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Rivers And Agric Initiatives In 2009

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Agriculture has been described as mankind’s primordial occupation and has been a veritable anchor in the sustenance of many households, who have depended on their homestead farms for food security and to drive the grassroots economy.

Agriculture produces the raw materials for a large number of industrial processes, and has also provided a most effective solution to the problem of unemployment in developing countries, especially given the right policy and related incentives and support.

The sector has proven to be the strongest and most effective driver of wealth creation and serving as an engine of growth in the Small Medium Enterprise sector, which is the hub of employment, income-generation and wealth creation in any emerging capitalist system.

The strength and power of any nation depends on its ability to feed her population.

The economic growth of the most developed and developing economies is based on agricultural policies and programme.

At a time when the global economic crisis is taking its toll on nation’s economy, the world needs to be reminded that it is not everyone that works in offices and factories. The crisis is threatening the small scale farmers and rural areas of the world where 70 per cent of the world’s hungry live and work, according to global estimates.

With an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, according to FAO report, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

In Nigeria, prior to the discovery of oil, the country was an agriculture driven-nation, exporting large quantities of palm oil, groundnuts, cocoa etc., but today the agricultural sector lies in ruins as attention has been shifted to oil and gas.

Though several policies have been initiated by successive governments in an attempt to encourage agriculture but to no avail due to lack of the political will to implement those policies, inconsistencies, corruption and total negligence. Some of the Agric policies include Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, Presidential Initiative on Rice Production, Presidential Initiative on Cassava Production, National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS), DEFRI and others.

In Rivers State, in an attempt to change the ugly trend of total neglect on agriculture and to diversify the economy of the state, the Rivers State Government, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has in 2009, the year under review planned to reactivate the State-owend moribund Risonpalm Oil Nucleus and Delta Rubber under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the envisaged new acquisition of 10,000 hectares of land for oil palm and rubber plantings.

This he said would enhance production and generate massive employment opportunities for the youths.

According to the Rivers State Commissioner for Agriculture, Emmanuel Chinda, the major objective achieved in agriculture by the present administration is the payment of the arrears of 2008 and 2009 counterpart fund contributions to the Rivers State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) agricultural projects which the National Special Programme for Food Security (NSPFS), Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP), Community Based Natural Resources Management Programme (CBNRMP) and FADAMA III targeted to touch the lives of the rural populace of the state.

He said the micro-credits scheme of the state government through the microfinance banks was designed to assist rural formers and fisher folks obtain hitherto, scarce credit facility for increased agricultural production, adding that support was also given to large farm establishments and cooperatives in the state to access the commercial agriculture credit facility put up by the federal government and facilitated by the Central Bank of Nigeria with a view to boosting food production in the state.

The Commissioner further maintained that the State Government has during the year 2009 installed palm oil processing mills across different sites in the state with plans to also install rice processing mills that have been received at difference centres, noting that the projects when successfully executed, will encourage the development of oil palm and rice estate farmers whose production capacity were limited due to lack of availability of processing facilities, also it will enhance household incomes and create employment opportunities in the benefiting communities.

To boost food production, government in 2009 provided substantial agricultural inputs at subsidised rates to farmers, revitalised the feed mills and hatcheries at Rumuodomaya and Atali farms, resuscitated the divisional agricultural farms, cassava multiplication project and has attracted increased funding to the agricultural sector, Chinda noted.

Effort was also made to ensure that the organise private sector invest their capital in agricultural production, processing and marketing with a view to enhancing agricultural production as well as achieving food security in the state.

Stakeholders in agriculture who spoke to The Tide commended the efforts of the Amaechi  led administration in agriculture compared to the neglect imposed on the sector by the past administrations, especially on the past administrations, especially on the projects that are counterpart fund dependent like the FADAMA, RTEP, (BNRMP) NSPFS.

According to the Rivers State Fadama III co-ordinator, Mr. Kingsley Amadi,  the payment of the counterpart fund for 2008/2009 has enabled the World Bank to release the initial deposit of $600,000 for onward disbursement to farmers in the state.

 He explained that in each of the states, 20 local government areas will benefit and 10 communities will benefit and in each of the 10 communities 10 Fadama Users Groups (FUGs) are expected to benefit, noting that in the state, 1,100 FCAs/FUGs have been registered as cooperative while another 1,100 are in the making all under the courtesy of counterpart fund paid by the government to boost agriculture

In spite of the progress made on agriculture in 2009, governments at all levels should strategise to tackle the challenges posed by climate change, long spells of draught, many years of neglect on agriculture, increasing use of arable land for production of crops that can be turned into biofuels, lack of knowledge of fertiliser and agro-chemical use, pollution in the coastal areas, militancy and sea piracy in the Niger Delta.

Government should prioritise agriculture and increase its budgetary allocation to the sector, rehabilitate the decayed rural infrastructure like the feeder roads and farm estates to enable farmers produce and transport their produce to the available market. There should be adequate re-orientation of youths towards earning a living through agriculture, processing mills and storage facilities should be constructed to enhance availability of produce all round the year and to curb wastages of produce.

Capacity building and training young school leavers on agriculture should be encouraged, provision of farm inputs, adequate funding of agricultural agencies like ADP and others, should be maintained.

Inconsistencies in the policy thrust of government on agriculture should be discouraged if progress must be made in agriculture in 2010. Farmers accessibility to micro-credit, markets, information on modern farming methods/technology and mechanised farming should be encouraged.

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NSE Begins Week On Negative Note, Loses N19.49bn

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The Nigerian stock market began the week on a negative note as banking and consumer goods stocks, among others, triggered a N19.49bn loss.
At the end of trading on the floor of the Nigerian  Exchange Limited , the NGX All-Share Index dropped by 0.09 per cent to end at 43,270.94 basis points, while the market capitalisation declined to N22.58tn.
Market activities were mixed as the total volume of shares traded decreased by 30.19 per cent while the value traded rose by 34.05 per cent.
A total of 213.13 million shares valued at N2.36bn were exchanged in 4,105 deals, compared to 305.32 million shares worth N3.58bn in 4,450 deals last Friday.
FCMB Group Plc topped the traded stocks in terms of volume, accounting for 27.43 per cent of the total volume of trades while Airtel Africa Plc emerged as the most traded stock by value, representing 28.81 per cent of the total value of trades on the exchange.
14 firms gained compared to 21 losers.
AIICO Insurance Plc was the biggest gainer for the day, topping the gainers’ chart with a price appreciation of 8.57 per cent to N0.76 per share.
It was followed by LivingTrust Mortgage Bank Plc with a rise of 7.95 per cent, ending the day at N0.95 per share.
Analysing by sectors, three of the five major indices closed lower, led by NGX Oil & Gas (-0.56 per cent), NGX Consumer Goods (-0.23 per cent) and NGX Banking (0.18 per cent).
But the insurance (0.82 per cent) and industrial goods (0.002 per cent) indices gained at the end of trading.

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… Introduces TIES To Boost  Business Loan

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), which provides undergraduates and graduates with a platform to access loans.
The TIES’ underlying aim is to provide access to capital for Nigerian undergraduates and graduates with innovative entrepreneurial and technological ideas from polytechnics and universities.
TIES intends to shift undergraduates and graduates away from white-collar job pursuits and towards a culture of entrepreneurship development for economic development and job creation.
In a national biennial entrepreneurship competition, the Developmental Component would be distributed in the form of awards to Nigerian polytechnics and universities.
The competition aims to increase undergraduates’ awareness and visibility of high-impact entrepreneurial/technological concepts, foster entrepreneurial talent hunts in Nigerian polytechnics and universities, and encourage commercially viable and transformative technologies.
Interested Nigerian polytechnics and universities shall apply to participate in the national biennial entrepreneurship competition on a dedicated online portal.
Outlining brief details of the project, potential impact and evidence of originality of project, CBN said it is an innovation for students entrepreneurs.

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CITN Applauds FG, Tax Authorities On Fiscal Policy Decisions

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The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has lauded the Federal Government and tax authorities on the giant strides made on fiscal policy decisions and tax administration measures initiated this year in the area of Finance Act 2021 and the introduction of TaxPromax solution.
President of the institute, Adesina Adedayo, who gave the commendation at the institute’s yearly award ceremony at the weekend in Lagos, assured the government and tax authorities of aligning with the measures and promised to provide professional thoughts and insights on ways through which they could achieve an efficient and effective Nigerian tax system.
Adedayo emphasised the need to address the database, adding that without knowing who the tax-payers are, there is no way they can take money from unknown tax-payers.
Database is the aspect we have been emphasising on as an institute and in doing this, there are so many of pockets of data we have. All the data must be harmonised to have a simple unique tax-payers identification number,” he said.

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