An Agric Economist, Mr Nnamdi Infenkwe, says the plan by the CBN to ban importation of milk products is long overdue in view of the drain on the nation’s resources.
Infenkwe, who is Senior Manager, Nissi Agro Alide Services, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
He said immediate enforcement of the ban would force the milk producers to immediately commence backward integration as agreed three years ago with the CBN.
The reports state that the new policy of the Federal Government was announced in Abuja on Tuesday by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
Emefiele said the item would soon be part of the 43 items delisted by the CBN from accessing official foreign exchange market.
He said the ban became necessary after major dealers of milk products in Nigeria failed to ensure that they produce milk locally, three years after meetings were held with them in that regard.
According to him, Nigeria currently spends between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion on importation of milk products annually, a situation he declared was no longer acceptable.
The CBN chief said the apex bank was ready to give loans to the importers to acquire land, promote the artificial insemination of the cows or production of water to make milk in Nigeria.
Ifenkwe said that the ban would strengthen backward integration and boost domestic capacity in the sector.
“We need to look inward because our livestock farmers have the capacity to produce locally given our human expertise.
“The various agricultural research institutions can turnout innovations that will scale up domestic milk production and reduce imports.
“The country cannot be rolling out over a $1 billion for products that our people have the capacity to manufacture at home.
“The provision of foreign exchange for such purpose will limit the chances of essential items such as sophisticated machines to access foreign exchange,” he said.
Ifenkwe said that the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) would have been the panacea to addressing the issue of milk importation, but added that it was unfortunate that it was not seen from the economic point of view before it was suspended.