Food price inflation remains high globally – World Bank
The World Bank says inflation in food prices remains high globally.
It made the declaration in its latest Food Security Update report issued on Wednesday.
“Information from the latest month between December 2022 and March 2023 for which food price inflation data are available shows high inflation in almost all low and middle-income countries.
“Inflation levels are greater than five per cent in 70.6 per cent of low-income countries and in 90.9 per cent of lower-middle-income countries.
“Inflation rate is also above five per cent in 87 per cent of upper-middle-income countries some of which are experiencing double-digit inflation,’’ it stated.
It stressed that about 84.2 per cent of high-income countries were experiencing high food price inflation.
“The countries affected most are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia,’’ the World Bank noted.
It quoted the Food and Agriculture Organisation as stating that the benchmark index of international food commodity prices declined for the 12th consecutive month in March 2023.
“The FAO Food Price Index averaged 126.9 points in March 2023, a marginal 2.1 per cent decrease from February 2023 and a 20.5 per cent decrease from its peak in March 2022.
“The index, which tracks monthly changes in international commodity prices, indicated that a combination of factors, including ample supplies, subdued import demand, and extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, contributed to the decrease,’’ the bank stated.
It noted that in 2019 and before COVID-19, the FAO Food Price Index stood at 95.1 points.
As part of its global response to the food security crisis, the World Bank announced in April 2022 that it would provide up to $30 billion over 15 months, including $12 billion in new projects.
The bank stated that the financing was to scale up short-term and long-term responses along four themes to boost food and nutrition security, reduce risks, and strengthen food systems.
“This will be done by supporting producers and consumers, facilitating increased trade in food and trade inputs, supporting vulnerable households, and investing in sustainable food and nutrition security.
“Between April and December 2022, the bank’s food and nutrition security commitments in new lending passed the $12 billion mark with almost half of this for Africa, which is one of the regions hardest-hit by the food crisis.
“Some examples include the $766-million West Africa Food Systems Resilience Programme which is working to increase preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of food systems in West Africa.
“The programme is increasing digital advisory services for agriculture and food crisis prevention and management.
“It is also boosting adaptation capacity of agriculture system actors, and investing in regional food market integration and trade to increase food security,’’ it stated.
The World Bank added that an additional $345 million is currently under preparation for Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
MAN, NECA, NACCIMA reject FG’s excise tax hike
The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria comprising the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industries, and the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises has rejected the recently announced increase in excise tax.
The hike, contained in the circular dated April 20, 2023, was reportedly signed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
In a statement signed by the Director-General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir; Director-General, NACCIMA, Olusola Obadimu; Director-General, NECA, Adewale Oyerinde; Director-General, Ifeanyi Oputa; and Director-General, NASSI, and Eke Ubiji, the OPSN called for an immediate reversal of the hike. It said the increase was unwarranted, ill-timed and inimical to the Nigerian economy and the manufacturing sector in particular.
It said the manufacturing sector is presently grappling with unprecedented challenges including the sustained scarcity of naira, limited access to foreign exchange, a struggling economy and persistent inflation, alongside perennial problems of multiple taxation and epileptic power supply.
These challenges, the OPSN said, had resulted in a record crash in sales for most businesses running into billions of Naira, with the result that manufacturers are struggling to remain in business, amidst looming job cuts, mothballing of factories and total shutdown of businesses.
The statement partly read, “Therefore, increasing excise rates at this time is extremely ill-advised and may sound the death knell for affected businesses and their contribution to the national economy, even as the broader manufacturing sector continues to deteriorate.
“In light of the above, the OPSN respectfully requests the Federal Government to urgently reverse the increase in excise rates to protect the affected industries and the dependent businesses in their extended value chain from imminent collapse with calamitous consequences for the economy.
“We further request that the Federal Government suspends excise taxes in the manufacturing sector for a minimum of six months, to arrest the alarming decline in the sector.”
The OPSN also advised the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently deploy measures to fully alleviate the Naira scarcity crisis and prioritise foreign exchange allocations to the productive sector.
Livestock accounts for over 40 % of global Agric GDP – FG
The Livestock sub-sector accounts for more than 40 per cent of the global agricultural Gross Domestic Product, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said.
Umakhihe said the sub-sector also provides more than 33 per cent of the World’s protein intake.
Umakhihe, who stated this on Tuesday at the opening of a training for farmers on the utilisation of low-grade grains, however, noted that the utilisation of the cheapest and most available livestock feed was a major challenge facing farmers in Nigeria.
The permanent secretary was represented by Mrs Winnie Lai-Solarin, Director, Animal Husbandry Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He listed the cheap feed resources to include crop residues (rice, maize, ground nut and cassava by-products, animal processing wastes, and brewery wastes, among others.
“On the other hand, such feeds must be cost effective. Nutritious animal feed is essential for development and productivity of animals, especially food animals.
“In Nigeria, animal feed remains a challenge to animal husbandry practices, largely due to high cost of animal feeds, which are not readily available and where they are, they are not easily affordable by an average farmer,” Umakhihe said.
According to him, it is gratifying to note that the contribution of the Livestock sub-sector to the economy goes beyond the production of meat, milk and eggs.
“The livestock sub-sector supports over one billion people globally, accounting for over 40 per cent of global GDP and provides over 33 per cent of the world’s protein intake,” he said.
He said the capacity-building programme was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda to leverage the agricultural sector for wealth creation, employment generation and diversification of the economy.
Umakhihe expressed optimism that the training would also provide the required knowledge to sustain livestock through reduced availability of animal feed ingredients, labour, processing facilities, inputs and services.
In her address, Lai-Solarin said that the ministry was determined to support all agricultural farmers to improve their production process to achieve feed and food security.
“It is an established fact that feed constitutes about 70 per cent of the cost of livestock production.
“Therefore, subsidising the cost of feed production will not only increase the farmers’ profit, but also sustain their interest,” she said.
Lai-Solarin, who was also represented by Mrs Florence Hamed, Chief Health and Animal Husbandry Technician, said silage making and utilisation was one of such knowledge that could make a difference.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, a participant, Mr Eimoga Francis of Ampersand Farms, said the event was timely, as it would address the challenge of animal feed to animal husbandry practices.
The farmers were also trained on making alternative feed ingredients for climate smart animal feed production.
Aviation industry suffers setbacks over low percentage of women — NAMA DG
The aviation sector has been said to have suffered some setbacks in its operations, activities and otherwise as a result of the low percentage of engagement of women in the industry.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA Mr Matthew Pwajok who spoke at the SheEngineer 30% Club Launch/Award sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Speaking during the SheEngineer 30% Club Launch/Award held in Lagos with the theme, “Integration and Implementation of gender-sensitive policies in the workplace”, Pwajok disclosed that, although the aviation sector has supported the nation’s GDP with over 241,000 jobs, lamented that only about 13percent of jobs in aviation are held by women.
According to him, the aviation industry is grappling with methods to improve inclusion and diversity. The majority of aircraft pilots, Air traffic Engineers, flight engineers, Air traffic controllers and aviation administrators in Nigeria are male. Adding that, the executive side has not fared any better as only 3 per cent of managerial and executive positions are held by women.
“While there is a consensus amongst stakeholders that the aviation sector would deeply benefit from gender diversity and inclusion, there is however no agreement on the best strategy to attain this.
“In recent years, organizations including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) launched initiatives such as the IATA 25 by 2025 gender diversity initiative, a voluntary initiative for the aviation sector to improve female representation in the industry.
“The campaign was to serve as an initial step to making the aviation industry more gender-balanced. It also seeks to create opportunities for more women with sought-after aviation technical and policy qualifications and experience in the aviation sector across the globe.
“The International Civil Aviation Organization in 2021, in a bid to encourage women in aviation, announced a 50 per cent discount on various aviation courses and certifications for women.
“The announcement was in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development founded by the United Nations.
“Although progress has been made, it, however, seems slow, and thus, stakeholders in the aviation industry should be encouraged to do more in promoting gender diversity and inclusion.
“This is one reason; the SheEngineer 30% Club is a welcome development. The 30 by 30 Strategy for achieving this laudable objective encompasses the four phases (RWPK) of Reach Out, Welcome In, Pull Through, and Keep Going”, he said.
In her welcome address, Engineer Elizabeth Eterigho, FNSE, FNSChE, President, Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN, said, the essence of the She-Engineer 30 per cent Club is to create a platform of an enabling environment for better productivity for women.
“The SheEngineer 30% club is a project that seeks to build a voluntary network of professional engineering institutions, engineering businesses and organizations committed to achieving a 30% minimum gender balance within their workforce by 2030 using the aviation, automobile and energy sectors where there is a noticeable shortage of females as pilot engineering organizations. Gender-sensitive policies in the workplace are key to creating a safe and respectful work environment.
“With women making up about 50 per cent of the world’s population and contributing significantly to global GDP (gross domestic product), their participation in leadership roles is crucial to achieving sustainable development goals” , she said.
In her contribution, Dr Evi Viza, Programme Leader, MSC Quality Management University of West of Scotland who commended the initiative urged policymakers and more organizations to sign a pledge to join the She-Engineer 30% club.
According to her, it will make business sense and it is one of the best investments they will make in their business and their country.
“There is a new dawn for the engineering sector, the country and the world. This initiative has opened an insight into the challenges women engineers face in Nigeria as well as everywhere in the world.
“The 30% club addresses a gap that it has been there for years and aims to change the way business operates, what society expects and all in the name to transform organizations to be productive, resilient and bring economic prosperity to their communities”, she said.
During her Concept Note presentation for the SheEngineer 30% Club Project, Grant Awardee, Engr., Felicia Agubata, FNSE disclosed that SheEngineer 30% Club, is a Royal Academy of Engineering UK-funded Initiative, to build a voluntary network of professional engineering institutions, engineering businesses and organizations in the aviation, automotive and energy sectors in Lagos State committed to achieving a 30% minimum gender balance within their workforce by 2030 using a 30 by 30 strategy.
According to her, the project would improve diversity and inclusion in these organizations and drive profitability, productivity, and creativity and reduce skill shortage by encouraging more girls to take up engineering courses and careers.
“This project seeks to address the existence of gender barriers in accessing engineering as a career is a concrete challenge in the educational development of Nigeria. A record shows that over 5.5m girls are out of school in Nigeria.
“There are more males in the universities studying engineering than women, who are predominantly in the non-scientific and non-technical disciplines. This has resulted in a wide gender gap in engineering courses.
“Women are largely underrepresented in the engineering sector in Nigeria and professional women engineers have been known to suffer discrimination at work, and also the apparent lack of interest in engineering by young girls has resulted in shortages of engineers in Nigeria. This situation has led to capital flight and brain drain for Nigeria.
“We want girls to see STEM subjects as being “non-Gendered” and want to be able to help them pursue whatever interests excite them because the jobs in the future are either in the STEM industries or require STEM skills.
SheEngineer 30% Club will be carrying out some activities within six (6) months of programme commencement in Aerospace, Automotive and Renewable Energy sectors organizations in Lagos.
In her lecture, Managing Director, of Ikeja Electric, Folake Soetan who spoke on “Creating a More Inclusive Workplace: Gender-Sensitive Policies and Practices said, the benefits of inclusive diversity include increased talent retention, better brand reputation, increased acceptance, and improved financial performance.
Also noted that creating a gender-sensitive workplace recognizes and addresses the needs, issues, and viewpoints that are unique to each gender. “In such environments, gender diversity is acknowledged and celebrated, and harassment and discrimination based on gender are actively addressed and avoided”, she said.
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