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Audu Ogbeh
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Dev, Chief Audu Ogbeh

Forex forces Agro-equipment manufacturers to close shops

Leading indigenous investors in Nigeria’s agricultural and equipment manufacturing industry yesterday opened up on their teething challenges in accessing foreign exchange to get materials for fabrications.

They averred that their businesses were under severe threat due to the unfavourable operating climate created by forex crisis and some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) regulating the industry.

Under the aegis of the Association of Agricultural Products and Equipment Manufacturers in Nigeria, the investors reported a loss of over N4billion by members in recent months, citing the absence of foreign exchange (forex), low patronage of made in Nigeria products, and the dumping of foreign goods of cheaper standards and quality in the country as reasons for the losses.

According to the Secretary General of the association, Alhaji Faruk Abdullahi, there was the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to step in and direct such agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); NAFDAC; and top officials of the Ministry of industry, Trade and Investment to immediately put down policies that would promote and protect indigenous manufacturers, especially those in the agricultural, food, and equipment manufacturing businesses.

Abdullahi said “It appears that there has been a deliberate attempt to close down indigenous manufacturers by some MDAs. For instance, the CBN in recent months has tended to support foreigners more in the allocation of forex whenever there is bidding to the detriment of local manufacturers who only get peanuts and we need the President to intervene”.

“Nigerians who invest in the agriculture and food industry must be supported massively so that we can come out of this recession, produce enough food to meet local consumption capacity, and also to export. At this critical time, we need more support to the farmers, cheap pesticides and cheap fertilizers so that they can produce the right quantity and quality that the manufacturers and processors can take up. Without more manufacturers remaining alive, there will be no employment and if there is no employment and no food we can’t come out of the recession and the crime rate will continue to go higher,” he added.

Abdullahi specifically lamented the dwindling fortunes of Dangote and Erisco Limited investments in the agriculture and tomato food businesses saying the patriotic backward integration programmes of the two firms had been badly destroyed by some unpatriotic government policies.

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