Nigeria Spend N2.5bn On Wheat Cultivation
NIGERIA needs about N2.5billion worth of top-grade seed to pursue her wheat production mandate in 12 wheat-growing states under the wheat value chain, to bring 50 per cent of national demand under lock in the next two years.
The fund would be used in sourcing the Atilla Gan Atilla and Norman improved varieties for the states, which include Kano, Jigawa, Borno, Kebbi, Gombe, Taraba and Sokoto. Others include Zamfara, Bauchi, Plateau and Katsina.
Yobe, the twelfth and under irrigated wheat belt, and parts of Borno are particularly challenged by security issues. Consequently, getting inputs to beneficiaries in these areas have been difficult.
At the National Wheat Planning Conference at the Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji, who is Executive Director of Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) said the yearly $4bn imports to close the increasing ‘food gap’ is a national concern.
According to him, the strategic plan for wheat production, which is lagging behind, is to cultivate 150,000 hectares with 15,000 metric tons of seed in the wheat-growing states.
Given the present economic climate, Olabanji said it is strategic to pursue the agenda of wheat production, which aims at reducing imports by 50 per cent in 2017.
“This major policy shift, if sustained, will not only guarantee more income for Nigerian farmers and boost national food security, but save $2million annually at current market rate,” Olabanji told stakeholders.
Co-organised by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (Tunis), the conference featured reports of field trials and on-farm performances to show increased harvest.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Arc. Sonny Echono, represented by Mrs. Karima Babangida, said demand for wheat is on the rise and the harvest profile showed potential to completely replace imports.