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Stakeholders Identify Reason for Local Wheat Production Shortage

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Local Wheat Production

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Stakeholders in the wheat value chain have identified one of the reasons for the shortage of production of the commodity in Nigeria.

They said the inability of smallholder farmers to have access to high-yielding-seed varieties was making it difficult for producers to meet domestic demand for wheat in the country.

If this problem persists, they warned that Nigeria may not achieve self-sufficiency and drastically reduce the importation of wheat by 60 per cent over the next two years as targeted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

There is a need for a concerted effort by the government and other critical stakeholders within the wheat value chain to galvanize and aggressively drive the wheat development programmes in the country, they submitted.

Wheat is used in producing staple foods such as semolina, bread, noodles and pasta, which form a regular part of meals in most urban and rural households in the country.

The importance of wheat foods to the national population, therefore, underscores the need to develop the domestic wheat value chain which currently is not delivering enough to meet the growing demand for wheat derivatives; hence, the need for interventions from the government at different levels and other stakeholders in the wheat value chain to address the challenges in promoting local wheat production in Nigeria.

As it stands, increasing the total yield per hectare of national farmlands is critical to reaching food sufficiency levels that will meet the needs of over 200 million Nigerians.

In deepening the impact of the wheat development programme, the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria to which Crown Flour Mill is a major contributor to is also working with the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) in Maiduguri and the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at the Ahmadu Bello University, to train local smallholder farmers on the latest agronomic practices.

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The expanded wheat development efforts are yielding impressive results. Smallholder farmers that are participating in the FMAN wheat development programmes have shown remarkable technical improvement that is matched by impressive feedbacks and output.

A delegation from Olam, the parent company of CFM, travelled to Jigawa after participating in a wheat development webinar programme organized by the agribusiness conglomerate in Abuja, farmers attested to the impact of the high level of support provided by the millers’ association and its partners.

One of the wheat farmers remarked, “We were advised to plant at a particular time to get the best yield possible but I insisted on doing things my way. It nearly cost me the season, but I came back to the (FMAN) team for assistance and this time around, I heeded their advice and the result was unbelievable.”

Expatiating on CFM’s wheat development support drives, Ashish Pande, the Managing Director of the wheat milling firm said, “Our commitment to research and development is the key to why we’ve been successful as an organization over the years and have been able to consistently create better quality, safe, great-tasting and more reliable food produce/products which meet our customers’ needs and improve the livelihoods of our farmers.”

Despite having access to a large expanse of farming lands in places such as Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Kano, Jigawa and Zamfara States, smallholder wheat farmers have not been able to meet domestic consumption demand for wheat.

It is apparent that without removing the seed-variety barrier, the acute shortage of locally produced wheat will persist. Whereas this would necessitate the continued reliance on wheat importation to bridge the widening domestic production-consumption gap, it does not portend well for national food security.

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The economic and social costs of relying on wheat importation are enormous. While the foreign exchange is being sourced by local wheat millers to import the crop to meet national consumption demand, the exchange position of the local currency is affected and precious employment opportunities that could be generated by smallholder farmers if harvest reaches full capacity, are also lost.

Stressing the need to remove the seed variety barrier to improved domestic wheat production, Mohammed Salim, president of the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) said, “One of our challenges is getting quality seeds every two years. Wheat is an open-pollinated crop and the maximum you can do with a particular seed is four years or thereabout. So, if the government can finance the research institutes to come up with new varieties every two years, that will sustain production and keep the farmers in business.”

Going by this insight by Salim, providing sufficient finance to fund local research institutes to develop new seed varieties for local farmers biennially is key to bridging the domestic production-consumption gap in the wheat value chain.

However, Crown Flour Mill Limited (CFM), a subsidiary of the Olam Group and makers of the Mama Gold flour brand, in collaboration with other members of the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN), is leveraging its agro experience, extensive industry network and deep investment portfolio to aggressively support the domestic agro research institutes to drive innovation and make high-yielding seed varieties available to local wheat farmers. The investment and innovative approach form a bold new drive to raising local wheat production levels while keeping smallholder farmers in business, as suggested by Salim.

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As part of the collaborative approach to making high yielding seed varieties available to local wheat farmers, CFM, alongside other contributors and partners at the milling association, under the Certified Seed Production Programme, have established a research farm to nurture the seed varieties it brought into the country from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Sudan and Mexico. These efforts add to an ongoing partnership that the millers are implementing with various seed production companies comprising Rahama Seed, Greenspore and Premier seed.

In the coming months, the massive partnership network is expected to lead to the distribution of 150 tons of wheat seeds to around 3,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria.

The deliberate wheat development programmes embarked upon by CFM and others under the auspices of the flour milling association, when fully optimized, will no doubt reduce the high dependence on imported wheat. It will also reduce the foreign exchange wheat import bill while boosting the national economic diversification agenda.

In the end, the Nigerian consumers are going to be the real beneficiaries of the increasing level of the various interventions and wheat development programmes undertaken by CFM and other leading millers. The consumers will continue to have access to their most cherished wheat foods such as semolina, pasta, noodles and bread at the right quality, quantity, nutritional value and most affordable shelf price.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Economy

NGX Lists 29.4 billion GT HoldCo Shares at N28.55 Each

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GT HoldCo Shares

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited has finally listed 29,431,179,224 ordinary shares of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GT HoldCo) Plc on its trading platform.

The stocks were admitted on the exchange on Thursday, June 24, 2021, after the delisting of the entire GTBank equities on the same platform.

Business Post reports that the shares were listed today at a unit price of N28.55.

Last Friday, the stock exchange placed trading in the equities of GTBank on full suspension ahead of their delisting to allow the introduction of GT HoldCo shares.

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Today, the GTBank shares were removed from the exchange, a total of 29,431,179,224 and were replaced with 29,431,179,224 units of GT HoldCo.

Confirming this development, the NGX in a circular said, “We refer to our market bulletin with reference number NGX REG/LRD/MB16/21/06/18 dated June 18, 2021, wherein the market was notified that trading in the shares of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) was placed on full suspension effective Friday, June 18, 2021, in preparation for the delisting of GTB and listing of the Holding Company, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GT HoldCo).

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“The market is hereby notified that the entire 29,431,179,224 issued shares of GTB were delisted from the daily official list of the NGX today, June 24, 2021, while GT Holdco’s entire issued share capital of 29,431,179,224 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each were also today, June 24, 2021, listed on the daily official list of NGX at N28.55 per share.

“The delisting of GTB and listing of GT HoldCo on NGX is pursuant to the Scheme of Arrangement between Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and the holders of its fully paid ordinary shares of 50 kobo each as approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and sanctioned by the court.”

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GTBank restructured its business to allow it to offer more services and improve the earnings and value of the company. This led to the change to a financial HoldCo, with GTBank becoming a private company and will operate as a banking institution.

Other subsidiaries were created to offer services in financial technology (fintech), insurance, asset management and other sectors.

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Economy

June 2021 Allocation to FG, States, LGs Drops to N605.96bn

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June 2021 allocation

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government, the 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government areas shared the sum of N605.96 billion from the revenue generated in May 2021.

This was disclosed by the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in a communique released on Thursday after its meeting held via virtual conferencing.

Business Post reports that the amount shared by the three tiers of government for the June 2021 allocation was lower than the N616.9 billion disbursed last month.

Giving a breakdown of the disbursement, the committee explained that from the inclusive cost of collection to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the federal government received N242.1 billion, the states received N194.2 billion, while the local government councils got N143.7 billion.

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The nine oil-producing states of Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo, Ondo, Imo, Abia and Lagos all received N26.9 billion as a 13 per cent derivation of mineral revenue.

The communique issued by the FAAC at the end of the meeting indicated that the gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) for May 2021 was N181.1 billion as against N176.7 billion achieved in the preceding month of April 2021. This resulted in an increase of N4.368 billion.

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The distribution is as follows; federal government got N25.3 billion, the states received N84.2 billion and local government councils received N58.9 billion.

The distributed statutory revenue of N428.198 billion received for the month was lower than the N497.385 billion received for the previous month by N69.197 billion, from which the federal government received N175.5 billion, states got N89.0 billion, while the LGs got N69.6 billion, and the 13 per cent mineral derivation handed to the nine oil states amounted to N24.666 billion.

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The communique also revealed that Companies Income Tax (CIT), and Oil and Gas Royalties, Import and Excise Duty decreased in the month, meaning only VAT increased in the month under review, although marginally.

The communique, however, disclosed that total revenue distributable for the current month inclusive of gross statutory revenue of N357.9 billion, VAT of N168.4 billion, solid mineral revenue of N7.9 billion, exchange gain of N1.7 billion and augmentation from oil and non-oil revenue of N50 billion and N20 billion respectively brought the total distributable revenue to N605.958 billion.

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Economy

National LPG Takes Sensitization to 12 States

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Domestic LPG

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Liquefied Gas Petroleum (LGP) sensitization and awareness campaign to reduce gas flare has kickstarted in 12 states across the country.

Speaking at a two-day sensitization and awareness campaign held in Abuja, Mr Dayo Adeshina, the programme manager National LPG expansion implementation plan (NLEIP), said the exercise was the commitment of the climate change initiative to reduce emission by 20 per cent.

He said the National LPG pilot programme, which will start after the sensitization, is to begin in Enugu and Ebonyi States for South-East then to the South-South States of Delta and Bayelsa and in the South West – Lagos and Ogun.

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In the North West are Sokoto and Katsina States; the North East batch will be done in Bauchi and Gombe States while in the North Central, it will kick off in Niger and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said, “The sensitization awareness campaign is targeted at 12 pilot states, two in each geo-political zone. During the campaign, we will highlight the importance of the LGP to the government and the people.

“Every year almost nine hundred thousand people are affected by the effects of kerosine and charcoal which leads to malaria, the government plan is to display the energy mixture which currently stands at 65 per cent, kerosine 30 per cent, LPG 5 per cent.

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“LPG would ensure accessibility, acceptability and affordability.”

Mr Adeshina said to drive the exercise well, an inter-ministerial committee on LPG was constituted and is being headed by the Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, adding that the composition of the committee shows the commitment of the federal government to the expansion and implementation of LPG in Nigeria.

“So, to make it available, some of the policy directives were worked on and past in 2017, the government will remove necessary bottlenecks,” he said.

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LPG is a fossil fuel closely linked to oil. As a fuel, it is used for cooking, lighting, and central heating. It is a clean-burning, non-poisonous, dependable and high-performance fuel stored and transported in containers as a liquid, but is generally drawn out and used as gas.

LPG has a very wide variety of uses, mainly used across many different markets – agricultural, recreation, hospitality, calefaction, construction, sailing and fishing sectors – as an efficient fuel.

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