The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, said that importation of rice and wheat gulped over N1 trillion in foreign exchange annually.
Emefiele said this on Thursday in Jibia, Katsina State, at the launch of CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and 2016/2017 Dry Season Farming.
‘’Nigeria’s import bill is exceptionally high; top four import commodities which include rice and wheat, consume over N1 trillion in foreign exchange annually,’’ he said.
According to him, relying heavily on food importation fuels domestic inflation and depletes the country’s foreign reserves.
The governor, represented by the Director, Development Finance, Mr Olaitan Mudassir, said food importation had negative effects on local production industries and created unemployment in the country.
“Indeed, dependence, especially on commodities that have advantage, is not acceptable and sustainable either fiscally, economically or politically.
“Increasing rice production is a necessity as rice importation proffers no future for any nation in the long term.
“Nigeria cannot afford to continually depend on imported rice,” he said.
He said the Federal Government banned food importation to boost farming and diversify the nation’s economy.
The governor said that the government had mapped out strategies to reduce its import bill on identified commodities by at least 10 per cent annually.
“I firmly believe that Nigeria will no longer be one of the world’s highest importer of rice.
“It will become an exporter of commodities in medium terms,” he said.
The Nigerian Customs Service had announced a ban on the importation of rice through the land borders.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, said 99 per cent of rice smuggled through the land borders is not fit for human consumption.