Adeniyi Bunmi, the Executive Director, GoGreen Africa Initiative says consistent government policies would prevent the stifling the nation’s economic development – particularly in agriculture.
He said this in Abuja, while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s call on the CBN to restrict foreign exchange allocation on importation of food items into the country.
According to him, the decision of the President instructing the CBN to stop selling foreign exchange to food importers “should be reconsidered.”
Bunmi agreed that Nigeria needed to cut food imports but the way to do it was to improve domestic distribution, refrigeration and storage of farm produce.
“Building silos in all our 774 local government areas, providing refrigerated trucks and tarring rural roads is what will make food more abundant and cheaper.”
According to him, a blanket import ban might lead to higher prices and inflation which will affect demand and supply fundamentally.
“When you ban imports and do not produce what you have banned locally, you create inflation.
“As in the case of rice for instance, we only produce about four million tonnes but consume about seven million tonnes.
“To make rice imports unattractive, the government needs to not only boost production but also increase the unit-per-head output.
“If Thailand is producing rice at 20 dollars a tonne and selling it at 30 dollars a tonne, why should Nigerian consumers be forced to purchase from local producers at 50 dollars a tonne?
“As an economy, we need to learn to be competitive, one problem with government tariffs is that it protects lazy, inefficiency and uncompetitive local monopolies, providing them with no incentive to up their game.”
Bunmi appealed to the incoming minister of agriculture work our how to improve the distribution network and track products imported with a view to making Nigeria self-sufficient in its production.