The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked banks and other authorised dealers to henceforth discontinue processing documents for maize and corn importation.
The move is part of efforts to stimulate domestic production of maize.
The banking sector regulator gave the directive in a circular dated July 13, 2020, addressed to all banks and authorised dealers that was posted on its website. The circular was signed by the Director, Trade and Exchange Department, CBN, Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji.
The central bank directed the banks to discontinue the processing of Form ‘M’.
A Form ‘M’ is a mandatory statutory document to be completed by all importers for the importation of goods into Nigeria. It is mandatory for all importers to complete and register Form ‘M’ with authorised dealers at the time of placing orders.
The circular said: “As part of efforts by the CBN to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase jobs, which were lost as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, authorised dealers are hereby directed to discontinue the processing of Form ‘M’ for the importation of maize/corn with immediate effect.
“Accordingly, all authorised dealers are hereby requested to submit the list of Form ‘M’ already registered for the importation of maize/corn using the attached format on or before the close of business on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Please ensure strict compliance.”
If implemented, the policy would take the number of items that had been restricted from accessing forex from the central bank forex windows to 44.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had said the bank would sustain its intervention in the agriculture sector through its development finance mandate, in order to help catalyse growth in critical sectors of the economy such as agriculture and the manufacturing sectors.
In line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari, the CBN had created several lending programmes and provided hundreds of billions to smallholder farmers and industrial processors in several key agricultural produce. These policies are aimed at positioning Nigeria to become a self-sufficient food producer, creating millions of jobs, supplying key markets across the country and dampening the effects of exchange rate movements on local prices.
The CBN governor explained that through schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and the Bankers Committee Agric-Business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), the apex bank has improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating a greater partnership with agro-processors and manufacturing firms in the sourcing of raw materials.
“As a result, manufacturers have integrated local options in sourcing their raw materials. Partnerships forged through contracts between farmer cooperatives and agro-processors have also helped to support improved production of agricultural commodities such as rice, cotton and maize.
“In order to address some of the challenges faced by local farmers and manufacturers, we embarked on measures to discourage smuggling and dumping of restricted items into the country, by imposing restrictions on the use of financial institutions in Nigeria by identified smugglers, as their activities undermined the growth of our local industries.
“These measures are aiding our efforts to support local cultivation in rice, cotton and fish, etc.,” he had stated.
He added that at some point in Nigeria’s history, the economy was heavily reliant on agriculture, with increased cultivation and exports of primary products such as cocoa, palm oil, cotton and groundnut.
He, therefore, urged the country, in view of current challenges in the global economy, to return to the era, when the growth of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors was used to bring about growth and employment.