Projected to save $2bn in foreign exchange
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is targeting a 60 percent reduction in wheat importation into Nigeria in two years with what it has christened Nigerian Brown Revolution, a wheat value chain intervention programme aimed at enhancing the crop’s output.
Such a reduction is projected to save the country $2 billion annually in foreign exchange.
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Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, at the inauguration of the scheme, held at the CBN ABP Wheat Seed Multiplication Farm, Kwall, Bassa Local Government Area, Plateau State, explained that the central bank decided to extend the gains recorded in the rice and maize value chains to wheat production following the progress achieved through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Emefiele, represented by Edward Adamu, deputy governor, Corporate Services Directorate of the apex bank, bemoaned that Nigeria produces about one percent (63,000 metric tonnes) of the estimated 5-6 million metric tonnes of wheat consumed annually, hence the enormous demand-supply gap of the commodity, resulting in over $2 billion annual expenditure on wheat importation, making wheat the second highest contributor to the country’s food import bill.
The CBN governor also expressed worry that low-yielding seed varieties cultivated locally and poor agronomic practices have over the years, hindered successful cultivation of wheat in Nigeria, leading to low productivity, making wheat production unappealing to farmers and unattractive for private sector investment.
Speaking on the establishment of the intervention programme, he explained that the CBN decided to add wheat to the list of focal commodities to be supported under the its agricultural intervention programmes in order to change the narrative and leverage domestic production to bridge the demand-supply gap in the country,
The CBN governor, who noted that wheat is the second highest contributor to the country’s food import bill, said the high growth rate of the country’s population and the demographic structure are inevitable factors that the demand for wheat is projected to continue to rise and intensify pressure on the country’s reserves unless a decisive step is taken to grow wheat locally.
He said the plan was to ultimately eliminate wheat importation, adding that the wheat programme would benefit over 150,000 farmers and would be implemented in 15 states on about 180,000 hectares of land.
He further noted that the programme was expected to add about 2,000 metric tonnes of wheat seeds to the nation’s national seed stock and potentially add 750,000 metric tonnes of wheat to national output annually through rain-fed wheat cultivation in Plateau, Mambilla Plateau and Obudu Plateau in the short-term.
Highlighting the CBN’s strategy for the wheat value chain, Emefiele stressed that the apex bank will ensure availability of high-yield seeds by financing seed multiplication and establishment of seed ripple centres, expand land under cultivation for wheat to a capacity that could meet total national demand through association and collaboration with relevant federal agencies and state governments, and pursue strategic collaboration with key stakeholders in the wheat value chain for sustained local production.
According to the CBN governor, the commencement of the brown revolution programme is the CBN’s mantra for repositioning wheat production in the country as it also heralds the first major wet season wheat production in the country with about 700 hectares put under cultivation in Kwall, Kassa, Jol, Kafi Abu and Sop in Jos, Plateau State.
“The CBN will not rest on its oars as we continue to work with our partners, Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), to expand the frontiers of wheat production in Nigeria to areas like northern Oyo, Kogi and Kwara states,” he added.
Emefiele also expressed optimism that given the right technology and agronomic practices, Nigeria can develop two wheat cropping cycles to support an aggressive drive to bridge the wheat demand-supply gap in the country.