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AfDB budgets $2.7m Agric loan, agro-industrial businesses in Nigeria

The African Development Bank Board (AfDB) of Directors has approved $134 million for Nigeria to implement an emergency food production plan, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina has said.

According to him, talks are also ongoing for a $1.7 billion economic and budget support loan as well as the launch of a $1 billion agro-industrial processes in 28 states.

Adesina made the disclosures during an interview with journalists in Lagos on Monday.

The development came amid a biting food shortage that has led to hunger protests in Nigerian states and most recently attacks on grain warehouses in Abuja, Ogun, Niger and Kaduna states.

Last June’s fuel subsidy removal and exchange rate unification policy of the government have led to severe hardships with inflation now nearing 30 per cent amid a sharp depreciation of the naira.

Weak consumer purchasing power has affected businesses with the nation recording weak Gross Domestic Growth during the last quarter of the last year.

Adesina told journalists in Lagos that AfDB had pledged to support Nigeria through this period, disclosing that a number of agricultural initiatives should yield about five million metric tons of wheat, rice, cassava, and maize this year for the country.

He exuded confidence that the development bank would work with the Nigerian government to proffer solutions to the problems confronting Africa’s biggest economy.

He said, “I’m not used to complaining; I’m used to finding solutions. I did tell the President when I can last year that we would strongly support the Nigerian government in finding a solution to the challenges. As I speak to you today, we have approved $134 million for Nigeria to implement an emergency food production plan. And that is not something that we are planning to do; it is what we are already doing.

“We have supported the cultivation of 118,000 hectares of wheat in Nigeria already this season. We will do 150, 000 hectares of maize production this March.  By the rainy season, in May and June, we will support Nigeria to do 300,000 hectares of rice. We will also do 300,000 hectares of maize, 150,000 hectares of cassava and 50,000 hectares of soybean. So, that means that by the end of March, Nigeria would get out an additional one million metric tons of wheat; and by November, we will have an additional four million metric tons of rice, cassava, maize and soybeans”.

The AfDB chief advised Nigeria to push for more food supply, pointing out that food inflation is a major component of the nation’s inflation figure.

Tackling inflation requires looking at some of the structural drivers, according to him.

“A big part of that (Nigeria’s) inflation is food price inflation. If you look at the Consumer Price Index, probably 65 per cent of it If not even 75 per cent of it now, is actually the price of food. And so, you don’t necessarily deal with food price inflation through your standard macroeconomic policy of tightening monetary supply. You deal with it by producing the food because that’s the thing that needs to be done. So I think it’s very important to be able to deal with that”.

He emphasised the need to enhance food production in the country.

On how the country could boost food production as quickly as possible, Adesina said, “But one thing that I would say is that the government needs to go back to the policy of electronic wallet system. Remember when I was a minister, we did design a programme to get seeds and fertilizers to farmers directly via their mobile phones by electronic vouchers. We were able to reach 15 million farmers in four years; the whole place was booming with food. And I think that is what I will advise needs to be done and done very quickly. Because access to high performing yields, high performing seeds and fertilizers and farm inputs is very critical; otherwise you will not be able to do it”.

Nonetheless, Adesina also pointed out the need for Nigeria to get low-interest concessionary financing to overcome its economic challenges.

The development bank boss said issues around the exchange rate must be dealt with as an import-dependent nation.

According to him, the AfDB is planning about $1.7 billion economic and budget support loan for the country.

He said, “There needs to be a lot of support around Nigeria, given the tight fiscal space and the lack of forex, to make available a lot more concessional financing to the Nigerian economy. And that’s what we’re doing at African Development Bank. This year we expect to approve with our board because we always go to our board of directors for approval, but our plan is to be able to do $1.67 billion of financing to Nigeria in different sectors, including considering a potential policy base operation of budget support to Nigeria. We are discussing with the Minister of Finance; that is part of a $1 billion budget support operation that will go into two tranches. Again, I will say it has to be approved by the board, but these are all the things that we are hoping to be able to do”.

He spoke about other agric projects in the country.

Also, the AfDB is planning to launch this year a programme for a $1 billion special agro-industrial processes in 28 states, adding that “These structural interventions that I will say would make agriculture more productive, efficient, and competitive”.

“So those are the things that we are doing in Nigeria. In addition to that, we have a programme that we’ve already implemented, called Special Agro-Industrial processing zones. So these are new economic zones we are supporting Nigeria to develop. We provided $520 million for that, ourselves, the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural, currently working now in eight states. We expect that those things will start hitting the ground and start construction by June of this year”, he added.

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Dangote donates 80,000 bags of rice to Lagos residents as palliatives

The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) on Wednesday donated 80,000 bags of 10kg of rice to vulnerable people in Lagos State to cushion the hardship in the country.

The foundation flagged off the distribution of the rice at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Chairman of the foundation, Aliko Dangote and others present at the distribution event.

According to Dangote, the gesture was part of the over one million 10kg bags of rice that would be distributed to reach one million vulnerable people in the 774 local government areas of the country.

He said the distribution of the 80,000 bags of 10kg rice was another demonstration of the foundation’s commitment to upholding the values of compassion and solidarity that are at the core of humanity.

Dangote stated that the distribution of the rice was in addition to the daily distribution of 12,500 loaves of bread in Lagos, stressing that with the initiative, the foundation aspired to ameliorate some of the burdens faced by vulnerable communities across Lagos State.

Speaking at the event, Sanwo-Olu, applauded the many initiatives of Dangote to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians, while praising him for showing compassion to the needy in the society.

The governor said the gesture of the distribution of 80,000 bags of 10kg rice showed that the leadership of the Foundation prioritised the welfare of the people beyond the pursuit of profit and accumulation of wealth.

“Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian that has chosen to be different. You have choices but you have made the right one which is caring for the vulnerable. I appreciate Mr. Aliko Dangote for extending his kind gestures to the people at the bottom of the pyramid and we are grateful for supporting us in government. There is a lot of global disruption in different parts of the world, and it is a tough time to be in a position of leadership,” he said.

He encouraged other wealthy Nigerians to emulate Dangote, saying the distribution of the rice would support the initiative of the state in addressing the effects of the economic hardship.

Justifying the food intervention in Lagos, Dangote said: “While our traditional Ramadan food distribution has been focused on the Muslim Community, we recognize that the current circumstances where a significant proportion of Nigerians across the nation are experiencing severe hardship due to the prevailing high prices of food, require that we broaden our program to cover communities of all faiths.

“This is why we are extending the Ramadan initiative to cover all the thirty-six states and the Federal Capital Territory as a testament to our commitment to supporting our communities in line with our core values and the spirit of the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

The CEO of the ADF, Zouera Youssoufou, said the Foundation is partnering credible NGOs, civil societies, religious bodies among others to ensure the donations go to the most vulnerable in Lagos State.

She said the Foundation is guided by a vision of empowering Africans to achieve their self-actualization and full potential as it believes that every individual, regardless of their circumstances, deserves the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

“In times of hardship, it is imperative that we stand together as one nation, one community, extending a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in their time of need as we have done with our female empowerment programme in Lagos State which targeted 40,000 (Forty thousand) disadvantaged women,” she added.

Group Executive Director Commercial Operations at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Fatima Aliko-Dangote, noted that the flag off in Lagos was a follow-up to the 120,000 bags distributed in Kano on Saturday, said the intervention is targeted to reach the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

“We have been doing this for a while but we didn’t publicise it because our chairman believes this is between him and God but this year we decided to publicise it so that we can encourage and inspire others to do so.

“There are many other things the Dangote foundation is also doing. We are also serving 2,500 breads all over Lagos daily. We started this in 2020 during COVID-19. Also in our hometown in Kano, we have been doing breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past 35 years. The foundation has invested in many things. Years back, we gave women some money to be able to invest in their businesses,” she said.

Speaking further, Dangote said that Lagos State held a special place in the hearts of the Group, hosting two of its major investments – Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Dangote Fertiliser Plant.

He disclosed that the Dangote Group is also working on the nutrition agenda and has made significant strides in food fortification, investing in iodized salt and vitamin A fortified sugar.

He stressed that the Group actively promotes food fortification within the Nigerian food industry and is exploring fortification methods for staples like rice and wheat and bouillon cubes to help ensure improved nutrition nationwide.

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Ogun State Government Extends Easter and Ramadan Palliative Relief Efforts

Distribution of palliative to worshipers at the Reverend Mellor Methodist Church, Agbowa, Sagamu, this Sunday.

In line with the festive spirit of Easter and ongoing Ramadan observance, the Ogun State government has continued its distribution of palliatives across the state’s three senatorial districts. This initiative aims to alleviate the economic strains faced by residents amidst prevailing challenges.
The recent phase of distribution primarily targeted Christian communities, with many churches receiving the palliative offerings. Notably, some mosques also benefitted from this gesture, which is spearheaded by Governor Dapo Abiodun. The distribution, which included essential items such as rice, occurred on both Friday and Sunday across various churches and mosques within the state.
In the Ogun Central Senatorial District, congregants at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Ake, SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Isale Ake, and the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) in Ijaiye, Abeokuta South Local Government Area, were among the beneficiaries. Expressing gratitude, recipients praised the governor’s compassionate gesture, acknowledging its role in alleviating the suffering of the people. Ven. Superior Joseph Talon, Mr. Abeeden Hammed, and Mrs. Julianah Adesanya conveyed their heartfelt appreciation and extended prayers for Governor Abiodun’s successful tenure.
Similarly, in the Ogun East Senatorial District, worshippers at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, C&S, Orisun Emi Alafia, and the United Baptist Church in Sagamu were recipients of the palliative support. Individuals such as Mr. Emmanuel Adetunji, Mrs. Adenike Adekoya, and Mr. Oludayo Soyemi expressed their appreciation for Governor Abiodun’s commitment to the welfare of citizens, pledging continued support for his administration’s endeavors.
Bishop Bamidele Ibikunle of the Remo Diocese, Methodist Church Nigeria, described the palliative distribution as a welcome development. He emphasized its significance in alleviating the uncertainties surrounding sustenance during the festive period. The sentiment was echoed by other religious leaders and congregants who highlighted the relief provided by the gesture, particularly amid challenging times.
The distribution spanned various churches including St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral Ake, Abeokuta (Ogun Central); St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral Sagamu (Ogun East); SS Peter & Paul Catholic Cathedral Adatan Abeokuta (Ogun Central); and Catholic Cathedral Ijebu Ode (Ogun East), among others.
Additionally, some Islamic faithful across the state also received palliatives on Friday, with distributions taking place in mosques. During the distribution at the Ijebu-Ode Central Mosque, the Grand Chief Imam, Sheikh Miftaudeen Ayanbadejo, emphasized the need for temporary border openings to address the current hardship in the country effectively.
Amidst expressions of gratitude, residents like Mrs. Aminat Quadri and Lawal Sikiru lauded the government’s efforts in meeting the needs of the people during these challenging times. Furthermore, at the Ilaro Central Mosque, Chief Imam Alhaji Tajudeen Adewunmi appreciated Governor Abiodun’s commitment to bringing relief to the people, acknowledging the profound impact of the gesture in alleviating their suffering.
Beyond palliative distributions, Governor Abiodun’s administration has embarked on various social welfare initiatives, including cash awards to indigent learners in public primary and secondary schools, as well as disbursements to Ogun State students in higher institutions across the country. These efforts underscore the government’s dedication to improving the lives of residents and fostering inclusive development across the state.

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Borno targets export of sesame, others as Zulum visits 20 hectares irrigation farm

Governor Babagana Umara Zulum said that Borno State is working towards attaining food sufficiency and the export of cash crops and other farm products such as maize and cassava, among others.

“Let’s carefully put things in order. Borno State will start exporting sesame and other cash crops in the near future,” Zulum said.

The governor stated this on Tuesday at the Koiri irrigation farm, one of the pilot drip irrigation schemes of his administration.

Koiri scheme, covering about 20 hectares of land, aims to produce 364 tons of maize and sesame in one crop cycle. With three cycles per year, the Koiri scheme is targeted to cultivate over 1,092 tons of maize and other crops annually.

Governor Zulum noted that his administration will focus on investing in irrigation agriculture to maximise food production in the state.

“We will subsequently change focus and invest our resources in irrigation farming or, rather, food production. I assure you that we will provide the political will needed to achieve food sufficiency,” Zulum said.

Governor Zulum, however, ordered the expansion of the scheme to 300 hectares, with 100 hectares to be cultivated in each senatorial zone.

The governor said, “We need to expand our scope. We should identify bigger land; we can expand with another 100 hectares each in Borno Central, South and North.”

Speaking further, he added, “My predecessor has procured about 10,000 hectares of drip irrigation kits. After this year’s rainy season, we hope the state will be able to cultivate at least 1000 hectares.”

Zulum was accompanied by the Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Bukar Tijjani, Commissioners for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bawu Musami, Information and Internal Security, Professor Usman Tar, and members of the agric transformation team, among other government officials.

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