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Africa Urged To Prioritize Mechanized Farming

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mechanized-farming

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Limited use of improved technology is a major reason for low agricultural productivity across Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said at the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi.

“Low use of technology is partly why Africa continues to be a net importer of food ,” Chiji Ojukwu, the AfDB Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry stated Tuesday, adding that over 60 percent of the continent’s land has irrigation potential, yet only five percent of it is under irrigation.

Speaking at a session on “Agriculture Infrastructure, Technology and Mechanization,” Ojukwu said it was impossible for Africa to be competitive while its farmers were still spending too much time tilling acres of land manually. “We cannot feed Africa with this kind of agriculture. We must mechanize. Mechanization of agriculture is imperative. Let us do what we can to push this agenda,” he stressed.

Statistics from the AfDB indicate that African farmers have 10 times fewer mechanized implements per farm area than farmers in other developing regions and access has not grown as quickly as in other regions.

Nigeria has embarked on a pilot project to provide tractors and fertilizer to farmers with the aim of boosting agricultural production. Abdullahi Abubakar, the Deputy Director for Engineering and Mechanization in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said his department has partnered with Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprises (AEHEs), and is currently working with 110 centres to provide services to smallholder farmers. “Mechanization makes the farmer more efficient, displacing unskilled labour and allowing the farmer to till a large parcel of land over a short time,” he said.

The African Green Revolution Forum saw the AfDB reiterate its commitment to supporting its regional member countries to create AEHEs, as well as providing concessional debts to be on-lent for equipment hiring and purchasing through commercial banks.

But most important, as with mechanization, is solving Africa’s water problem. Experts say the continent is facing diminishing water supplies, thus making irrigation a challenge. According to the World Bank, water scarcity can translate into growth-rates decline as much as 6 percent of GDP by 2050 as a result of water-related losses in agriculture, among others.

“Mechanization starts with water management,” said Patrick Nduati Mwangi, Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation. He cited the Government’s efforts to irrigate a 10,000-acre model farm in the arid coastal region in order to boost food security.

The use of Information and communications technology (ICT) was mentioned as pertinent to Africa’s agricultural transformation, and is seen as a tool to woo the youth into entrepreneurship in agriculture (‘agri-preneurship’).

“The youth are not finding agriculture interesting because there is a gap which needs to be filled by information. The youth can bridge this gap by utilizing applications that provide information on farming methods, disease control, soil improvement technologies and market opportunities,” Gift Mafuleke, a youth farmer from South Africa, told delegates.

Already the AfDB is rolling out its ENABLE (Empowering Novel Agri-Business Led Employment) Youth initiative, in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

The program seeks to bolster youth entrepreneurship in agriculture and agri-business. The initiative will see the Bank train the next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs, also referred to as ‘agri-preneurs’, in several countries, and provide them with seed money through banks to finance their bankable business plans.

ENABLE Youth is also seen as an innovative initiative to address youth unemployment through agriculture. The initiative, under Feed Africa, the Bank’s Strategy for African Agricultural Transformation during the period 2016-2025, will embark on a number of approaches aimed at responding to the challenges of technology and mechanization.

These include: increasing investment to disseminate proven technologies for agricultural productivity improvement through the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative (TAAT); establishing a facility for on-farm mechanization leasing; investing in infrastructure and training to reduce on-farm and post-harvest losses; scaling-up and replicating innovative models to organize and aggregate farmers; accelerating and coordinating development of enabling hard infrastructure (energy, water, and logistics); building market centres and associated service infrastructure; and launching large scale farmer e-registration systems.

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

Domestic Market Loses 0.06% on Profit-taking in 26 Stocks

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By Dipo Olowookere

Profit-taking in 26 stocks on Monday opened the doors of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited wide open to the bears, causing the domestic market to lose 0.06 per cent.

All but one of the key sectors of the market closed bearish yesterday and this was the energy counter, which appreciated by 1.67 per cent, while the insurance, banking, consumer goods and industrial goods sectors declined by 1.44 per cent, 0.45 per cent, 0.23 per cent and 0.01 per cent respectively.

Consequently, the All-Share Index (ASI) was reduced by 29.08 points to 45,928.27 points from 45,957.35 points, while the market capitalisation fell by N12 billion to N24.749 trillion from N24.761 trillion.

Regency Assurance was the worst-performing stock yesterday as its value went down by 9.52 per cent to 38 kobo, followed by FTN Cocoa, which dropped 7.69 per cent to 36 kobo.

NEM Insurance declined by 5.41 per cent to N3.50, Sovereign Trust Insurance lost 4.17 per cent to trade at 23 kobo, while Cutix depreciated by 4.00 per cent to N2.40.

Business Post reports that the exchange closed with 15 price gainers on Monday led by Livingtrust Insurance, which appreciated by 9.62 per cent to quote at N1.14.

Northern Nigerian Flour Mills grew by 9.49 per cent to N8.65, Academy Press improved by 9.09 per cent to 72 kobo, Courtville rose by 8.70 per cent to 50 kobo, while ABC Transport gained 5.88 per cent to trade at 36 kobo.

Yesterday, Chams was the busiest stock, trading 40.6 million units valued at N8.1 million and was trailed by UBA, which exchanged 35.1 million units worth N284.7 million.

Courtville traded 33.3 million units for N16.6 million, Sterling Bank sold 18.8 million units valued at N30.1 million, while Access Bank transacted 17.1 million units worth N166.4 million.

At the close of transactions, the volume of shares traded by investors went down by 1.06 per cent to 278.6 million units from 281.6 million units. The value, however, increased by 19.71 per cent to N2.9 billion from N2.4 billion, while the number of deals rose by 18.94 per cent to 4,447 deals from 3,739 deals.

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Economy

Friesland, CSCS Leave NASD Bourse Bleeding After N8.23bn Loss

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) started the week on a negative note after it bled by 1.3 per cent on Monday as a result of profit-taking, especially in the shares of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc and Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc.

The Peak Milk maker lost N3.3 or 2.9 per cent yesterday to trade at N115.00 per share compared with the previous N118.30 per share, while the Nigerian depository company depreciated by N1.00 or 5.4 per cent to quote at N18.38 per unit as against the preceding session’s value of N19.38 per unit.

The losses posted by the duo decreased the market capitalisation of the bourse by N8.23 billion to N622.23 billion from N630.46 billion and weakened the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) by 9.71 points to wrap the session at 734.83 points compared with 744.54 points recorded at the previous session.

Unfortunately, the market did not record a price gainer yesterday, but the volume of securities traded at the bourse by investors went down by 97.3 per cent to 111,347 units from the 4.1 million units achieved last Friday.

In the same vein, the value of shares that exchanged hands during the trading day depleted by 94.5 per cent to N4.8 million from N86.9 million, while the number of deals executed by traders depreciated by 12.5 per cent to seven deals from the eight deals carried out at the preceding session.

At the close of business, CSCS Plc maintained its position as the most traded security by volume on a year-to-date basis with 653.7 million units of its shares sold for N13.7 billion. VFD Group Plc came next with 916,161 units valued at N331.5 million, while Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has so far traded 233,766 units valued at N27.5 million.

Also, CSCS Plc ended the day as the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with the sale of 653.7 million units worth N13.7 billion. VFD Group Plc also came next with 916,161 units worth N331.5 million, while Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc trailed with 233,766 units worth N27.5 million.

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Economy

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Others Appreciate amid Renewed Interest

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Ethereum

By Adedapo Adesanya

Renewed interest in cryptocurrency helped the market regain its feet on Monday after last week’s scare, which forced investors to offload the digital assets.

The selloff witnessed lately was triggered by fears that the United States Federal Reserve would come up with a tighter monetary policy this week.

But yesterday, the market was calm as seven of the 10 tokens monitored by Business Post across the various trading platforms closed positive, with Bitcoin (BTC) gaining 5.9 per cent to close at N21,279,581.03.

Litecoin (LTC) appreciated by 2.9 per cent to sell at N64,092.87, Ethereum (ETH) made a 1.8 per cent appreciation to close at N1,421,449.49, while US Dollar Tether (USDT) improved by 1.5 per cent to sell for N586.56.

In addition, Ripple (XRP) appreciated by 0.6 per cent to close at N352.24, Dogecoin (DOGE) rose by 0.3 per cent to quote at N81.59, while Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a gain of 0.1 per cent to trade at N154,299.88.

On the other hand, Dash (DASH) fell by 3.7 per cent to trade at N52,686.71, Tron (TRX) depreciated by 3.2 per cent to sell at N31.35, while Cardano (ADA) depleted by 1.1 per cent to close at N630.39.

Meanwhile, at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (FX) market in Nigeria, the Naira traded bearish on the first day of this week, losing 0.09 per cent or 38 kobo to trade exchange against the Dollar at N416.38/$1 compared with the preceding session’s rate of N416/$1.

This occurred amid a decline in the demand for forex at the market window, with the turnover for the day at $136.9 million, 3.8 per cent or $5.5 million lower than the $142.42 million recorded last Friday.

Also, the domestic currency suffered a loss of 11 kobo against the greenback at the interbank segment of the market, trading at N415.53/$1 at the close of business on Monday compared with N415.53/$1 of the previous session.

But against the Pound Sterling, the Naira appreciated by N2.69 yesterday to close at N560.69/£1 in contrast to the previous N563.38/£1, while against the Euro, the local currency gained 88 kobo to close at N470/€1 versus last Friday’s N470.88/€1.

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