Published On: Fri, Sep 20th, 2019

CBN, Governors Forum pledge to reduce Nigeria’s burgeoning import bills

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By Etuka Sunday

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Governors Forum yesterday met with the pledge to reduce the country’s increasing import bills.
The meeting was held at the CBN’s Headquarters in Abuja, shortly after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting where all the states governors attended.
CBN’s governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele informed the governors of the need to support the initiatives and intervention of the bank in the agricultural sector especially in the area of making land available for investors.
He said, following Mr. President’s directives, the bank has identified 10 key commodities including Rice, Cotton, Oil Palm, Tomato, Cassava, Poultry, Fish, Maize, Cocoa and Livestock/Dairy as key enterprises to be developed along the value chain to achieve the above stated goals.
He explained that “the annual demand for palm oil in Nigeria stands at 2.5m metric tons of which only 1.25m mt,is produced locally leaving a gap of 1.25m mt per annum. This gap is currently being met through imports.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria oil palm initiative is aimed at closing the gap and also positioning Nigeria to incrementally export oil palm products to neighboring African countries and beyond.
“Closing the identified gap would require bringing about 312,500 hectares under modern cultivation at an estimated yield of 4 metric tons per hectare.
“Our target is to ensure that a minimum of 1.4 million ha of land is put under oil palm cultivation in three years. As a step in this direction, the Bank had met with 14 State Governors who pledged to make available 100,000ha of land in each state.
“We currently have a total of 904,624 hectares which are available in the states for allocation and investors have been matched with the States of interest to process necessary documentation and titling requirement.
“The investors are to be funded from the Bank’s intervention programme. However, some of the States are slow in making the land available to these investors,” he said.
Emefiele said, so far a total of about N30 billion has been disbursed through deposit money banks in favour of 6 oil palm companies to support their expansion programmes.
According to him, the companies are PZ Wimar, Biase oil company ltd, Eyop, Okomu Oil company, presco oil company, SIAT ltd. We are expecting application in favour of Ada Palm IMO State. Over 40 applications from investors across the country for the cultivation of 126,694 hectares are being considered.
The CBN boss said, Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava tubers with 53 million mt per annum. However, the yield per hectare averaging 20 tonnes/ha is very low compared to other jurisdictions.
“In addition, the country imports cassava derivatives with over $600 million each year. The cassava initiative of the Bank is to improve cassava productivity, stabilize prices and encourage local processing to generate employment,” he said.
The CBN boss said, “in our efforts to revive the Cotten, Textile, Garment sector through Anchor Borrowers Programme, we commenced with the cultivation of 200,000 ha of hybrid cotton distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 States in the country namely: Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Oyo, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Ogun and Lagos.
“The Bank spearheaded the importation of improved cotton seed. A total of 6,000 metric tonnes was imported while additional 2,000 metric tonnes of cotton seeds were sourced locally.
“The total expected yield at the end of the current season 302,440 metric tonnes. The distribution of inputs to cotton farmers was flagged off in Katsina on May 6, 2019.
“Our target is to work with relevant stakeholders to engage about 300,000 farmers to achieve 450,000MT of cotton in 3 years,” he said.
Emefiele also disclosed that Nigeria spends about $1.5 billion yearly on the importation of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and other milk derivatives.
“In essence, over 95% of milk products consumed in the country is imported, a narrative that we are determined to change.
“We are also aware of the fact that 85 per cent of Nigeria’s cattle, estimated at over 20 million, are owned and managed by small holder, subsistent and nomadic herdsmen who require to be integrated in the scheme of things and be supported by the Bank under the ABP.
“The Bank’s flagship partnership on livestock development initiative is in Niger State. The State has 26 Grazing Reserves gazette but has chosen Bobi Grazing Reserve situated in Mariga LGA with land area of 31,000 ha with about 700 families with 300,000 heads of cattle resident thereon for the pilot project.
On palm oil, he said, the annual demand for palm oil in Nigeria stands at 2.5m mt of which only 1.25m mt, is produced locally leaving a gap of 1.25m mt per annum.
“This gap is currently being met through imports. The Central Bank of Nigeria oil palm initiative is aimed at closing the gap and also positioning Nigeria to incrementally export oil palm products to neighboring African countries and beyond.
“Closing the identified gap would require bringing about 312,500 hectares under modern cultivation at an estimated yield of 4 metric tons per hectare.
“Our target is to ensure that a minimum of 1.4 million ha of land is put under oil palm cultivation in three years.
“As a step in this direction, the Bank had met with 14 State Governors who pledged to make available 100,000ha of land in each state.
“ We currently have a total of 904,624 hectares which are available in the states for allocation and investors have been matched with the States of interest to process necessary documentation and titling requirement.
“The investors are to be funded from the Bank’s intervention programme. However, some of the States are slow in making the land available to these investors.
“So far a total of about N30 billion has been disbursed through deposit money banks in favour of 6 oil palm companies to support their expansion programmes.
“The companies are PZ Wimar, Biase oil company ltd, Eyop, Okomu Oil company, presco oil company, SIAT ltd. We are expecting application in favour of Ada Palm IMO State.
“Over 40 applications from investors across the country for the cultivation of 126,694 hectares are being considered,” he said.
Speaking, the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, and the Executive governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who spoke on behalf of the governors, pledged to support the CBN’s quest to industralise the states.

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