Wheat imports into Nigeria are higher than the local production of the commodity by about 1,042.86 per cent, according to a report obtained from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The FMARD disclosed this in its report on recommended strategies to improve the wheat value chain in Nigeria, presented at the recent 2021 Wheat Stakeholders Workshop.
The report indicated that since independence, Nigeria’s wheat imports had consistently exceeded local production, as the consumption of the product had also continued to rise.
Our correspondent gathered on Friday that the rise in the cost of bread and pastries, triggered by the hike in flour price, was due to the low domestic production and high imports of wheat, a major raw material for flour used in baking.
The FMARD said in the report that national production had been around 350,000 metric tonnes since 2017.
The domestic consumption of the commodity during the period under review was around 4.2 million metric tonnes, while imports were put at about four million MT.
The report showed that in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, wheat production domestically were around 5,700MT, 65,000MT, 50,000MT and 170,000MT, respectively, while as imports were 148,000MT, 194,000MT, 680,400MT and 1.1 million MT, respectively.
Domestic consumption during the periods were put at 144,000MT, 191,000MT, 686,000MT and 1.115 million MT, respectively.
The report said in the 2000s and 2010s, national production levels dropped to 50,000MT and 70,000MT respectively, with consumption levels of 883,000MT and 3.41 million MT respectively, and imports being 861,200MT and 3.316 million MT respectively.
The ministry explained that wheat consumption had been on the rise in Nigeria due to population growth, changing food preferences and strong urbanisation trend.
According to the report, the challenges to local production include low level of mechanisation, biotic and abiotic stress such as pests and diseases, low soil fertility and lack of adequate technology.
It said total irritable landmass for wheat production in Nigeria was about 1.2 million hectares, adding that less than 20 per cent was being utilised.
The Director, Development Finance Department, Central Bank of Nigeria, Philip Yusuf, said recently that wheat was the second-highest contributor to the country’s food import bill, mounting pressure on foreign reserves.
According to him, over $2bn was spent annually on the importation of over four million metric tonnes of wheat.