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Africa Needs Young Agropreneurs to Tackle Food Security—AfDB

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afdb complex

By Dipo Olowookere

The need for African leaders to engage youths in agriculture and make them see the sector as a profitable business venture and not a sign of lacking ambition has been emphasised by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina.

According to this, apart from tackling food security in the continent through this, it would also stem migration of African youths to Europe and the United States of America (USA) in search of greener pastures.

AfDB, while commenting on the occasion of the 2017 World Food Day, highlighted how Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people to agriculture and agribusiness, pointing out that the sector can potentially create wealth and employment for African youth, thereby stemming migration.

World Food Day, celebrated yearly on October 16, promotes worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. This year’s theme focuses on the need to ‘Change the future of migration; Invest in food security and rural development’.

The AfDB’s ENABLE Youth program, which grooming a crop of young agriculturists, is on course to make this happen.

Mahmud Johnson, 26, is the Founder of J-Palm Liberia which works to improve income for Liberia’s smallholder oil palm farmers by 50-80%. He is also creating additional jobs for over 1,000 young people to work as sales representatives for his products.

“Despite the tremendous odds, we (African youth) are determined to maximize our abundant agricultural resources to create wealth, jobs, and socioeconomic opportunities in our countries and across the continent. We need our stakeholders to view us as serious partners in Africa’s transformation, and to work with us to expand our enterprises,” Mahmud said.

Mahmud and some of his employees have benefited from capacity building programs under the AfDB’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth initiative.

Like Mahmud, many African youth are passionate about staying back on the continent to create wealth and employment, if given the tools and opportunities to put their skills to use. Under the ENABLE Youth program, the Bank is working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to develop a new generation of young commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to develop 10,000 such young agricultural entrepreneurs per country in the next 10 years. In 2016, the Bank provided $700 million to support this program in eight countries and we’ve got requests now from 33 countries,” said Adesina.

The Bank considers investment in agriculture as key to making Africa youths prosperous, thereby stemming the tide of migration.

This goal, and theme of 2017 World Food Day, are well aligned with two of the AfDB’s High 5 development priorities – Feed Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa– said Jennifer Blanke, Vice-President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the AfDB.

“A thriving business sector in Africa will provide the jobs and returns that will attract and retain Africa’s best talent on the continent, while improving the quality of life of all Africans,” she said.

With more than 70% of Africans depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, it is imperative for the sector’s full potential to be unlocked, and by doing so help to vastly improve the lives Africans.

Accordingly, one of the goals of Feed Africa is to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2025.

Due to the finite nature of mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, crude oil, among others, African countries must diversify their economies. This cannot be done without a significant emphasis on agriculture given that the great majority of Africans depend on it for their livelihoods.

Increased food demand and changing consumption habits driven by demographic factors such as urbanization (internal migration) are leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which will grow from $35 billion in 2015 to over $110 billion by 2025 if trends are left unchecked.

Given that African smallholder farmers are on average about 60 years old, Africa’s food security depends on attracting young people into agriculture and agribusiness and empowering them. Governments can support these shifts through the right enabling environments via policy reforms for increased private investment in agriculture and agribusiness. And also by better articulating the importance of agriculture for their economies in their interaction with the public.

“Food security and rural development are closely interlinked with issues of migration, fragility and resilience. The Horn of Africa and the Sahel provide compelling examples of how global factors such as food insecurity, radical extremism and migration reinforce state fragility and have devastating effects on development,” said Khaled Sherif, AfDB Vice-President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery.

“The lack of economic opportunities, infrastructure, employment opportunities and unpredictable climactic changes in these countries are key sources of fragility that often times result in the forced migration of peoples seeking a desperate alternative. The Bank has, where appropriate, adopted risk-based approaches at both country and regional levels in addressing fragility.”

Ahead of the World Food Day, the AfDB joined Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and other developing partners on October 14 in a day-long set of activities to promote agriculture as a business. They emphasized the need for governments to invest in agriculture to create jobs and stem the flow of migration that has undermined the security and economies of African countries.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Turkish Pipeline Fire Drives Crude Oil Prices Higher

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Crude Oil Prices

By Adedapo Adesanya

For the fourth trading session, crude oil prices soared at the global market on Wednesday on the back of a fire that briefly stopped the flow of a pipeline from Iraq to Turkey.

This increased concerns about an already tight supply outlook amid worrisome geopolitical troubles in Russia and the United Arab Emirates, holding prices in the bullish territory.

Consequently, the price of the Brent crude futures rose by 93 cents or 1.06 per cent to trade at $88.44 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped $1.53 or 1.8 per cent to $86.96 per barrel.

It was gathered that to address the pipeline issue yesterday, Turkey had to cut oil flows on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline after an explosion on the system, although the cause of the explosion was not announced.

The pipeline carries crude out of Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to the Turkish port of Ceyhan for export.

In recent days, supply concerns have after Yemen’s Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates (UAE), OPEC’s third-largest producer, while Russia, the world’s second-largest oil producer, has built up a large troop presence near Ukraine’s border, stoking fears of invasion.

The tensions raise the prospect of supply disruptions at a time when OPEC and their allies, together called OPEC+, are already having difficulty meeting their agreed target to add 400,000 barrels per day of supply each month.

On the back of these, analysts expect prices to remain high as jet fuel consumption is rising with growth in international flights, while road traffic is much higher than the same time last year.

Outages in Libya, Ecuador, and Kazakhstan, coupled with downgrades to US, Russia, and Brazil forecasts, together result in 1 million barrels per day, indicating lower supply this month against the previous forecast.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday raised its demand growth estimates by 200,000 barrels per day for both 2021 and 2022.

Demand increased by 1.1 million barrels per day to 99 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2021, defying expectations of a serious hit to consumption due to the Omicron wave, the IEA said in its Oil Market Report (OMR).

The market is tighter than expected, the agency said, but still warned that there would be a surplus in the first quarter of 2022, with “demand set for a seasonal decline, exacerbated by more teleworking and less air travel.”

US President Joe Biden explained that his administration will work to try to increase oil supplies in the world’s largest oil producer.

The administration had authorized the release of 50 million barrels of crude oil – in a mix of loans and sales – from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve last year, but it had minimal effect on the market.

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Economy

Senate Pass Bill to Establish National Rice Development Council

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Price of Paddy Rice

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Senate has passed a bill seeking to establish the National Rice Development Council as part of the federal government’s effort to cut down on rice importation and improve the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speaking at the presentation, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Abdullahi Adamu, said the council will support the comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organisation of rice stakeholders to enhance local production of rice in Nigeria.

He explained that the organisation will transform the activities of rice farmers, rice processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other important stakeholders across the entire rice value chain, particularly the clusters of smallholder rice farmers and small scale millers spread all over the country.

“Mr President and distinguished colleagues, with our natural comparative advantage in the area of rice production as a country, Nigeria should consider the need to put in place a National Rice Development Council and a fail-safe comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in production but also for export purposes, employment generation for our teaming youth and growth of our economy.

“The Nigerian rice industry exists in the abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point.

“Today, we have Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and many more.

“This Bill seeks to establish that rallying point and a comprehensive national operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain process.

“Mr President and distinguished colleagues, this Bill on its own merit will improve government efforts for efficient policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian rice industry; promote enabling business and investment environments for rice stakeholders; support the growth of the rice industry in Nigeria and in the sub-region as well as promote the sustainability of foreign exchange earnings put at about $2 billion annually for Rice related importation to the country.

“The framework created by thịs Bill will pull investment into rice production, provide the missing link between rice production and industrialization, provide employment, reduce migration from rural to urban cities and enhance socio-economic activities all over the country.

“Few countries having Rice Council include Rice Council of Tanzania, USA Rice Council, Directorate of Rice Development (India), Rice Association of Thailand, among others,” he said.

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Economy

SEC Praises Market Development Initiatives of NGX, CSCS, Others

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SEC Abuja office

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, the Central Securities Clearing System and other capital market stakeholders have been praised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their market development initiatives, helping the capital market scale through the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, NGX plays a very significant role in the Nigerian capital market, and as such, the commission remains supportive of the exchange in the key role it plays towards developing the market.

While speaking at a meeting with capital market stakeholders in Abuja on Wednesday, the SEC chief further said the agency was aware that the advancement of new-generation information technologies, the rapid innovation of financial instruments and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are gradually transforming the operations of capital markets through the introduction of sound initiatives in the financial industry eco-system.

“The past two years have been challenging for the Nigerian capital market, which is largely a reflection of the Pandemic-related unexpected challenges in global markets. However, the NGX has continued to deploy capable resources to tackle elements militating against the market’s growth.

“You will agree with me that the efforts made and gains achieved in this regard are as a result of the collective efforts of various stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market, including the commission and the NGX Ltd. This emphasises the importance of collaboration on the growth of our market,” he said.

Mr Yuguda said specifically, the launching of the Smart Surveillance System and X-Mobile App for retail trading; upgrading of the X-Issuer Platform to further enhance market integrity; and the X-Public Offer initiatives are highly commendable achievements that support our common goal of building a world-class capital market.

While applauding their efforts, the SEC boss, however, reminded them of the challenging task ahead and new threats brought forth by Fintech and what is expected from stakeholders to consolidate on the achieved gains while making necessary adjustments to improve market practices and remain vigilant against potential risks.

“We all have a common interest in developing a healthy, viable and world-class capital market. At the bottom of the work we do at the SEC, is investor protection. While trying to look at the rules we should not forget that the ultimate goal of the commission is to have a fair and transparent market that is fair to investors,” Mr Yuguda said.

He reiterated that as the apex regulator of the capital market with a mandate to develop the market, SEC will continue to support all efforts aimed at making the markets fairer, more efficient and more transparent.

In his opening remarks, Chief Executive Officer of NGX Limited, Mr Temi Popoola, said there have been strong growth and market interactions in recent times which he attributed to the collaborative efforts of stakeholders.

Mr Popoola emphasised the need for education in the technology sector in the country, adding that as a market it is time to put all hands on deck to tap the potential in that sector.

“A lot of opportunities exist for the capital market. Technology can be used to address the capital formations in the market and we are making progress in tapping that.

“We are on a digitalisation drive and we have started with the MTN offer which was done electronically, we need to improve on that going forward. That is the only way to unlock the demography of young Nigerians that are technology savvy.

“We are collaborating with relevant stakeholders to ensure what’s best for the ecosystem. We are exploring ways to strengthen the entire market infrastructure,” he stated.

Also speaking, the Managing Director/CEO of CSCS, Mr Haruna Jalo-Waziri, welcomed the collaboration between markets, regulators and tiger stakeholders saying that the aim is to simplify the marker and give investors the experience they deserve to ensure they keep coming back.

“The market is changing, and with technology, a lot of the ways we were operating is also changing and we look forward to better market and operations,” he added.

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