CBN adds cassava and its derivatives to forex restriction list; vows increased support for local dairy production


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said it will stop providing foreign exchange for the importation of cassava, starch, ethanol and all other derivatives into Nigeria.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, spoke on the new policy directive while meeting with some state governors in Abuja to discuss cooperation in the area of economic diversification, job creation and poverty reduction.

He 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.

The commodities are rice, cotton, oil palm, tomato, cassava, poultry, fish, maize, cocoa and livestock/dairy.

Emefiele said the ultimate objective was to make states economically viable through enhanced investments by the private sector.

He said the CBN’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.

“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.”

Speaking on livestock, the CBN governor said Nigeria spends about $1.5bn yearly on dairy imports such as milk, yogurt, cheese and other milk derivatives, adding that the bank would scale up its support for the sector.

“Over 95% of milk products consumed in the country is imported, a narrative that we are determined to change.

“The dairy industry had huge potential such as the creation of millions of jobs and forex savings.

“In addition, the sector has an undeveloped meat processing infrastructure, declining tannery operations, inadequate large-scale private investments in cold storage and transportation, and insecurity arising mostly from pastoralists/farmers clashes, rustling, and other socio-economic challenges.”

Emefiele told the governors that the bank would continue to finance sectors that could help the country reduce its high import bill and conserve the much-needed foreign exchange.

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