New Telegraph

Nigeria spends N587.5bn on 247,000 tonnes wheat production

…misses target by 2.55m tonnes

Despite the N587.5 billion ($1.25 billion) financial support from the World Bank, African Development Bank (AFDB) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and groups under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), the value of local wheat production in the last four years totaled $60.8 million. A total of 247,000 tonnes was produced instead of 2.55 million tonnes within the period as targeted by government due to low yield and activities of terrorists.

Nigeria had spent $6.05 billion to import the grain within four year as $1.2 billion was spent in 2016 and $1.5 billion in 2017, while in 2018 and 2019, $1.65 billion and $1.7 billion were spent respectively. Data by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted that United States’ wheat export to Nigeria in 2018 and 2019 was worth $530 million and $534 million respectively. Also, it revealed that 936,000 metric tonnes of the grain brands were imported by Nigerian firms from U.S. in 2020.

Despite the financial support from the global financial institutions, finding from Global Grain Council revealed that locally produced wheat in the country was estimated at $13 million in 2016, increased to $15.5 million in 2017; $16 million and $16.3 million in 2018 and 2019 respectively. It was also revealed that the 2019/20 production season output was estimated at 60,000 tonnes, the same as the previous year as production and yield have not increased despite collaborations among government of Nigeria, Flour Millers Association of Nigeria (FMAN) and Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN). These collaborations since the last 10 years were aimed at increasing local wheat production by 300,000 tonnes to two million tonnes in 2019 and to reduce wheat import by 50 per cent in the medium-term.

However, only 60,000 tonnes or 1.17 per cent of 5.1 million tonnes was met as at December 2020. The country’s major suppliers for flour milling are Russia, United States, Back Sea countries, Canada and Australia. Since 2015, USDA said that Black Sea wheat exports to Nigeria had increased due to lower prices as flour mills operators shifted to buying cheaper wheat from Latvia and Lithuania. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had said that the country would cut wheat production by 60 per cent or 3.06 million tonnes in the next two years from the current 98.83 per cent deficit.

The Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, restated the bank’s pledge to improve local production over the next two years through its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. It would be recalled that wheat farmers in Kano State had entertained fear last year that they may likely experience shortage of wheat as they could not have access to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s intervention under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme as certified seeds were not made available to them by relevant authorities.

The Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) had lamented over the lateness in accessing of anchor borrowers inputs, which the association said had been affecting production. Its National President, Alhaji Salim Muhammad, said it was unfortunate that even with the enrolment of wheat farmers into CBN’s anchor borrowers’ intervention scheme, wheat farmers still experienced difficulties due to late access to impute disbursement by the scheme.

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