The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday revealed that the importation of wheat costs the country about $2 billion annually, thereby exerting pressure on the country’s food import bill.

This is just as the CBN has stated that the much-awaited Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira would improve monetary policy effectiveness and enhance government’s capacity to deploy targeted social interventions and boost remittances through formal channels.

Also, in what appears to be a setback for the country’s cashless policy, a Federal High Court in Awka, has said it was not proper for the CBN as a federal institution to adopt discriminatory policies in its operations.

Commenting on the country’s food import bill, the central bank stated that wheat was its second highest contributor with over five million Metric Tons (MT) imported yearly.

The apex bank however, restated its commitment to addressing the existing challenges in the wheat value chain as part of efforts to shore up the country’s foreign reserves.

This was made known by the CBN Director, Development Finance Department, Mr. Philip Yila Yusuf, at the Wheat Conference and Stakeholder Engagement, with the theme: “Improving and Sustaining the Wheat Value Chain Development in Nigeria,” in Abuja.

He noted that the wheat value chain had enormous potential for ground-breaking impact in the agricultural sector, adding that the central bank would focus attention on the commodity value chain for 2021/2022 dry season planting following the sustainable progress made across the rice and maize value chain.
The CBN director, further estimated that only one per cent or 63,000MT of wheat, out of the 5-6 MT consumed annually, was produced locally.

He said the CBN intervention had become critical due to the high demand for wheat in the country as well as the inability to meet that demand.

He said, “The CBN plans to address key problems in the value chain through financing massive production of wheat in Nigeria and seeks to facilitate sustained availability of high yield seed variety in country and improve general productivity.”

While admitting the enormous challenge before the bank, which would require concerted efforts to address, he assured stakeholders of the CBN’s readiness in changing the narrative in the sector by working with relevant industry players.

However, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Abubakar, expressed dismay that the country’s wheat importation had continued to increase in recent years, urging stakeholders to collaborate to reverse by investing more in the value chain.

Also speaking at the occasion, Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, charged stakeholders in the wheat value chain to be transparent in their dealings and to commence preparation for both farming and production of wheat.

The governor commended the CBN for its efforts in boosting the commodity value chain and encouraged the bank to expedite action in releasing funds.

Represented by the Kano State Deputy Governor, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, Ganduje emphasised that partnership among stakeholders in wheat production value chains remained critical in boosting the country’s quest to be self-sufficient in the production of wheat.
Earlier in March, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had indicated that the bank remained committed to improving local production of wheat and reducing importation by 60 per cent over the next two years.

THISDAY LIVE