Suleiman: Lack of Trust Affecting Commodity Market’s Growth

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, has identified lack of trust as the main problem affecting the growth and development of the Nigerian commodity market.

He disclosed this while delivering a welcome address during a webinar organised recently as part of measures to promote SABEX, a digital commodity exchange empowered by blockchain technology. The webinar held with the theme: ‘Agro Commodities as a Viable Asset Class.’

SABEX, which was designed to facilitate the exchange of agro commodities, operates through an ecosystem of buyers, financiers, warehouse operators and other players in the agro commodity trading business across Nigeria.

On SABEX, traders – typically farmers – can pledge their warehoused agricultural goods as collateral to access instant loans to facilitate their business growth.

Suleiman, was quoted in a statement to have said the webinar had the objective of developing trust in the commodity market, saying there is currently no trust among players in the sub-sector, starting from farmers to micro players and exporters across the value chain.

He said there was a need to build trust in the payment, partnership, product, price and delivery elements of the agro commodity trading business. He added: “We need to financialise commodities to the point that they are similar to digital assets.”

The CEO said there was need to get to the point of higher productivity by scaling and bringing efficiency and quality inputs into the agricultural produce space, adding that there is also the need to change the nature of the asset and increase the liquidity of commodities. He said SABEX intends to deliver on trust.

A Senior Fellow/Associate Professor and full-time member of the Lagos Business School, Dr. Adedoyin Salami, who delivered the keynote address, noted that agriculture is a major sector that represents one-quarter of the Nigerian economy.

He noted that the commodity market is made up of energy, metals, agriculture, livestock and cryptocurrency.

Salami, who is also an economist and consultant, noted that though the agricultural sector is declining, it still accounts for a significant proportion of jobs and has remained resilient over the years despite the ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw Nigeria’s economy contract in two consecutive quarters of 2020.

The keynote speaker, who is also a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) of the Federal Government, said Nigerian commodities would compare favourably with all other asset classes, even though Nigeria is lagging behind other global players.

He said, from a global perspective, there was huge potential for investments in physical assets in Nigeria, especially investments in storage and irrigation because the country’s agriculture is currently rain-fed and seasonal.

The university don explained that agriculture could also have a huge impact on the country through savings mobilisation, food security improvement, poverty reduction, increased financial inclusion, revenue diversification, and the complimentary role of regulators that would ensure transparency, capital adequacy, policy consistency, constant engagement with stakeholders, encouraging innovative products and revision of regulations to global best practice.

Also, the Vice President, Corporate and Government Relations of Olam International, Mr. Ade Adefeko, identified opaqueness, lack of trust, and transparency as some of the problems affecting the Nigerian commodity market.

He said going forward, there was a need for predictability, price stability and the need to work on the distorted agricultural space, adding that although opportunities abound, there was a need to structure the market so that the farmer can get value for his produce at the right price.

On his part, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Mr. Ayodeji Balogun said Nigeria produces about 28 million metric tonnes of grains yearly but have storage capacity for only 1.4 million metric tonnes that can last for only two weeks in a year as against South Africa and China that have 100 percent storage capacity.

He observed that because of the insufficient storage capacity whenever there is a logistics challenge on the road between the North and the South, or the Covid-19 Pandemic which led to lockdown last year, food prices jumped up, adding that creation of warehouses in different parts of the country will help to solve the problem.

SOURCE: THIS DAY

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