness to set up a milk collection centre through dairy livestock farming within the facility.

Akande, who is also the Executive Adviser to Gov. Seyi Makinde on Agribusiness, said that the state agribusiness venture had been thriving evidently through increment of internally generated revenue and jobs creation opportunities.

Addressing journalists shortly after the facility tour, Akande said: “We have ensured that our agricultural hubs are going to be completely private sector driven.

“One of the things that created problems for all of those farm settlements we had in the past was that they are public sector driven.

“And in so doing, we are attracting the investors that can run the hub.

“Fasola Farm was known for livestock farming for many years and the work we’ve been doing in terms of livestock has created impacts across the state.

“What we are doing now is to bring back the glory of the past, but in a different way, because our milk collection partner investors are known for our dairy and livestock.

“So, we will see a manifestation of a modern approach in livestock and dairy production within this particular facility that we have and to me, I think that is quite significant.”

Oyo State Logo

According to him, the state government is already generating revenue, because this farm is not given free to our milk investor company.

“They are paying leases on the land they are using; they have already paid and they will be paying annually for the next 20 years,” he said.

Akande said this was not limited only to the milk collection partner, but also to other investors in the hub.

“All of them are here on a lease, the government is going to generate a chunk of their lease at the first year.

“And also be generating lease payment for the next 20 years from all these private companies, that is part one of the revenue, ” he said.

The Director-General said the hub would generate taxes and employ people within the state, especially youths.

During the tour, beneficiaries of the Oyo State Youth Entrepreneurship In Agribusiness Project (YEAP), which had already cultivated up to 45 percent of the hundred hectares of land allocated to them, were also on ground.

Offering an insight, the Managing Director of Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria PLC, Ben Langat

said the company is in partnership with the Oyo State Government in developing an Agribusiness hub, which is very important to all the parties concerned.

“We are a dairy company that is ready to ensure that we produce quality dairy for Nigerians to consume every day.

“We are developing 300 hectares of land now, that was part of the land allocated to us.

“We have developed pasture, which is part of the process before we bring cows in; we built sheds where they will feed, also bunkers and boreholes as well as other things,” Langat said.

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IMPRUDENCE: Oyetola Left N76bn Salary, Pension Debts- Official

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IMPRUDENCE: Oyetola Left N76bn Salary, Pension Debts- Official

…Salary: N29,875,191,128.64; Pension Arrears: N45,375,237,693.40; Life Assurance Scheme: N554,644,028.97***

 Mrs. Bimpe Ogunlumade, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance in Osun, says the state government has discovered salary and pension-related debts, amounting to over N76 billion, left by the immediate past Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola’s administration.

A statement by Malam Olawale Rasheed, the Spokesperson of Gov. Ademola Adeleke of Osun, calling attention to the former Governor’s imprudence on Thursday in Osogbo, highlighted that Ogunlumade made the revelations while briefing officials of the new administration on the state’s financial status.

According to Rasheed, the Osun Government has uncovered a monumental debt in salaries, pensions and insurance commitments incurred by the administration of Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, amounting to N76 billion.

“This revelation was made by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Bimpe Ogunlumade, while briefing officials of the new administration on the financial status of the state on Thursday.

“The disclosure was contrary to the claim by the former governor that he left N14 billion in cash for the new government, among other bogus claims that have now been found to be an outright falsehood.

“The breakdown of the salaries and pension-related liabilities as disclosed by the Permanent Secretary are as follows:

“Salary: N29,875,191,128.64; Pension Arrears: N45,375,237,693.40; Group Life Assurance Scheme: N554,644,028.97, Total: N75,805,072,851.01.

“The public is hereby advised that this is not the total debt left by the past administration as briefings on other sources of liabilities continue tomorrow,” he said.

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