The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has earmarked N41 billion, which is being disbursed by Heritage Bank Plc to farmers across multiple states for the expansion of wheat production projects and to meet the growing demand for wheat.
The disbursed fund is to consummate the expansion of the Wheat Seed Multiplication Project, as part of the CBN’s Brown Revolution Initiative, an intervention programme to flag off and support the commencement of dry season wheat farming across States in Nigeria.
Speaking on this laudable initiative, the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the move was part of the apex bank’s intervention to address the challenges in the wheat value chain, thereby increasing the domestic production of wheat and closing the wide supply gap inherited in Nigeria agricultural space.
According to him, following the successes in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), the apex bank decided to extend the gains recorded in rice and maize value chains to wheat production.
He said the programme would benefit over 150,000 farmers.
He also said the programme would be implemented in 15 states on about 180,000 hectares of land.
Emefiele said the apex bank sought to save $2 billion spent on importing five million metric tons of wheat annually through the intervention.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He said that unless the issue was addressed, the increasing demand would add more problems to the country’s reserves.
“Given the high growth rate of the country’s population and the demographic structure, the demand for wheat is projected to continue to rise. This can only intensify pressure on the country’s reserves unless we take a decisive step to grow wheat locally,” Emefiele said.
The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo said the Brown Revolution Initiative would help reduce the nation’s food import bill by increasing wheat production, creating market linkages between smallholders farmers and Anchors/Processors, creating an ecosystem that drives value chain financing, improve access to credit by the smallholder farmers by developing credit history through the scheme and many more.