The Central Bank of Nigeria has said it will no longer provide foreign exchange for the importation of cassava, starch, ethanol and all other derivatives into Nigeria.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said this during a meeting with some state governors held at the headquarters of the CBN.
The meeting was attended by governors from 20 states, namely Borno, Lagos, Ekiti, Imo, Jigawa, Anambra, Adamawa, Benue, Sokoto, Katsina, Gombe, Bauchi, Zamfara, Edo, Benue, Ogun, Kebbi, Kaduna, Edo and Bauchi.
The purpose of the meeting was specifically to get the cooperation of the governors in the area of economic diversification, job creation and poverty reduction.
The CBN governor said the decision to hold the meeting was based on the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the bank should boost production of 10 key commodities.
They are rice, cotton, oil palm, tomato, cassava, poultry, fish, maize, cocoa and livestock/dairy.
Specifically, he said in the past three months, the bank had made substantial progress but there was a need to interact more with state governors to sustain the momentum.
Emefiele said the ultimate objective was to make states economically viable through enhanced investments by the private sector.
This, he stated, would in turn create more economic opportunities at the sub- national level, as well as engage the teeming youths in meaningful enterprises, improve internally revenue base for states to meet the developmental expectation of its citizens.
He said the apex bank’s intervention in various sectors of the agricultural value chain had started to yield results.
He described Nigeria as the world’s largest producer of cassava tubers with 53 million metric tonnes per annum.
He lamented, however, that the yield per hectare averaging 20 tonnes was very low compared to other jurisdictions.
According to the CBN governor, the country imports cassava derivatives with over $600m each year.
He said, “The cassava initiative of the bank is to improve productivity, stabilise prices and encourage 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.”
In the area of rice, he said the bank had financed the construction of rice mills to support food self-sufficiency and security.
He also said the bank had released a total of N146bn to 849,480 farmers across the country in the wet and dry seasons.
On impact of the border closure on the economy, he said this had started to yield more patronage for locally produced goods.
He said, “We commend the Federal Government for the border closure because it is yielding results.
“Before the closure, there was egg glut. People were bringing eggs from neighbouring countries into Nigeria, but with the closure, the demand for eggs has increased.”