Stakeholders have been reacting to the Federal Government’s renewed plan of outright ban of palm oil importation. While some consider it as a right step towards developing local production, others say it is ill timed, as it might result to high cost of the commodity in the long run.
Recently, the Federal Government directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to blacklist firms importing palm oil and 42 other items. With the directive, it is now an offence for any company or individual to import palm oil.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this, explained that the new move will also focus on the massive production of 10 commodities: rice, maize, cassava, tomatoes, cotton, oil palm, pottery, fish, livestock and cocoa.
President, National Palm Oil Produce Association of Nigeria, Henry Olatujoye, said the directive is obviously going to increase investment in the oil palm industry.
He said to some extent, it will bring the much-needed solution to the industry, but cautioned that it will depend on implementation and attitude towards the policy.
“To successfully achieve this, serious efforts should be directed to the borders where thousands of tonnes of olein and crude palm oil are entering Nigeria. Blacklisting smugglers is one thing, controlling the borders is another thing. If the borders are not controlled, the policy will not succeed. The success of the policy is directly proportional to the manning of the borders. Apart from this, CBN should ensure that price is controlled as we implement the policy, else it might go out of hand and further bring hyper-inflation to the sector.
Managing Director, Dangote Tomato Processing Factory, Kano, Abdulkarim Kaita, described the directive as a good move, the only way the economy can grow and bring enough food to the table.
“If you look at what is happening in the agric sector, we are importing a lot of products that we can produce locally to feed ourselves, so there is no point allowing such imports. Just like the case of rice, the country previously depended on imported rice, but when they took the decisive action to ban its importation, we can see how rice processing started sprouting up and now we are better for it.
“This is the right step to take in developing the sector and the same thing is happening with the tomato sector and government is moving into the palm oil sector. You’ll discover that those who are setting up plantations and processing units cannot sell their produce because of imported palm oil from Malaysia. So, unless we stop this importation, we’ll be killing the local industries, which are creating employment and making food cheaper.”
Kaita described as wrong notion the claim that local production is not enough to cater for the high demand. “This importation has to stop. If you don’t get palm oil, then look for the alternative. Relevant government agencies tasked with this responsibility should ensure that the policy is carried out to the letter. They need to be up and doing and that is how the policy can work. Mere lip service to the policy will not make it work.”