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Rice Farmers Lose $200m Yearly to Parasitic Weeds

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Rice Farmers Lose $200m Yearly to Parasitic Weeds

Rice Farmers Lose $200m Yearly to Parasitic Weeds

By Dipo Olowookere

An international team of researchers representing the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Wageningen University, has raised the alarm over the enormous economic impact of parasitic weeds on rice production in Africa, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of resource-poor rice farmers and consumers in the region.

Smallholder farmers in the continent are losing every year half a million tons of rice worth about US $200 million because of parasitic weeds.

This is roughly equivalent to the annual rice consumption of Liberia, a low-income country, which is highly dependent on rice imports.

If the rice lost due to the parasitic weeds had been saved, it would have been enough to feed the total population of Liberia (4.5 million people) for a whole year.

Parasitic weeds are among the most destructive and problematic weeds to control.

“When these plants invade food crops, they turn into ferocious weeds,” said Dr Jonne Rodenburg, Agronomist at AfricaRice.

The most important parasitic weed species in rice are Striga asiatica, S. aspera, S. hermonthica and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa. They are all endemic to Africa and can also parasitize other cereal crops like maize, sorghum and millet.

The team of researchers reveal that these parasitic weeds, which survive by siphoning off water and nutrients from host crops, have invaded 1.34 million hectares of rainfed rice in Africa, affecting an estimated 950,000 rural households. They are increasingly becoming severe due to an intensification of agricultural production and climate changes.

The areas affected by parasitic weeds are home to some of the world’s poorest farmers.

Studies by AfricaRice and partners have shown that parasitic weeds seem to predominantly affect women farmers in Africa as they are often forced to grow rice on the most marginal and parasitic weed-infested plots.

Parasitic weeds threaten rice production in at least 28 countries in Africa that have rainfed rice systems. The most affected countries are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone Tanzania and Uganda.

The researchers warn that these parasites are spreading fast in the rainfed rice area and if nothing is done to stop them in their tracks, the damage will increase by about US $30 million a year.

These findings were revealed in a recent article by Rodenburg, Demont, Zwart and Bastiaans, entitled “Parasitic weed incidence and related economic losses in rice in Africa,” published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 235 (306-317).

Rice is the second most important source of calories in Africa. It is also critical for smallholder incomes. Demand for rice is growing at a rate of more than 6% per year – faster than for any other food staple in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), because of changes in consumer preferences and urbanization. Rice production is increasing across SSA, but the continent still imports some 40% of its rice.

Until now, there has been little information on the regional spread and economic importance of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa. “We have presented in this article best-bet estimates on the distribution as well as the agronomic and economic impact of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa,” explained Dr Rodenburg. “In fact, this is the first multi-species, multi-country impact assessment of parasitic weeds in Africa.”

The article focuses on the four most important parasitic weeds in rice. Striga species – known under the common name “witchweed” – occur in at least 31 countries with rain-fed upland rice systems.  Rhamphicarpa fistulosa – known under the common name “rice vampireweed” – threatens rice production in at least 28 countries with rainfed lowland rice systems.

Dr Sander Zwart, AfricaRice Remote sensing and Geographic information systems specialist, explained that for this study, a map of rainfed rice production areas, compiled from different databases, was overlapped with parasitic weed observation data retrieved from public herbaria to visualize regional distribution of these four important parasitic weeds.

From this overlap, probabilities of actual infestation were estimated. These estimates together with secondary data on parasite-inflicted crop losses and efficacy of weed control were combined into a stochastic impact assessment model.

The knowledge acquired on the distribution as well as the agronomic and economic impact of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa underlines the importance of finding effective measures to control these pests through research.

AfricaRice and its partners have been investigating and developing efficient parasitic weed management strategies that are affordable and feasible for resource-poor rice farmers. “A range of high-yielding, short-cycle, farmer-preferred rice varieties have been identified with resistance or tolerance to different species and ecotypes of Striga, as well as varieties with good defense against R. fistulosa,” said Dr Rodenburg.

He explained that such varieties can be combined with different agronomic measures, such as late sowing (against R. fistulosa) or early sowing (against Striga), and the use of organic soil fertility amendments. Growing a leguminous cover crop such as Stylosanthes guianensisand following a zero-tillage approach also contribute to effective control of Striga, as demonstrated by agronomic experiments conducted by AfricaRice and its partners.

To study institutional and socio-economic constraints underlying the challenge posed by the parasitic weeds, and to raise awareness and improve communication on efficient management strategies, AfricaRice and its partners have brought together stakeholders, including national research institutes, extension services, crop protection services and private sector representatives in workshops in East and West Africa.

At a time where there is a decline in public sector investments in agricultural research, efficient targeting of resources is becoming increasingly important. “The results of our studies emphasize the importance of targeted investments in further research, the development and dissemination of control technologies and capacity building of farmers, extension agents and other stakeholders, to reverse the observed trend of increasing parasitic weeds in rice,” stated Dr Rodenburg.

AfricaRice.

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

Nigeria’s Crude Oil Exports Jump 88.6% to N11.53trn in Six Months

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crude oil exports

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria earned N11.53 trillion from the export of crude oil in the first half of 2022, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), jumping by 88.6 per cent compared with N6.11 trillion recorded in the first half of 2021.

In its Foreign Trade Statistics for the Second Quarter of 2022, the NBS noted that crude oil export in the first six months of 2022 accounted for 79.47 per cent of total exports in the period under review, while it also accounted for 44.62 per cent of total trades in the same period.

Giving a breakdown of crude oil exports in the first half of 2022, the NBS stated that in the first quarter of the year, crude oil valued at N5.621 trillion was exported by the country, while in the second quarter, N5.908 trillion was exported.

In comparison, in the first quarter of 2021, the NBS said Nigeria earned N2.043 trillion from crude oil exports, while in the second quarter, N4.072 trillion crude oil export sales were recorded. Furthermore, in the third and fourth quarters of 2021, Nigeria recorded crude oil export of N4.026 trillion and N4.269 trillion, respectively.

The country’s statistical authority put Nigeria’s total trade in the first half of 2022 at N25.843 trillion, comprising N13.001 trillion and N12.841 trillion in the first and second quarter of the year, respectively; while total export trade for the first half of 2022 stood at N14.507 trillion, with N7.1 trillion and N7.407 trillion export recorded in the first and second quarter respectively.

Specifically, the NBS reported that in the second quarter of 2022, crude oil ranked as the most exported commodity in the country, with 79.77 per cent of the country’s total export.

Furthermore, the statistics agency stated that the most of Nigeria’s crude oil export in the second quarter of 2022 was to European countries, with the continent purchasing Nigeria’s crude oil valued at N2.737 trillion; followed by Asia, with N1.916 trillion; while countries in America purchased N861.937 billion.

Africa accounted for N355.853 billion of Nigeria’s crude oil export, while N36.459 billion worth of Nigeria’s crude oil was exported to Oceania.

India emerged as the highest buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil, with N1.009 trillion worth of the commodity shipped to the country in the second quarter; followed by the Netherlands, with the purchase of N886.314 billion worth of Nigeria’s crude oil; while N854.859 billion crude oil was exported to Spain.

Other major crude oil export destinations were Indonesia, N614.954 billion; United States, N488.356 billion; Italy, N253.817 billion; Sweden, N232.152 billion; Canada, N226.704 billion; France, N192.273 billion and Ivory Coast, N191.425 billion.

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Economy

Purchasing Managers’ Index Hits Five-Month High of 53.7

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Purchasing Managers' Index

By Adedapo Adesanya

Stanbic IBTC’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) hit a five-month high of 53.7 points in September, up from 52.3 in August and signalling a solid strengthening in the health of the private sector at the end of the third quarter.

According to the index, the end of the third quarter of 2022 saw growth gather momentum in the Nigerian private sector.

This was corroborated by sharper rises in output, and new orders, while there were emerging signs of capacity pressures. Cost inflation largely remained elevated due to currency weakness while business confidence waned.

The headline PMI rose by 1.4 points to 53.7 points, indicating that the improvement in business conditions was the most marked since May.

Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration.

In line with the headline figure, both output and new orders increased at sharper rates during the month. Firms often linked higher new business to rising demand, with some reporting that customer referrals had supported growth. In turn, output rose for the third month running and at the fastest pace since April.

Rising new orders, and some reports of difficulties securing the necessary funding, resulted in a renewed increase in backlogs of work during September, the first in 28 months.

Companies also increased their staffing levels and purchasing activity, largely in response to greater new business volumes.

In both cases, however, rates of expansion eased from the previous survey period. Higher purchasing activity fed through to a further accumulation of inventories.

In a statement, the lender noted that, “Purchase costs rose sharply, with anecdotal evidence often linking higher prices to currency depreciation. Meanwhile, staff costs increased at the fastest pace in three months. Panellists reported that efforts to motivate staff and help them with higher living costs had been behind salary increases.

“With overall input costs again rising at one of the sharpest rates since the survey began, Nigerian companies increased their selling prices accordingly. Although marked, the rate of charge inflation slowed sharply and was the joint-weakest in 21 months. Suppliers’ delivery times continued to shorten, often as a result of strong competition among vendors. The latest shortening of lead times was marked and the most pronounced in four months.

“Despite the improving growth picture in September, firms reported waning confidence in the year-ahead outlook. Sentiment remained positive overall but was the lowest since August 2021 and among the weakest on record. Those firms that expressed optimism often mentioned business expansion plans.”

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Economy

Value of NASD OTC Exchange Rises by N16.09bn in Week 39

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Nigeria's Unlisted Securities Market Sheds 0.78%, NASD Shares up 8.31%

By Adedapo Adesanya

The 39th week of trading in 2022 at the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange saw an expansion of 1.69 per cent as investors gained N16.09 billion in the five days of trading.

According to data from the bourse, the market capitalisation, which measures the value of the trading platform, grew to N968.60 trillion from the N952.51 billion it closed in week 38.

Also, the NASD OTC Securities Exchange Index rose by 12.24 points to close at 735.79 points, in contrast to the 723.56 points of the preceding week.

Business Post reports that the positive outcome for the week was influenced by three stocks led by Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, which improved by 13.1 per cent to N14.17 per share from N12.53 per share. NASD Plc appreciated by 7.7 per cent to N14.00 per unit from N13.00 per unit, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc increased by 6.7 per cent to N78.00 per unit from N73.00 per unit.

In the week, the share price of Niger Delta Exploration & Production (NDEP) Plc went down by 6.5 per cent to N186.00 per unit from N199.00 per unit.

As for the activity level, the value of trades went down by 65.1 per cent to N52.8 million from N151.3 million, while the volume of transactions decreased by 97.8 per cent to 571,164 units from 25.3 million units, with the number of deals rising by 8.7 per cent to 50 deals from the preceding week’s 46 deals.

NDEP Plc was the most active stock by volume in the week with the sale of 226,728 units, followed by NASD Plc with 202,500 million units, CSCS Plc transacted 80,380 units, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc recorded 36,808 units and 11 Plc traded 22,168 units.

In terms of value, the most traded stock was also NDEP with N42.3 million, followed by 11 Plc with N3.8 million, NASD Plc exchanged N2.8 million, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc traded N2.7 million, while CSCS Plc traded N1.5 million.

on a year-to-date basis, investors have transacted 3.5 billion units of securities worth N26.7 billion in 2,169 deals.

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