The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has initiated moves aimed at reviving the comatose palm oil companies in the country, according the Governor, Godwin Emefiele .
The new initiatives are expected to boost local production, as import substitution strategy.
The bank, which met with rice processing companies in Nigeria recently has also expressed its determination to lead the revitalisation of the oil palm sector in Nigeria.
Emefiele, who made the pledge in Abuja, during a meeting with oil palm value chain stakeholders to agree on a road map to resolve the challenges in the sub-sector, noted that job creation and economic stability are now important than ever.
Already, as part of developmental initiatives, the apex bank has introduced the “Anchor Borrower Programme” designed to create economic linkages between smallholder farmers and processors by organizing farmers into cooperatives to boost production and take advantages of economy of scale.
The bank chief said it decided to take the lead and play a major role in the resuscitation of the oil palm sector, including palm kernel, palm oil products and vegetable oils, hence their inclusion in the list of items not valid for forex at the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Window.
He expressed concern at low contribution of the sector to the growth of the economy, saying Nigeria used to be the largest producer of palm oil worldwide in the late 1950s and 1960s, regretting that it has now become a net importer of the commodity from the 1980s to date.
According to him, Nigeria currently lags behind in a distant fifth position in world production, behind countries that many years ago sent emissaries to Nigeria to learn production techniques and to get their first seedlings.
Emefiele also decried the practice where huge amounts are spent to import items that could ordinarily be produced locally, stressing the need for all stakeholders to collaborate to restore the days of glory to the oil palm sector in the country.
He reiterated that the recent policy measure was introduced to help conserve Nigeria’s foreign reserves and to facilitate the resuscitation of domestic industries to improve employment generation in the country.
“For the country to attain self-sufficiency there has to be committed development of more estate plantations and coordinated partnerships between the small holder plantation farmers and processors,” he said.
While enjoining all stakeholders to see the present situation as an opportunity rather than adversity, he charged all to collaborate with the CBN to ensure that the country stops exporting jobs abroad and importing poverty in the same process.