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Nigeria’s president moves to stop funding for food imports

Written by on August 15, 2019

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed the country’s central bank to stop providing foreign currency for food imports, according to a statement from his spokesman.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said Tuesday the move is aimed at improving Nigeria’s agricultural production and attaining more food security.
“The president … said the foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food imports bills,” reads the statement.
Shehu also quoted Buhari as saying, “Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country.”
Nigeria is currently Africa’s largest producer of oil and relies on the sale of crude oil for about 90% of its foreign-exchange earnings.
As a way of diversifying the country’s economy and reducing its dependence on oil, policies aimed at stimulating the growth of the agricultural sector have been put forward over the past years.
A statement from President Buhari’s official account also says boosting agriculture is a primary focus of the current administration.
In 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) presided over a ban on the access to foreign currency for 41 items that the bank felt could be manufactured in the country, including rice and poultry. In July, it announced that it would stop importers of milk and other dairy products from getting foreign currency, arguing that local production of milk should be encouraged instead.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, imports of agricultural products were valued at ₦236 billion (about $640 million) in the first quarter of 2019.
These policies are expected to reduce how much is spent on imports and encourage local production of goods.


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