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Releaf Gets $4.2m to Improve Food Processing Technology

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Releaf

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

A Nigerian agricultural technology startup, Releaf, has secured a total of $4.2 million to scale its food processing technology in a bid to solve the distance and logistics challenges of farmers.

The company said it raised $2.7 million in seed and grants towards the effort to build proprietary hardware and software solutions to make these farmers and food factories more efficient and profitable.

The round was led by Pan-African focused venture capital firms like Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers and individual investors like the chairman of Bain Capital, Mr Stephen Pagliuca and Mr Justin Kan of Twitch.

In addition to the seed round, the agritech startup secured $1.5 million in grants from the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID.

Founded by Mr Ikenna Nzewi and Mr Uzoma Ayogu, Releaf focuses on value chains where smaller factories are set up near smallholder farmers, allowing them to get better processing yields and fewer logistics costs, where the farmer has more money to work with.

Releaf is set to use the seed investment to develop technology and deploy it to smallholder farmers, and then the $1.5 million in grants will focus on providing working capital financing to these farmers.

The firm has run financing trials already this year where it has increased smallholder incomes by three to five times.

After graduating from Y Combinator’s summer, Releaf has been noted with ideas around trade finance and a marketplace for buyers and sellers of agricultural products, with the aim to increase productivity in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

The firm is reputed to have a slice of the global market for palm oil which stands at $61 billion, as the company is into the production of palm oil.

According to the co-founder, Mr Nzewi, the team saw an opportunity and set out to build a technology to help farmers crack oil palm nuts, as farmers typically go through the process by using rocks or inappropriate hardware.

With the help of a machine created by the Releaf group called Kraken, they produce about 500 tonnes of palm kernel oil per week for smallholder farmers.

The organization is working to increase the production capacities of the 3,000 farmers in their network and hopes to decentralize food processing from major cities in Africa.

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Economy

Nigerian Exchange Rises 0.23% as Investors Mop up Bank Stocks

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Nigerian Exchange 1

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited extended its gains on Friday with a 0.23 per cent growth on the back of a sustained interest in bank stocks.

Business Post observed that investors mopped up equities of tier-one lenders yesterday and this buying pressure further lifted the All-Share Index (ASI) of the exchange by 88.15 points to 38,962.28 points from the previous day’s 38,874.13 and pushed the market capitalisation higher by N46 billion to N20.300 trillion from N20.254 trillion.

The market breadth was positive during the session as there were 25 price gainers and 11 price losers, indicating a positive investor sentiment.

Pharma Deko topped the gainers’ chart after its equity price went up by 9.74 per cent to N2.14. Sovereign Trust Insurance grew by 8.70 per cent to 25 kobo, Okomu Oil rose by 5.77 per cent to N110.00, Eterna appreciated by 4.95 per cent to N7.00, while Champion Breweries moved up by 4.71 per cent to N2.00.

On the reverse side, SCOA Nigeria topped the log with a price decline of 9.38 per cent to settle at 87 kobo. Presco went down by 8.18 per cent to N73.00, Regency Alliance fell by 6.38 per cent to 44 kobo, Total Energies depreciated by 3.61 per cent to N192.00, while Sterling Bank depleted by 1.34 per cent to N1.47.

A look at the performance of the five key sectors of the market showed that the banking space closed 1.86 per cent higher, the insurance sector rose by 0.27 per cent, the consumer goods counter appreciated by 0.06 per cent, while the energy index grew by 0.04 per cent, with the industrial goods sector closing flat.

The most traded stock on Friday was FBN Holdings as investors exchanged 481.5 million units valued at N3.6 billion.

Ecobank traded 16.6 million units worth N87.8 million, Zenith Bank transacted 12.0 million units valued at N279.0 million, Access Bank exchanged 11.6 million units worth N100.9 million, while Transcorp sold 9.4 million units for N8.7 million.

At the close of business, a total of 633.5 million shares worth N6.5 billion were traded in 3,228 deals as against the 125.8 million shares worth N1.3 billion transacted in 2,990 deals on Thursday, indicating a 403.61 per cent rise in the trading volume, a 409.36 per cent growth in the trading value and a 7.96 per cent jump in the number of deals.

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Economy

FX Demand Pressure Crashes Naira by N1.22 at I&E

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Nigerian Naira

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira came under immense pressure on Friday against the United States Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (FX) market as more customers approach the banks for their forex needs.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had informed FX users to stop patronising traders at the unregulated segment of the market and use the I&E window for their forex transactions.

But it seems the traders at the official window are battling with FX supply as the demand pressure is taking its toll on the local currency, according to its performance yesterday.

Business Post reports that the domestic currency depreciated against the greenback on Friday by N1.22 or 0.30 per cent to close at N414.90/$1 compared with N413.68/$1 it was traded on Thursday.

It was observed that during the session, the value of trades increased by 10.1 per cent or $17.71 million to $193.59 million from the previous day’s $175.86 million.

At the interbank segment of the market, the value of the indigenous currency also depreciated by 3 kobo to settle at N410.70/$1 in contrast to N410.67/$1 it traded at the preceding session.

As for the digital currency market, there was a downward movement in eight of the 10 tokens monitored by this newspaper yesterday as only the duo of Cardano (ADA) and the United States Dollar Tether (USDT) appreciated at the market by 1.2 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively to settle at N1,374.04 and N576.01 apiece.

On the other hand, Ethereum (ETH) went down by 7.6 per cent to sell at N1,713,900.99, Litecoin (LTC) dipped by 6.6 per cent to trade at N86,848.72, while Dash (DASH) fell by 5.8 per cent to N97,992.14.

Also, Tron (TRX) declined by 3.9 per cent to finish at N53.39, Ripple (XRP) lost 3 per cent to trade at N559.99 Dogecoin (DOGE) depreciated by 2.4 per cent to trade N125.90, while Bitcoin (BTC) reduced by 1.9 per cent to close at N24,809,058.00.

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Economy

Brent Climbs Above $78 as Supply Tightens

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Brent Price

By Adedapo Adesanya

Brent crude oil rose above $78 a barrel on Friday, precisely to $78.09 per barrel after it appreciated by 1.09 per cent or 84 cents as global output disruptions forced energy companies to pull out large amounts of crude inventories.

Also during the session, the price of the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures improved by 0.63 per cent or 93 cents to finish at $73.98 per barrel.

The Brent posted its highest value since October 2018, while the WTI since July 2021.

It was also the third week of gains for Brent and the fifth for WTI mostly due to US Gulf Coast output disruptions from Hurricane Ida in late August.

The market has been bullish since news of US crude stocks dropped to their lowest since October 2018 and the broader market received more clarity about the US Federal Reserve next policy moves.

After the US Fed signalled that it could begin tapering asset purchases as soon as November and potentially start raising interest rates as soon as next year, oil market participants turned their focus to global oil inventories, especially those in the United States.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ida is still curtailing oil production in the world’s largest producer, with 16 per cent of crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico still offline, according to the latest data from the country’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The market also gained as US oil refiners were hunting to replace Gulf crude, turning to Iraqi and Canadian oil while Asian buyers have been pursuing Middle Eastern and Russian grades, analysts and traders said.

Positives from one of the world’s biggest exporters, India helped the market as crude imports rose to a three-month peak in August, rebounding from July’s near one-year low.

And the fact that some members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) have struggled to raise output due to under-investment or maintenance delays during the pandemic also added to the bullish sentiment.

Iran, which wants to export more oil, said it will return to talks on resuming compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal very soon, but gave no specific date. The return of Iranian oil may be damaging to the market since it is exempted from OPEC cuts.

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