Mixed reactions has continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s ban on the provision of Foreign Exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for importation of food items into Nigeria.
While experts give different reactions, others call for caution on the implementation of the policy by the CBN.
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria AFAN on its part applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for the ban of Foreign Exchange (FOREX) on food import. The president of the association Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim while speaking on the benefits of the initiative said:
This is a very welcomed development for the farmers because it will protect what we produce and encourage us to produce more to make the country food sufficient.
Alhaji Kabiru noted that no matter how independent you claim to be in Nigeria the president will have a role to play in what you do. If he instructs the CBN to stop giving forex to food importers, it is in the interest of the nation.
The directive will give succor to Nigerian farmers because what it means is that if we produce wheat for instance and people are not given the impetus to flood the market with imported wheat, locally produced wheat will get good market, otherwise, the imported wheat will be competing with the locally produced ones. The same thing goes for rise and other food items produced in Nigeria
Secondly some of these imported food items have stayed very long in their storage and maybe expired and they will be shipped to Nigeria and dumped for our people to consume.
The AFAN’s President called on Nigerian Farmers to target Export to African Countries rather than Europe where issue of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) could be a problem for Nigeria food exporters.
If you want to export anything to the EU for instance they are going to check for the correct use of pesticides, insecticide and sometime fertilizer, so if you are to conform to their market you have to apply Good Agricultural Practice which will almost make your production organic. That is one of the major huddles in exporting your produce to Europe. But Africa is a very big market, let us worry about what happens in Africa first before thinking of Europe.
The AFAN’s President also observed that the Continental Free Trade Initiative Agreement that has been signed by Nigeria has opened the market for Africa. So, Nigerian farmers should avail themselves of it and flood the African markets with what they produce rather that export to Europe and America where GAP would become an issue.
However, other experts have pointed out that the federal government has to do more in reviewing agricultural policy to improve food sufficiency in the country. An Agricultural expert Mr. Samson Okereke stated this against the backdrop of the president Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank to stop the provision of funds for the importation of food.
Mr. Okereke maintained that government should provide better seeds, land and security among other things to farmers.
We need to look at how we support productivity for farmers, deliberate policy for youths in agriculture, make thinks a lot easier for them and provide access to land.
Mr. Okereke pointed out that the country need to do more in agriculture for it to move up to the ranking of countries with food security.
In measuring the food security of Nations what they do is to look at affordability, availability, quality and safety of the food.
Similarly, the Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria Mr. Segun Ajayi Kadir called for caution in the application of some policies by the Government and its agencies especially the Central Bank.
He said the CBN should be careful when it comes to the issue of foreign exchange.