[News] : Nigeria stops imports of wheat from Russia

Nigeria has resolved to stop the importation of wheat from Russia to help save its foreign currency reserves.

The decision was announced following the end of the fourth Joint Commission meeting between Russia and Nigeria in Abuja at the weekend.

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Nigeria spent $880 million on wheat imports last year and has already spent $660 million in 2016.

Foreign Affairs minister Hajiya Khadija Abba-Ibrahim said Nigeria would instead invite Russians to help them improve their agricultural productivity.

“We import a lot of wheat from Russia and we are telling Russia that this has to stop.

“We want the Russian companies and farmers to come to Nigeria to show us how we can grow our agriculture sector with modern technology,” the minister said.

The Russian delegation was led by the deputy head Russian Delegation in Nigeria, Mr Dianov Alexandar Yurievich.

The value of wheat imported into Nigeria between January and September 2016 was $660m, according to data obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Nigeria, in the first week of November, imported approximately 53 million metric tons valued at $7.8 billion.

Nigeria has stepped up wheat production and has hit 60,000MT, ranking it 61st out of 79 countries in global production.

According to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the country spends $11 billion (N3.1tn) annually to import wheat, rice, sugar and fish.

Nigeria’s food import was growing at an unsustainable rate of 11 per cent per annum.

Wheat is in high demand in Nigeria as a raw material for bakery and feed mills.

Meanwhile, members of Nigeria’s Shiite Muslim sect staged peaceful protests today for the second day running  to press for the release of their detained spiritual leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been held since December last year.

They were also protesting against the proscription of the sect by the government.

The founder of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), an umbrella body of Shiites and some of his followers, has been held in various prisons since the sect’s clash with the military.

The clash in December in Zaria, a university town in Kaduna state, claimed more than 380 members of the sect.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a national broadcast, accused the Shiites of holding their communities hostage.

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