By Dipo Olowookere
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the West African Soy Industries Limited (WASIL), a member of WACOT/TGI Group, and Business Innovation Facility (BIF).
The deal is aimed to improve the productivity of Maize and Soy farmers in a replicable manner in Nigeria.
With the signing of the MOU, BIF will provide WASIL with technical assistance in realizing its objectives.
Identified areas of collaboration include data capturing and building data base of farmers and cooperatives in Maize & Soy.
While WASIL/WACOT is expected to provide its current database of existing cooperatives which had been formed earlier, BIF will support the Group in designing a pre-assessment survey form to assess the farmers’ socio –economic conditions, determine the sample size and assist with getting the same administered on ground.
BIF will also provide the required Information Technology (IT) support and database software and trained field staff to conduct registration of 15,000 new farmers while also conducting farm mapping and re-validation of database of farmers collected by WASIL staff and provide continuous supportive supervision.
It will also support the process of farmer training needs assessment on field, review and fine-tuning of Yield Enhancement Technique training resources and other training and development tools.
Support the production of promotional materials required for provision of Field Extension Services to the member farmers and the dissemination crop calendar related Information to farmer members on a regular basis (through ICT if possible).
BIF will also support in the establishment of Demo Plots to transfer Best Practices to member Farmers and the execution of Farmer Field Days (at least 2 field days) during the Growing Season for the member farmers
General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs at TGI Group, Mr Sadiq Kassim, stated that, “WASIL is currently working with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Food Security Programme of the Federal Government to improve the productivity of maize and soy farmers in a replicable manner.
“The company has commenced the setting up of a large oil milling facility in Nigeria which will provide off-take of Soybeans from out-grower farmers while its affiliate company, CHI Farms will procure maize for its feed milling activities from the out-grower farmers as well.”
“The WASIL is targeting to reach 14,000 farmers in Katsina and 1,000 farmers in Kaduna State in both maize and soy value chains making a total of 15,000 farmers during the current cropping calendar,” Mr Kassim added.
Also speaking on the agreement, Managing Director of WACOT Limited, Mr Ujwalkanta Senapati, disclosed that WASIL and BIF, through the collaboration, will create new farmers’ associations and cooperatives alongside expansion of existing cooperatives.
It will also facilitate the involvement and support of relevant public agencies and state governments in formation and registration of cooperatives and Self Help Groups.
The MoU will further ensure inclusion of registered farmers into the National Farmers Database and also conduct a joint exercise to mobilize and strengthen farmer cooperatives in areas such as conflict resolution, group functioning, record keeping, etc.
Continuing, Mr Senapati further disclosed that the agreement includes training and capacity building for maize and soy farmers. In this area, WASIL will assistant BIF in setting up a project office in Funtua, Katsina State, while BIF will provide Soy and maize crops’ experts as resource persons to develop manuals and training resources for the farmers.
Oil Prices Mixed Amid Weakening US Dollar
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday despite drawing support from a weakening US Dollar, with Brent futures contract down by 37 cents to $84.53 per barrel and the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude up by 92 cents or 1.2 per cent to $78.82 a barrel.
The US Dollar index turned negative after data showed labour costs increased at their slowest pace in a year in the fourth quarter. This occurred as wage growth slowed, bolstering expectations of the US Federal Reserve slowing its interest rate increases.
Investors expect the Fed to raise rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, with increases of half a percentage point by the Bank of England and European Central Bank the following day.
The rate increase expected at the Federal Open Market Committee’s January 31- February 1 meeting would bring the policy rate to the 4.5 per cent – 4.75 per cent range; that’s two quarter-point rate hikes short of the level most Fed policymakers in December thought would be sufficiently restrictive to bring inflation under control.
Economists at UBS expect the US Dollar to travel along a weaker path, with limited and short-lived bouts of strength.
“The Fed is getting closer to the end of its rate-hiking cycle. With markets growing comfortable with a terminal fed funds rate close to or at 5 per cent, and US inflation likely to quickly roll over in the first half of this year, downward pressure on the USD should continue to mount,” they said in a note.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) panel will likely recommend keeping the group’s output policy unchanged when it meets at 2 pm (Nigerian time) on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a Reuters survey showed 49 economists and analysts expect Brent crude to average more than $90 a barrel this year, the first upward revision since October, with gains likely driven by demand from the world’s second top consumer, China.
China has been easing stringent COVID-19 restrictions this month, with the country reopening borders for the first time in three years.
Analysts noted that China’s reopening is supporting demand prospects for oil.
Economy in Danger, Nigerians Suffering—Lagos Assembly
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Lagos State House of Assembly has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of compounding the woes of Nigerians through the Naira redesign policy, which it said has also put the economy in danger.
Speaking through its Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, the Lagos Assembly commended the National Assembly for putting pressure on the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to ensure that Nigerians would still be able to take their old currency notes to the banks after the current deadline of February 10, 2023.
At the plenary on Tuesday, legislators in the state parliament noted that even though the policy was a good one, its timing was wrong as it had further thrown the country into economic chaos, which could become difficult to resolve if urgent steps are not taken.
Mr Obasa noted that the concern of the lawmakers had to do with the pains, anguish and anger spreading among Nigerians over their inability to access the new currency.
“Economists have said most times you cannot use new currency to control inflation, it doesn’t achieve the purpose most times,” Mr Obasa said, adding that the intention of the policy, as claimed by CBN, had been defeated owing to the various complaints from experts and people across the country.
The Speaker said the CBN should have engaged stakeholders while citizens should have been adequately carried along rather than an ‘overnight’ policy by the apex bank.
“There are people in the rural areas. It is obvious that the additional 10 days are not even going to be enough.
“The idea is a good one, but the way it is being implemented will have an adverse effect on the people.
“We need to commend the National Assembly for showing quality representation and prompt action to intervene for an extension of the deadline,” he noted.
The Speaker said that in other countries, old currencies are not discarded in a rush but allowed to fade out of the system gradually.
Mr Rotimi Olowo, the lawmaker representing Somolu Constituency 1, who moved the motion, sought an extension of the deadline till July 2023 in line with the resolution of the National Assembly while noting the suffering the policy had brought on Nigerians.
He complained about the unavailability of the new notes and the effect on the people, including small business owners and those in rural areas.
Contributing to the motion, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Mr Saka Solaja, argued that financial policies are not implemented the way the CBN had gone about the Naira redesign.
“We see videos of people beating themselves mercilessly at ATMs, yet there is no money,” he lamented while supporting the call for an extension of the deadline by the CBN.
On his part, Mr Richard Kasunmu argued that the timing of the policy was not right, especially as the country was still grappling with challenges of effective internet connectivity.
He recalled how he spent five hours a day earlier trying to make an electronic transfer of N55,000 to resolve an emergency situation.
“We should be looking at the larger Nigerian people. If we want to survive the Nigerian economy, this should not be a good time for such policy,” he said.
On his part, Mr Victor Akande stressed that Mr Emefiele breached a part of the CBN Act concerning the policy, while his colleague, Mr Setonji David, noted that, “All over the world, CBN governors are economists, not bankers like Emefiele.
“Our people are suffering, and the money can’t be found at the ATMs. If you go to the ATMs, you would see how people are struggling,” he lamented.
Emefiele Says Banks Will Accept Old Naira Notes After Deadline
By Dipo Olowookere
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has confirmed that Nigerians who could not deposit their old Naira notes before the deadline would not lose their funds.
Speaking on Tuesday when he appeared before an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives chaired by Mr Alhassan Ado Doguwa, he said banks will continue to accept the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes after February 10, 2023.
Nigerians were earlier given till Tuesday, January 31, 2023, to swap their old currency notes for the newly redesigned banknotes.
But after much pressure, the CBN obtained approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to shift the deadline forward by 10 days.
Last week, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, threatened to sign a warrant of arrest on Mr Emefiele over his refusal to appear before the lower chamber of the parliament to explain the policy to lawmakers.
On Monday night, while speaking on a television programme monitored by Business Post, Mr Doguwa said the House would expect the CBN chief to appear today or risk being arrested by the police.
This morning, he was at the National Assembly to face the lawmakers, and during his speech, he said banks would continue to accept the old notes after the deadline in line with section 20, subsection 3 of the CBN Act, which says even after the old currency has lost its legal tender status, the bank is mandated to collect those monies.
“In agreement with the House of Representatives resolution and subject to section 20, subsection 3, which says even after the old currency has lost its legal tender status, that we are mandated to collect those monies. I stand with the House of Representatives on this.
“What does that mean? It means if you have monies you are unable to deposit to your bank after the expiration, we certainly will give you the opportunity to bring them back into the CBN, we redeem it and pay it into your bank account, or we exchange it. In that case, you do not lose your money.
“I want to appeal to you, this is not an easy exercise, but we are happy that in 19 years, we are able to carry out this important part of our mandate. We are grateful that we are doing it. We want the support of all Nigerians,” Mr Emefiele said.
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