By Dipo Olowookere
The need for all the stakeholders to urgently work towards a sustainable seed system in Nigeria has been emphasised by the Project Director of Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System (BASICS), Mr Hemant Nitturkar.
Mr Nitturkar, speaking last Thursday at a national stakeholder conference on cassava seed system organized by the project BASICS at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, pointed out that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54 million tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about 8 tons, less than half of the realizable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare.
Researchers say one of the factors responsible for the low yield of cassava is the low adoption of clean and healthy seeds of improved varieties of cassava by farmers.
“We have to start with the right planting material and nurture it with good agronomy and weed management practices.
“Each of these three components has the potential to raise the productivity of cassava by 30 percent.
“If we do not improve our practices in seed, weed and agronomy, we are incurring a lost opportunity of about 200 billion Naira annually from each of the three issues,” he said.
Also, Graham Thiele, Director for the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas led by the International Potato Center (CIP); Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development and Delivery, and Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project; Amin Babandi, Director of Agriculture, FMARD, represented by Segun Ayeni, Deputy Director, Roots and Tuber crops, FMARD; Folusho Olaniyan OON, CEO, Contact Consulting Nigeria and Program Director, AgraInnovate West Africa; Emmanuel Okogbenin, Director of Technical Operations, AATF and Robert Asiedu, Director R4D, IITA-West, all shared perspectives and added their voice for all stakeholders to jointly build a strong and sustainable seed system for cassava in Nigeria and wished all the stakeholders well.
They noted that businesses selling improved varieties and high quality cassava stems for cultivation could help African farmers significantly raise their productivity.
This will mean more Naira from the same land, inputs and effort. The benefits of this raised productivity will be enjoyed by all the stakeholders across the value chain in a sustainable way.
The meeting, which reflected on the experiences of BASICS in 2016 and refined the project plan for 2017 and beyond, brought together national and international researchers, academics, policymakers, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and farmers to a roundtable.
BASICS is commercially piloting two distinct pathways of seed delivery.
In one, called Village Seed Entrepreneur (VSE) model, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Benue and with National Roots Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), in Abia, Imo, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, the project is helping develop a network of 130 community based seed enterprises.
These VSEs will source certified stems of improved varieties of cassava from NRCRI and IITA to multiply and sell to the farmers in their vicinity. This way, the farmers will not have to go far to source quality stems for planting.
In the second pilot called Processor Led Model (PLM), in partnership with Context Global Development, the project is working with large processors of cassava who will then make available quality stems to their outgrowers with a buy back arrangement for the roots produced.
Slow and low multiplication ratio has been a key constraint in cassava seed system. The project is piloting a new technology called Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) for vastly rapid seed multiplication.
Once this technology from Argentina is adapted and perfected in Nigeria by the Project, it is expected to have a significant impact on the ability of early generation seed businesses to quickly bring suitable varieties within reach of farmers.
The project is also working with National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and Fera of UK to improve the quality certification system in Nigeria.
Lawrence Kent, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the aim of the Project is to build an economically sustainable seed system that is profitable both to the sellers of quality stems and to the farmers who purchase and plant those stems.
He encouraged all to create reusable bridges to continuously link technology developers with farmers through business oriented approaches, like the one being implemented under BASICS.
Employment Growth Quickens Amid Efforts to Deal With Workloads
The Nigerian private sector registered a slight loss of growth momentum in January, with output and new business rising further markedly, though at softer rates than at the end of 2022.
On a more positive note, firms raised employment at the fastest pace since June 2018 as part of efforts to complete work on time.
On the price front, rates of inflation of input costs and output prices softened in January but remained elevated.
Analysis by Stanbic IBTC Bank showed that the headline figure derived from the survey is the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI®).
Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions in the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration. The headline PMI dipped to 53.5 in January from 54.6 in December. Although still signalling a solid monthly strengthening of the private sector and the thirty-first in consecutive months, the rate of improvement was the softest since August 2022.
Business activity increased at a much slower pace at the start of the year, despite the rate of growth remaining marked. The latest rise was the weakest in five months. Demand continued to improve, but some firms reported a moderation in customer numbers.
Activity increased across each of the four broad sectors covered by the survey. The rate of expansion in new business also softened in January but remained sharp nonetheless, again reflecting higher demand from customers.
A desire to try and complete projects on time led companies to ramp up their hiring activities at the start of the year. Employment increased at a solid pace that was the fastest since June 2018.
Despite expanded staffing levels, backlogs of work increased for the first time in three months. Firms reported having been hindered by issues with machinery and power supply.
Higher workloads and positive expectations regarding the outlook for activity led companies to expand their purchasing activity sharply again, with the rate of growth unchanged from December. In turn, stocks of purchases also rose further. Efforts to secure inputs were helped by improving supplier performance.
Competition among vendors, quiet road conditions and prompt payments all contributed to a shortening of delivery times, one that was the most pronounced in four months. The rate of input cost inflation softened for the second month running in January, and was at a one-year low.
The slowdown in overall cost inflation largely reflected a softer rise in purchase prices, albeit one that was still substantial. Purchase costs increased on the back of rising fuel and raw material costs, exacerbated by currency weakness.
Meanwhile, staff costs rose at the fastest pace in 11 months as companies increased pay in line with higher living costs. Output price inflation also remained elevated as higher cost burdens were passed on to customers.
NASD OTC Market Appreciates by 0.95%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The duo of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc and Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc buoyed the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange by 0.95 per cent on Thursday, February 2.
They lifted the market capitalisation of the bourse by N8.80 billion to settle at N940.51 billion compared with the previous day’s N931.71 billion. They also raised the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) by 6.70 points to wrap the session at 715.76 points compared with 709.06 points recorded in the previous session.
During the session, the price of FrieslandCampina went up by N3.23 to settle at N68.06 per unit, in contrast to the previous day’s N64.83 per unit, while CSCS Plc appreciated by 50 Kobo to sell at N13.50 per share compared with the preceding session’s N13 per share.
The volume of transacted stocks decreased by 4.3 per cent to 261,439 units from the 273,038 units traded in the preceding session. However, the value of shares traded went higher by 38.9 per cent to N15.7 million from N11.3 million, while the number of deals recorded an improvement, as it grew by 300 per cent to 20 deals from five deals on Tuesday.
Business Post reports that there was no price loser at the session.
Geo-Fluids finished the day as the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis with 321.2 million units worth N317.2 million, UBN Property Plc stood in second place with 35.8 million units valued at N25.8 million, while FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc was in third place with 2.4 million units valued at N159.4 million.
Geo-Fluids Plc also maintained its summit position as the most active stock by value on a year-to-date basis, with 321.2 million units sold for N317.2 million, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Group Plc was in second place with 2.4 million units valued at N159.4 million, while VFD Group Plc was in third place for trading 561,810 units for N137.0 million.
Continuous Bargain Hunting Leaves Local Stock Exchange Higher by 0.93%
By Dipo Olowookere
The local stock exchange closed higher by 0.93 per cent on Thursday amid continuous bargain hunting by investors, who are digesting a flurry of full-year corporate earnings.
It was observed that the growth reported during the session was strongly influenced by buying pressure in the energy sector, which rose by 5.17 per cent on the back of gains posted by Seplat, MRS Oil and others.
The banking and insurance counters depreciated on Thursday by 0.44 per cent and 0.39 per cent, respectively, as the consumer goods and the industrial goods sectors closed flat.
At the close of trades, the All-Share Index (ASI) of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited increased by 498.44 points to 53,998.12 points from 53,499.68 points, and the market capitalisation grew by N271 billion to close at N29.411 trillion compared with the midweek session’s N29.140 trillion.
MRS Oil topped the gainers’ chart after it gained 10.00 per cent to finish at N17.60, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills appreciated by 9.88 per cent to N8.90, International Energy Insurance rose by 9.76 per cent to 90 Kobo, Seplat went up by 9.50 per cent to N1,325.00, and Cornerstone Insurance improved by 9.09 per cent to 60 Kobo.
On the flip side, Sunu Assurances topped the losers’ log after it lost 8.11 per cent to trade at 34 Kobo, Mutual Benefits fell by 7.69 per cent to 36 Kobo, Linkage Assurance dropped by 6.25 per cent to 45 Kobo, Veritas Kapital declined by 4.76 per cent to 20 Kobo, and PZ Cussons depleted by 4.65 per cent to N10.25.
Business Post reports that the market breadth was positive as there were 27 price gainers and 12 price losers, indicating a strong investor sentiment.
Investors transacted 2.9 billion shares worth N8.1 billion in 3,940 deals, in contrast to the 200.4 million shares worth N5.5 billion transacted in 3,716 deals on Wednesday, showing an increase in the trading volume, value and the number of deals by1,331.88 per cent, 47.27 per cent, and 6.03 per cent, respectively.
Universal Insurance traded 2.7 billion shares due to an off-market deal to close as the most active stock and was followed by AIICO Insurance, which sold 14.0 million stocks, GTCO transacted 13.9 million equities, Sterling Bank exchanged 10.3 million stocks, and Fidelity Bank traded 9.9 million equities.
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