Uche Usim, Abuja
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Monday led major milk producers and dairy products dealers to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Mr Mohammed Musa Bello to fine-tune arrangements on how they can acquire swaths of land to set up their factories.
The move was consistent with CBN’s plans to, in the near future, ban the importation of milk and dairy products like yogurt, cheese and other derivatives, as they currently gulp an annual import bill of $1.5 billion.
Already, the apex bank has cleared six companies; FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria; Chi Limited; TG Arla Dairy Products Limited; Promasidor Nigeria Limited; Nestle Nigeria PLC (MSK only) and Integrated Dairies Limited to continue importing milk pending when the local production fully takes off.
Speaking at the event, Emefiele said the companies had operated in Nigeria for several decades and have shown sufficient willingness to invest in Nigeria to create jobs and help conserve foreign exchange spent on milk importation.
He said: “l am here to seek your intervention to fasttrack the allocation of land with titles to three companies that have requested for land to establish dairy processing plants in the FCT. These companies are WAMCO FRIESLAND CAMPINO, NESTLE and L and Z. Nestle Plc and Friesland Campina Plc have signified interest to establish milk processing factories in the FCT and the CBN is ready to work with them to actualize the deliverable of these projects.
“The various collaborative efforts by the CBN and the private sector have started yielding significant results with resultant deliberate measures by the private firms to embrace the backward integration measures and boost job creation and industrialization locally.
“This strategic partnership commenced with Niger State Government allocating 31,000 hectares of land to milk companies within the Bobi grazing Reserve to develop the local dairy breeds for enhanced milk collection and also integrate the local pastoralist 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 industrialization 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 industrialization, stimulate local production of milk and hence development of the local dairy sector, boost employment generation, facilitate linkages along with the dairy sector in Nigeria and ultimately conserve enormous foreign exchange that would be required for importation”, he explained.
In his remarks, Mr Mohammed Musa Bello, the FCT Minister Emefiele and the milk-producing firms of land and to set up their factories.
He said: “I assure you we will provide you the needed support. I personally will like to apologise to the three companies with respect to your desire to invest in the FCT and it shouldn’t have taken this long.
“The land will be made available. Let’s meet and fine-tune and agree on location and in the next three weeks we will identify what your needs are and it’s suitability on the master plan.
“Most of these lands are not accessible and CBN can help in funding for infrastructure like access roads.
“We have the engineers who can handle the logistics but funding is a challenge.
“I urge the CBN to establish a price stabilization programme to avoid a glut that would deter or discourage farmers from cultivating repeatedly.
“Let’s have a mechanism where farmers can be assured of a regular price irrespective of what the market is. It becomes easier to plan that way,” he said.