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Nigeria: CBN Working On Policies To Tackle Cocoa, Cassava, Fish Challenges

By Akanimo Sampson

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is currently working to introduce policies to tackle head-on the disturbing challenges in the cocoa, cassava, beef/cattle ranching, dairy and fish sectors of the country’s economy.

Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele, gave an indication to that effect while disclosing that over $500 million was being spent on the importation of palm oil every year in the country.

Cocoa is generally regarded as a leading agricultural export of Nigeria, currently the world’s fourth largest producer, after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana, and the third largest exporter, after Ivory Coast and Ghana.

It was a major foreign exchange earner for the country in the 1950s and 1960s and in 1970 Nigeria was the second largest producer in the world. But, following investments in the oil sector in the 1970s and 1980s, the country’s share of world output nose-dived.

In 2010, those who know better say cocoa production accounted for only 0.3% of agricultural GDP, and the average cocoa beans production in the country between 2000 and 2010 was 389,272 tonnes per year rising from 170,000 tonnes produced in 1999.

On the other hand, cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a popular crop grown in tropical regions. Its production in the country is largely by subsistence farming and currently, Nigeria is its largest producer in the world.

Cassava contributes largely to Nigeria’s GDP and a key source of income to rural farmers. It is used in some industries for production of bio-degradable products, production of feeds for livestock, it could reduce unemployment rate and it is also a rich source of carbohydrates.

Analysts say despite the country being the largest producer of this root crop, there is still need to increase its production for export purpose. They say measures that should be considered by Government to ensure sustainable cassava production include:

Increase cassava production by supporting farmers financially and provision of land to farmers who are willing to farm but do not have access to credit and land.
Invest in cassava processing, storage and packaging infrastructures.
Support and increase industrial uses of cassava.
Invest in transport and agriculture infrastructures (irrigation infrastructures) to support cassava production, processing and marketing in Nigeria.
Provision of effective extension services.

Arguably, if these measures are considered, it is expected to drive up its production in the country.

AgroNigeria quoted Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar as saying that Nigeria spent around $1.3 billion yearly on the importation of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and other milk derivatives.

The minister who was speaking at the inauguration of a stakeholders committee for the development of policy framework to boost the dairy industry, noted that domestic consumption of dairy products was bound to increase further with Nigeria’s growing population.

While saying that the committee was inaugurated as part of efforts to diversify the economy and increase local production in sectors where Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantages, she also pointed out that the dairy industry has huge potentials such as the creation of millions of jobs and the generation of N300 billion monthly for the country.

She lamented that 85 per cent of the country’s 19.5 million cattle, are owned and managed by small holder, subsistent and nomadic herdsmen, leaving the remaining 15 per cent in the hands of medium and large scale farmers in managed pastures.

Members of the committee included representatives of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Raw Materials, Research and Development Council and the National Animal Production Research Institute.

The objectives of the policy framework is to attract and achieve local participation in dairy business; ensure local content development of dairy; encourage joint venture opportunities across strategic segments of the dairy business and provide financial relief to boost local growth through the participation of women and youths in the sector.

Based on the 2014 population estimate of 180 million, the total fish demand for Nigeria is 3.32m Mt. The domestic fish production from Aquaculture, Artisanal and Industrial fisheries for 2014 was 1.123m Mt. Samw year, fisheries contributed 0.48% to the Agriculture GDP and contribution of Agriculture to GDP (2014) was 20.24%.

As at 2016 the following statistical activities were coordinated by the Fisheries Data Management Unit under Fisheries Support Services Division, the unit responsible for Fisheries Statistics data collection, collation, analysis and reporting for the 36 states plus FCT is:

· Fish Frame Survey in 2007: This survey covered mainly Artisanal and Aquaculture fisheries. The analysed report provided the Department with data on Artisanal Fisheries Landing sites location in 36 State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT); available Infrastructure in Fishing village; fishing gears per State in 2007, population of Fishing Folks per State; types of Fishing Craft used in the States etc. while under Aquaculture, data on no of Fish Farms and Ownership in 2007; Fish Farm with Hatchery data; no of fingerlings produced. The 2007 Fish Frame Survey Report has served as baseline data for the Country.

· Annual Statistics Review Meeting: The 2013 Departmental Annual Fisheries Statistics Review Meeting was held in June 2013 to review the status of fisheries statistics in the Country. Participant for the two day Workshop were drawn from the 36 State Departments of Fisheries including FCT. The meeting reviewed the level of data collecting activities in the State covering Industrial, Artisanal and Aquaculture and. Agreed on a uniformed data collecting procedure.

· Resuscitation of the State Sub-Committee on Fisheries Statistics: In August 2013, the Department resuscitated the State Sub-Committee on Fisheries Statistics in all the State and FCT. The Committee which was chaired by the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the States has the responsibility to coordinate Fisheries and Aquaculture data collection in the States before they are sent to the headquarters for record and analysis. The Committee is made up of stakeholders in the sector and their activities is still on-going.

· Geographic Information System (GIS) Training for Fisheries Officer: In November 2013, the Department trained 42 Fisheries Officer drawn from Federal Field Offices on Geographic Information System (GIS). This training enable the Officers to acquire the skill of using Global Positioning System (GPS) to collect data on location coordinates. The objective of this training was to enable Landing sites and Fish Farms data collection to be precise and reliable by the use of coordinates in data reporting.

However, Emefiele, the CBN governor was speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the Palm Oil Value Chain held in Abuja that was attended by the Governors of Akwa Ibom, Edo and Abia. Also, the managers of Dangote Farms, Flour mills, United Food Industries and Dufil Frima Foods Plc, among others.

While regreting that Nigeria was still importing palm oil in spite sufficient arable land in the South-South and South-East regions of the country to farm it, he recalled that in the late 50’s and 60’s, Nigeria was not only the world’s leading producer of palm oil, but it was also the largest exporter of palm oil, accounting for close to 40 per cent of the global market share.

He said at the moment, Malaysia and Indonesia were the top producers of palm oil and Nigeria the fifth, after getting their seeds and learning how to cultivate oil palm from Nigeria, adding, ‘’this conversation is indeed important as it forms part of our overall strategy to reduce our reliance on crude oil imports, diversify the productive base of our economy, create jobs and conserve our foreign exchange.

‘’Despite placing oil palm in the forex exclusion list, official figures indicate that importation of palm oil had declined by about 40 per cent from the peak of 506,000 Metric Tonnes (MTs) in 2014 to 302,000 MTs in 2017. This indicates that Nigeria still expends close to 500 million dollars on oil palm importation annually and we are determined to change this narrative.

‘’We intend to support improved production of palm oil to meet not only the domestic needs of the market, but to also increase our exports in order to improve our forex earnings. All the state governors in South-South and South-East, Nigeria had agreed to provide at least 100,000 hectares each for large scale oil palm farming.’’

Continuing, he said with the help of the state governments, Nigeria could reach self-sufficiency in palm oil between 2022 and 2024 and ultimately overtake Thailand and Columbia to become the third largest producer over the next few years.

‘’As part of our Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), the CBN will work with large corporate stakeholders and small holder farmers to ensure availability of quality seeds for this year’s planting season. We will also ensure the availability of agro-chemicals in order to enable improved cultivation of palm oil.

‘’We will also work to encourage viable off taker agreements between farmers and large-scale palm producing companies. Loans will be granted through our ABP and CACS programs at no more than 9 per cent per annum to identified core borrowers’’, the CBN governor said.

Reiterated that the restrictions earlier placed on the importation of textiles and other ready-made clothing was for the good of the economy, adding that soon every region of our beloved country will feel the positive impact of our intervention in the agricultural sector, he added, ‘’these efforts we hope will not only enable us to conserve our foreign exchange, but also create jobs on a mass scale. As these measures begin to bear fruits, we are very optimistic that our states will become more economically viable.’’

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