NIGERIA – The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced plans to halt foreign currency for sugar and wheat imports, as the country tries to conserve national foreign reserves.

According to reports by Naira Metrics, the plan was disclosed by the apex bank via its verified Twitter handle, in a statement credited to the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The tweet stated, “Sugar and Wheat to go into our FX restriction list. We must work together to produce these items in Nigeria rather than import them. #Emefiele.”

In 2015, the bank listed 41 items that had been placed on its FX restriction list, citing that the move was necessary to conserve the nation’s foreign reserve and boost local production of the items on the restriction list.

Some of the items which made the 2015 list are margarine, poultry and eggs, rice, etc.

In August 2019, the central bank told lenders to stop offering credit to importers of milk after saying it would ban access to foreign exchange for dairy purchases to spur local production. It later lifted the restrictions for six dairy firms following an outcry from businesses.

The most recent addition is maize, a widely-consumed staple food in the country.

“Sugar and Wheat to go into our FX restriction list. We must work together to produce these items in Nigeria rather than import them.”

Central Bank of Nigeria

Currency restrictions aimed at easing pressure on the local currency amid a shortage of dollars have contributed to galloping inflation and further weakened the naira in recent years, analysts say as indicated in a Reuters report.

The move has also been termed as faulty since Nigeria has not attained full food security and the agricultural sector is still struggling.

USAID launches $3 million grants to support food security challenge in Nigeria

To offer support to the country, USAID has launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provideUS$3 million in grant funding and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.

Nigeria is experiencing food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country.

The pandemic has disrupted already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process, and distribute food.

This disrupts agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacts livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women, and youth.

“We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity,” USAID Mission Director Anne Patterson said.

“This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing, and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria,” she said.

In launching the Challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution.

Successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.

The Challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to US$75,000 each and award 10 to15 mid-stage companies up to US$150,000 each.

Winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic.

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