By Samson Echenim
Indications have emerged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is taking Nigeria’s milk importation policy beyond paper framework. The apex bank on Monday led a delegation of top executives of companies it recently gave rights of monopoly to import milk and other dairy products in the sector’s backward integration programme aimed to stabilise local production of the products to the administration of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor appealed to the FCT Administration to allocate land to the dairy companies to build their factories, in furtherance of its policy to develop the nation’s economy.
On the CBN governor’s team to Malam Muhammad Bello, FCT minister were FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria, Nestle Nigeria Plc and L&Z companies.
Emefiele said it had become expedient to lead the companies to the FCT Administration to seek the minister’s intervention to fasttrack the allocation of land with titles to the three companies, which had requested for land to establish dairy processing plants in the FCT.
He said that various collaborative efforts by the CBN and the private sector had started yielding significant results.
According to Emefiele, the CBN is making “deliberate efforts” to make the companies embrace the backward integration measures aimed at boosting the economy and creating jobs.
“One of these measures is the partnership with milk importing companies to develop the local dairy sector and harness its potential in the interest of the nation,” Emefiele said.
The CBN on February 11, announced that only six manufacturing firms could import milk and dairy products into Nigeria having keyed into the bank’s backward integration programme to enhance their capacity and improve local milk production.
At the meeting with the FCT administration, Emefiele said, “This strategic partnership commenced with Niger State Government allocating 31,000 hectares of land to milk companies within the Bobi Grazin Reserve to develop the local dairy breeds for enhanced milk collection, and also integrate the local pastoralists and ultimately curb the farmers-herders crisis.
“In furtherance to this initiative is the additional resolve by some milk producing companies to establish milk processing factories in the FCT, as it offers a unique environment for industrialisation and also easy access to raw materials from the entire North-Central zone of the country.
“The establishment of these companies in the FCT will drive industrialisation, stimulate local production of milk and hence development of the local dairy sector, boost employment generation, and facilitate linkages along the dairy sector in Nigeria.
“It will ultimately conserve enormous foreign exchange that would be required for importation.”
The governor said the bank was ready to work with the companies to actualise the deliverable of the projects and therefore appealed to the minister to assist in the allocation of land in FCT expeditiously.
While responding, Bello said although the FCT had no vast hectres of land to be given for farming like other big states, it would allocate land for companies to build their processing factories.
“We will also encourage investment into the FCT, particularly to provide processing facility is the next step we are going into, and you are coming at the right time,” he said.
The minister commended Emefiele for his passion in deveoping agriculture with a view to boosting the economy.