The Central Bank of Nigeria has given approval to six dairy companies to import milk into the country.
The move is part of efforts aimed at bridging the supply gap of the product as the government pursues its backward integration strategy to make the country self-sufficient in milk production.
The development was confirmed in a circular issued by the CBN dated February 11, 2020, and signed by the Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Dr Ozoemena Nnaji.
The apex bank said the approval was given in line with its objective to increase and improve the local production of milk, its derivatives and other dairy products in the country.
The six dairy companies are FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria; Chi Limited; TG Arla Dairy Products Limited; Promasidor Nigeria Limited; Nestle Nigeria PLC (MSK only) and Integrated Dairies Limited.
The CBN in the circular said all Forms ‘M’ for the importation of milk and its derivatives by authorised dealers would only be allowed for the aforementioned companies.
The apex bank therefore advised importers not on the list of companies cited in the circular to cancel all established Forms ‘M’ for the importation of milk and its derivatives for which shipment has not taken place.
Based on government official statistics, Nigeria’s current milk production stands at about 500,000 metric tonnes per year.
This leaves a demand gap of 1.7 million tonnes, which is filled through importation that causes a capital flight of about $1.3bn.
Speaking on the circular, the Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, explained that the apex bank engaged the six companies because they showed sufficient willingness and ability to support the objectives of the CBN.
He said already, the companies had keyed into the CBN’s backward integration programme in order to enhance their capacity and improve local milk production.
Okorafor further explained that the objective of the bank in that sector was to increase milk production in the country from the current figure of 500,000 metric tonnes to about 550,000 metric tonnes within the next 12 months.
In addition to facilitating easier access to funding for dairy investors, he said it was the desire of the management of the CBN to ensure that the country conserved foreign exchange, trigger economic growth and boost employment opportunities in the sector.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had said as a country, Nigeria had no business importing milk due to the fact that most of the resources for milk production were abundant in the country.