A paradigm shift for conflict-affected rice producers in rural Borno - Mega Icon Magazine
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A paradigm shift for conflict-affected rice producers in rural Borno

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The Jere Bowl is an irrigated land mass formed by the flow of the Ngadda River in Jere local government area (LGA), Borno State, in Nigeria. Susceptibility to flooding, resulting in a perennially moist soil even during dry season, makes the area favourable to rice cultivation.

In communities like Zabarmari and Gongulong located in the Jere Bowl, farmers plant rice on very large scales twice a year – during both rainy and dry seasons. While rice cultivation thrives, villagers, especially women, earned a living along the rice production value chain, working as parboilers, millers and marketers. However, the competitive advantage of rural actors in the value chain is attenuated by challenges, such as the absence of mechanization, poor knowledge of modern rice processing and packaging methods, and limited access to markets. The situation was further worsened by a decade-long regional armed conflict, which has dislodged farmers from their communities and worsened food security conditions. “Even before the crisis, most people who come to buy rice paddy did not let us parboil for them. The crisis has made business harder and patronage poor”, said 50-year-old Falmata Mustapha, a rice processor from Gongulong.

Old but not gold

“Wufatu is the only method of processing rice that we know”, she said. An age-long local technique of processing rice paddy before milling, wufatu is a common practice among rural rice processors in Jere. Rice paddy is boiled for 24 hours, sun-dried for three days and milled to remove the bran layer and husk.

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Wufatu is a cumbersome and resource-consuming process. Falmata shared that she uses at least 200 litres of water and about NGN 1 000 (USD 3) worth of firewood to process 50 kg of rice, making the process environmentally unsustainable and expensive. Wufatu also subjects women to health hazards as they constantly monitor the boiling paddy, exposing them to firewood smoke. “If I process a lot of rice, I usually have to treat cough”, she explains, stating she does not know if she has health issues as a result of over-exposure to smoke and the absence of functional health centres where she can be examined.

Rice processed in this way is considered substandard in markets, particularly outside Jere, where consumers have other options. The rice paddy is not washed before boiling and residue from pesticides and stones can remain. Boiling the paddy for 24 hours also makes the end product less nutritious, tasteless and with an unpleasant smell.

A sustainable rice parboiling method

“The new method is very different. I am amazed because it makes rice parboiling easy”, Falmata said. In the method shared by FAO during a training for 80 women and 20 men from Gongulong and Zabarmari in May 2019, rice paddy is washed three times after harvest, soaked in lukewarm water for 18 hours under room temperature and steamed for 30 minutes.

The technique, which is locally adaptable in rural areas, requires less resources, time and it is prepared using locally available iron pots with false bottoms. It also keeps the rice naturally tasty and preserves the nutrients. To process 50 kg of rice, the new method helps beneficiaries save up to 72 hours of manpower, about 90 percent savings in cost of firewood and 95 percent in water usage (10 litres). This makes the method more environmentally sustainable than the local method.

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“I will attract customers with low prices now that cost of production is lower.” Falmata is convinced that the new method will increase her profit margin. She and other members of her cooperative group plan to ‘dominate’ the market with the new rice they produce by initially selling at a lower price point. FAO also provided the beneficiaries with the required kits to practice the new method.

Strengthening the value chain

Usually, Falmata and her colleagues could only mill their rice in Zabarmari, where milling is done using old machines with limited capacity. Rice produced by these machines, reports say, is not entirely whole, often broken and still containing stones and other particles. To further strengthen rice production value chain in the area, FAO provided a 300 kg per hour capacity rice miller and a power generator to each of Gongulong and Zabarmari communities. The machines are modern – they mill, destone and polish the rice.

Another two groups of five youths were selected in an own-operate approach to run the milling machines in each community. They will provide the services at a cost to rice parboilers like Falmata. FAO’s support to value chains in Borno will be extended to other LGAs, considering historically valued crops in each LGA. To promote community ownership and asset protection, all beneficiaries were selected in collaboration with community leaders.

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Building resilience

“Efficient agriculture value chains system – enabling rural dwellers to be actors beyond farms – is a catalyst for resilience building in rural areas”, said Suffyan Koroma, FAO Representative in Nigeria. In Borno, the capacity of conflict-affected populations to restart their livelihoods and withstand future shocks is enhanced if they are empowered to play profitable roles in agriculture value chains. As the efforts of the Government of Nigeria to restore calm across the region goes on, FAO’s objective is to support vulnerable smallholders for self-reliance. FAO is implementing this assistance as part of a European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) support targeting smallholders and agro-preneurs in Borno with capacity development programmes, start-up kits and access to finance opportunities.

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Dangote’s daughter, Halima Takes Charge of Dangote Group Commercial Operations

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Halima  Dangote, the second daughter of Nigerian business mogul Aliko Dangote has been appointed as the Group Executive Director, Commercial Operations of Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) one of Africa’s largest and most diversified business conglomerates.

According to a release by the company, Halima Aliko Dangote is returning to the Group after serving on secondment in several capacities across two of its Business Units over the last five years. She is also a Trustee of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the conglomerate.

In her most recent role, Halima served as Executive Director of Dangote Flour Mills. Remarkably, she led the turnaround of the business from loss in turnover to a profitable status; a feat derived from consistent high performance over time.

Previously, she served as Executive Director of NASCON, a manufacturer of salt, seasonings and related consumer products, which are enjoying huge patronage among consumers. She continues to serve as a Non-Executive Director of NASCON.

Halima is the president of the Board of The Africa Center in New York, a uniquely focused center providing a forward-looking gateway for engagement with Africa, while encompassing policy, business and culture. She is a Board member of Endeavour Nigeria, and is also a member of the Women Corporate Directors (WCD).

She has over 12 years of professional experience and has held several executive management roles. In her new role, Halima will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the Dangote Group’s customer strategy to drive customer growth, improve customer relationship management, enhance customer experience and increase long term customer value, according to the release.

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She will also be responsible for the implementation of the Group’s shared services strategy with specific oversight for the following functions; Commercial, Strategic procurement, Administration and Branding & Communications.

Halima, who has a strong passion for women empowerment, holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Marketing from the American Intercontinental University, London, United Kingdom and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Webster Business School, United Kingdom.

She has attended a number of high profile leadership development programmes including: the Programme for Leadership Development (PLD) at Harvard Business School; Executive Development Programme at Kellogg School of Management; Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Executives at Columbia Business School.

The Dangote Group, which recently emerged as the Most Admired African Brand and the Most Valuable Brand in Nigeria for the second consecutive year (2018 – 2019) is actively involved in manufacturing cement, sugar, salt, flour, poly-products as well as logistics, oil & gas and real estate.

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Dangote Group, Togo partner to transform Phosphate into Fertiliser

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Dangote Industries Limited and the Government of Togo (GoT) have concluded an agreement to develop and transform Togolese phosphate into phosphate fertilizers for the West African sub-region; in a bid to improve consumption of the product in Africa.

With over two billion tonnes of phosphate reserves, Togo is one of the leading phosphate producers in Africa. By partnering the Dangote Group, the country intends to benefit from the expertise and investment capacity of Africa’s largest industrial group, according to a joint release issued by the Dangote Group and the Communications Department of the Presidency of the Republic of Togo.

With the completion and commissioning of the Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Fertilizer complex in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, Dangote Group will be the largest ammonia producer on the African continent, the release noted. Ammonia is an essential ingredient in the transformation of phosphate into fertilizer derived from phosphates. Under the agreement, Togo will provide access to phosphate resources and the Dangote Group will provide access to ammonia and to the Nigerian market.

The project, in line with second pillar of the Togo National Development Plan, should enable the production of more than 1 million tonnes of fertilizers derived from phosphates once completed. The cost of the investment is estimated at about $2 billion and is expected to create several thousand direct jobs. Mining development work will start before the end of 2019, it added.

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On this occasion, Dangote Group also announced the establishment of a cement manufacturing plant with an annual capacity of 1.5 million tonnes in Lomé. This plant will use clinker from Togo and Nigeria and will meet both local and neighbouring countries’ demand, the release noted.

It further added that construction of the Lome plant is billed to start in first quarter of 2020 and its commissioning scheduled to take place before the end of 2020. The investment is estimated at $60 million and is expected to create 500 direct jobs.

Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbé said, “The structural transformation of our economy is the main objective we have set ourselves in the context of the 2018-2022 NDP. By processing our phosphate we will not only create jobs but we will also be able to provide our farmers with good quality fertilizers at an affordable cost. Having an industrial investor like Alhaji Dangoté shows that our efforts to improve the business climate are paying off. We intend to continue in this dynamic for the well-being of Togolese men and women.”

President/CE Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said, ‘’This partnership is in line with our transformation agenda in creating prosperity and enhancing economic development not only in Togo but also in Affrica.  In addition, the Dangote Group is determined in supporting the Government of Togo in its industrialisation strategy aimed at creating jobs for its citizens and making Togo an attractive investment destination.’’

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The two investment agreements reinforce Togo’s industrialisation strategy adopted under the 2018-2022 National Development Plan.

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FG Pledges Support Towards Completion of Dangote Petroleum Refinery

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The  Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has pledged support of the Federal Government towards ensuring the completion of the historic 650,000 BPD, Dangote Petroleum Refinery during an official visit to the Petrochemical complex located at the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria.

The minister who was led on a tour of the Refinery by the Group President,  Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, and the company’s Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Projects and Portfolio Development, Mr. Devakumar Edwin, was accompanied by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Senator Sabo Nakudu; Chairman, Senate Committee on Services/member, Senate Committee, Upstream, Senator Muhammad Musa; GMD, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari; Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Ahmed Shakur; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Simbi Wabote; and the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF), Mr. Ahmed Boboi; among others.

He said: “This is a very heartwarming moment for all of us as Nigerians. There is no way a project of this magnitude will be going on and government will not be interested. Anywhere in the world, if a citizen of a country has committed so much money into investing in this kind of massive project, government must show interest.

“I must say now that Dangote Group has turned this project to the story of all of us, we must all support this project to succeed, because the success of this project signals a lot. Of course, I am sure that the whole world is looking at the success of this project. Investors all over the world will look at the success of this project and will come to Nigeria to at least also enjoy the benefit of investing here. So, we are actually here to assure you, Dangote Group, that as a government, as NNPC, we will support this project as much as we can. You have definitely done very well.”

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“As you can see, the whole team is complete, and whatever your concerns are, whatever your problems are, please feel free to let us know, so that we will together find a solution to problems that you might encounter. Because of course, in project of this magnitude, you cannot expect that you will not have problems.

Sylva said the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical was a testament that the country possesses enabling environment for businesses to thrive and added that the success of the project will boost investors confidence in the country’s oil and gas project. He implored Nigerians to support the refinery project with a view to ensuring that it creates more value addition to the economy.

Mr Mele Kyari, NNPC GMD said that “we are not competing with Dangote but complimenting each other to boost production capacity. Our objective is the same, to make Nigeria a net exporter of crude. We can’t do this until we have complementary activities between the private sector and government.”

“ln the next five years, Dangote will add 650,000 barrels, government with 445,000 barrels with others companies coming up to boost capacity,” he said.

In his remarks, Aliko Dangote, Group President and Chief Executive, Dangote Group said ” We believed in Nigeria and if we don’t do it ourselves, nobody will come down to do it for us. There is three per cent growth population increase annually in Nigeria, so, apart from that Nigeria are supposed to meet the needs of West, East and Central Africa in terms of supply.”

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Similarly, Mr Devakumar Edwin,the company’s Group Executive Director, Strategy, Capital Projects and Portfolio Development, said that the asset creates market for 11billion per annum of Nigerian crude and can meet 100 per cent of the Nigerian requirement of all liquid products.

He said that Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude oil producer, but lacks refining capacity to meet its own fuel needs.

“The Dangote refinery, which is designed to maximise petrol output, will produce enough to allow for a small surplus of that fuel for export. It will also be able to send a large volume of diesel and jet fuel to international markets.”

He disclosed that Dangote plans to take advantage of local crude supply, adding that it won’t participate in the crude-for-fuel swap deal that is managed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“We are going to buy the crude just at the export price and will sell our products at the import price, the crude swap is operating only for the importers of the product. The new refinery has been designed to process varieties of crude from sweet to light crude sourced both locally, and abroad.

“Dangote plans to export its diesel to Europe and gasoline to Latin America, Western and Central African markets, Edwin said.

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He said that evacuation of refined products will be done by sea and through roads.

“We are thinking of investing in vessels. We want to make sure we are not held for ransom by any transport operators. Africa’s largest oil refinery had revealed that it would deliver its fuels to Nigerian consumers via roads and sea ports, and will effectively replace all of Nigeria’s fuel imports once fully operational.”

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