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Experts To Develop Commercial Models For Cassava

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Experts working on the project to develop commercial models for cassava seed system in Nigeria will meet at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, tomorrow to map out strategies for development.
A statement by the IITA Communication Specialist, Mrs Adaobi Umeokoro, said that the experts would meet to strategise on how the potential of emerging cassava technologies could harnessed to create wealth for all.
The statement said that the experts were planning to develop a sustainable mechanism through which smallholder farmers could get timely and affordable access to high-quality planting materials such as improved cassava varieties.
It said that they would consider how to make cassava, an important staple crop for millions of families in sub-Saharan Africa, more profitable for those whose livelihoods and sustenance depended on it.
“ Building a Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS) project will hold its first annual review and planning meeting.
“It promises to strategise on the best available options for making planting materials of superior variety and quality readily available and accessible to Nigerian farmers at the appropriate time, place, and price,” it said.
The statement quoted the Project Director, Dr Hemant Nitturkar, as saying that although Nigeria was the largest cassava producer in the world, its average yield of about 14 tonnes/ha was less than half of what could be produced in a realistic way.
“Given the potential of this crop and the vast number of Nigerians depending on it, there is an urgent need for improvement at all levels of the cassava value chain.
“Increased adoption of improved varieties and usage of quality materials have the potential to improve the productivity of cassava, thus positively impacting on food security and livelihoods in Nigeria.
“It can earn valuable foreign exchange for the country through increased exports and import substitution; BASICS is catalysing the build-up of a sustainable seed value chain in Nigeria,” he reportedly said.
The statement said that Nitturkar stressed that BASICS would sensitise farmers to the need to use high-quality seeds of improved varieties to achieve higher net profits from cassava cultivation.
“BASICS is piloting two business models for seed multiplication and distribution.  The first is a decentralised Village Seed Entrepreneur (VSE) model, where over 130 VSEs will be developed in Benue, Abia, Imo, Akwa-Ibom, and Cross River states.
“The second is the Processor Led Model (PLM), where cassava processors will multiply good quality improved cassava varieties for supply to outgrowers to plant under a buy-back arrangement for the roots produced.
“The project has developed an online platform called Cassava Seed Tracker (CST) to facilitate easy registration of seed producers and real time monitoring of field inspections and certification by National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).
“CST is also designed to link seed producers with needy farmers and many more features will be added to this platform over time.’’
The statement said that Nitturkar emphasised that the project would also address one of the key bottlenecks of cassava seed system, which was slow and low seed multiplication ratio.
“It is piloting the use of an innovative rapid seed multiplication technology called Semi Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH), which has been successfully used in commercial potato seed multiplication in Argentina.
“SAH is expected to significantly help the cassava seed system by enhancing the capacity of pre-BASICS and BASICs seed producers to make available adequate quantities of certified planting materials of improved varieties for further multiplication by certified seed producers.
“The technologies and models being piloted in this initiative are tailored towards creating a win-win scenario for farmers, processors and seed entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
“The processors benefit from an assured supply of better quality cassava roots for processing.
“Youths and women, among other seed entrepreneurs, benefit from an expanding cassava seed market as an economic opportunity and the nation benefits from the resulting enhanced productivity across the cassava value chain,” Nitturkar said in the statement.
The project director said in the statement that BASICS, a four-year project (2016-2019), was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The project partners include the NASC, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Context Global Development, Food and Environment Research Agency of the UK (FERA), among others,” Nitturkar was quoted as saying.

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IPPIS: Oil Workers Threaten To Shut Down, Sunday

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Senior oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have threatened to shut down all oil operations by Sunday, if the Federal Government failed to pay their salaries latest today.
The oil workers, who had embarked on a peaceful warning protest since Wednesday issued the threat when they gathered at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun in the continuation of the agitation, yesterday.
The protesters, who adorned red T-shirts carried assorted placards with inscriptions such as “No To Forceful Enrollment into IPPIS”; “Release Our Salaries Now or No Dialogue”; and “We Are Not Against IPPIS but Create Another Platform That Address Our Peculiarities”, amongst others.
Addressing the protesting workers, the Vice Chairman, Warri Zonal Council of PENGASSAN and Secretary of Regulators Forum, Prince Audu Oshiokhamele, warned that “if the salaries are not released by Friday, then all oil operations will be shut down by midnight of Sunday.”
He declared, “I want to assure you, our union members, that if our salaries are not released before Friday (tomorrow), by 12 midnight, on Sunday we will shut down the whole nation. What we are just doing now is a warning protest but by Sunday, the music will change”.
Also addressing the protesters, Oshiokhamele, who was in company of Mr. James Esiomor, PTI branch Chairman of PENGASSAN and Mr. Ejokirhie Jahpurpose, Chairman of PTI branch of NUPENG, expressed surprise that the Federal Ministry of Finance claimed ignorance of non-payment of their salaries in the last three months.

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Rivers Commissioner Harps On Petroleum Prices Stability

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The Rivers State Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Meede, has stated the need for the Federal Government to ensure stability in the pump price of petrol in the country.
Meede said this while addressing the head of Port Harcourt Zone of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Mr Ikien Sika, who paid him a visit in his office in Port Harcourt.
The commissioner said the instability in the pump prices of Petroleum products was responsible for the sharp practices some marketers engaged in.
He noted that the ministry would not tolerate the activities of dishonest marketers in the state, adding that it was not good for economic planning
According to him, “a situation where today we have a different price, next month we have a different price, the other month again you have a different price is not good for planning. We will not allow them to take advantage of Rivers people in terms of under dispensing of products, selling fake products that would undermine the security, safety and lives of Rivers people.
“I want you to collaborate with the ministry, let the people operating this industry in Rivers State understand that the ministry is alive and ready to support them to do their business but in a situation where they will compromise the standard of the product, we will not take that.”
He furthermore, said that the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had ensured a conducive environment for doing business in Rivers State, which he pointed out would benefit petroleum marketers and warned that any attempt to short change Rivers people would not be tolerated.
He said, “you can hear that there is problem in Lagos and other states, but th-e sector in Rivers State here is relatively safe, but we need that collaboration. You can see that we’re partners in progress and we would appreciate that you continue to support us. A situation where people demarket Rivers State is over, the days where people would say ‘don’t go to Rivers state, is over. His Excellency has worked so hard to ensure that the environment of Rivers state, security of Rivers State, the economy of rivers state is on the front burner, that’s why you see the best we were doing in ensuring that peace and other forms of businesses thrive in Rivers State.’’
Responding, the head of Port Harcourt Zone of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr Ikien Sika said the agency was pleased with the peaceful co-existence between petroleum marketers and the state.
“We have to commend the governor and then of course the honourable commissioner, but there is still something and we have to tell ourselves the truth. In my house today I cannot open the windows, because of the soot. These are some of the things which I have noticed, but other things I was told that has actually reduced to a large extent”, he said.
He observed that the fluctuation of pump prices in petrol is an indication that the federal government will soon deregulate the petrol sector.
On his part, the Zonal Chairman of the Petroleum Product Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria, Prince Sunny Ugbe, said that federal government was wrong to allow petroleum product marketers to determine the price of petroleum products in the country.
Prince Ugbe also noted that the PPPRA recently increased Ex-depot price of petrol and left the marketers to fix the retail price
He called on the federal government to fix the moribund refineries across the country as part of measure to ensuring a smooth process of deregulation of the petroleum sector

 

By: Tonye Nria-Dappa

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FG To Deduct Illegal Mining Fees From States’ Allocations

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The Federal Government on Wednesday resolved that henceforth, it would be deducting any illegal fees imposed on mining companies by state governments from the allocation of such states.
It has therefore directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to begin to implement the directive.
The decision was reached at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed said the decision was taken to eradicate double taxation in the mining sector and also gain investors’ confidence.
He said, “On the issue of double taxation whereby mining companies are taxed by local and state governments, two decisions were taken.
“One is that the council directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to deduct directly from federal allocations of states which have deprived Federal Government of Nigeria’s revenue due to it by imposition of illegal taxes and levies on mining companies in their states.
“In other words, if a particular state engages in double taxation, you are imposing illegal taxes on a duly registered mining company, and it is reported to government, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will deduct that money from your allocation.
“The intent is to ensure that we don’t scare away investors, be they local or foreign. This will go a long way to reassure the investors that Nigeria is a safe place to invest now.”
The minister added that FEC also directed the National Economic Council to dialogue with the state governors in order to make them understand that states can participate in mining as corporate bodies by registering companies.
He reiterated the position of the law that the Federal Government had the exclusive right to mine and manage all mineral resources.
Mohammed added that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who presented a memorandum to the council, also identified insecurity in certain parts of the country as one of the major challenges facing the mining sector.
He noted that in the North Western part of the country, mining had been suspended because of the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
He added that the industry was also faced with the problem of collision between some stakeholders, sometimes the traditional rulers.
He also reported certain decisions of past government in the area of storage of explosives that were used for mining.
Mohammed said, “Before now, the position is that any miner that wants to use explosives for mining must store them in either the military barracks or police facilities.
“So, he (Adegbite) asked for special dispensation to build special facilities at least one in each of the geo-political zones of the country. He also complained about extortion, the position of community development agreement, and the issue of many illegal miners.”
The minister said the council noted that insecurity and illegal mining had led to a huge loss of money and directed the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, to set up a special unit domiciled in Abuja to carry out targeted operations at identified and confirmed illegal mining sites nationwide.

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