How to tackle milk importation row, by employers

Milk PHOTO:Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

• Expert backs govt on food importation ban
The Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) has appealed to the government to engage the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and other concerned stakeholders in the food industry to discuss the foreign exchange ban on food imports.

The employers submitted that a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the backward integration agenda of government and a follow-up period of moratorium to enable the current food products importing companies to source their needs locally would have helped in stemming some of the dangers inherent in these policy pronouncements.

They said if government engages the concerned parties in the spirit of sustained partnership, it would address the various economic issues affecting the Nigerian state.

In a letter signed by the president of AFBTE, Patrick Anegbe, the association said while there was need for clarification on the directive, it was important to state that the move might end up working against the very reason the plan was conceived.

One critical aspect the employers also noted is the impact the sudden ban will have on the overall financial results of the companies affected, adding that it would lead to job loss among others.

“The OPS had tried to draw the attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the danger in not allowing for a reasonable period of time for those concerned to make adequate preparations to source their imported milk and dairy products locally.

“The negative economic implications of this move in the short run on the performance of the effect companies and the overall economy will be severe,” the letter read.

Meanwhile, an Agriculture expert, Olumuyiwa Anthony Peters, has applauded the new policy of the Federal Government on forex ban on food imports, noting that the policy would go a long way in ensuring food sufficiency and help to grow Medium and Small Scale Enterprises (MSME) in the country.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele while speaking on the sidelines of the Presidential Retreat on Monday had welcomed a new directive by President Muhammadu Buhari on ban of food items.

He reiterated that this was in line with its policy on its list of 41 imported items that has been banned.

Peters, a project development expert at International Institute of Tropical Agricultural (IITA) said the directive provides an institutional backing that the new minister of agriculture can build upon.
He said: “This points to the nexus between economics and agriculture and it is very important that the economic team work hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Agriculture. Agriculture is the future of Nigeria. And agriculture that is modernized, that is productive and competitive. We must be a global player, and that will enhance food sufficiency and help us to achieve favorable balance of trade with our agricultural produce.”

He said: “Government needs to implement planting of trees policies to encourage farmers around communities where trees are grown. Government and some non-governmental agencies have proffered various suggestions aimed at stemming the menace of desertification but these are yet to yield results,”

The agric expert, who is also an export consultant has led and developed several local agricultural businesses across Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

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