Nigeria Wheat Imports Jump 31% on Declining Local Production

Wheat imports by Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, rose 31 percent in the second quarter on increased demand amid declining local production, according to official data.
The West African country imported 1.36 million metric tons of wheat between April and June compared with 1.04 million tons in the first three months of the year, port data published by the National Bureau of Statistics show. The orders from the U.S., Russia, Canada and Germany cost 114.8 billion naira ($315.7 million) compared with 87.4 billion naira in the first quarter.
Output by local wheat farmers is constrained by the high cost of inputs such as fertilizer and lack of access to storage facilities, Salim Mohammed, president of the Wheat Growers Association of Nigeria, said in a phone interview from the northern city of Kano.
“There has been minimal support to the farmers who are growing the crop,” he said.
Nigeria, the world’s number 10 buyer of wheat, spent $4.4 billion on imports last year and plans to cut shipments 60 percent by 2025, according to the agriculture ministry. Most of the wheat is milled into flour for bakeries or used to produce pasta and other wheat-based foods.
Nigeria’s wheat production stood at 60,000 tons at the end of the 2016-17 season, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. is the biggest exporter of the grain to Nigeria, with 3.3 million tons arriving in 2017, followed by Russia with 1.7 million tons, according to Nigeria’s agriculture ministry.
Nigeria’s wheat is grown mainly in irrigated farms in the northern region’s cool, dry season from November to April. New varieties that also thrive in the wet season planted in the country’s central plains were affected adversely by widespread flooding this year, farmers said.

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