Nigeria Spends N1trn Annually On Rice, Wheat Imports – Cbn
BEVERLY HILLS, December 30, (THEWIL) – Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has stated that Nigeria annually spends the equivalent of N1trillion in foreign exchange to import rice and wheat.
Emefiele spoke on Thursday in Jibia, Katsina State, during the launch of the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP, and 2016/2017 Dry Season Farming.
''Nigeria's import bill is exceptionally high; top four import commodities, which include rice and wheat, consume over N1 trillion in foreign exchange annually,'' he said, warning that heavy reliance on food importation fuels domestic inflation and depletes the country's foreign reserves.
Speaking through the Director, Development Finance, Mr Olaitan Mudassir, the Governor pointed out that the importation of food had negative effects on local production industries and created unemployment.
“Indeed, dependency, especially on commodities that have advantage, is not acceptable and sustainable either fiscally, economically or politically.
“Increasing rice production is a necessity as rice importation proffers no future for any nation in the long term.
“Nigeria cannot afford to continually depend on imported rice,” he said.
Disclosing that the Federal Government banned food importation to boost farming and diversify the nation's economy, Emefiele stated that the government had mapped out strategies to reduce its import bill on identified commodities by at least 10 per cent annually.
“I firmly believe that Nigeria will no longer be one of the world's highest importer of rice.
“It will become an exporter of commodities in medium terms,” he said.
He disclosed that no fewer than 219,837 farmers in 17 states are participating in the ABP of the apex bank, adding that 246,837 hectares had so far been cultivated under the programme.
The Governor stated that the programme was aimed at supporting farmers with agricultural inputs to enhance productivity, create job opportunities and diversify the country's economy.
He said the CBN had linked more than 120,000 rice and wheat farmers with reputable millers.
According to him, the CBN had set aside some funds from the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Funds, MSMEDF, in furtherance of the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
While beneficiaries are to pay 9 per cent interest, Emefiele said the CBN would also empower at least 600,000 farmers in the rice, oil palm, wheat, cotton and fish value chains in the next five years.