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Wheat importation must end by 2023, says Buhari

By Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
15 November 2021   |   3:29 am
President Muhammadu Buhari has said zero importation of wheat into the country will be his legacy when he leaves office in 2023.

‘Nigeria spends over $2b on wheat import yearly’
President Muhammadu Buhari has said zero importation of wheat into the country will be his legacy when he leaves office in 2023.

He spoke at the inauguration of the Brown Revolution of Wheat at Miango, Bassa Local Government of Plateau State recently.

He also disclosed the Federal Government was committed to continued support for the agricultural sector to ensure sustainability of food security efforts, contribute to foreign reserve and ultimately support growth of the economy.

“One legacy this administration desires to bequeath before leaving office is zero importation of wheat. To that end, we will work with all stakeholders to ensure this objective is achieved in the most impactful way for the Nigerian economy,” he said.

The private sector operators were also encouraged to key into agricultural financing initiatives provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other government agencies.

He also commended efforts of key agencies that have contributed to the progress, such as CBN, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its agencies, the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) as well as Flour Mills Nigeria and other public and private sector players.

“It is important to stress that Nigeria currently spends over $2 billion on the importation of wheat yearly, one of the key contributors to the nation’s huge foreign import bill. This is because millers have had to resort to importing wheat to meet the huge demand for wheat by-products,” he stressed.

Represented by Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, Buhari said it was the determination that he keyed into agricultural financing, adding that the government would increase production of wheat.

Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, said food security was a major delivery for the governments across the globe, hence the CBN’s support to the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) by providing affordable and accessible financing options to drive domestic food production.

Emefiele said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) had remained a game changer in financing smallholder farmers through innovative funding models centred around building an effective agro-ecosystem, hinged on the value chain approach.

“It is estimated that the country only produces about one (1) per cent (63,000 metric tons) of the 5-6 million metric tons of the commodity consumed annually in Nigeria. This enormous demand-supply gap is bridged with over $2 billion spent annually on wheat importation,” he reiterated.

Emefiele pointed out that over the years, the availability of low-yielding seeds variety and poor agronomic practices had hampered successful cultivation of wheat in Nigeria, adding that that had led to low productivity, making wheat production unappealing to farmers and unattractive for private sector investment.