Nigeria spends $500m on oil palm imports annually, says CBN
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, has said that the country spends over $500 million (N181billion) annually on the imports of oil palm, despite the fact that the product is among the 41 items placed under foreign exchange restriction window.
Governor of the apex bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, speaking on Monday at a stakeholders’ meeting on the palm oil value chain held in Abuja, lamented the fact that Malaysia and Indonesia, which got oil palm seeds from Nigeria, are now the world’s largest producers of oil palm.
In attendance at the meeting were the governors of Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Udom, Edo Godwin Obaseki and Abia Okezie Ikeazu as well as managers of Dangote Farms, Flour Mills, United Food Industries and Dufil Prima Foods plc.
Emefiele said: “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 foreign exchange 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 in 2014 to 302,000 tonnes 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.”
It was gathered that governors in the south-south and south-east have agreed to provide at least 100,000 hectares of land for large scale oil palm farming.
The CBN-boss expressed confidence 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.
Recall that the apex bank had in 2013 placed over 41 items of import including palm oil on the foreign exchange restriction list as part of efforts to conserve the nation’s scarce foreign exchange, especially for products or raw materials that can be produced locally.
Experts have blamed the decline in the production of palm oil and other allied products on the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity, which has made several state governors lazy since financial allocations from crude oil sales are made to their states monthly and thus do not see the need to develop the states’ agricultural potential.