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Entrepreneurs Decry Insecurity Impact On Produce 

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) entrepreneurs on staple food have cried out over the continuous increase in prices of commodities in Port Harcourt and its environs.
A  survey by The Tide revealed that in Port Harcourt, the traders and residents are frustrated due to the price increase of staple food items.
A trader in Mile 3 Market, Mr Sunday Akubuike, said a bag of beans previously sold for N37,000 is now sold for N49,000.
Akubuike said a bag of Nigerian Rice previously sold for between N19,000 and N20,000 is presently sold for N29,000, while a bag of foreign Rice that was sold for N25,000 now goes for N36,000.
A bag of yellow garri that was sold for N12,000, presently goes for N29,000, while white garri that was sold for N6,000 presently sold for N22,000.
Akubuike said a bag of corn previously sold for N10,000 now goes for N25,000.
He attributed the increase in food prices by business men and women to cost of transportation, which he said had affected his purchasing power.
Another entrepreneur,  Mrs Emen Okon, at Iwofe Market, said a 25 litres of palm oil that was sold for N7,000 was presently sold for N30,000 while 25 litres of groundnut oil that was sold for N12,000 is now N43,000.
She continued that four litres of palm oil goes for N4,500 as against the previous price of N2,200, while four litres of groundnut oil now sell for between N5,500 to N10,000, depending on the product.
Another trader, Miss Sorochi Michael in Rumumasi Market, said palm oil that was sold for N10,000 now goes for N25,000 while groundnut oil that was sold for N15,500 now goes for N39,000, depending on the products.
She said each time she goes to market to stock her shop, she usually gets frustrated because of the rate at which price of food items are increasing.
She attributed the increase to the high level of insecurity facing producers of agricultural products.
“Widespread insecurity in Northern and Eastern Nigeria has compelled major suppliers of food items to the Southern part of the country, particularly the South-Western axis, to suspend supplies,” she said.

By: Lilian Peters

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SMEs

Waterways Disaster: NIWA Institutes Insurance Cover For Goods, Barges 

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As a result of heavy losses of lives and properties by the operators of water transportation, the Nigeria Inlandways Authority has announced its readiness to roll out insurance cover plans to ensure that importers who patronize barge operators do not lose their investments.
Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, who disclosed this to newsmen at a media parley in Lagos, said his agency has held discussions with the barge operators for a suitable insurance cover for all goods on board barges.
He noted that this was simply to protect investments of importers who use waterways to transport their goods to their final destination
The NIWA boss described movement of goods by barges as a prime project in order to decongest the nation’s ports and also reduce pressure on the roads.
The roads,  Moghalu said, were not designed to carry as much as they do currently, adding, “if so, there is no way our infrastructure will last.
“So, whatever we can do to reduce such pressure, we do it… in civilized societies, bulk cargoes go on waterways”, he said.
He further explained that having concessioned Onitsha Port, others will follow with time, adding that government will use the same template used in Onitsha concession as a guide to Baro, Lokoja, Oguta and any other river port.
Recall that the former Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, had said that Onitsha River Port has a lot of economic benefits to the country.
Saraki said the port will generate about N23billion to the Federal Government in 30 years as part of the concession agreement.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Bakers Plan Fresh Price Hike, Cite Cost Of Materials 

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Bakers, under the aegis of the Premium Bread-Makers Association of Nigeria (PBAN), have warned of another inrease in prices of bread due to the skyrocketing cost of baking materials.
President of the association, Emmanuel Onuorah, who disclosed this to The Tide’s source in an exclusive interview, said the recent developments in the global marketplace had not translated into a better operating environment for local bakers.
Accordiy to him, the planned hike follows a recent strike action by PBAN, and the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN), which culminated in a 15 per cent hike in bread prices barely two weeks ago.
Onuorah said many members of PBAN had been forced to shut down business operations this year due to the skyrocketing cost of doing business.
“The price of bread is going up again. The millers just increased prices by N2000. Sugar refiners increased by N2000. We had a N10,000 increase between last week and this week. We are increasing prices again.
“Preservatives increased by N2000, and butter increased by N2000. So, we have to respond. For us as an industry, our own is garbage in, garbage out. If the price of wheat comes down today, and the price of fuel comes down, certainly we will look at the price of our products and act accordingly”, he said.
He also urged the Federal Government to open up a forex window for industry players, particularly the flour millers.
This, he said, would significantly address the indiscriminate increase in the prices of flour in the market.
“When we went on withdrawal of services, flour was N28,500. Today it is N30,500,” Onuorah said.
In July 22, 2022, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to free more than 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
The agreement, brokered with support from the United Nations and Turkey, was projected to have major implications on global food security and food prices.
The inability of Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports had severely reduced the supply of food to import-dependent African and Middle Eastern countries.
Before the war in Ukraine, Ukraine had been a bread basket, providing wheat, maize, and barley to countries throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
According to a recent publication by the World Bank, export prices of cereal indices were stable over the past 2 weeks, with the agricultural index closing at the same level as at two weeks ago.
The export index went up by two per cent, but the cereal index went down by one per cent.
The war in Ukraine is having extreme impacts on the world’s poorest countries. The countries at highest risk of a debt crisis are experiencing the additional threat of a food crisis.
A recent World Bank blog described the dire situation that many poor countries had been facing since the start of the war, with surging food import bills resulting from high grain prices caused by the war.
According to World Bank data, import bills for wheat, rice, and maize are expected to rise by more than one per cent for low-income countries at high risk of a debt crisis, more than double the increase from 2021 to 2022.

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Safety Compromise, Reason For Nigeria’s Depressed Economy 

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A retired diver, Engr. Tapenu Tobi, has blamed waterways operators for compromising safety in the waterways, which, he said, has resulted in Nigeria’s depressed economy.
He said the result is that  at the end of the day, it has forced many of them to  defer or skip maintenance, cut corners on mandatory training and operate wooden boats.
Engr. Tobi, who said this in an exclusive interview with The Tide in Lagos, noted that Nigerian Inlandways Authority lacked the resources needed to conduct a safe water operation in terms of funds, organisation and skilled personnel, a development which he said could make the operators to compromise safety.
He also stated that the regulatory mechanism required to enforce safety rules are non-existent in some States and simply  disintegrating and collapsing in others, as well as absolutely being ineffective in many.
Water transportation, according to the expert diver, is capital intensive as it involves a lot of expenses.
Such expenses, he explained, include ferry purchase/lease payment, high cost of acquisition of new boat, sea crew training (including simulator), and maintenance.
Others are “spare parts to support safe operation, jetties infrastructure facilities, provision of communications, navigational and landing aids and the provision of skilled and experienced manpower for the water safety regulatory body”, he said.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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