Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has confirmed plans by the bank to restrict foreign exchange for the importation of milk.
Mr Emefiele who made this known on Tuesday while addressing journalists at the end of the two-day meeting of the monetary policy committee of the bank, said that owing to the $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion spent yearly on milk importation, the bank intends to provide loan facilities for backward integration and milk production in Nigeria.
“It is correct that the CBN intends to restrict foreign exchange for the importation of milk. We believe that milk is one of those products that can be produced in Nigeria.
“We have seen the importation of milk in Nigeria before many of us were born; for over 60 years, Nigeria has been importing milk. Today the import of milk stands at between $1.2 to $1.5 billion, that is very high for import into the country.
“Given that it is a product we are very convinced can be produced in the country, what does it take to produce milk? Get a cow and give it plenty of water to drink, eat a lot of grass and positioned in a place without roaming around, that cow gets fat and we can get milk out of it,” he stated.
The CBN Governor said the bank held meetings with leading milk producers in the country to encourage them to begin the process of backward integration, but no significant progress has been made on the part of the companies.
“Three and the half years ago when the policy on the restriction of FX started, we considered including milk on the list of items that should be restricted from FOREX, but we conjectured based on the kind of sentiments that people will show that we should be very careful.
“We called in the management of the oldest milk importers in Lagos, we held at least three meetings with them. We told them what was to happen and what we decided, and we were trying to appeal to them to integrate backward and begin a process of developing and producing milk in Nigeria.
“Also, to some extent, they should help us reduce the rate of herder-farmer conflict, perhaps by now, the conflicts we are witnessing today won’t be as intense as it is at this time.
“By doing backward integration, it helps to reduce the rate of herders-farmers conflict and we are determined to make milk production in Nigeria a viable economic proposition and we would need to support them,” he added.
He stressed that the era of milk production in the country is fast coming to an end.
“We can no longer wait for you to be importing this product into Nigeria.
“If we restrict FX, anyone who needs a loan for the process will get it from the bank. But if it is to import milk into the country, I think we are getting to the end of the road and that is what we have discussed, and the era of restriction of FX for the importation of milk is really coming very soon.
“If they will not change their policy, we will not change our policy. We want people to produce milk in Nigeria.”