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FG to stop wheat importation, $2bn annual capital flight

Wheat seeds

Victor Uzoho

The Federal Government has promised to stop wheat importation into Nigeria, and attendant $2 billion in capital flight annually.

Speaking at the launch of the first-ever rain fed commercial wheat cultivation at the Wheat Seed Multiplication Farm in Kwall, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari said ending wheat importation has become imperative.

He insisted the country is capable of solely meeting local demand, while exporting the excess to other countries.

Buhari, who was represented by Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, noted that the agricultural sector is one of the critical non-oil sectors, which has made significant contributions to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounting for a 22.35% and 23.78% contributions in the first and second quarters of 2021, respectively.

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 said: “It is important to stress that Nigeria currently spends over $2 billion on the importation of wheat annually, one of the key contributors to the Nation’s huge import bill.

“This is because millers have had to resort to importing wheat to meet the huge demand for wheat by-products. Wheat cultivation, similar to rice, can thrive in Nigeria due to the tropical climatic conditions.

“Currently, wheat is cultivated in many northern states particularly in the dry season due to the high heat tolerance of the seed utilised by farmers.”

Also speaking, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, represented by Deputy Governor Edward Lamtek Adamu, said to upscale domestic production and meet local demand, the Bank decided to add wheat to the list of focal commodities to be supported under its agricultural intervention programmes.

He said improved high-yielding varieties of seeds from Mexico with a potential average yield of 5-7 metric tons per hectare have been acquired for distribution to farmers.

Emefiele said: “The event heralds the commencement of the Brown Revolution Journey, which is the first major wet season wheat production in Nigeria with about 700 hectares put under cultivation in Kwall, Kassa, Jol, Kafi Abu, and Sop in Jos, Plateau State.

 “While the short-term implication of this is the addition of about 2,000 metric tons of seeds to our national seed stock, the country can now potentially add 750,000 metric tons of wheat to the nation’s output annually through rain-fed wheat cultivation in Plateau, Mambila Plateau, and Obudu Plateau.

“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.”

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