The National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to closely monitor its borders with neighbouring countries to check rising cases of smuggling of palm oil and other products thereby denying the country the needed foreign exchange inflows.
It also called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to provide more access to credit to its members different from other farmers under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
The Association noted that although the CBN provides loans under the ABP at an interest rate of nine per cent, such arrangement will not work for oil palm production due to the gestation period of oil plantation.
Speaking to media in Abuja, the President, NPPAN, Mr Henry Olatunjoye, argued that for the Federal Government is to meet its objectives of achieving self-sufficiency in oil palm production, operators should be given credit at two per cent with a moratorium of at least seven years.
He said, “We are appealing to the CBN Governor to liaise with stakeholders to get our feelings across and chart a way forward. We are not against his ambitions to develop the industry, but we are saying that the implementation of the policy is faulty.
“Our problem is not the ban on CPO (Crude Palm Oil), but that borders must be totally shut against illegal importers. Let the Presidency know that it’s not the importation of palm oil that is the problem, the point is that unrestricted flow of Crude Palmoline – refined vegetable oil and fats that find their way into Nigeria’s market, is making the government lose billions of Naira or foreign exchange every year.
“Our advice is that the government should write letters to all its neighbours that are in West Africa that such illegal importation will carry dire consequences. This move will now prevent them to make Nigeria a dumping ground.”
On what the government needs to do to speedily revive the sector, Olatunjoye called for more investments in the development of research centres for the sector as being practiced in other palm oil-producing countries.
He said, “We are appealing to government to reduce the nine per cent interest rate for the oil palm industry for us, although the (CBN) Governor is standing on the nine per cent single digit interest rate for agriculture products, this will never help our sector at all.
“What we want is for government to give us good seedlings by developing the research centres in the country, let’s have access to good roads and markets; these are the basic things we need to grow and fully develop the sector, create jobs, and earn foreign exchange for the country.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the CBN to blacklist from the banking system any firm, its owner and top management, caught smuggling or dumping any of the 43 items that are not eligible for foreign exchange.
The President had also mandated CBN to provide support to firms and individuals that want to expand production in 10 target commodities in Nigeria, including rice, maize, cassava, tomatoes, cotton, oil palm, poultry, fish, livestock dairy, and cocoa.