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Nigerian Government to Stop Rice Importation Soon

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WITH the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s “rice revolution” gaining added momentum with a projected 2.9 million metric tons of rice from last year’s farming season, “Nigeria is already at the exit door from its importation”.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said this while inspecting a 420-hectare rice farm and mill belonging to Olam Nigeria in Rukubi, near Doma, Nasarawa State.

He said 2.9 million metric tons of high quality milled rice was expected to be produced beginning from 2014 farming season.

The minister added that with importation at about 1.9 to 2.0 million metric tons per annum, rice importation would soon stop.

“We are going to be Thailand of Africa in terms of rice production and export,” Dr. Adesina said.

The minister stated that no fewer than 670,000 jobs were created in 2013 through rice production.

He said 1.9 million metric tonnes of rice was produced in the 2013 dry and wet seasons, contributing N320 billion to the GDP and creating 670,000 jobs in the process.

The minister said the Federal Government was putting in place the enabling environment for production of rice on small, medium and large-scale through its Growth Enhancement Support scheme (GES) for the rice value chain under the Agriculture Transformation Agenda (ATA) launched in 2011.

In addition to seed and extension support to farmers, the minister said the government has provided subsidised inputs and mechanization services through Agricultural Equipment Hiring Service (AEHE) for which financing support is accessible through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Bank of Industry (BOI).

Dr. Adesina said 15 rice and other staple crop processing zones would be set up at various locations in Nigeria, with a projected contribution of $9.0 billion to the GDP.

The minister, who was visibly impressed with the wide hectarages under cultivation, the growing stockpile of mill-ready paddy rice, mechanised planting and harvesting operations and land preparation for new planting and the installation of the 600 metric ton capacity mill, stated that all the factors favourable for growing and processing large quantities of rice were already in place and effectively working.

Dr. Adesina explained that, prior to the launch of the ATA in 2011, only one integrated rice mill was in place, but that in addition to 12 others, the 60, 000 ton Olam Farm mill expected to begin milling in June brings the number of mills to 13 within three years.

He said the small mills have increased to 4,350 and growing at a yearly rate of 40 per cent.

The minister said paddy bulking and aggregation centres, a bridge between rice farmers and millers, were going to be set up to effectively address the problems of stock supply security identified by investors in a commissioned study as a concern along with poor infrastructure and access to credit.

The paddy bulking and aggregation centres will stock, assess and grade paddy sourced from growers with a view to creating easy access to millers that might have neither farms nor paddy supply from farmers.

These facilities, Adesina said, would bolster Nigeria’s rice production capacity along with 15 rice and other staple crop processing zone (SCPZ) to be set up at locations in the country, with a projected contribution of adding $9.0 billion to the GDP.

Briefing the minister and his entourage, as well as reporters who visited the Olam Farm for progress assessment, the country head of the farm, Mukul Mathur, and the Rukubi Farm Manager, Regi George, stated that Olam Farm is a subsidiary of Kewalrams Group, which has been in Nigeria for 150 years and in different sectors of agriculture for 25 years.

He said the company’s foray into rice farming began four years ago, with the Rukubi rice farm and mill being its biggest commitment with $72 million.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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