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Oxfam, VSO Celebrate Small-Scale Farmers

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Six small-scale farmers received Awards of Excellence at the “Making Food Markets GROW” awards ceremony jointly organised by Oxfam and Volunteer Service Organisation (VSO), two international NGOs, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Our correspondent reports that the farmers were selected from a list of 65 nominees.

Mrs Susanna Godwin, emerged the winner in the “Female Food Hero Award” category while Mrs Briskila Jerome and Mrs Talatu Rohana, were placed second and third respectively.

In addition plaques, three women are to receive support services worth N150,000, N100,000 and N50,000 respectively, to ensure the sustainability and growth of businesses.

In the `Individual’ category of the award, Malam Baba Kaita, a fish farmer from Kaduna, emerged the winner with Shettima Sani and Seth Dakyen as runners up. They also received the same prizes as the women.

Hajia Zainab Maina, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, in her speech, commended Oxfam and VSO for celebrating the farmers, stressing that such gesture would inspire the winners and encourage other farmers to work harder.

She specifically appeciated the initiative to encourage women in agriculture, describing it as “laudable”.

Maina, who was represented by Mrs Elizabeth Emuren, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, stressed the need for more infrastructural investment in the rural areas to encourage and create opportunities for young people to engage in agriculture.

She said that the decision of the government to boost investment in agriculture was predicated on the fact that the sector remained the mainstay of the nation’s economy.

Maina also commended the various interventions by the CBN to ensure farmers’ access to agricultural financing and encourage farming in a sustainable manner.

Responding after receiving the award, Kaita said it was the outcome of an intensive training on fish farming and marketing he received from Oxfam, which had enabled him to achieve increased production and diversification.

“Mine is a success story because through the returns I make on my fish farm, I have invested in another business that is yielding high income and my family is progressing, Kaita said.

He expressed delight that the award came through food production.

“Without food can we have a market; a house without food is not a house; a local government without food is not a local government,” Kaita said.

He challenged all stakeholders in the agricultural sector to emulate the two organisations by working together to achieve a common goal on food and national security and for Nigeria to be food secure.

Also speaking, Godwin expressed gratitude Oxfam and VSO for the honour and recognition accorded them.

She described the award as a “challenge to work hard, harder and hardest”, noting that it was gratifying that their efforts were being observed and appreciated.

She also said that the ceremony should be a challenge to all Nigerians, adding: “if NGOs can do this what are the rest of Nigerians doing?”

Earlier, in an address of welcome, Mrs Kenna Owoh, the VSO Country Director, said the recognition became imperative because the awardees had shown exemplary and entrepreneurial skills and had contributed to food security programme of the government.

Owoh said that VSO believed that for women to contribute to and benefit from rural development, their economic empowerment must be considered alongside their political empowerment.

Mrs Kenna Owoh, the country director of an international NGO Volunteer Services Organisation (VSO) has stressed the need for rural women in developing countries to be economically empowered to attain political power.

She said that increased voice and influence for rural women would ensure that their needs and interests were reflected in policy formulation, service delivery and resource allocation.

“VSO believes that for women to contribute and benefit from rural development, their economic empowerment must be considered hand-in-hand with their political empowerment.

“In turn, increased income, earnings and access control over resources strengthens women’s means and authority to engage in decision making process.”

Owoh described gender inequality as a key driver of poverty in rural areas, adding that the inequalities were exacerbated by the current economic downturn, climate change and associated challenges of food and fuel insecurity, among others.

The director stressed the need for the authorities to reverse the trend by taking immediate action to ensure that rural women were given stronger voice in the design and delivery of rural policy and services.

In his remarks, Mr Tunde Ojei, the Oxfam Country Director, noted that small-scale farmers produced more than 75 per cent of food consumed in Nigeria and that women farmers constituted 60 per cent of the farmers.

Ojei observed that despite the importance of women in food production, rural women were “systematically” denied the resources and freedom of action to meet their basic needs.

He expressed confidence that hunger and poverty would end when women were fully empowered to build their capacity as the key change agent in the development of agriculture.

“Supporting women is fundamental to ending poverty and achieving peace in a sustainable manner,” Ojei said.

The winners will compete with other West African counterparts at the regional competition scheduled to hold in Abuja in June with a handsome 2,500-dollar prize at stake.

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Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town

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The move by the Federal Government to restore Festac Town in Lagos to its original status has sparked up protest among traders occupying Agboju Amuwo Planks and Building Materials Market.
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration. 
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.  
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.

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Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun

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No fewer than five persons were on Wednesday burnt to death, while two others sustained first degree of injury in a fuel tanker explosion at Ajilete, along Owode-Idiroko road, in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday. 
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.

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Travellers To Access $4,000  As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies

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Nigerians travelling abroad can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 foreign exchange from banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement to increase forex supplies.
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.

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