CBN supports wheat value chain to boost external reserves
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has restated its commitment to addressing the challenges affecting the country’s wheat production and other value chain areas as part of efforts to boost local production to reduce dependence on importation.
The Director, Development Finance Department at the CBN, Mr. Philip Yila Yusuf, said this at the Wheat Conference and Stakeholder Engagement, held on Thursday.
Yila highlighted the potential of the wheat value chain for the economy, noting that the apex bank would focus on the product in the 2021/2022 planting season after sustainable progress had been made in the rice and maize value chain
He said: “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.”
He disclosed that wheat was the second-highest contributor to the country’s food import as over $2billion was spent yearly on the importation of over five million metric tons (MT).
In the second quarter of the year, the share of durum wheat in the total imports was N324.7 billion or 4.7 per cent. It was second to the motor spirit in terms of the value of an import.
The director estimated that only a per cent or 63,000MT of wheat, out of the five to six million MT consumed yearly was produced locally. He added that the CBN’s intervention had become necessary due to high demand amid poor production capacity.
While admitting the enormous challenge before the Bank, he assured stakeholders of the CBN’s readiness to partner with other stakeholders to changing the narrative.
In his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Abubakar, who was represented by Abdullahi Garba, expressed dismay that the country’s wheat importation bills had continued to increase. He urged all stakeholders to collaborate to reverse the trend through investments.
Also speaking, Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, charged all stakeholders to be transparent in their dealings. The governor, whose goodwill message was delivered by his Deputy, Dr. Nasiru Gawuna, encouraged the CBN to expedite action in releasing funds to the sector.
He stressed that partnership among stakeholders in the value chain remained critical in boosting production and achieving self-sufficiency.