By; PETER NOSAKHARE, Kaduna
Importation of durum or pasta wheat into Nigeria has continued to skyrocket, rising from 730.9 billion naira in 2020 to 1.295 trillion naira in 2021.
New Nigerian learnt from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS,’ Foreign Trade Statistics that wheat importation into Africa’s most populous nation rose 77.23 per cent from 2020 to 2021.
Wheat is an important commodity which serves as flour in the production of pasta, bread, noodles, among others.
Economists have attributed the difference in the two years could be attributed to the devaluation of the nation’s currency and insecurity that led to little or no production in Northern Nigeria for a number of years.
Naira devalued by over 15 per cent in the official market and over 20 per cent in the parallel market in the two years, but insurgents and bandits in the north have also sacked farmers of wheat and other crops, leading to supply chain disruptions.
“If you imported with one million dollars in 2020 and you imported with once million dollars in 2021, the amount of money would not be the same in naira in the two years due to naira devaluation,” said the Chief Executive Officer of Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf.
He said apart from currency depreciation, the country had not succeeded in growing wheat, noting that the Central Bank of Nigeria was making efforts to bolster the growth of the crop by asking flour millers to invest in backward integration.
“But we have not made much success. Some players acquired massive plots of plans to embark on backward integration but while they were trying to do that, insecurity and community issues started,” Yusuf said.
But Chairman of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, Raji Omotunde, said wheat importation was so high due to low productivity, noting that bakers were suffering due to high wheat prices.
“Millers have been increasing their prices. The price of a 50 kg bag of wheat has risen from over 20 thousand naira to 27 thousand naira. The price of a 50kg bag of sugar has also risen from 22 thousand naira to 26/thousand naira
” Diesel price has also risen. We are not increasing prices because bread is something everybody should afford, and we have been so considerate about that,” he said,