Dr. Solomon Gizaw, Head, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Clearinghouse, has revealed that African nations collectively expend approximately $20 billion annually on importing wheat.
He stated this during a Train-the-Trainer workshop on wheat seed production in Kano.
According to him, the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis has led to supply disruptions and increased wheat prices in Africa, resulting in substantial financial burdens for the continent.
Dr. Gizaw pointed out that Nigeria possesses the necessary resources to cultivate wheat domestically, not only to sustain itself but also to supply neighbouring African nations.
“The fight between Russia and Ukraine impacted the whole of Africa. You can imagine two countries fighting elsewhere in Europe, but the fight caused a lot of supply disruption because Africans were the major importers of wheat across the continent. This means that, as a continent, we don’t have food security as our food security is in the hands of others, he said.
He added: ”Africa around this time annually spends nearly $20 billion to import wheat from other parts of the world. They import fertilizer and wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and as a result, the war between the duo has disrupted the supply of wheat and fertilizer.”
Speaking further, Gizaw noted that the result of the Russia-Ukraine war has been an increase in both wheat prices and disruptions in supply across African nations.
However, he expressed optimism that Nigeria could achieve self-sufficiency if the current trajectory of wheat production is sustained.
It will be recalled that Nigeria spent around N970 billion on wheat imports between October 2022 and September 2023.
From January to September 2023, Nigeria’s wheat imports amounted to N783.26 billion, marking an increase of N28.66 billion compared to the corresponding period in 2022, which recorded NN753.60 billion in imports.
Wheat flour serves as a primary raw material in the production of bread, pasta, noodles, and other essential Nigerian food items.
Recently, the prices of these products have surged due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which disrupted global supply chains and caused a spike in the commodity’s price on the global market.