CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officials have revealed that the country is spending as much as $2bn in wheat imports annually which is having a significant impact in the nation’s foreign reserves.
According to the CBN, wheat is the second highest cost on Nigeria’s food import bill as 5m tonnes are purchased yearly. Speaking at a wheat conference in Abuja titled Improving and Sustaining the Wheat Value Chain Development in Nigeria, the CBN’s director of development finance Philip Yusuf, restated the bank’s commitment to addressing the existing challenges in the wheat value chain as part of efforts to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
He noted that the wheat value chain had enormous potential for ground-breaking impact in the agricultural sector, adding that the CBN would focus attention on the 2021/22 dry season planting following the sustainable progress made across the rice and maize value chain. Mr Yusuf further estimated that only 1% or 63,000 tonnes of wheat, out of the 5m to 6m tonnes consumed annually, was produced locally.
“The CBN plans to address key problems in the value chain through financing massive production of wheat in Nigeria and seeks to facilitate sustained availability of high yield seed variety in country and improve general productivity,” Mr Yusuf added.
While admitting the enormous challenge before the bank, which would require concerted efforts to address, he assured stakeholders of the CBN’s readiness in changing the narrative in the sector by working with relevant industry players. Also speaking at the seminar, Mohammed Abubakar, Nigeria’s minister for agriculture and rural development, expressed dismay that the country’s wheat importation had continued to increase in recent years.
Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje, charged stakeholders in the wheat sector to be transparent in their dealings. He commended the CBN for its efforts in boosting the commodity value chain and encouraged the bank to expedite action in releasing funds to farmers and producers.