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Malaysian firms to assist Nigeria revitalise oil palm sector

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Steve Uzoechi
OWERRI

The Malaysian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Lim Juay Jin has stated that companies in Malaysia will be glad to partner with their Nigerian counterparts to revitalize the nation’s oil palm sector.
Jin made the remarks in Njaba, Imo State, when he led a Malaysian trade delegation to the sprawling manufacturing complex of Sevirg Agro-Allied Mills Limited in Njaba Council Area of Imo State.
He noted that companies like Servirg have so much prospects and needed capacity to partner with similar companies in Malaysia that offer not only high quality and affordable oil palm products but also world class services in other sectors of the economy.
The High Commissioner described Servirg Agro-Allied Mills Limited as a trail blazer in Nigeria’s oil palm manufacturing industry.
“Having toured this factory today, I am quite impressed by the capacity and potentials seen here today. This company holds such great potential for the oil palm sector in Nigeria. The set-up here is so well planned and carefully thought out,” he said. Adding that the company is much more like the ones in Malaysia and in the forefront of pioneering innovative excellence in the oil palm sector.
The envoy said with what he had seen at the company: “I could see the cooperation of Nigeria and Malaysia in oil palm industry intensified because anywhere I go people will be asking me whether Malaysia could help in revitalizing the oil palm sector. But what I keep saying is that the timing must be right and you must have the right partners to make it happen.”
He described oil palm industry in Nigeria as one with very huge potential because according to him, just like Malaysia, Nigeria has a lot of land mass, good weather, wonderful vegetation, soil, necessary social make-up and historical background.
On ways his visit could foster closer business ties with Nigeria, he said: “This is one of the concrete proofs that things are taking shape again because most of these companies are forging closer partnership with Malaysian companies by bringing machineries from Malaysia to ensure quality production.”
Also speaking, a foremost lawyer in Imo State, Chief Peter Mgbenwelu described the company as a shining example of what Nigeria is capable of achieving if it looks inwards and taps into the boundless energy and ingenuity of its people.
Chief Mgbenwulu said as a manufacturing company, Servirg has demonstrated the spirit behind the formulation of the country’s National Development Plan, which was aimed at curtailing the dependence on imports and ensuring the growth of the Nigerian agro-allied industry, using local resources.
“That development plan then culminated into the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 which expresses the aspiration for Nigeria to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020. Attainment of the vision would enable the country to achieve a high standard of living for its citizens,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Obiora Ogoh, who took the Malaysian Ambassador and his entourage on a tour of the firm’s facilities, said the company’s aspiration is to take Nigeria back to her glorious days as a world leader in palm oil production.
“With this palm oil refinery, we are simultaneously starting our backward integration process. That means we started to grow oil palm in Nigeria. Nigeria was a world leader in oil palm in the 1960s and 1970s and Malaysia and Indonesia took the know-how from Nigeria and over the last 30, 40 years, they have perfected it and have now become world leaders in oil palm production.
So the intention of Servirg is to be one of the leading companies that will restore Nigeria to its former position as world leader in oil palm production, therefore, we are not only putting up a refinery here, which has a capacity of 30 tons per day, but we are also interested in growing oil palm. Again our crushing plant produces 150 tons per day while our bakery fat and margarine plant produces 20 tons per day. Also, I’ll like to inform you that we are on a journey to set up 350 hectares of oil palm plantation in Enugu State,” Ogoh said.

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Tincan Customs chief to implement 48-hour cargo clearance

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Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Musa Baba Abdullahi has reiterated the command’s unshaken commitment to achieve 48hour cargo clearance from the port without compromising revenue collection and national security.

The customs chief said efforts are being put in place to maximise benefits of technology and build the command’s manpower to meet with the growing challenges of modern trade.

 

While addressing maritime journalists in his Apapa office, Musa identified swift dispute resolution as a key component to facilitate trade. He said the command has put in place a faster mechanism to address any area of disagreement in interpretations of guidelines for duty collection and other related matters.

 

He added that a committee put in place for disputes resolution meets as soon as any dispute arises to avoid port users incurring costs caused as a result of delays in resolving such disputes.

 

According to him, there is a quicker process of bringing issues to his attention and contacting the headquarters where necessary to avoid delays associated with such disagreements. He said the command has stepped up efforts at keeping officers and relevant stakeholders abreast with the use of technology for the purpose of customs operations.

 

The Controller disclosed that senior officers and licensed customs agents are being trained at the command’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Centre on the latest Nigeria Customs Information System (NICIS 2) in batches.

 

Musa said the training and retraining of customs personnel and stakeholders will continue with a view to getting as many persons as possible knowledgeable in the workings of the system.

 

He also stressed the need for all stakeholders to increase their levels of compliance with rules and improve on their knowledge as ways of achieving seamless flow of trade thereby achieving faster clearance of goods from the port.

The Controller also advised the maritime media to uphold the ethics of their profession and be fair and truthful in all they do.

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Early rainfall to boost Nigeria’s cocoa mid-crop

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Nigeria’s mid-crop cocoa output for 2017/18 could rise by 15 per cent from last season, helped by a mix of rainfall and sunshine in the main growing regions which has helped the trees, President of Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) Sayina Riman said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.

 

Drought cut last season’s mid-crop harvest by 40 per cent. The dry weather continued into the main crop of the new season.

 

Riman said the drought affected the trees, reducing output of between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the 2017/18 season.

 

He said that early rains in March and April have helped boost the mid-crop, which could see the season’s output close at around 290,000.
Riman farms on a 170 hectare cocoa plantation in Nigeria’s second-biggest region of Cross Rivers.

 

The cocoa season in Nigeria runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.

 

“Despite the drought of last year which affected cocoa we believe we would be close to 290,000 tonnes for 2017/18 season,” Riman told Reuters.

 

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), however, gives much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production at 225,000 tonnes.

 

Riman did not give a reason for the discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also significantly higher than ICCO estimates.

 

Nigeria has recently emerged from recession and a currency crisis which caused a chronic dollar shortage, forcing exporters to under-invoice their goods in order to use the foreign exchange black market to get premium for their hard currency.

 

The action caused the West African country slip to the sixth producer of cocoa in the world at the peak of the crisis. Riman said Nigeria was getting back to number four grower as exporters now use the official currency markets.

Riman said Nigeria was working on improving its bean quality especially with renewed demand from Europe.

 

However, bean count, a measure of the number of beans needed to produce 100 grams of cocoa, reached as high as 140 for the main crop.

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Rising Nigerian bonds drags yields down

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Nigeria’s local-currency bonds are on a roll, rising for the last eight days and driving their yields below Turkey’s for the first time in more than two years.

 

The average rate on Nigerian government bonds has fallen around 400 basis since an August-peak to 13 per cent. Yields are now 100 basis points below the Central Bank of Nigeria’s benchmark interest rate of 14 per cent, where its been held since July 2016.

Investors have piled into the naira market thanks to slowing inflation, a stable currency and rising Brent crude prices, which climbed about 25 per cent in the past six months to more than $70 a barrel. In contrast, they’ve turned bearish on Turkey, which has the worst-performing local bonds in emerging markets this year, because of accelerating inflation and loose monetary policy.

 

Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, may be tempted to commence his long-touted easing cycle and help revive the economy that has faltered since the 2014 oil crash. While that would reduce the attractiveness of naira assets, Nigerian yields are still high relative to other major emerging markets. Aside from Turkey, Argentina and Egypt’s bonds are the only ones to yield more in the Bloomberg Barclays EM Local Currency Index.

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