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Researchers Develop App to Alert Farmers of Crop Diseases

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Researchers Develop App to Alert Farmers of Crop Diseases

By Dipo Olowookere

A grant to refine a mobile application (app) that will use artificial intelligence to detect crop diseases and the alert farmers on the diagnosis has been secured.

The CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas team won $100,000 for this project expected to help millions of African smallholders.

The team won the grant during the big data conference held in Colombia on September 21, 2017 as part of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture Inspire Challenges.

It is estimated that every year pests and diseases cost billions of Dollars to potential agricultural economy as they damage agricultural outputs such as crops, livestock and fish harvests.

But this new app will attempt to solve the problem of pests and diseases faced by farmers with small holder farmers hardly hit.

It is no doubt that technology plays a big role in warning the communities of possible outbreaks and also as a monitoring tool for pests and diseases.

The app, to be used against cassava brown streak disease and the cassava mosaic disease, is expected to be rolled out next year.

It accurately diagnoses diseases in the field and will combine mobile phone short message service (SMS) alerts to farmers in rural Africa.

The app uses TensorFlow, a Google programme that allows machines to train and learn.

The project will be expanded to identify more diseases in more crops – such as banana, sweet potato and yam.

The app’s conception was in 2012 but got developed in June-September 2017 through about $300,000 funding from Penn State University.

According to an Associate Professor of Entomology and Biology at US-based Penn State University, David Hughes, “We trained it (the app) to recognize plant diseases.

“What the app does in real-time is to assign a score to a video being captured…that score is the probability that the plant in the video shows symptoms of one of five diseases or pests”.

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

Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Under Siege—OPEC

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mr Mohammad Barkindo, has said the Nigerian oil and gas industry is “under siege” due to years of under-investment.

Speaking on Tuesday, he said that the resulting supply shortage could be eased if extra supplies from Iran and Venezuela were allowed to flow.

In addition, the West has imposed sanctions on Russia, a member of OPEC+, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, tightening oil markets further.

Speaking at an energy conference in Abuja, he said, “We could, however, unlock resources and strengthen capacity if the oil produced by the Islamic Republic of Iran and Venezuela were allowed to return to the market.”

The strain on the industry has been increased by some countries’ efforts to divest from hydrocarbons, he said.

While they are seeking to limit global warming, he said oil demand was growing even as investment in capacity falls and prices surge.

“For us in Nigeria, fossil fuel will always have a share in our energy mix, for the foreseeable future. We will not at this time abandon fossil fuels. We have adopted gas as a transition fuel,” he said.

Mr Barkindo forecast primary demand for oil globally would increase up to 2045, while refining capacity in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries fell by 3.3 per cent in 2021.

“Our industry is now facing huge challenges along multiple fronts,” he told conference delegates.

“And these threaten our investment potential now and in the long term. To put it bluntly, my dear friends, the oil and gas industry is under siege,” he said, citing geopolitical developments in Europe, where the war in Ukraine has left many countries vulnerable to soaring energy prices.

“The ongoing war in Ukraine, a COVID-19 pandemic which is still with us, and the inflationary pressures across the globe have come together in a perfect storm that is causing significant volatility and uncertainty in the commodity markets in general. More importantly, in the world of energy,” the energy expert disclosed.

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Economy

DMO Takes N250bn Sukuk to Stock Exchange

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The N250 billion 10-year 13% Ijarah Sovereign Sukuk issued to investors last year has been listed on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited.

The paper, which will mature in 2031, was taken to the exchange by the Debt Management Office (DMO) and was listed on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.

Recall that in 2021, the DMO also listed the N162.6 billion seven-year Sukuk with a rental rate of 11.20 per cent on the exchange to be used for financing the rehabilitation and construction of key road projects across the 36 states and the FCT.

On December 29, 2021, the central government sold the newly-listed Ijarah Sovereign Sukuk to finance the rehabilitation and construction of key economic road projects across the six geopolitical zones in the country.

The debt office said the proceeds of the Sukuk will be dedicated to road projects and will enable the government to achieve significant progress in bridging the infrastructure gap in Nigeria.

But to facilitate its trading and provide liquidity to investors, further deepening the Nigerian capital market, the agency listed the paper on the NGX platform, underscoring the federal government’s drive to develop the critical infrastructure needed to unlock economic growth, by leveraging innovative and cost-effective financing structures.

Business Post reports that the Islamic bond was listed on the bourse today after it fulfilled the conditions set by the Financial Regulatory Advisory Council of Experts (FRACE) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which stipulated that trading in the instrument would only be permissible after the commencement of works on the road projects scheduled for construction through the Sukuk assets.

Reacting to the development, the exchange said the listing will provide an exit opportunity for existing investors and further deepen the Nigerian capital market, particularly, the relatively nascent Sukuk market.

By enhancing access to the federal government and the private sector, NGX has promoted and supported the growth of the debt market in Nigeria with listings worth over N2 trillion in 2021. The bourse said it will continue to deliver on its commitment to provide a platform for issuers and investors to meet their investment objectives.

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Economy

It’s Too Late to Remove Fuel Subsidy Now—Lai Mohammed

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has posited that it would be the wrong time to remove fuel subsidy at the moment, noting that many other nations are introducing measures to help citizens cope with high oil energy prices.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest crude oil exporter, still has to import almost all its fuel needs due to the lack of refining capacity.

Earlier this year, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration scrapped plans to abolish fuel subsidies, a move that will gulp about N4 trillion.

“When you consider the chaos, the social disharmony and … instability such an action (of abolishing subsidies) would facilitate, is it worth it? I don’t think so,” Mr Lai Mohammed said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters.

This is happening as the prices of fuel are rising with consumers buying as high as N185 per litre at the pump amid a current scarcity across the nation.

Recently, Business Post reported that about $1 billion in revenue were lost to crude oil theft in the first quarter of this year.

Mr Mohammed said the Petroleum Industry Act that allocates money to oil-producing communities would stop attacks and blamed the European Union’s climate change policies for stifling investment in the sector.

“We believe that climate change is real and important for emission control, but there is a bit of double standard in the EU policy regarding climate change,” he said.

“We are leaving the country much more secure than we met it,” Mr Mohammed said, noting progress made against Boko Haram since 2015.”

He also called upon the Western countries to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which campaigns for part of southeast Nigeria to secede, a terrorist group.

Asked if Nigerian security forces had killed any innocent people in the country’s southeast during its campaign against IPOB, Mr Mohammed said, “not deliberately”.

Mr Mohammed said he would demand the return of hundreds of priceless sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes when he met with the director of the British Museum later on Monday after Germany returned the first two of more than 1,100 last week.

“I will be telling them that time is running out to return our stolen artefacts,” he said though he does not expect a result immediately. He disclosed that “it’s about when [and] not if.”

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