In its avowed determination towards the diversification of the national economy with a view towards de-emphasizing wholesome dependant on the oil and gas sector as the major revenue earners of the country, with a gradual refocusing on the agricultural and mining sectors as the major financers of the Nigerian economy, wheat and sugar might soon join the Central Bank of Nigeria foreign exchange restriction list where rice had been for a while now. This would enable the government to unlock the great potentialities in the local wheat sub-sector. The foreign exchange restriction policy would also give stakeholders enhanced confidence to invest in the sector as the returns on their investment would be protected. Stakeholders are upbeat that this move was bound to enhance production and productivity to meet local demand while farmers would be encouraged to produce more with improved seeds, access to market and better prices for their produce.
In contemplation of this move, the government should motivate the private sector into being an active partner towards reaching the overall objectives.
There are countries that had previously found themselves where Nigeria is presently but they had since achieved food self-sufficiency. Just as Nigeria too had succeeded in attaining self-sufficiency in rice production, still leaning on its resilience and learning from the experiences of others, the country could still attain its dream of self-sufficiency in wheat and sugar production.
No doubt, wheat and sugar are two very essential food commodities on the menu of many Nigerian homes that the full localization of their production would be most welcome, more so that the country boasts of vast fertile lands and favourable weather to support farming of wheat and sugarcane for sugar production in addition to the great potentialities in irrigation farming.
One reassuring note in the government concern with placing wheat on the foreign exchange restriction list is that the huge drain on the foreign exchange earnings of the country occasioned by the huge yearly imports of the commodity would be greatly blocked and such huge sums diverted to other areas of crying need.
Available records show that, annually, Nigeria expends at least Six Billion, One Hundred Million Dollars on the importation of wheat alone. This is despite the comparative advantage which the country has in the local production of the commodity.
Still, available records show that of the Five million metric tonnes of wheat consumed annually, only 420,000 metric tonnes were produced locally. There is therefore, the glaring potential for local initiative to close the yawning gap, with the recent moves being perceived as the light at the end of the tunnel.
The past two years had been particularly challenging to the economy of Nigeria occasioned by the dwindling revenue accruals caused by the u feeling devastation of the global Corona Virus Disease pandemic which had informed the fast crashing oil prices on the international market in such a way that had made countries to rush for alternative sustainable economic measures, which for Nigeria, agriculture had seemed the brightest prospect on the horizon and the country is leaving nothing to chance in the avowal to return agriculture to its original status as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy before the advent of oil and gas.
The new economic thinking in the prevailing Corona Virus Disease pandemic era is that as much as possible, the expenditure of resources should be on the absolutely necessary, while savings have to be necessarily made on expenditures that are not of absolute necessity, like in areas where there are observed comparative advantages for local options. Such savings could feature on the Future prosperity plans of the country.