Wheat import rises to N1.29tr in forex cost

Wheat import rises 71.1%. Now disrupted by Russian-Ukrainian war

By Jeph Ajobaju, Chief Copy Editor

Durum wheat import rose 71.1 per cent to N1.29 trillion in 2021 against N756.92 billion in 2020, and more than triple N401.31 trillion in 2019, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report.

Durum wheat accounted for 6.2 per cent of the total import bill last year, the highest imported food item, and the second-highest contributor to import bill.

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Durum wheat is a variety of spring wheat ground into semolina to produce pasta, couscous, bulgur, noodles, and bread; all of which are staple foods in Nigeria.

NBS figures show the quantity imported in 2021 was the highest on record, broken down quarterly as follows:

  • Q1 2021 – N258.3 trillion
  • Q2 2021 – N324.72 trillion
  • Q3 2021 – N315.17 trillion
  • Q4 2021 – N397.19 trillion

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Russia’s war in Ukraine raises bread price in Nigeria

Nigeria mounts up N3.1b food import bill as local production struggles

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Russian-Ukrainian war raises wheat price

Surging wheat import is attributed to the supply gap in the country and greater demand in the domestic market, according to reporting by Nairametrics.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent the prices of wheat to record highs, further affecting global wheat supply value chain.

Nigeria is already spending more on wheat import with bread and other wheat by-products costing higher because of the war which has also escalated inflation in advanced economies.

Nigeria’s inflation rose to 15.7 per cent in February, from 15.6 per cent in January.

Inflation in the United States climbed to 7.9 per cent in February, a 40-year high. In Canada, it broke a 30-year high record to perch at 5.7 per cent in February. Inflation also rose to a 30-year high in the United Kingdom in January.

Forex restrictions list

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) added sugar and wheat to foreign exchange (FX or forex) restriction list in April 2021, preventing importers of wheat from accessing FX from the I&E window at the official rate.

The CBN devised an action plan to raise local wheat production by addressing difficulties in the value chain to help boost foreign reserves.

CBN Deputy Governor (Corporate Services) Edward Lamtek reiterated while representing Governor Godwin Emefiele in Jos in November 2021 that wheat is a major factor in FX imbalance.

“Wheat is the third most widely consumed grain in Nigeria after maize and rice. It is estimated that the country only produces about one per cent (63,000 metric tons) of the 5-6 million metric tons of the commodity consumed annually in Nigeria.

“This enormous demand-supply gap is bridged with over $2 billion spent annually on wheat importation. This has made wheat the second highest contributor to the country’s food import bill,” Emefiele disclosed.

trade deficit

Nigeria had a N1.94 trillion trade deficit in 2021 with imported goods worth N20.84 trillion against N18.91 trillion exports.

Dependence on foreign goods to meet local demand at the expense of scarce FX piles pressure on the naira.

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