41 Items: Nigeria’s cuts $21bn off food imports bill – Emefiele

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File Photo: Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele

Nigeria’s food import bill has been on the decline on the efforts of the federal government to diversify the economy and make the country self sufficient in food crops available in the country as the country’s food import dropped by $21 billion since January 2015.

This translates to $160.4 million in October 2018 from as high as $665.4 million in January 2015, a figure the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele said was resultant of its stance on the 41 items that were excluded from accessing foreign exchange.

Emefiele, Governor, speaking over the weekend at the Bankers Dinner in Lagos, said while it has received proposals to increase the number of the items on the list, the CBN will continue to act in the best interest of the country.

He noted that the policy on the 41 items has been one of the major factors responsible for the quick recovery of the Nigerian economy from the recession it went into in 2015.

On the drop in food import bill, he said rice, fish, milk, sugar and wheat accounted for the drop while assuring Nigerians that the government will continue to implement farmer-friendly policies to further reduce the country’s dependent on food import.

“Noticeable declines were steadily recorded in our monthly food import bill from $665.4 million in January 2015 to $160.4 million as at October 2018; a cumulative fall of 75.9 per cent and an implied savings of over $21 billion on food imports alone over that period.

Most evident were the 97.3 per cent cumulative reduction in monthly rice import bills, 99.6 per cent in fish, 81.3 per cent in milk, 63.7 per cent in sugar, and 60.5 per cent in wheat. We are glad with the accomplishments recorded so far.

“Accordingly, this policy is expected to continue with vigour until the underlying imbalances within the Nigerian economy have been fully resolved. We have maintained a particular focus on supporting farmers, entrepreneurs as well as small and medium scale businesses, through our various intervention programmes such as the Anchor Borrowers Program, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending and the National Collateral Registry.”

Citing the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) as one of the contribution factors to the drop in food import bill, he said the programme has created over 2.5 million employment opportunities across the country while 835,239 hectares of 16 varied crops had been planted by 862,069 farmers so far.

“It is in light of the success of the Anchor Borrowers Program with regards to cultivation of rice and maize that the Monetary Policy Committee in its last meeting on the 21st of November, 2018 recommended that the Anchor Borrowers program be applied to other areas such as palm oil, tomatoes and fisheries to mention a few.”

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