Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Wednesday, urged Federal Government to attach premium to palm oil production, saying its price is higher than crude oil's.
Emefiele stated this in Abuja when he appeared before Senate's Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions for screening for his second term nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He did not, however, give the current prices of the commodities in the international market, but said that palm oil was a goldmine, which Nigeria had capacity to export to many countries.
The CBN governor expressed concern that though Nigeria was one of the major palm oil producers in the 1960s, that it failed to consolidate on it because of the discovery of crude oil.
He, however, said that the CBN, through its legal functions, would come up with a special programme to boost palm oil production to help in diversifying the economy.
According to him, Nigeria had the potential to export palm oil and boost its revenue generation.
Emefiele recalled that "in the 60s, Nigeria controlled 40 per cent share in the global palm oil chain."
"We were exporting our palm oil to different parts of the world, but because we found crude oil, we receded and abandoned it.
"The price of a tonne of palm oil is more than the price of a barrel of crude oil. So, what happened?
"For other countries, when they had the opportunity in agriculture and in the crude sector, they did not let their guards down. Unfortunately, we did and that is what we are paying for today.
"Such move is so, so that when there are some external shocks, it will not be felt.
"We will grow that market again and after that, we will go into cocoa," he said.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to repositioning the agriculture sector.
According to Emefiele, the president had, on different occasions, insisted that the country produce what it consumes and consume what it produces.
He noted that the charge resonated with CBN management, which took it further by starting the Anchor Borrowers Programme that had impacted so much on the lives of Nigerians.
He also disclosed that the apex bank was coming up with a fund for the creative industry "to engage Nigerian youths so as to increase employment rate as well as tackle restiveness."
The CBN governor informed the committee that the bank had worked assiduously to stabilise the economy in many areas.
"We went into the regime of restricting Foreign Exchange. This was intended to control import and encourage export, to reduce pressure on the reserve.
"Fortunately, we saw import dropping to as much as six billion dollars on a quarterly basis to today that it is significantly lower.
"Having adjusted the demands and trying to see how to balance the foreign exchange rate, a number of intervening actions were introduced to help boost the supply of foreign exchange into the market."
He pointed out that the bank had explored other intervening initiatives that would help boost the supply of foreign exchange into the market, including encouraging investors.
Emefiele added that CBN had been able to reduce the exchange rate from about N500 to a dollar to the current rate of N360 to a dollar.
He promised to make further efforts to ensure stability of the exchange rate for a clear monetary policy direction.