The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced a new policy to end of milk into the country just as it assured that the bank was ready to provide loans for those who want to go into cattle business.
Briefing journalists at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja yesterday, the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said that the nation could no longer continue to spend between $1.2-$1.5 billion on milk importation, annually.
He said that the nation had the capacity to produce its milk requirements and that CBN was ready to give loans to those interested in ranching and other businesses in the livestock value chain.
On milk importation, Emefiele said: “We believe milk is one of the products that can be produced in Nigeria today.
“We have seen the importation of milk into Nigeria before many of us were born, precisely over sixty years.
“West African Milk and Friesland milk, the foremost milk has been doing it for over sixty years.
“They have been importing milk into Nigeria for over sixty years. For over sixty years, Nigeria has been importing milk, the import of milk annually stands at between $1.2 to $1.5 billion.
“That is a very high import product into the country, given that it’s a product that we are convinced can be produced in the country. Cows produce little milk due to roaming.
“Let’s ask ourselves the question: What really does it take to produce milk? Get the cow and give the cow plenty of water to drink and let the cow eat a lot of grass and the cow positioned in a place without roaming about, that cow gets fat and you can take milk out of it.
“The reason some say our cows are not producing much milk is because our cows roam about. They don’t have water to drink. Under the pastoral arrangement, you find out that during raining season you find out that, they are somewhere. When the rain recedes, and dry and hot seasons come, they begin to move from where they were.
“As they move just like they are cows, they are not human beings, they consumed wherever they find on their way. And unfortunately in that process, they create destruction to farm products and farm produce in the country.”
The CBN boss assured that the bank was ready to provide loans for those who want to go into cattle business.
His words: “By the time we restrict you, if you need loan to acquire land we’ll give you. If you need a loan to grow your grass, we will give you.
To produce water, we will give you loan. But that you will continue to import milk in to the country, I think we are getting to the end of road.
I will repeat, we are really getting to end of the road. The era of restriction of forex for importation of milk is coming, and it will come soon and sooner than expected.”
Uncooperative milk companies Emefiele lamented that the milk companies had refused to cooperate with the CBN in the last three and a half years when they were advised to adopt backward integration, in that regard.
According him, “About three and half years ago, when the policy on restriction of forex started, we considered including milk in the list of items under restriction from forex, but we conjectured that based on sentiment, some people are bound to express, that we should be very careful.
Emefiele also said that the CBN had to look into how the banks can be refocused to do more of lending to real sector to grow the economy, “the only set of institutions or persons, by law that can conduct financial intermediation, real intermediation from the surplus side to deficit sectors are banks and if they fail in that regard, then we have a problem.”