The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has earmarked N41billion for disbursement through Heritage Bank Plc to farmers across multiple states for the expansion of wheat farming project.
The fund is to consummate the expansion of 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 initiative, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said this move was part of the apex bank’s intervention to address the challenges in wheat value chain, thereby increasing the domestic production of wheat and closing the wide supply gap inherited in Nigeria agricultural space.
He explained: “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.”
Commenting on this initiative, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, noted that it would help reduce the nation’s food import bill by increasing wheat production, create market linkages between smallholders farmers and anchors/processors, create 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.
Sekibo said, “What we want to achieve is to end importation of seeds and make Nigeria self-sufficient in wheat production. We are working with about 30 firms focusing only on seed production and also working with CBN to make sure we register all farmers.”