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Tomato farmers in S/West targets 1200m/tons monthly production

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The South-West President of Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria, Mr Bamidele Ajani, said the group had targeted to produce 1200m/tons monthly to reduce the scarcity of the commodity in the country.

Ajani disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Ibadan.

He said the farmers had planned to be planting and producing tomatoes all year round through irrigation system in order to be the highest tomato producers in Nigeria.

Ajani added that the association trained the farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) on the planting of hybrid F1 tomatoes.

“We are also training our farmers under cooperative clusters, we are collaborating with Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP/GIS) because the hybrid tomatoes seedling F1 needs proper practice to get high yield.

“We have acquired 250 hectares of land around Ikere Gorge Dam at Atiba LGA, Oyo State, this will avail us the opportunity of all year planting using irrigation system.

“We have applied to BOI for agricultural implements, we have been on it for three years now but hope to get it after COVID-19 pandemic issues, all preparation is geared towards GAP and global competitiveness,” he said.

The president urged the government to urgently start disbursement of funds to approved farmers as the planting season was fast coming to an end.

He also appealed to the government to provide farm implements, especially tractors, at affordable or subsidised rates so as to boost agricultural production and improve food security.

“Government and its agencies on agriculture need to be proactive, transparent and diligent in discharge of their duties.

“Virement of funds from agriculture headings to another government spending should be avoided, there is need to identify real/grassroot farmers from vendor farmers.

“Farmers’ provisions must not stop at Vendor farmers but real or grassroot farmers.

“For food security to be attained, government needs to subsidise agriculture and all stakeholders should discharge their duties transparently,” he said.

Ajani further advised farmers to specialise on a particular crop of production while acquiring knowledge on GAP in their area of specialisation.

He urged them to increase their reading culture as the world moves to advanced technology in virtually all aspects of life, including agriculture. (NAN)

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Business

Nigerian stock market opens with N119 billion loss

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Nigerian equities market resumed trading on Monday with a loss of 0.91 per cent as a result of profit taking in some blue chips.

Speficially, the All-Share Index which opened the week at 25,182.67 lost 228.35 points or 0.91 per cent to close at 24,954.32.

Accordingly, Month-to-Date and Year-to-Date losses increased to -1.2 per cent and -7.0 per cent, respectively.

Also, the market capitalisation shed N119 billion or 0.91 per cent to close at N13.017 trillion against N13.136 trillion posted on Thursday.

The downturn was impacted by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; MTN Nigeria Communications (MTNN), BUA Cement, Zenith Bank, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated and Guaranty Trust Bank.

Analysts at United Capital Plc said: “Looking ahead, we expect the market to remain volatile, as investors lock funds in cheap and fundamentally sound stocks, while taking profit on some stocks that gained last week.”

Consequently, market breadth closed negative with 16 stocks compared with 25 decliners.

Prestige Assurance led the losers’ chart in percentage terms, dropping by 10 per cent, to close at 63k, per share.

Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals followed with 9.73 per cent to close at N2.32, while AIICO Insurance shed 9.32 per cent to close at N1.07, per share.

ETI dropped 7.34 per cent to close at N5.05, while UACN Property Development dipped 6.73 per cent to close at 97k, per share.

Conversely, Fidson Healthcare and Red Star Express led the gainers’ chart in percentage terms, appreciating by 10 per cent each to close at N3.30 and N3.63 per share, respectively.

Cornerstone Insurance followed with a gain 9.80 per cent to close at 56k, per share.

Honeywell Flour Mills rose by 9.78 per cent to close at N1.01, while Unity Bank appreciated by 8.77 per cent to close at 62k, per share.

In the same vein, the total volume traded declined by 29.51 per cent with an exchange of 237.65 million shares, worth N1.61 billion, and traded in 4,808 deals.

This was in contrast with a total of 337.13 million shares valued at N3.41 billion achieved in 3,880 deals on Thursday.

Transactions in the shares of FBN Holdings topped the activity chart with 24.35 million shares worth N128.76 million.

Zenith Bank followed with 24.14 million shares valued at N392.36 million, while FCMB Group accounted for 19.47 million shares valued at N33.48 million.

Caverton Offshore traded 17.37 million shares worth N39.02 million, while United Bank for Africa transacted 14.64 million shares valued at N95.74 million.

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Maritime

NIMASA tasked on discrimination against Nigerian seafarers’ certificate

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A Marine Engineer, Daniel Ikueyemi, on Saturday urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to address the issue of discrimination against the Nigerian Seafarers’ Certificate of Competence (COC).

He made the appeal on an Instagram live programme organised by Mrs Ezinne Azunnah of the MaritimeTvNews, entitled, ”Seafarers’ Certificate of Competence: Quality and Opportunities”.

The Certificate of Competency (COC) is a form of licence every mariner is granted to work on ships.

The certificate ensures that the concerned person has the sufficient knowledge and skills to sail on ocean-going vessels.

According to him, our COC is not strong enough and the issue of discrimination of the COC is a common thing for us.

He added that to ensure that the discrimination stopped, there was the need for NIMASA as the regulator to strengthen the security of the COC to standardise it and prevent it from being forged.

“Other ways to tackle the issue is to have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with some African countries to ensure seafarers utilise their COC.

“There is a notion that 60 per cent of what is taught does not correlate.

“There is need to check this notion and also look into the curriculum that are being used in the country’s maritime academies,’’ he said.

Ikueyemi also pointed out that the feedback mechanism that existed did not capture seafarers’ experience at sea.

He urged NIMASA to have a plan from point of training to point at which seafarers were employed so that their trade would be harnessed.

Also Capt. Ola Alufa, a Marine Captain and Consultant said that the restriction of the country’s COC had not given seafarers the opportunity to be utilised globally.

According to him, Nigerian seafarers are faced with limitations as regards categorisation and that should be expunged.

Alufa suggested that Nigerian seafarers should be well-employed everywhere and be able to work in vessels.

“The limitation is the categorisation. We do not have trading vessels and we need them now.

“NIMASA has tried as regards the curriculum, experience and examination which is very tough. It is of international standard, we need to encourage our own certificate,” he said

He recommended that the Ministry of Transportation must work hand in hand with NIMASA to write to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to expunge the clause affecting seafarers.

“A lot of seafarers have not yet gone on board a ship before. They just got the certificate from schools but there is no opportunity and this still bounces back to government on the need for training vessels.

“The vessels will give seafarers the experience and certificate to be recognised worldwide,” he said. (NAN)

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