Nigeria’s annual wheat imports rose by 54% to $201 million in the first quarter of this year against the $130.9 million the same period last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows. This result, among others, is due to the lack of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF), a composite which is mixed with wheat by flour millers for flour production.
Explaining the unavailability of HQCF on the market, Nike Tinier, President of the Industrial Cassava Stakeholders Association of Nigeria, said the price at which millers currently buy HQCF is no longer sustainable as prices of raw cassava tubers have soared significantly. “We no longer sell to the flour millers because they want to buy a ton of HQCF for N80, 000 ($248) as against the N160, 000 ($497) which is profitable for us. We need to continue to be in business,” Tinier said. Moreover, there is a shortage of cassava tubers, from which HQCF is derived, on the market.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its recent bi-annual report forecasts revealed that Nigeria’s 2017 wheat imports will increase by 100,000 tons to 4.6 million tons, despite restrictions on foreign exchange and government’s renewed commitment to reduce imports next year.
“The insurgency in the North-Eastern region is a major setback to our efforts in increasing wheat production. Before the Boko Haram conflicts, Borno alone contributed 30% to the country’s total output but now the state has been contributing nothing,” indicated Saleh Mohammed, President, Wheat Growers Association of Nigeria.
Nigeria is the fourth largest wheat importer in Africa, importing 4.5 million tons yearly, behind Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. The Africa’s second largest economy currently produces 60,000 tons of wheat per annum.