The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced that it would start restricting foreign exchange for the importation of cassava, starch, ethanol and other products into Nigeria.
Godwin Emiefele, CBN Governor said this while hosting about 18 governors and two deputy governors at a meeting held at the CBN headquarters.
The meeting was held to discuss ways in which CBN would help in boosting the economy and create employment. The President, Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the bank should boost production of 10 key commodities in the country.
The 10 key commodities include rice, cotton, oil palm, tomato, cassava, poultry, fish, maize, cocoa and livestock/dairy.
According to Emiefele, Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava tubers with 53 million metric tonnes per annum, yet the country imports cassava derivatives with over $600 million each year.
While disclosing plans of the bank, he stated that the cassava initiative of the bank was aimed at improving productivity, stabilising prices and encouraging local processing to generate employment.
“To improve the cassava seed productivity, the bank is collaborating with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture on the production and supply of cassava cultivars that can increase yield up to 40 tonnes. Arrangements are underway to support 51,388 farmers to produce 830,820 metric tonnes of cassava tubers for some identified processors.
“The country imports cassava derivatives of over $600m per year and we have also begun to restrict foreign exchange to those who want to import cassava, starch, ethanol and all other derivatives into Nigeria,” the CBN governor said.
Emiefele further shed light on the CBN’s plans to enhance agricultural development. He said the bank was focused on boosting the production of identified agricultural commodities that have high growth enhancement impact.
The CBN Governor also made it known that the bank had financed the construction of rice mills to support food self-sufficiency and security as well as the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton to be distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states in the country.
What you should know: The latest action by the CBN should not come as a surprise, as the bank had reiterated its commitment to restrict FOREX for food imports. Adding the cassava products to the list of the import restriction list shows that the bank is not stopping anytime soon in tightening the noose on food importation.