The Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday started the process of assisting dairy companies to set up milk processing plants in the Federal Capital Territory.
The move is coming barely one week after the apex bank gave approval to six dairy companies to import milk into the country.
Speaking when he led a delegation of stakeholders to a meeting with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, requested the minister to provide land to dairy companies that would want to set up processing plants in Abuja.
The governor was accompanied to the meeting by top executives of three dairy companies – Friesland Campina WAMCO, Nestle and L and Z Integrated Farms.
He told the minister that by providing land for milk processing firms within the Federal Capital Territory, it would support the efforts of government in bridging the supply gap of the product.
He said currently, the government through the CBN was pursuing its backward integration strategy to make the country self-sufficient in milk production.
Based on government official statistics, Nigeria’s current milk production stands at about 500,000 metric tonnes per year.
Emefiele explained that the objective of the CBN 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.
He said with steps currently being taken by stakeholders in that sector, the target of 550,000 metric tonnes would be achieved within the set timeline.
In addition to facilitating easy access to funding for dairy investors, he said it was the desire of the management of the CBN to ensure that the country conserves foreign exchange, trigger economic growth and boost employment opportunities in the sector.
Currently, the country spends between $1.2bn and $1.5bn annually on milk importation based on figures from the CBN.
The apex bank boss said the various collaborative efforts by the CBN and the private sector had started yielding significant results.
He said there was now deliberate measures by the private firms to embrace the backward integration strategy and boost job creation and industrialisation locally.
One of these measures, according to him, is the partnership with milk importing companies to develop the local dairy sector and harness its potential in the interest of the nation.
This strategic partnership, he noted, commenced with Niger State Government allocating 31,000 hectares of land to milk companies within the Bobi Grazing Reserve to develop the local dairy breeds for enhanced milk collection.