‘CBN Lifting FX Ban On Agric Items Puts Investments In Sector At Risk’

Farmers in the country at the weekend lamented that the Central Bank of Ni­geria (CBN) lifting the foreign exchange restrictions it placed on importers of 43 items eight years ago has put a lot of investments in the agriculture sector at risk.

The farmers said that if foreign ex­change access is given for importations of frozen chicken and eggs, the Federal Government would have destroyed bil­lions of dollars investment in Nigeria, and successfully expanded unemploy­ment by over 10 million direct farmers and countless indirect farmers.

The agricultural produce on the list included: rice, palm kernel, palm oil products, vegetable oil, meat and processed meat products, vegetables and processed vegetable products, poultry and processed poultry products, tinned fish in sauce (Geisha)/sardine and toma­toes/tomato pastes. ­

The stakeholders in separate interviews with Daily Indepen­dent said that it is another policy summersault from the govern­ment and that it would discour­age a lot of farmers who have invested heavily in the country’s agricultural sector.

Prince Wale Oyekoya, an ag­riculturist and the CEO of Bama Farms, said that this is very sad and another policy summersault from the government.

He said that the nation should be exporting its agricultural pro­duce and not importing other countries’ food products.

Oyekoya noted that this poli­cy will add more pressure to the nation’s foreign reserves by de­pleting the little reserves into im­portation of unwholesome foods.

According to him, “The policy will create more unemployment in the country when we don’t pro­duce but depend on other coun­tries to feed us. It is supposed to be the other way round to import farm and processing equipment into the country. Now we are ex­porting our jobs and importing employment from other coun­tries which is not supposed to be.”

Ibrahim Kabir, National Presi­dent, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), who corroborat­ed Oyekoya, stated that this would amount to policy somersault and could discourage prospective farmers and even drive those al­ready involved away.

“The food inflation being ex­perienced is really global so the importation of these listed items from elsewhere may not make our food system recover from the challenges it now experiences.”

Ibrahim said that “some of the gains of the Agricultural Trans­formation Agenda (ATA) will be completely wiped out and God forbid our situation will worsen and might even become unman­ageable come 2050 when the pop­ulation of our country will be 400 million.

“The CBN ought to consult widely before ramming some of these poorly thought out policies down our throats. I hope and pray that they will come up with an easily understandable explana­tion for this seeming destructive decision or policy reversal,” he said.

Sunday Ezeobiora, National President of the Poultry Asso­ciation of Nigeria (PAN), said that lifting ban on the 43 items, especially those related to agri­culture, will close down feed mills across the country that employed thousands of people and that the government should also prepare Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over 80 percent of farms that are using bank money to manage and stay afloat, because none can repay the loans when the gate is open for anything.

He said that if the importa­tion of frozen chicken and egg is allowed, that means the Federal Government has murdered bil­lions of dollars investment in Ni­geria and successfully expanded unemployment by over 10 million direct farmers, and countless in­direct farmers.

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