CBN Blames Wheat Importation for Forex Crisis

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By Sodeinde Temidayo David

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has flagged off a rain-fed programme, which aims to reduce wheat importation by 60 per cent in two years and conserve about $2 billion annually in foreign exchange.

The programme, called the Nigerian Brown Revolution, was flagged off under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and will feature the intervention of the central bank to fund commercial wheat farming in 15 states of the federation, and on about 180,000 hectares of land.

This is coming after the apex bank noted that wheat is the third most widely consumed grain in Nigeria, and has been a major factor in the exchange rate imbalance.

This was disclosed by the  CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, at the ceremony to launch the programme in Jos, Plateau State.

According to the CBN boss, the country spends about $2 billion annually importing 5.2 metric tonnes of the commodity to meet local demand.

“Wheat is the third most widely consumed grain in Nigeria after maize and rice. It is estimated that the country only produces about one per cent or 63,000 metric tons of the 5-6 million metric tons of the commodity consumed annually in Nigeria,” the CBN Governor added.

He noted that the programme is expected to add about 2,000 metric tons of seeds to the nation’s national seed stock and potentially add 750,000 metric tons of wheat to national output annually through rain-fed wheat cultivation in Plateau, Mambila Plateau and Obudu Plateau in the short term.

Also speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that his administration desires to achieve zero importation of wheat before leaving office in 2023.

And that the government will work with all stakeholders to ensure this objective is achieved in the most impactful way for the economy.

The Nigerian president also expressed that his government was committed to supporting the agricultural sector to ensure the sustainability of food security efforts, contribute to foreign reserve accretion and ultimately support the growth of the Nigerian economy.

He, therefore, urged the private sector to key into agricultural financing initiatives provided by the CBN and other government agencies.

“With this ongoing initiative, we will no doubt attain self-sufficiency in wheat production, attract more players to the wheat value chain and foster job creation in Nigeria,” Mr Buhari noted.

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