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Agency helps to promote export of agric products – D-G

Exportation
By Kudirat Musa
Abuja, Feb. 6, 2019 (NNN) The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), says the agency has been helping to promote exportation of agricultural products to stem the tide of rejection in the international market.

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Exportation
By Kudirat Musa
Abuja, Feb. 6, 2019 (NNN) The Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), says the agency has been helping to promote exportation of agricultural products to stem the tide of rejection in the international market.

 

The Director-General of the agency, Dr Vincent Isegbe, made this known at a Media Parley with Nigerian Journalists in Abuja on Wednesday with the theme: “The Role of the media in the Promotion of Export of Agricultural product’’.

“The agency is saddled with the promotion of export of agricultural produce and we are leading government’s drive to stem the tide of the rejection of some agricultural produce in foreign markets due to quality defects.

“We empower farmers, off takers and exporters to comply with the standards of the export markets.

“The agency has been interfacing with stakeholders to educate and train farmers and exporters on export quality criteria for agricultural produce and Global Good Agricultural Practice (GAP),’’ he said.

 

Isegbe said that the mandate of the agency was to prevent the introduction, establishment and outbreak of animal and zoonotic diseases such as pests of plants and fisheries and their products.

“The agency is also responsible for facilitating international trade in Nigerian agricultural resources and ensures that Nigerian food commodities conform to international standards and requirements.

The director-general expressed satisfaction on the NAQS report on best practices which was yielding great rewards due to increased knowledge and adaptation to the guidelines.

According to him, Nigeria was able to export 1,983 containers of Hibiscus to Mexico within the first nine months of 2017 and the country earned 35 million dollars in the same period.

“Our mission is to catalyse the harnessing of the export potential of the Nigerian agricultural resources and we recently conducted a crop pest survey on pigeon pea, sorghum and groundnut.

“The result of the pigeon pea survey has paved a way for Nigeria to penetrate the 100 billion dollars worthy pigeon pea market of India.

“Our result for sorghum has opened the door for Nigeria to export forage sorghum to China and local company is expected to ship out the first batch of its consignment in the first quarter of this year,’’ Isegbe said.

 

The director-general expressed the agency’s commitment to stimulating the growth of export of Nigerian agricultural produce.

 

He said that the agency would launch “Export Certification Value Chain (ECVC)’’ for Onions, Garlic, Cow horns/hooves, Sunflower, Nsukka Yellow Pepper, Sesame, Gum Arabic and Tumeric.

“We have gone further to map states with the capacity to produce high export value agro-export commodities on industrial scale.

“The exploitation of Nigeria’s comparative advantage in many agricultural commodities will proliferate opportunities for wealth creation.

“If country produces as much as it can export as the nation’s natural endowment allows, we will create thousands of jobs, improve livelihoods and place the foreign revenue from the agriculture sector on the upward trajectory for the country.’’

According to him, the agency is ready to assist any Nigerian who is interested in exploring the prospects that abound in the land.

He solicited the support and assistance of stakeholders, states,  local governments, private sectors and journalists in achieving more of the set goals for the country to be self-sufficiency and be recognised with quality produce globally.

Isegbe commended the journalists for generously projecting the initiatives and activities of the agency and making its news known at home and abroad.

“Your coverage of NAQS and issues within its purview has always been guided solely by sense of duty. We need to integrate you into our operations because the ramifications of our functions involve awareness.

“We will equip you with the tools you need to report authoritatively on developments that border on quarantine and export of agricultural produce,’’ he said. (NNN)
ROK/ADA/GY
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Edited by Deji Abdulwahab/Grace Yussuf

 

General news

Not a billionaire, but Kylie Jenner is highest-paid celebrity, Forbes says

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Kylie Jenner and Kanye West on Thursday topped the annual Forbes list of the highest paid celebrities, but sports stars, including Roger Federer and Lionel Messi, dominated the top 10.

Forbes estimated that Jenner earned $590 million in the last 12 months, mostly from the sale of a 51 per cent stake in her Kylie Cosmetics line to Coty in 2019.

Jenner, 22, the half-sister of Kim Kardashian, made headlines a week ago when Forbes said that after reviewing data from the Coty sale, it no longer believed she was a billionaire as it had declared a year ago.

Jenner responded saying that the original Forbes estimate was based on “a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions.”

West, who is married to Kardashian, followed with an estimated $170 million in earnings, much of it from his deal with Adidas for his Yeezy sneaker brand.

West was also the top-earning musician, followed by Elton John who raked in most of his estimated $81 million from a lengthy farewell tour.

Forbes said the Celebrity Top 100 earned a combined $6.1 billion before taxes and fees, a $200 million drop from 2019, after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered stadiums and sports arenas.

Tennis champion Federer took third place with an estimated $106.3 million, mostly from endorsement deals with the likes of Japanese clothing company Uniqlo and watch maker Rolex, followed by soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.

Forbes compiled the list by estimating pre-tax earnings from June 2019-June 2020, before deducting fees for managers, based on data from Nielsen, touring trade publication Pollstar, movie database IMDB, as well as interviews with industry experts and many of the celebrities themselves.

Newcomers this year included “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda ($45.5 million) and musician Billie Eilish ($53 million), who at age 18,was the youngest of the Celebrity 100.

Taylor Swift, who took the top spot a year ago, slid to 25th place after the conclusion of her “Reputation” world tour.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara (NAN)
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Foreign

Thousands converge in downtown Denver for peaceful protests after curfew

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An eighth straight day of protests saw thousands peacefully protest against the death of African-American George Floyd in America’s Mile High City.

Protesters openly violated the curfew imposed by Denver mayor Michael Hancock starting from local time 9:00 p.m. (0300GMT on Friday), but the police did not respond aggressively.

This non-aggressive intervention has made all the difference, local news reported, as Denver’s large-scale protests about Floyd’s graphic murder captured on by a white police officer has sent shockwaves around the country and the world about police brutality against minorities.

Denver Police reported on Twitter that at at local time 10:00 p.m. (0400GMT on Friday) a shooting had occurred, and at least one person had been transported to the hospital.

The isolated incident did not mar another evening of nonviolent protest, organizers said.

On Thursday morning, Denver hosted a memorial for Floyd at Civic Center Park, honoring his life in song and prayer from local time 10:00 a.m. (1600GMT) to 11:00 a.m. (1700GMT).

Hundreds of attendees participated in an eight-minute, 45-second moment of silence, marking the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck before he died.

Daytime protests also included speeches by a number of children about racial inequality in America, including a four-year-old.

Three days ago Denver police stopped attacking and harassing protesters, and Denver’s police chief has been largely credited in descalating the violence by meeting, marching and kneeling with protesters at the beginning of the week.

A local bill was introduced Thursday by Colorado Democrats for increased police accountability, which will likely be passed by Colorado’s Democrat-controllable, liberal-controlled House of representatives, although several conservative, right-wing Colorado sheriffs have already said they will oppose it.

(XINHUA)

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Entertainment

Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival cancelled for first time because of pandemic

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Fuji Rock Festival, Japan’s biggest annual music event, will be cancelled for the first time ever due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said, disappointing thousands of rock-and-roll fans who flock to the outdoor festivities every year.

Since its inception in 1997, headiners at the event have included The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Cure and Kendrick Lamar.

Last year, the event held in the summer, attracted 130,000 people over four days.

“We had hoped the pandemic would abate in time to hold this summer’s festival as scheduled and were moving forward with planning,” the organisers said on their website.

They apologized  for taking so long to inform everyone of the decision.

This year’s festival had been scheduled for three days from August 21, with American rock band The Strokes among the acts.

Fuji Rock” and “Complete Cancellation” were among the top-trending topics on Twitter, after organisers made the announcement.

“I saw the words ‘complete cancellation’ and thought it was about the Olympics,” lamented Twitter user @taako_chako. “It’s about Fuji Rock? Such a shame.”

Japan last month lifted its state of emergency but strict in-bound travel restrictions remain in place, with most non-Japanese nationals not allowed in.

Japan has been hit by around 18,000 infections and 900 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara (NAN)
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Foreign

Some downtown retail stores in Toronto board up storefronts for fear of being looted

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Workers board up the storefront windows in Toronto, Canada, on June 4, 2020. With more anti-racism protests planned this weekend in Toronto, some downtown retail stores boarded up their storefronts for fear of being looted. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua)

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Foreign

Feature: Emotional memorial held for Geroge Floyd as protests over his death continue across United States

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Family, friends and guests observed a silence of eight minutes and 46 seconds as the memorial service honoring George Floyd came to a close on Thursday in Minneapolis, the United States state of Minnesota.

That length of time represented the duration, for which the unarmed 46-year-old black man was pinned down under a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee, before he died last week.

“What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, in education, in health services, and in every area of American life. It is time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, get your knee off our necks,” said civil rights activist Alfred Sharpton, when delivering a eulogy at the service held at the Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary of North Central University in downtown Minneapolis Thursday afternoon.

Sharpton, founder of the civil rights organization National Action Network, called for a march in Washington on Aug. 28 — the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s original March on Washington during the historical Civil Rights Movement — to call for a federal policing equality act.

“We need to go back to Washington and stand up — black, white, Latino, Arab — in the shadows of Lincoln, and tell them this is the time to stop this,” he said.

“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” said Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Floyd family. “(It‘s) the other pandemic that we’re far too familiar with in America, the pandemic of racism and discrimination, that killed George Floyd.”

Prior to the memorial, hundreds of Minneapolis residents paid their tribute to Floyd by laying wreaths at a makeshift memorial site near the store where Floyd died.

“All these people came to see my brother. And that is amazing to me that he touched so many people’s hearts,” Floyd’s brother Philonise said at the memorial.

“Everybody wants justice. We want justice for George. He‘s going to get it. He’s going to get it,” he said.

Thursday’s memorial, streamed live to the public, is the first in a series of services to remember Floyd.

A public viewing and a private memorial service will be held on Saturday in Raeford, North Carolina, the state where Floyd was born. And Floyd‘s body will return on Monday to Houston, Texas, where Floyd called home, for a public memorial and private service on Tuesday.

Floyd’s death has triggered protests all over the United States.

Protesters in Minneapolis, New York and other cities continue to rally, as the four fired Minneapolis police officers who had been arresting Floyd are now in jail.

Derek Chauvin, the ex-officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, was charged Wednesday with an additional count of second-degree murder, on top of a third-degree murder charge. He is scheduled to be in court Monday.

The three others were charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

If convicted, all the officers could spend up to 40 years in prison, according to local reports.

A Nation Torn” is the title of a special report by Time Magazine in its upcoming June 15th issue. The cover features a painting of a black mother holding a baby who appears to be cut out of the picture.

The image represents the despair and loss of black mothers who have lost a child, said its painter Titus Kaphar.

For the first time, the red border of Time’s front page includes the names of people: 35 black men and women whose deaths, in many cases caused by police, as the result of systemic racism and helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the magazine.

Grammy-winning Beyonce shared a message on Instagram Wednesday, which featured an aerial photo of thousands of Black Lives Matter demonstrators filling the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Accompanying the picture were the words: “The world came together for George Floyd. We know there is a long road ahead. Let’s remain aligned and focused in our call for real justice.”

Stephen Jackson, former NBA player and friend of George Floyd, said in an interview with CNN’s John Berman, that Floyd‘s death could be “a big step in fixing things and getting justice for black people.”

This week, Jackson posted video of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna on his shoulders saying “Daddy changed the world.”

“It was emotional. I just want to lift her spirits. I want her next days to be her best days. That’s all I care about,” Jackson said.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Australian drug to be tested for COVID-19 treatment

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A pioneering drug developed by the University of Western Australia‘s spin-off company Dimerix will be included in a global trial to treat patients suffering Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) with COVID-19, the university announced on Thursday.

The drug, named as DMX-200, was selected as part of the Randomised, Embedded, Multifactorial Adaptive Platform trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) program, to treat people hospitalised with proven or suspected COVID-19. Such patients typically suffer acute lung dysfunction caused by the immune response to the virus.

While the long-term effects of COVID-19 remain unknown, some people worry it may result in acute injury, such as chronic lung fibrosis, similar to SARS and MERS infections.

DMX-200, which is being developed as a renal therapy to reduce damage from inflammatory cells by blocking their signalling and limiting subsequent onset of fibrosis, could also benefit ARDS patients with COVID-19 in a similar way.

Dimerix’s chief scientific advisor Professor Kevin Pfleger welcomed the decision.

“It has taken years of research and development to get DMX-200 to this point, and it will be worth every second if it can contribute to fighting the devastating effects of this virus,” Pfleger said.

Dimerix CEO Dr Nina Webster said the company was pleased to support a global initiative investigating possible treatments to COVID-19.

“Dimerix is uniquely positioned to support the global effort in identifying COVID-19 treatments, as well as having two Phase 2 renal clinical studies completing mid-2020,” Webster said.

REMAP-CAP is an international platform trial run by a network of experts, institutions and research groups, and plans to include over 7,000 patients from more than 200 sites across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Water-related accidents kill 13 in Mongolia so far this year

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A total of 13 people have been killed in more than 10 water-related accidents across Mongolia so far this year, the country’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said Friday.

Five of the victims were children, the NEMA said in a statement.

The negligence of citizens, leaving children unsupervised and swimming after consuming alcohol were the main causes of the water-related accidents, it said.

As summer comes, the number of people who come to lake and rivers increases dramatically, the agency said, urging people to prevent potential accidents.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

India COVID-19 death toll rises to 6,348, total cases stand at 226,770

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India’s federal health ministry on Friday morning said that 273 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 9,851 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 6,348 and total cases to 226,770.

This is the highest spike in terms of fresh cases and deaths.

As of 8:00 a.m. (local time) Friday, 6,348 deaths related to novel Coronavirus have been recorded in the country,” read information released by the ministry.

On Thursday morning, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 216,919, and the death toll stood at 6,075.

According to ministry officials, so far 109,462 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.

“The number of active cases in the country right now is 110,960,” read the information.

The 5th phase of nationwide lockdown came into force from Monday. This phase marks several relaxations and reopening in a phased manner.

On March 25, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of infection.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Spotlight: United States protests fuel Australia’s own “Black Lives Matter” movement

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As thousands of Australians marched in solidarity with U.S. protesters this week, highly visible were the red, yellow and black of the Australian Aboriginal flags, proudly displayed by many in the crowd.

Since the first contact with the British 250 years ago, Australia’s First Nations Peoples (The term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is preferred by many as First Nations of Australia) have endured devastating violence and oppression, from mass killings at the hands of early settlers, through the Stolen Generations of last century, to more recent deaths while in the custody of police.

The treatment of Indigenous people is a wound which despite many flawed attempts at “reconciliation,” Australia has never been able to heal, and has now been agitated by occurrences in the United States.

One of those who attended a Sydney protest this week, university student Eloise Walsh told Xinhua that the events in America were a catalyst to refocus on Australia’s own issues.

“I don’t agree 100 percent with what’s happening, the looting and everything, but all the peaceful protests that you can see is so heartwarming,” Walsh said.

“And so (we’re here) to spread awareness as well of what has happened in Australia, because I think we can relate.”

Despite making up only 3.3 percent of the Australian population, First Nations Peoples represent roughly 28 percent of the prison population.

As a group, they also have a lower life expectancy, poorer educational outcomes, higher rates of psychological distress and suicide, endemic levels of substance abuse and a far higher likelihood of having dealings with the justice system.

During the week, video went viral of an indigenous teenager being knocked to the ground by police in the State of New South Wales (NSW), prompting the boy’s family to consider suing NSW police, and the officer involved to be placed on restricted duties.

Police launched an investigation into the incident, which appeared to involve the boy threatening the officer before being violently restrained. However, NSW Police Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing downplayed links between the video and protests against police brutality in the United States.

“We’re not the United States of America,” Willing said.

While he acknowledged that the footage was concerning, Willing warned against it being used to inflame the situation in Australia or “turn it into something it’s not.”

However, others pointed out that the arrest is far from an isolated incident, with a long history of violent interactions between police and Aboriginal Australians, on top of a staggeringly high record of deaths occurring while in police custody.

Since 1991, 432 First Nations Peoples have died while in the custody of police, according to data from the Guardian. One of them, 26-year-old Dunghutti man, David Dungay who passed away in 2015, repeatedly uttered the words “I can’t breathe” before he died while being restrained by five guards.

It is the same phrase spoken by George Floyd during the fatal incident which sparked the current U.S. protests, a fact which Dungay’s family has found difficult to bear.

Those words, along with “Black Lives Matter” are likely to be heard loud and clear this weekend as protests continue across major Australian cities, with thousands of both indigenous and non-indigenous people, expected to call for change.

In 2017, 250 Indigenous representatives convened at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention to deliver the Uluru Statement from the Heart — a document intended to guide “real, lasting and practical change,” to address the challenges faced by First Australians.

It calls for a constitutionally enshrined representation of First Nations people in parliament, giving them a voice to decide on the issues which disproportionately affect them.

“Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet,” the statement says. “We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.”

“We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.”

(XINHUA)

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