Nigeria spends $500 million importing palm oil yearly – CBN

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Monday, disclosed that over five hundred million dollars was being spent on the importation of palm oil every year.

He stated this at a stakeholders’ meeting on the Palm Oil Value Chain held in Abuja. The meeting was attended by the Governors of Akwa Ibom, Edo and Abia. Also, the managers of Dangote Farms, Flour mills, United Food Industries and Dufil Frima Foods Plc, among others were at the meeting.

Emefiele regretted that Nigeria was still importing palm oil in spite sufficient arable land in the South-South and South-East regions of the country to farm it.

He recalled that in the late 50’s and 60’s, Nigeria was not only the world’s leading producer of palm oil, but it was also the largest exporter of palm oil, accounting for close to 40 per cent of the global market share.

The CBN governor said that right now, Malaysia and Indonesia were the top producers of palm oil and Nigeria the fifth, after getting their seeds and learning how to cultivate oil palm from Nigeria.

“This conversation is indeed important as it forms part of our overall strategy to reduce our reliance on crude oil imports, diversify the productive base of our economy, create jobs and conserve our foreign exchange.

“Despite placing oil palm in the forex exclusion list, official figures indicate that importation of palm oil had declined by about 40 per cent from the peak of 506,000 Metric Tonnes (MTs) in 2014 to 302,000 MTs in 2017.

“This indicates that Nigeria still expends close to 500 million dollars on oil palm importation annually and we are determined to change this narrative.

“We intend to support improved production of palm oil to meet not only the domestic needs of the market, but to also increase our exports in order to improve our forex earnings,” he said.

In view of this, Emefiele said that all the state governors in South-South and South-East, Nigeria had agreed to provide at least 100,000 hectares each for large scale oil palm farming.

He said that with the help of the state governments, Nigeria could reach self-sufficiency in palm oil between 2022 and 2024 and ultimately overtake Thailand and Columbia to become the third largest producer over the next few years.

“As part of our Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), the CBN will work with large corporate stakeholders and small holder farmers to ensure availability of quality seeds for this year’s planting season.

“We will also ensure the availability of agro-chemicals in order to enable improved cultivation of palm oil.

“We will also work to encourage viable off taker agreements between farmers and large-scale palm producing companies.

“Loans will be granted through our ABP and CACS programs at no more than 9 per cent per annum to identified core borrowers,” the CBN governor said.

He reiterated that the restrictions earlier placed on the importation of textiles and other ready-made clothing was for the good of the economy, adding that the CBN would in due course, introduce policies to address challenges in the cocoa, cassava, beef/cattle ranching, dairy and fish sectors.

According to him, “Soon every region of our beloved country will feel the positive impact of our intervention in the agricultural sector.

“These efforts we hope will not only enable us to conserve our foreign exchange, but also create jobs on a mass scale.

“As these measures begin to bear fruits, we are very optimistic that our states will become more economically viable.”

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