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Agribusiness: Maize Farmers, Processors Condemn Maize Importation

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Maize farmers and processors under the auspices of Maize Association of Nigeria, MAAN, Maize Growers, Farmers and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAGFAMAN, yesterday, condemned calls for maize importation into the country.
This was stated at a press conference by the National Presidents of the two associations, Dr Bello Abubakar, and Dr Edwin Uche, respectively.
Abubakar in his address pointed out that the call was made by Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, seeking authorised dealers and the general public to import maize grain from the official foreign exchange market.
According to him the call and agitation were sheer calculated attempts to further hinder maize production in Nigeria.
He further explained that the current high price of maize grains in the country was ephemeral as it was occasioned by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic that struck and disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of inputs for many farming activities.
He also added that the increase in the price of the commodity was traceable to hoarding by some individuals, which resulted in artificial scarcity, and the effect currently bites hard on commercial and local consumers.
He said: “The agitation by some associations including the Poultry Association of Nigeria, seeking authorised dealers and the general public to import maize grain from the official foreign exchange market is seen as a calculated attempt to further hinder maize production in Nigeria.
“The current high price of maize grains in the country is ephemeral. It is occasioned by the COVID 19 Pandemic that disrupted supply chains and increased the cost of inputs for many farming activities.
“In addition, hoarding of maize grains by some commodity agents also resulted in artificial scarcity and attendant price hikes.
“According to the FAO, as many as ‘132 million people could face starvation as a result of economic recession triggered by the pandemic’.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as part of her developmental functions, has been striving hard to increase national production volumes of maize. The CBN policy of agriculture, small and medium enterprise scheme, and the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) have been very successful in opening up the agricultural sector in the country.
“Both policies have worked effectively in closing the productivity gap in the crop farming subsector. This effort should be appreciated and sustained.”
He also pointed out that the Federal Government through the CBN had graciously approved the release of 300,000MT of maize grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve (SGR) to alleviate the adverse effect of maize grain price hike and scarcity in the country and that any move to import the commodity will be a disincentive to the maize industry.
“Consequently, it is needless, counterpro-ductive, and unattainable to lift the ban on maize grains importation. Importation of maize grains into the country at this crucial period will serve as a disincentive to maize production, maize farmers and food chain system in the country”, he said.

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Stakeholders Task Govt On Finance, MSME Environment

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Stakeholders of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has urged the government and its monetary authorities on ease of access to finance by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for their greater partici-pation and success in AfCFTA.
The Stakeholders made the call at a forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) themed: “AfCFTA: Roadmap to a successful implementation” on Tuesday in Lagos.
The The source reports that the AfCFTA was borne out of the need to deepen economic integration on the continent because of Afri-ca’s low intra-regional trade volume in relation to other continents like America, Europe, and Asia.
The agreement seeks to eliminate tariffs on 90 per cent of goods while also enabling micro, small, medium, and large businesses to penetrate new markets and establish strong cross-border supply chains with trade partners on the continent.
Acting Chief Trade Negotiator, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), Mr Victor Liman, noted that access to finance was still a major challenge hindering private sector businesses.
According to Liman, the cost of money was too high for most MSMEs who constitute about 50 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Nigerian economy.
Liman also called for the need to reform some trade policies that had acted as barriers to international trade.
He noted that three critical factors which are effective and seamless implementation, compliance and rigorous enforcement would  make or mar the AfCFTA.
“We are looking to increase intra- African trade from the abysmal numbers ranging between 15 and 17 per cent to 35 or 50 per cent, which will provide a market size of about 600 million people.
“There are some factors that will act as enablers for the seamless implementation of the trade agreement in Nigeria.
“Special funding interventions for MSMEs with lower interest rates and longer tenure is critical as an enabler of the trade.
“We need to review of some laws regulations and policies which have become moribund overtime.
“Authorities and regulatory agencies must understand their roles and act accordingly,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, AfCFTA Secretariat, stressed the need to engage private sector operators as the sector constituted 90 per cent of employed population and 80 per cent total production in the continent.
Mene also noted that MSMEs were the real traders, real investors and the real job creators, responsible for moving goods and services across borders.
“In Africa, the private sector accounts for 80 per cent of the total production activities, furthermore, 90 per cent of the firms with the African private sector are MSME.
“To successfully implement the trade agreement, all member states must actively engage with the private sector, allow them share their experiences and also find solution to challenges that will hinder business activities.
“Nigeria has a lot to benefit in areas of services, market expansion and investment in the trade pact and so must prioritise implementation of policies that would ensure job creation for sustainable development,” he said.
Meanwhile, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, said the pact presented opportunities for Nigerian businesses to expand operations.
Adebayo, represented by Secretary, National Committee on AfCFTA,  Mr Francis Anatogu, said that the pact would additionally expand market access that would catalyse local production which supports the nation’s industrialisation drive.
Adebayo said the federal government was working relentlessly to mitigate the challenges of the trade deal.
“There is the need to build a strong national brand to set Nigeria aside from other African countries.
“Nigeria is committed to the full implementation of the agreement as we are also implementing programmes to aggregate SMEs for export trade,” he said.
President, LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said it had become necessary to deliberate on the appropriate policies to ensure aspeedy and effective implementation of the agreement across countries of the continent.
According to her, a well-implemented AfCFTA would stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and facilitate the economic diversification of African economies.
The LCCI President lauding the takeoff of the agreement, noted that critical parts of the agreement were yet to be finalised.
Mabogunje said several key issues including schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights had not been concluded.
“There is still lack of clarity on the type of value addition that must occur within an AfCFTA State party for a product to benefit from tariff reduction.
“A great deal of sensitisation and enlightenment still needs to be done on the implementation modalities, and this forms the basis for putting this event together,” she said.
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Stakeholders Task Govt On Finance, MSME Environment

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Stakeholders of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has urged the government and its monetary authorities on ease of access to finance by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for their greater partici-pation and success in AfCFTA.
The Stakeholders made the call at a forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) themed: “AfCFTA: Roadmap to a successful implementation” on Tuesday in Lagos.
The The source reports that the AfCFTA was borne out of the need to deepen economic integration on the continent because of Afri-ca’s low intra-regional trade volume in relation to other continents like America, Europe, and Asia.
The agreement seeks to eliminate tariffs on 90 per cent of goods while also enabling micro, small, medium, and large businesses to penetrate new markets and establish strong cross-border supply chains with trade partners on the continent.
Acting Chief Trade Negotiator, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN), Mr Victor Liman, noted that access to finance was still a major challenge hindering private sector businesses.
According to Liman, the cost of money was too high for most MSMEs who constitute about 50 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Nigerian economy.
Liman also called for the need to reform some trade policies that had acted as barriers to international trade.
He noted that three critical factors which are effective and seamless implementation, compliance and rigorous enforcement would  make or mar the AfCFTA.
“We are looking to increase intra- African trade from the abysmal numbers ranging between 15 and 17 per cent to 35 or 50 per cent, which will provide a market size of about 600 million people.
“There are some factors that will act as enablers for the seamless implementation of the trade agreement in Nigeria.
“Special funding interventions for MSMEs with lower interest rates and longer tenure is critical as an enabler of the trade.
“We need to review of some laws regulations and policies which have become moribund overtime.
“Authorities and regulatory agencies must understand their roles and act accordingly,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, AfCFTA Secretariat, stressed the need to engage private sector operators as the sector constituted 90 per cent of employed population and 80 per cent total production in the continent.
Mene also noted that MSMEs were the real traders, real investors and the real job creators, responsible for moving goods and services across borders.
“In Africa, the private sector accounts for 80 per cent of the total production activities, furthermore, 90 per cent of the firms with the African private sector are MSME.
“To successfully implement the trade agreement, all member states must actively engage with the private sector, allow them share their experiences and also find solution to challenges that will hinder business activities.
“Nigeria has a lot to benefit in areas of services, market expansion and investment in the trade pact and so must prioritise implementation of policies that would ensure job creation for sustainable development,” he said.
Meanwhile, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, said the pact presented opportunities for Nigerian businesses to expand operations.
Adebayo, represented by Secretary, National Committee on AfCFTA,  Mr Francis Anatogu, said that the pact would additionally expand market access that would catalyse local production which supports the nation’s industrialisation drive.
Adebayo said the federal government was working relentlessly to mitigate the challenges of the trade deal.
“There is the need to build a strong national brand to set Nigeria aside from other African countries.
“Nigeria is committed to the full implementation of the agreement as we are also implementing programmes to aggregate SMEs for export trade,” he said.
President, LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said it had become necessary to deliberate on the appropriate policies to ensure aspeedy and effective implementation of the agreement across countries of the continent.
According to her, a well-implemented AfCFTA would stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and facilitate the economic diversification of African economies.
The LCCI President lauding the takeoff of the agreement, noted that critical parts of the agreement were yet to be finalised.
Mabogunje said several key issues including schedules of tariff concessions, schedules of service commitment, rules of origin, investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights had not been concluded.
“There is still lack of clarity on the type of value addition that must occur within an AfCFTA State party for a product to benefit from tariff reduction.
“A great deal of sensitisation and enlightenment still needs to be done on the implementation modalities, and this forms the basis for putting this event together,” she said.
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Capital Market: Experts Explain Persistent Lull

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The Association of Capital Market Academics of Nigeria (ACMAN) has attributed the current lull in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to profit taking by domestic and foreign investors.
ACMAN President, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) In Lagos on Monday, while reacting to the persistent lull in the nation’s bourse.
Uwaleke said the sell pressure was the result of profit taking by domestic and foreign investors, which began in February.
“This should be expected because stock prices were quite high in January with the NSE All-Share Index recording over five per cent appreciation, still above NTB yields,” he said.
Uwaleke attributed the negative sentiment to uncertainties in the macro economy, especially with respect to the direction of exchange rates and interest rates.
“With rising inflation, investors’ expectations of a rise in fixed income yields and possible devaluation of the naira given the persistent foreign pressure are triggering portfolio rebalancing in favour of other asset classes.
“Recall that it was the low interest rate environment fostered by the Central Bank of Nigeria last year that boosted stock prices.
“So, the return of the bulls will happen with stability in the macro economy involving stable exchange rates and low interest rates,” Uwaleke said.
He, however, urged regulators and market operators to continue to push out the message that panic selling was not in the interest of investors.
Also speaking, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., Mr Ambrose Omordion, said the market was expected to correct itself after a sharp rally witnessed in 2020 and early 2021.
Omordion said the funda-mentals of the market were changing due to rising yields in the fixed income market, which triggered outflow of funds from equity assets.
He expressed optimism that the current trend would be reversed, saying that uptrend in the money market and bond yield was not enough to put the stock market down.
Omordion said both invest-ment windows would coexist in the uptrend as oil prices were trading above 70 dollars.
He called on investors to change their investment strategies and concentrate on sectors and industries with capacity to grow their earnings in the long run.
“Pull backs and profit taking are integral to the stock market anywhere in the world.
“There is no cause for panic, corporate earnings are revealing strength that can support prices, if all these policies mismatched and summersaults are corrected, the market will rebound,” Omordion said.
NAN reports that the NSE All-Share Index last week dropped by 683.13 points or 1.74 per cent to close at 38,648.48 from 39,331.61 achieved in the preceding week.
Also, the market capitalisation which opened at N20.578 trillion shed N357 billion to close at N20.221 trillion.
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