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Manufacturing

FG to revitalize rice farms in rice producing regions

The Minister stated that rice production is expected to increase as the government continues to revitalize rice farmers.

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The Federal Government has stated that Rice Farms in Anambra State and other regions will be revitalized to boost rice production, create jobs and also improve the living standard of the people in the State and the region.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, during the assessment of Federal Government Rice Farms/Mills in Omor and Umerum in Anambra State.

Given the importance of rice as a staple in Nigeria, the Minister stated that the Federal Government is taking steps to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, and this is evident in the policies of the government in achieving food and nutrition security, import substitution and promotion of inclusive economic growth across all sectors of the economy.

READ: CBN says 22 banks to restructure over 35,000 loans due to COVID-19

Government Policy Interventions in Agriculture and Rural Development has helped to develop the rice sector, and these interventions include the provision of farm inputs such as agrochemicals, organic fertilizers, knapsack sprayers, planting & harvesting equipment such as reapers, mini combine harvesters, threshers at a subsidized rate in order to increase productivity.

The Minister added that these policies have not only increased the quantity of rice produced annually but interventions through the provision of modern rice milling machines to small/medium scale processors, has also helped to improve the quality of Nigeria milled rice to international standard.

READ: New PIB amends royalties by oil firms as Sylva clarifies position on scrapping of NNPC

However, Nigeria’s rice consumption still holds higher than production, but government interventions through myriads of policies have increased rice production from 4.8 million metric tons of milled rice in 2015 to over 6 million metric tons by 2019 with a huge reduction in the nation’s deficit.  Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri explained that production is expected to increase as the government continues to revitalize rice farmers.

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Shehuri said that ”the Ministry has established 23 Paddy Aggregation Centers nationwide to aggregate and store paddy. The centres were given to members of the Paddy Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN) under the public-private partnership arrangement”.

READ: How to register for FG’s N75 billion MSME survival funds

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In like manners, there will be the dissemination of modern rice production and processing technologies, through capacity building of farmers and processors directly and also in conjunction with the international donor agencies such as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), German International Cooperation (GIZ), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI), AfricaRice.

He reiterated that the Ministry is currently responding to the challenges of food availability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting smallholder farmers nationwide with various inputs including certified seeds of improved varieties of food crops such as rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, orange-flesh sweet potato, groundnut cowpea, soybean, yam, as well as cash crops like cashew, cocoa, sesame, oil palm, gum Arabic. Others include herbicides, pesticides and agricultural machinery such as rice reapers, transplanters, power tillers motorized sprayers and processing equipment.

These interventions are expected to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on farmers and ensure that they keep producing food for the country.

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Omokolade Ajayi is a graduate of Economics, and a certificate holder of the CFA Institute’s Investment Foundation Program. He is a business analyst, and equity market researcher, with wealth of experience as a retail investor. He is a business owner and a stern advocate of Financial literacy, who believes in the huge economic prospect of the Nigerian Payment channels and Fintech space.

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    Business News

    Senate calls for the liberalization of cement policy to crash the price of the commodity

    The Senate also tasked the FG on providing more industrial incentives to bring new players into the cement industry.

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    The Nigerian Senate has called for the liberalization of Nigeria’s cement policy to boost production and subsequently crash the price of the commodity in the country.

    This motion was raised by Senator Lola Ashiru at today’s senate plenary, the senator also tasked the Federal Government on providing more industrial incentives to bring new players into the cement industry, in addition to the liberalization of the cement policy in Nigeria.

    Ashiru explained that to reduce the price of cement and in extension, other building materials in the country, the Federal Government needs to provide an enabling operating environment that will encourage new entrants in the country.

    The Senate in conclusion called on the FG to provide more industrial incentives and protections such as concessionary loans and larger tax incentives to encourage new entrants and expand the national cement production infrastructure, as this boost in production will lead to a downward review of cement price in Nigeria.

    What industry leaders are saying

    Earlier this year the founder of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, called for the liberalization of Nigeria’s cement policy to boost production and reduce the price of the commodity.

    The billionaire philanthropist faulted the belief that Nigeria is self-sufficient in terms of cement production, noting that recent statistics and figures on Nigeria’s population and cement production do not support this status of sufficiency in cement production as stated by some individuals.

    He attributed the high price of cement products in the country to the supply gap which exists in the country, as the few producers who currently operate in the country are unable able to meet the country’s huge and growing demand.

    The Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development and Capital Projects, Devakumar Edwin, explained that the demand and consumption of cement in the nation currently outstrips supply, and this can be pegged on the growth in the country’s population, and the strong appetite for real estate investment and construction in the country.

    He revealed that a supply gap of about 40% exists in the country’s cement market and that all players in the industry are working hard to level production with the rising demand in the country.

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    Business

    Cement prices surge in South East as scarcity, price hike hit North East

    Prices of cement have risen by 67% in many Southeastern states and by 40% as observed in northern states including Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, others.

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    The prices of cement have risen by 67% in the South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

    This is as some residents of the North-Eastern part of the country also complained of price hike of cement, which they attributed to the scarcity of the product and the activities of middlemen who try to capitalize on the situation.

    According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a market survey conducted at various wholesale and retail shops in the eastern zone shows that the price of the product has almost doubled when compared to the price in 2020.

    READ: Aliko Dangote to earn N234 billion as dividend from his cement business

    What the cement traders in the eastern states are saying

    A cement dealer at Kenyetta Market in Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Amadi, said the increase in the price of the product which started last year was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increase in dollar exchange.

    He pointed out that a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags, which sold for N1.5 million in 2020, sold for N2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.

    Another retailer, Samuel Uwakwe, noted that a bag of Dangote Cement now goes for N3,900, Unicem for N3,700; BUA Cement for N3,700 and Kogi Super Cement for N3,600.

    While begging the suppliers to reduce the price and make the product available, Uwakwe expressed his reservations at few individuals being given the opportunity to supply the product noting that the prices would likely crash during raining season.

    READ: Dangote Cement considers debt funding options under 300 billion bond issuance programme

    In Abia, a cross-section of residents of Umuahia, the state capital, also decried the high price of cement, which ranges from N4,000 to N4,100 per 50kg bag.

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    Those who spoke to NAN said the price hike had further dashed the hope of many Nigerians, wishing to own their personal homes.

    A businessman, Mr Victor Ugwu, said he had to suspend his building project because of the current development as he could not afford to continue with the current price of the commodity.

    He said,  “I think the hike can be attributed to the monopoly being enjoyed by the cement producers in the country. Unfortunately, there may not be any respite until that monopoly is broken.”

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    READ: Dangote Cement pays N1.1 trillion in dividends in 5 years.

    However, a cement dealer, Mr James Ogbonna, said the price increase had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the commodity but rather put the blame on the activities of shylock distributors of cement.

    He said, “In the first and second week of March, we sold a bag for N3,200, but within the third week we started selling at N3,500. By the end of March, the price moved up to N4,000 and now, we sell between N4,000 and N4100, depending on the brand.”

    A cement dealer in Awka, Mr Kenechukwu Okoye, said before the #EndSARS protest in 2020, a 50kg bag of cement was sold at N2,500 bur rose to N3,000 immediately after the protest and from there to the current price of N4,000 and N4,100.

    The survey also says that in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the price of cement is between N3,850 and N4300, depending on the brand.

    At the building materials Market in Naze, Owerri North Local Government Area, Dangote and BUA cement are sold at N4,000 per bag while BUA and UNICEM are sold for N3,900.

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    Mr Okechukwu Okonya, a seller, said the cost could be attributed to the high cost of transportation as a result of fuel price increase adding that major dealers sometimes hoard the product in their warehouses to create artificial scarcity.

    The survey report says that in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, prices of almost all building materials have gone up, with Dangote and Bua which sold for N2,500 earlier in November and December 2020 now selling for between N4000 and N4500.

    Similarly, Unicem cement which also sold at N2,300 within the same period had also gone up to N4,000 and N4,300.

    Similar price increase in North East

    The survey report in Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Jigawa, shows an average of 40% increase in price.

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    According to the respondents, this could be attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 which affected production in factories, while demand kept rising.

    Others, however, blamed the hike on the high cost of transportation and other sundry activities associated with the business of procurement and sales of cement in the country.

    Malam Ibrahim Sanusi, a cement dealer at the Gombe main market described the hike as outrageous when compared with the price of the same commodity the previous year.

    He said that a bag of Dangote brand which he bought for N2,400 and sold for N2, 500, is bought for N4,000 from their depot in Gombe and sold for N4,200.

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