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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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Fuel Subsidy To Gulp N450bn In 2020 – Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, says under-recovery of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly referred to as fuel subsidy will gulp N450 billion in 2020.
She said this on Monday in Abuja, at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals.
Ahmed said it was called ‘under-recovery’ because it was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the Budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” she stated.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Tuesday, presented a budget proposal of N10.33 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly.
He put the Federal Government’s estimated revenue in 2020 at N8.155 trillion, comprising oil revenue of N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenue of N3.7 trillion.
Other estimates are N556.7 billion for statutory transfers, N2.45 trillion for debt servicing and provision of N296 billion as sinking fund.
The 2020 budget is based on an oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day, oil price benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.
Ahmed said that recurrent (non-debt) spending was expected to rise by 11.28 per cent, from N4.39 trillion in 2019 to N4.88 trillion in 2020.
This, she said, would reflect in salaries and pensions, including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage.
Ahmed said that the overall budget deficit of N2.17 trillion represents 1.52 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and N1.64 trillion of it would be funded by both domestic and external borrowing.
According to her, the external sources will provide N850 billion, while domestic sources will provide N744.99 billion.
Citing the top 12 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) capital allocations, she said the Ministry of Works and Housing was allocated N259.2 billion, Ministry of Power N127.67 billion, Ministry of Transportation N123.07 billion, Ministry of Education (including Universal Basic Education Commission) N162.74 billion.
Others are Ministry of Defence N99.87 billion, Ministry of Health N90.98 billion, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development N79.79 billion and Ministry of Water Resources N78.34 billion.
Some others are: Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development N45.45 billion, Ministry of Aviation N53.85 billion, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment N41.34 billion and Ministry of Science and Technology N37.55 billion.
She, however, said that there were key expenditures captured in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), but were not in the 2020 budget.
“They are N61 billion for the Presidential Power Initiative, N1.22 trillion for federally funded projects in the oil and gas sector to be undertaken by NNPC on behalf of the federation.
“Others are: N272 billion as transfers to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in tertiary institutions and N82.35 billion as transfer to Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment (NSIA) for Public Private Partnership/Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF),” she said.
For revenue, Ahmed said there were Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives (SRGI) aimed at boosting revenue generation to meet targeted revenue to GDP ratio of 15 per cent.
She said further that the SRGI would be implemented with increased vigour to improve revenue collection and expenditure management.

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FG Insists On VAT Increment, Gives Reasons

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The Federal Government, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.
Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.
Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.
“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance.”
“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.
“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”
According to the Minister, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.
Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.
The Tide reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.
The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.

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Mining: FG Warns States Against Royalty Payment Evasion

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The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, says the Federal Government will no longer tolerate evasion of royalty payment by states.
The Minister said this yesterday in Abuja while declaring open the 2019 Nigeria Mining Week organised by the Miners’ Association of Nigeria (MAN).
“Under the proposed Mineral Export Guidelines, there would be no room for royalty payment evasion.
“All mineral exports shall be inspected by government appointed independent pre-shipment inspection agents, who are empowered by law to render quantity and quality control services and monitor pricing.
“This control mechanism is in accordance with the Pre-Shipment Inspection of Exports Act,’’ the minister said.
He noted that while mining had a significant role to play in the diversification of the country’s economy, the sector was still classified as non-performing.
Adegbite said this was in spite of the abundance of mineral resources that abound within the 36 states of the federation.
According to him, the existing documented stock of mineral resources across the country, can kick start a boom in the mining industry.
He said it was, however, unfortunate that Nigeria still attracted low private sector exploration funding, a situation he said was unacceptable.
The minister noted that to address the situation, the ministry intends to partner with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the industry to deepen government reforms of the sector and foster a conducive ecosystem for private sector participation and growth.
He said the ministry was poised to creating a value chain in the mining sector that would ultimately benefit the citizens.

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