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Farmers lament as wild fire, heat waves cut grain harvest in Tunisia

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Farmers union in Tunisia has forecasted that output will fall well short of government hopes following heat waves and fires that are badly damaging the country’s grain harvest.

Farmers union official Mohamed Rejaibia, pointing to fires that began raging over much of the country last month, said that was no longer possible.

“The grain harvest will not be more than 1.4 million tonnes,” said Rejaibia, a member of the union’s executive office. “Some of it will be lost to fires and some perhaps during collection.”

The North African country has struggled with food importation costs driven higher by the war in Ukraine. That is largely because Ukraine and Russia account for a great amount of the global supply for grains, particularly wheat.

Earlier this month, agriculture minister, Mhamoud Elyess Hamza forecasted the 2022 grain harvest would reach 1.8 million tonnes, that is 10% up from last year’s harvest.

Wild fire has had a devastating effect in Tunisia. According to a statement released by the Tunisian Federation of Insurance Companies (FTUSA), the insurance industry in the country paid fire insurance claims totalling TND25m ($8m) in 2015 and the quantum jumped over the years to TND107m in 2020. That represented an average increase over 30% a year.

Another farmer, Abderraouf Arfaoui, in Krib, revealed that most of his colleagues had to harvest their grains earlier than usual.

“Usually we begin the harvest season in July, but this year we started on June 18… we are afraid of fires. We must watch our land day and night.

“We must harvest without waiting, even if that reduces the quantity and quality of the wheat, and when we finish the harvest we must watch our haystacks, too.”

 According to Thinkhazard, wildfire hazard is classified as high with more than a 50% chance of encountering weather that could support a significant wildfire that is likely to result in both life and property loss in any given year.

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Nigeria: President Buhari makes U-turn on approval of Exxon unit acquisition by Seplat

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has made a U-turn in his earlier position that grant approval of Exxon Mobil’s  sale of local offshore shallow water assets to Seplat.

President Buhari had on Monday approved the $1.28 billion transaction, only for the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to say it opposed the deal, although it did not give a reason.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, told newsmen that “the president has decided to allow the regulator to do their work. He is withholding his earlier given approval, for now, to allow the process to be completed, that is basically it.”

In February, Seplat Energy Plc, unveiled plans to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) from Exxon Mobil Corporation Delaware (USA Incorporated). That includes all of Exxon’s entire shallow water assets in the Niger Delta.

Seplat on its side said it is yet to received no official notification of President Buhari’s U-turn and is seeking clarification from authorities.

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Nigeria climbs to fourth position on World Bank’s list of most indebted nations

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Nigeria has moved into the fourth position of World Bank’s list of countries with the highest debts, according to the Bank’s financisl report released on Monday.

Going by the World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for International Development Association (IDA), Nigeria now owes a debt stock of $13bn as at June 30, 2022.

The country also moved up one spot from the fifth position it was rated as of June 30, 2021, with an IDA debt stock of $11.7bn.

The global bank also revealed in its audited financial statements that Nigeria has accumulated about $1.3bn IDA debt within a fiscal year, adding that the debt is different from the outstanding loan of $486m from the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

What this means is that Nigeria now has the highest IDA debt in Africa, and is only bettered by the likes India with $19.7bn debt, Bangladesh, $18bn
and Pakistan, $15.8bn, all from the Asian bloc.

The Washington-based international Financial Institution also disclosed that Nigeria’s debt which may be considered sustainable for now, is fast growing into a state of vulnerability and could become costly.

“Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable, albeit vulnerable and costly, especially due to large and growing financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria,” it said.

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