NABG Backs CBN On Forex Restrictions And Defence Of Naira

… Signs MoU With Dutch Agric Organisation
Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), the agribusiness sector operators platform, led by Sani Dangote, has thrown its weight behind the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) foreign exchange restriction policy as well as the refusal of the bank to devalue the naira as is being suggested by international finance institutions and multi-lateral agencies.

The CBN in the past few months has been under pressure over the decision to ban sourcing of foreign exchange for the importation of 41 items for which Nigeria has comparative advantage as well as its resistance to international pressure for the devaluation of the nation’s currency.

The NABG chairman said his group believes that the CBN forex policy, especially as it affects commodities like tomato puree, rice, palm oil and other agric produce, is the correct step to save the nation’s economy from impending crisis and return it to the path of sustainable growth.

Sani Dangote, who was part of the panel of discussant ‎at the 4th EU-Nigeria business forum in Lagos, said: “We commend the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for taking this bold step.

We have companies who employ thousands of Nigerians, we have small farm holders who will produce for the country’s need. We cannot do this overnight but it has to start from somewhere and if the federal government kills the incentive to start from the grassroots level, you can never reach the level to be self sufficient.”

He said the decision by CBN was the right move required to stimulate local production, maintaining that allowing imports would only suppress local production.

‎”If we do not stimulate it now, when will there be the time to do this. Once you allow some imports to come in and be dumped on the local market, it will certainly supress local incentive and indigenous initiative and there is no way any investor will deploy resources to develop the sector, there is no way the local farmers, rural farmers will find the opportunity to grow,” he said.

The NABG chairman also noted that the group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Dutch Organisation, Top Sector Agric Food, the agribusiness development unit of the Dutch government, to facilitate and encourage the growth of agribusiness in Nigeria, ranging from livestock to horticulture and other agro-allied industries, pointing out that this move by the group would expose Nigeria’s agricultural sector to global opportunities while also bringing investment opportunities into the country.

Dangote indicated that the group has entered into similar partnerships with other foreign organisations, including one with Adepta of France and the Kenya Agribusiness Group, while stating that plans were afoot for similar MoUs to be signed with Irish and UK agribusiness groups.

“Today, we are looking for ways to improve the nation’s agricultural sector especially with a large population dependent on agriculture. As a whole, this country cannot really move forward without developing the sector’s potentials. These potentials cannot be valuable if they are not exploited ‎to reflect positively on the lives of people and on the economy,” he said.

According to the Presco Managing Director, in terms of oil palm production, the next five or six years from now with about five or six companies planting consistently, a lot of economic activities will be generated, thousands of people will be employed, government will earn more tax revenue and ‎it will be a win-win situation for the entire country.

On his part, the Coordinator, NABG, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, stressed the need for Nigeria to take some decisions going forward, saying Nigeria must be ready to experience what he called a “short-term suffering” to achieve economic growth and development.

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