Stakeholders react to ban on food importation


Mix reactions from stakeholders in the agricultural sector on Thursday trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to stop providing fund for food importation.

They said the directive could have positive or negative effect on the economy.

While some who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Abuja on Wednesday, commended the Federal Government, others expressed dissatisfaction over the move.

The National President of Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN), Mallam Aminu Goronyo described the directive as a welcome development and a good deal to achieve food self-sufficiency in the country.

Goronyo recalled that in 2015, similar ban was placed on importation of rice but was criticised.

“But today it has made the rice sector strong and variable.’’

According to him, the current ban will make Nigeria great as it will empower Nigerians economically in terms of employment.

“At least 90 per cent of Nigerians will be gainfully engage through agriculture.

“We have over 54 commodities in the country and the moment we can provide employment through these 54 commodities, Nigeria will be economically variable.

“It is 100 per cent a welcome idea; we had experienced this in 2015 in the rice sector and for now that it cuts across all commodities, Nigerians will be happy at the end.’’

Mr Is’haq Yahaya, the Senior Special Adviser on Publicity and Strategy to the National President of Commodities Brokers Association of Nigeria (CBAN), however, described the proposed ban as a “mistake’’.

Yahaya said although the idea behind the ban was good, it would cause hardship for the people.

“It will cause what we call imported inflation; it will bring hardship to the masses before things could get better.

“Some economists may say it will force Nigerians to start producing internally and make the nation look inward; the truth is that there is need to review the outcome of this action.

“I think it is a mistake for such policy to take effect immediately; it should have been like a step by step thing.

“It is a good thing to make people produce internally but it has to do with individual or societal discipline with regard to economic.

“As far as I am concerned it is not a good one to have it too quickly even if it is a strategy to turn around the economy,’’ he said.

On his part, the National President of Potato Farmers Association of Nigeria (POFAN), Mr Daniel Okafor commended the president for the directive, urging farmers to key into the opportunity.

“Our GDP will grow and a lot of job will be created, our economy will grow and farmers will make money through opportunities that will be created from the ban.’’

Okafor, however, expressed worry that late release of agriculture budget might affect the success of the ban.

He also noted that climate change, lack of inputs and insecurity, arising from herders/farmers crises could threaten the directive.

In his reaction, the National President of Nigerian Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Mr Segun Adewumi, welcome the development, saying that farmers would make use of the opportunity.

“If the ban will be made to stand, the Federal Government must make sure that the borders are secured so that people don’t bring in those goods.

“The intention of government is good as it is meant to boost food production and create job for the people,’’ he said.

Adewumi said there was need for the government to engage farmers to start commercial farming making food available at affordable price.

He said small holder farmers that the government had been targeting could be organised to go into commercial farming with provision of money and land to boost food production.

“When large area is allocated and shared into plots and allocated to farmers to practice modern agricultural, it will help to improve yield,’’ he said.