Nigeria Imports N362bn Worth of Wheat in 2018

07.03.2019

Despite reports that agricultural productivity has been growing in Nigeria in recent years, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed otherwise.

In the Foreign Trade Statistics report released by the NBS, importation of agricultural goods increased for the most part of 2018. The report showed that wheat importation represents 42.5 per cent or N362.4 billion of the total N852 billion spent on importation of agricultural goods in the year.

Ayodeji Balogun, country manager, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, said: “If you look at the derivatives of wheat, it is top line food for the younger, (upper and lower) middle income class, and that population is growing.

“The population of people eating pasta will continue to increase, and every sachet of Noodles is a part of wheat. That number will keep growing and wheat is not a crop we have any efficiency in producing,” he added.

The Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016-2020) put Nigeria’s annual wheat consumption at 4.7 million metric tonnes and local production at a mere 60 thousand metric tonnes, leaving a deficit of 4.64 million metric tonnes. Suggesting manufacturers of bread, biscuits, semovita etc had to import 4.64 MMT of wheat in 2018 to meet growing demand.

According to Oluwasina Olabanji, executive director, Lake Chad Research Institute, Nigerian wheat farmers produced less than 300,000 metric tonnes in 2017 farming season, while that was better than the 2018 farming season, the deficit was still 4.5 metric tonnes.

Experts believed government intervention can help deepen wheat production and agricultural produce as a whole. A visit to Borno state last year, by BusinessDay, showed about 67,000 hectares of land that was farmed for Wheat in Chad basin has been abandoned and uncultivated for years due to the insurgency.

Abdulkadir Jidda, chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Borno State chapter told journalist “nobody can go there now.”

The President, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), Salim Muhammad, revealed that the body has not received any intervention from the current administration. He said the last time they got any form of support was during Goodluck Jonathan administration under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) programme.

“Since it stopped, nothing like intervention came to wheat farming,” Muhammad said.

Despite wheat budgetary allocation rising every year, wheat production continued to decline. Federal government reportedly approved N8.85 billion through the Ministry of Agriculture, yet nothing substantial has been achieved in the industry.

In the first quarter of 2018, Nigeria imported N72.8 billion worth of Wheat, N85.46 billion in the second quarter, N101.4 billion in the third quarter and N102.7 billion in the final quarter. Bringing the total amount spent on Wheat in 2018 to N362 billion.

However, local sugar production rose by 101.1 per cent in the same year, largely driven by the private sector. Same with rice production that has enjoyed government enormous intervention in recent years. Nigeria is now the largest rice producer in Africa after attaining 4 million tonnes a year.


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