By Onome Oghenetega
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has said Nigeria spent about $500 million yearly on the importation of palm oil.
Emefiele, who revealed this on Monday in Abuja, during a stakeholders’ meeting on Palm Oil Value Chain, however decried the situation, called for urgent step to change the tide.
The meeting which had in attendance Governors of Akwa Ibom, Edo and Abia, Mr. Emmanuel Udom, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Mr., as well as managers of Dangote Farms, Flour mills, United Food Industries and Dufil Frima Foods Plc, was organized to seek ways to improve and increase Nigeria’s oil palm production.
The CBN governor noted that with the vast arable land across the southern part of the country, agricultural earnings will get more boost with increased palm oil output.
Nigeria which was, in the late 50s, known as the leading producer and largest exporter of palm oil, accounting for close to 40 percent of the world’s market, has now fallen to the fifth place, with Malaysia and Indonesia at the top.
He further pointed out that the discuss was in line with the federal government’s efforts to diversify the nation’s “economy, create jobs and conserve our foreign exchange.”
He said: “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.”
Disclosing that all the state governors in the Niger Delta and South-East had agreed to provide a 100,000 hectares of land each for large scale oil palm farming, he expressed optimism that by 2022 and 2024 , Nigeria may unseat Thailand and Columbia which currently rank third and fourth largest producers globally.
Emefiele assured among other incentives, that the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), will work with large corporate stakeholders and small holder farmers to ensure availability of quality seeds for this year’s planting season.
Meanwhile, the Edo state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called for the revival of the Nigerian Institute For Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), in Benin.
According to him, this will pave way for investment in research and production of quality palm oil seeds.
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