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Days of importing food items that can be produced locally numbered—CBN

…Opens N2bn Gino Tomato plant, hints on banning milk import

Backward integration efforts in food items are on the rise in Nigeria with the recent commissioning of N2 billion Gino Tomatoes ultramodern processing factory in Kaduna State.
This was the joint declaration of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele at the site of the Gino Tomato paste factory sitting atop 100 hectares space, with a farming area of about 30 hectares.
In his submission, Emefiele noted that Nigeria’s agriculture revolution and economic diversification are now fully on stream with the target of driving backward integration in agro products in Nigeria.
He revealed that with the surging private sector investments in both tomato farming and animal milk production, there are chances that few years to come, government may be encouraged to place total ban on milk importation to save the foreign exchange.
Business Hilights recalls that since Nigeria crossed the threshold of annual cement demand through the investments of indigenous manufacturers, government had since banned cement importation even though local cement prices remain far from global cement price.
Experts recall that the federal government assured Nigerians before the completion of cement backward integration that price of cement will crash immediately Nigeria hits self sufficiency that is yet to happen more than six years after.
Whereas international cement price per tonne stands at $30 (note that 1 tonne of cement is approximately 30 bags of 50kg), which translates to about N600 when freight and associated costs are factored in, currently locally produced cement sells over and above N2,500 today.
Though CBN Governor was silent on whether the price of tomato paste and milk will crash on completion of backward integration, he was quick to stress that “The days of importing food items that can be produced locally are numbered, as Nigeria has no business importing them judging by its vast arable lands and friendly weather”.
“We must thank Mr. President for telling all of us that it is high time we produced what we eat and eat what we produce. From planting to harvesting of tomatoes is between 60-90 days. Our soil is good, our climate is good, so I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing here today.
“I don’t even know how we have done this in the past, importing these tomatoes. We’ve no option than to ban this (tomatoes). There are other products as well. I keep talking about milk, for instance. Milk is being imported into the country for more than 60 years, even before I was born. And I’ve told WAMCO that we need to come back. What do we need to produce milk, is it not to fatten the cows, give them the necessary nutrients and water and it’ll produce more milk? And yet they said milk cannot be produced in Nigeria. We will confront it. They too should get ready to join in this train,” Emefiele said.
He said the apex bank is currently working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Trade and Investment to aggressively and vigorously pursue the objective of diversifying the structure of the Nigerian economy and become self sufficiency in food production.
According to him, “My selfish interest here is that up till very recently, we still were importing tomatoes into the country, whereas we could save the foreign exchange. And this time, we’re saving the foreign exchange. We thank Gino Tomatoes for coming onboard. When they asked for a period of five years, I said no, that a period of planting and harvesting is not more than two years and that we are ready to fund you to bring in the equipment. And that we’re ready to fund you in local currency if you need to acquire land. I think we must also thank the Kaduna State government for supporting this company because I understand they will be giving them thousands of hectares of land. This is just like a test ground.
“By the time we move to the permanent site, I’m sure we would all have stories to tell about the good things of Nigeria. Many more will happen. Whether we like it or not, as long as we’re producing this for our consumption and possibly for export, there’s no choice other than to ban this.”
Though import ban is placed on products after self sufficiency is reached, CBN is yet to explain why rice import was technically outlawed when backward integration is yet to produce realistic results.