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Global Food Prices Surge in May to Highest Level Since 2011

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Global Food Prices

By Adedapo Adesanya

The prices of food globally rose to their highest monthly rate since September 2011, led by oils, sugar and cereals, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

This was contained in the FAO Food Price Index report released on Thursday, as the index tracked the international prices of the most commonly traded food commodities.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May 2021, 4.8 per cent higher than in April and as much as 39.7 per cent above the same period last year.

According to the United Nations agency, “The May increase represented the biggest month-on-month gain since October 2010.

“It also marked the twelfth consecutive monthly rise in the value of the food prices Index to its highest value since September 2011, bringing the Index only 7.6 per cent below its peak value of 137.6 points registered in February 2011.

“The sharp increase in May reflected a surge in prices for oils, sugar and cereals along with firmer meat and dairy prices.”

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 174.7 points in May, gaining 7.8 per cent month-on-month and marking a twelfth consecutive monthly rise.

According to the report, “The continued strength of the index mainly reflects rising palm, soy and rapeseed oil values. International palm oil quotations remained on an upward trajectory in May and reached their highest level since February 2011, as slow production growth in Southeast Asian countries together with rising global import demand, kept inventories in leading exporting nations at relatively low levels.

“As for soy oil, prospects of robust global demand, especially from the biodiesel sector, lent support to prices, while international rapeseed oil values were underpinned by continued global supply tightness.”

The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 106.7 points in May, up 6.8 per cent from April marking the second consecutive monthly increase and the highest level since March 2017.

“The rise in international sugar price quotations was mostly related to harvest delays and concerns over reduced crop yields in Brazil, the world’s largest sugar exporter, as the prolonged dry weather conditions impacted crop development.

“Additional support was provided by higher crude oil prices and a further strengthening of the Brazilian Real against the US dollar, which tends to restrain shipments from Brazil.

Large export volumes from India, however, contributed to easing the price surge and prevented larger monthly price gains,” it said.

In the report, FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 133.1 points in May, up 6.0 per cent from April and 36.6 per cent above its May 2020 value.

Among the major cereals, international maize prices rose the most, gaining 8.8 per cent in May, reaching 89.3 per cent above their value last year and their highest level since January 2013.

It said towards the end of the month, maize prices started to retreat, mostly in expectation of higher production prospects in the United States.

The report read: “International barley and sorghum prices also increased in May, rising by 5.4 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively. Wheat prices still averaged 6.8 per cent up from April and 28.5 per cent above May 2020.

“While International rice prices held steady in May, with logistics and shipping costs keeping trading activity subdued through the month.”

It said the FAO Meat Price Index averaged 105.0 points in May, up 2.2 per cent from April, registering the eighth monthly increase and lifting the index 10 per cent above its level of one year ago, but still, nearly 12 per cent below its peak reached in August 2014.

“In May, price quotations for all meat types represented in the index rose, principally underpinned by a faster pace of import purchases by East Asian countries, mainly China.

“Tightening global supplies also provided price support across all meat products, reflecting multiple factors ranging from slaughter slowdowns in the cases of bovine and ovine meats to rising internal demand for poultry and pig meats in leading producer regions,” it said.

The report said the FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 120.8 points in May, up 1.5 per cent from April, marking one year of uninterrupted increases and lifting the value 28 per cent above its level of one year ago.

“However, the index is still 22.8 per cent below its peak value reached in December 2013.

In May, international quotations for skim milk powder rose the most, reflecting solid import demand amid limited spot supplies from the European Union, and those for whole milk powder increased on high import purchases, especially by China, despite New Zealand’s offer of large sales.

It said: “By contrast, butter prices fell on increased export supplies from New Zealand, marking the end of an eleven-month long price rally.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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SA Startup Nile Raises $5.1m for Direct Agric Purchases

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SA startup Nile

By Adedapo Adesanya

South African agriculture technology startup, Nile, which enables buyers to purchase directly from Africa’s leading food producers through its marketplace, has raised a $5.1 million equity funding round led by Naspers Foundry.

The startup’s end-to-end process connects farmers to commercial retailers of fresh produce both in South Africa and across the continent.

The business-to-business (B2B) platform facilitates transactions and safeguards payments on behalf of farmers, resulting in increased transparency and improved cash flow.

Nile’s new equity round was led by Naspers Foundry, which contributed $2.5 million, alongside Platform Investment Partners, Raba Capital and Base Capital.

This transaction makes it Naspers Foundry’s 10th transaction, with its portfolio also including SweepSouth, Aerobotics, Food Supply Network, The Student Hub, WhereIsMyTransport, Ctrl, Naked Insurance and Floatpays.

Speaking on this, Mr Louis de Kock, co-founder and CEO of Nile, “We are delighted to have Naspers Foundry support our mission to make fresh produce more accessible to people across the African continent.

“While we were able to bootstrap Nile through our initial growth phase, we look forward to having the backing of an internationally respected investor and experienced operator like Naspers as we scale our cross-border operations to the rest of Africa.”

Adding his input, Mr Fabian Whate, head of Naspers Foundry said, “Nile provides a fully integrated ecosystem that creates trust between buyers and sellers on the platform and is a great example of tech entrepreneurs building innovative solutions that address people’s everyday needs.

“We are excited about the growth potential of this business and its contribution to transforming the trade of fresh produce.”

Nile was founded in 2020 to provide farmers with digital solutions that can address various pain points inherent to food trading – including price transparency, quality verification, speed of payments, the traceability of the produce and food waste.

Since Nile’s inception, approximately 30 million kilogrammes of fruits and vegetables have been traded on the platform, with buyers originating from five countries and 35 towns and cities across Southern Africa.

Nile’s services are used by farmers of all sizes, from small-scale farmers to large commercial farmers, with buyers ranging from large South Africa-listed companies to small family-owned retailers and wholesalers.

Nile also operates in Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique.

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Migrating to Canada from Nigeria – Provincial Nominee Programs

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Migrating to Canada from Nigeria

There continues to be a high demand for high-skilled immigrants in many developed countries worldwide, and Canada isn’t an exception. The country’s skilled immigration system recognizes that immigrants can be instrumental in addressing labour market needs and economic growth, especially when they have in-demand skills, experience, and education. Hence, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an important component of Canada’s economic immigration system.

This provincial program creates a platform for the federal and provincial governments to work together to create industrial growth in Canada. The initiative makes it easier for qualified, skilled foreigners to become permanent residents. Provinces can nominate skilled immigrants who have been invited to apply for PR through Express Entry or the paper-based process.

Who Can Apply for PNP?

Although the nominee program is exclusive to workers, not all applicants in the job market are eligible. Some workers may be eligible, depending on their occupation. If an applicant holds a high human capital that is in demand in the province, the individual can apply for nomination in any of the available PNP immigration programs best suited.

Applicants must apply in the provinces they intend to live in. For example, a foreign senior developer who receives a “notification of interest” from Alberta is not qualified to apply under British Columbia’s PNP, especially when the individual has no interest in becoming a long-term resident there. Using the same scenario, the software engineer may not be considered for this program if there’s no intention to become a permanent resident in Canada.

Breaking Down the PNP Framework

As previously highlighted, there are two approaches to the PNP application process. The procedure entails undergoing some background checks, like police clearance and medical examinations for the province of application. The applicant must clear them successfully, as they make up part of the overall assessment. For those who consider the standard process, the requirements share some similarities with its counterpart.

To begin with, the applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for the province; likewise the Express Entry stream. Their skills must match one of the listed programs. That way, the province can invite such persons to apply. If nominated, they can submit the application to the IRCC. This approach has a longer wait time, compared to the second option.

Generally, the Express Entry stream is faster and more straightforward than the standard process. The skilled immigrant visits the province’s website to apply for nomination. Whereby the province finds the applicant an ideal fit for its labour market needs, it proceeds to nominate the professional, earning the individual 600 CRS extra. The next step would be to create an Express Entry account and proceed to apply for permanent residence.

Another option would be to flip the process around. This time, the Express Entry account creation comes first, which the professional notifies the province of. This is where the “notification of interest” comes into play. With this approach, there is direct communication between the candidate and the province officials in charge of the application. The former can then apply to the latter’s Express Entry stream and proceed to send the PR application to the IRCC.

Is Permanent Residence Available to Families of PNP-Nominated Immigrants?

The Provincial Nominee Program is one of the selected initiatives that encourage families to be united. Under this program, a spouse or child can accompany the foreign-born applicant when they make Canada their permanent residence. Those who move to Canada are eligible to become permanent residents as well. Plus, it extends to the children of the dependent children.

What Are Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Points?

When seeking permanent residence, various prerequisites must be met. Still, the Comprehensive Ranking System majorly determines whether a candidate is eligible for PR status. Points are allocated depending on the following:

  • Language proficiency
  • Academic background
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Province ties

Some are given points for obtaining professional degrees, like the Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other specializations that require significant academic efforts. The same is true for a foreign skilled worker, such as a financial advisor, who is fluent in the required language (often English or French). When a province nominates this skilled professional, additional CRS points are added to the person’s profile.

These points combined with those from other considerable aspects of the program, help the IRCC officials determine if the financial advisor qualifies for permanent residence.

How Can Applicants Improve Their Chances of Being Nominated?

Given a large number of skilled foreigners in the Express Entry pool, the possibility of being nominated quickly may be dicey. As such, applicants are advised to build a strong profile. Those who end up securing a job or enrolling in an academic program in Canada increase their CRS points and thus, their chances of getting a provincial nomination for PR application.

For example, an IT project manager seeking a PNP nomination from New Brunswick can boost his or her profile by acquiring a Master’s degree from a Canadian university. This tech professional can boost the chances of being nominated for PR by securing an IT-related role, such as computer programming at a New Brunswick-based tech firm.

The CRS points for such an expert would be higher than someone in the same field who has no connection to the province. In other words, the province will be more inclined to nominate the former than the latter. In the end, it is not simply about being skilled, as many highly skilled individuals are in Canada seeking permanent residence; it is about being the best fit for a province’s labour needs.

PNP Application Language Requirements

The language requirements for any of the streams in the PNP can vary. In general, the provinces nominate applicants who can integrate successfully into Canada. To this effect, applicants must be fluent in either English or French, depending on the stream. They’ll need to demonstrate their competence by taking any of the exams below:

  • IELTS
  • CELPIP
  • TCF Canada
  • TEF Canada

The first two tests are English-based, whereas the last two are used to measure foreigners’ French language skills. They evaluate an applicant’s capability to converse, write, and listen in the language.

Conclusion

Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program is not difficult to understand. With proper research and planning, foreign-born professionals can apply, get selected, and become part of the country’s permanent population. There’s so much more to Canada than the majestic snow-capped mountains and lakes. Those looking for a career upgrade can consider moving to Canada, particularly if they are competent and willing to settle down.

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World Bank Gives $300m Budget Support to Mozambique

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Mozambique

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

By June, the World Bank plans to provide $300 million to support the national budget of the Republic of Mozambique, according to the World Bank country director for Mozambique, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.

After a meeting with the Mozambican Minister of Economy and Finance, Max Tonela, the global lender’s country director said that priority sectors would include health, education, energy and agriculture. The budget support proposal will be presented to the World Bank board by June.

“We are talking about the first instalment of 300 million dollars, which we hope to take to our administration for approval by 30 June this year. Then we can consider other windows of financing for 2023 and 2024”, said Pswarayi-Riddihough.

International organizations and financial institutions have returned after the Government of Mozambique started to undertake necessary reforms.

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also returned with a set of new funded programmes to Mozambique, six years after the lender halted its previous deals in the wake of a financial scandal involving three fraudulent security-linked companies, and two banks – Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, on the basis of illicit loan guarantees issued by the government under former President Armando Guebuza.

Popularly referred to as the “Hidden Debts” scandal involving $2.7 billion (€2.3 million), the financial scandal happened in 2013, and the case has since left an image of a corrupt country and brought high-level government officials to testify as witnesses in the controversial judicial trial. It prompted 14 foreign donors, including IMF, to cut off aid and simultaneously sparked a currency collapse and debt crisis.

The IMF said in a report that its funds would be used to support sustainable, inclusive economic growth and long-term macroeconomic stability, in the world’s third poorest country measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The programmes will address transparency in debt management and the natural resource sector.

Unlike many of Mozambique’s other partners, the World Bank did not cut off financial assistance entirely after the scandal of Mozambique’s “Hidden Debts” became public knowledge in April 2016. World Bank aid continued, but in relatively small amounts, project by project.

Now the bank seems prepared to return to the modality of direct budget support. Pswarayi-Riddihough said that the improvement in good governance supposedly recorded in recent years contributed to the resumption of World Bank support. She claimed that this was an important step toward regaining the trust of the country’s partners.

Major work had been undertaken around questions of transparency and good governance, she alleged – but admitted that Mozambican civil society is continuing to demand greater advances in these areas. Mozambique’s new programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), she added, could give a strong signal to the market. Indeed, it will send a strong signal to all of Mozambique’s partners.

The agreement between Mozambique and the IMF, approved by the IMF Executive Board, will make $456 million available to the country. An amount of $91 million will become available immediately. At the time, Tonela said the agreement with the IMF marked the start of a new phase, leading to the resumption of sustainable growth of the Mozambican economy.

With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources but remains one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. It is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

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