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Create credit schemes for rubber, other crops, association pleads with CBN

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CBN begins e-invoice for importers, exporters Feb. 1

… As FCT revitalises Agric extension services to boost food production***

The National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria, has pleaded with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to create credit schemes for the development of rubber and other long gestation crops.

This is contained in a communique the association issued in Abuja on Saturday at the end of its National Conference.

The theme of the conference is “Industrialisation of the Rubber Sub-Sector in Nigeria.

The association called on the Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry and NEXIM Bank, to be fully involved in the development of the rubber sub-sector.

The association said this could be done by making funds available for rubber development at friendly interest rates for small and industrial rubber farmers.

“Government should implement all the relevant policies already developed to boost the agricultural sectors.

Also read: E- Customs: Reps wade in to resolve CBN, Adani systems Ltd disagreement

“Government should take up the responsibility to measure out modalities to assist in rubber production technology to further enhance the promotion and sustainability of the rubber sector.

“State governments should collaborate with the association in the development of rubber value chain in their states by making land available for the development of rubber plantations.

“Government should also increase agricultural subsidies to rubber farmers by the construction of smokehouses in clusters.

“This is for effective storage facilities, basic infrastructural facilities, agrichemicals and fertiliser to boost rubber production,” it said.

The association further called for regular training and workshops for rubber farmers and young students.

It also urged the government to provide grants and encourage soft loans at single-digit interest rates for rubber farmers;

“There is an urgent need for government to collaborate with the organised private sector to factor in aggressive programmes for the development of the rubber sector.

“This is due to the potential it has to contribute to the Nigerian economy and diversification efforts of the federal government for the sustainable development of the country.

“Government should also enhance the research institute sector, to enable them to develop technologies to improve the rubber sector.

“Government should expand and enhance the extension services to assist farmers in the rubber sector,” the communique said.

The association solicited the federal government’s intervention by providing 100,000 hectares of land in each state for rubber production.

The communique said that the participants commended the association for creating a platform for stakeholders to engage one another in discussions relating to the development of the rubber sub-sector.

The conference was organised by the association in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Other collaborators in the conference which was held from Oct. 21 to Oct. 22 were the Raw Materials Research and Development Council and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.

The communique is signed by the president and secretary of the association, Mr Igbinosun Idowu-Peter and Mr Orimisan Ogunjumelo respectively.

In another development, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has stepped up measures to revitalise agricultural extension services to boost food production in the territory, an official has said.

A Director of Agricultural Development Project (ADP) in the FCT, Mr Innocent Ajaefobi, said this on Saturday in Gwagwalada at the closing of the three days training programme organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The director, represented by the Acting Head, Extension Sub Programme, Mr Ude Ekele said the training, organised by the Federal Government was to revitalise agricultural extension services.

He called on participants at the training programme for agricultural extension agents to ensure effective use of knowledge acquired.

He urged them to put in their best to ensure that they were accepted by the farmers and not to be seen as agents of politicians.

Ajaefobi called on them to be innovative, creative, resourceful and ensure the application of scientific knowledge in the discharge of their duties as extension agents.

He urged farmers to relate with extension agents as persons coming to impact knowledge to increase their productivity and not agents of politicians.

Some of the participants, who spoke with the newsmen, commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for organising the training programme.

Mrs Deborah Anigo, one of the participants said the training was a welcome development adding that such opportunity had never been granted to extension agents for a very long time.

She said the programme was impactful, adding that with the training, the extension agents were better equipped to transfer knowledge to the farmers.

Anigo called for the sustainability of the training programme and urged the government to provide necessary tools for the farmers to enhance their productivity.

Mr Samuel Odoh, another participant said the training programme was a step in the right direction to better equip the extension agents in the discharge of their duties.

He said the knowledge acquired would help the extension agents in the reorientation of farmers on their wrong notion about extension agents’ visits to communities.

Odoh said the expectation of farmers that the responsibility of extension agents was to provide money and farm input was wrong.

According to him, the responsibility of extension agents is to advise the farmers on how to go about their production with their input and not the extension agents providing the inputs.

NAN recalls that 40 extension agents drawn from the six area councils in the FCT were trained in the programme which simultaneously took place in the 36 states of the country.

 

Economy

FG Threatens To Open Borders for Cement Importation Over Price Hike

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Palpable fear has gripped cement manufacturers following the Federal Government’s threat to throw open the nation’s borders for cement importation if the product manufacturers fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper

Bags of cement

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

He expressed his displeasure at the position of  Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold  its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James, Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola  Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

He, however, identified some areas of concern and appealed to the government to look into them to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

At the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

The three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

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Economy

Cement Price Can Be Lower Than FG, Manufacturers’ Projection — Association 

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…Warns that high price could lead to corner-cutting and building collapse

The National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON) says the agreement between the Federal Government and three major cement manufacturers that a 50kg bag of cement, for now, is not supposed to sell for more than N7,000 to N8,000 is faulty.

The National President, Mr Adesegun Banjoko, said this on Tuesday in Lagos.

Recall that the parties, at a meeting on Monday, said that the ideal price of  a 50kg bag of cement for now should be between ₦7,000.00 and ₦8,000.00 depending on location.

They agreed that the current higher prices of cement in parts of the country were abnormal.

The main manufacturers of cement in the country are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc.

According to Banjoko, there is no reason for the price of cement to be sold even at the projected prices, since limestone, which is a key ingredient, is readily available in Nigeria.

He expressed fears that the high price would lead to corner-cutting and building collapse.

The NABMON president expressed the belief that the government and manufacturers could do better and offer lower prices.

Bags of cements

He suggested a reduction or elimination of customs duties on other imported materials used in cement production, adding that this would incentivise manufacturers to lower their prices.

He, therefore, proposed a target price of ₦3,500 to ₦5,000 per bag.

Banjoko said, “There are three issues that make me disagree with the government and the main manufacturers.

“First, limestone is sourced in Nigeria; agreed they have some few other materials they bring in from abroad.

“But if the government is really concerned about life and property lost to building collapse, they should either remove custom duties on such items or reduce them by half to encourage the manufacturers to come down to between N3, 500 and N5, 000.”

He also advised the government to temporarily halt road construction projects that use cement.

Banjoko said that this would free up available cement for vital projects and potentially reduce demand, leading to lower prices.

The NABMON president warned that the high price of cement had added to the existing tensions in the country.

He urged the government to act cautiously with essential commodities like cement, emphasising its impact on public well-being.

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Economy

NGX: Bullish Sentiment Persists, Investors Gain N329bn

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Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

…Unilever Nigeria Plc, Julius Berger lead Losers’ table 

Bullish sentiment persisted on Thursday at the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) equity market, as the market indices rose by 0.58 percent.

Specifically, investors gained N329 billion or 0.58 percent, as the market capitalisation closed at N56.961 trillion, as against N56.632 trillion recorded on Wednesday.

The All-Share Index also appreciated by 0.58 percent or 601.72 points to settle at 104,100, compared to 103,498.28 posted in the previous session.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 39.22 percent.

Continuous buy interests in the shares of BUA Cement, BUAFoods, and Geregu kept the market in the positive terrain.

A total of 284.49 million shares valued at N6.91 billion were exchanged in 8,168 deals, as against 426.86 million shares valued at N12.11 billion exchanged in 8,654 deals.

However, analysis of the market activities showed trade turnover settled lower relative to the previous session, with the value of transactions down by 42.89 percent.

Guaranty Trust Holding Company(GTCO) led the activity table in volume and value with the trade of 56.61 million shares worth N2.22 billion.

Transcorp followed with 33.17 million shares valued at N418.31 million, while United Bank of Africa(UBA) traded 18.38 million shares worth N442.96 million.

Also, Mutual Benefits Assurance sold 16.76 shares valued at N11.48 million and AXA Mansard traded 12.51 million shares worth N75.57 million.

On the gainers’ table, University Press Ltd.(UPL) led in percentage terms of 9.96 percent to close at N2.87, followed by Juli Plc by 9.84 percent to close at N1.34 per share.

Mutual Benefits gained 9.38 percent to close at 70k, Daar Communications rose by 8.82 percent to close at 74k, while Honeywell Flour garnered 7.50 percent to close at N4.30 per share.

Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

Conversely, Unilever Nigeria Plc led the losers’ table by 9.80 percent to close at N16.10, Julius Berger lost 9.64 percent to close at N50.60, while Morison Industries Plc shed 9.60 percent to close at N2.23 per share.

May & Baker Nigeria Plc depreciated by 6.52 percent to close at N6.45 and National Salt Company of Nigeria (NASCON) dropped 5.37 percent to close at N59.04 per share.

Market breadth closed negative with 26 declining stocks outnumbering 23 advancing ones.

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