From Gyang Bere, Jos
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to end wheat imports which cost Nigeria $ 2 billion a year.
The president revealed this on Tuesday when the commercial cultivation of rainfed wheat in Nigeria was stopped at the wheat seed multiplication farm in Kwall, in the local government area of Bassa, Plateau state.
He instructed Nigerian farmers to adopt wheat cultivation and stop the importation of the product, which swallows up more than $ 2 billion a year.
The president, who was represented by Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, noted that the agricultural sector is one of the critical non-oil sectors that has made significant contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP) representing a of 22.35 and 23.78 percent to overall GDP in the first and second quarters of 2021, respectively.
He said that a key objective of his administration has been the deployment of mechanisms to ensure that agriculture thrives in Nigeria in order to significantly develop the economy and achieve maximum well-being for citizens by ensuring food security. and energy.
President Buhari said Nigeria is on track to achieve sustainability in the production of rice, maize, cassava, soybeans, peanuts, oil palm, cocoa and that very soon the breakthrough in the cultivation of wheat in Nigeria will be completed.
He lamented that Nigeria still spends huge sums on importing wheat, which is not acceptable as the country has the capacity to meet domestic consumption demands and to export.
“It is important to point out that Nigeria currently spends over $ 2 billion on importing wheat each year, one of the major contributors to the country’s huge foreign import bill.
“This is because millers have had to resort to importing wheat to meet the huge demand for wheat by-products. The cultivation of wheat, similar to rice, has the ability to thrive in Nigeria due to the tropical climatic conditions. Currently, wheat is grown in many northern states, especially during the dry season, due to the high heat tolerance of the seeds used by farmers. ‘
The president expressed his enthusiasm for stopping the 2021/2022 dry season wheat cultivation, noting that wheat can also be grown during the rainy season in Plateau state, as research also shows that it can be cultivated in other regions of the country, namely, Gembu Plateau, Taraba State and Obudu Plateau, Cross River State.
President Buhari commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for using the Anchor Borrowers program not only in the agricultural value chain, but in almost all sectors of the economy, as evidenced by the recent launch of some transformation initiatives like the 100 percent policy for production and productivity.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by Deputy Governor Edward Lamtek Adamu, said that in order to change the situation and take advantage of domestic production to close the gap between supply and demand in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria decided to add wheat to the list. commodities to be supported under the Bank’s agricultural intervention programs.
He said improved seed varieties of high-yielding varieties from Mexico with an average potential yield per hectare of 5-7 metric tons against a yield range of 0.8 to 1.8 metric tons per hectare of these varieties previously crops were acquired for distribution to farmers.
He also assured that the two-pronged approach to seed multiplication and grain production that has been adopted should support seed propagation and ensure the availability of high-yielding seeds for farmers.
The CBN Governor said that “the event heralds the start of the Brown Revolution Journey, which is the first major wet season wheat crop in Nigeria with around 700 hectares under cultivation in Kwall, Kassa, Jol, Kafi Abu and Sop in Jos, Plateau State. .
“Although the short-term implication of this is the addition of approximately 2,000 tonnes of seed to our national seed stock, the country can now potentially add 750,000 tonnes of wheat to the annual national production through cultivation. rainfed wheat on the Plateau, Mambila Plateau and Obudu Plateau. The CBN will not be resting on its oars as we continue to work with our partners, the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), to expand the frontiers of wheat production in Nigeria to regions like the northern states. of Oyo, Kogi and Kwara. ‘
Plateau State Assembly Speaker Rt Hon Yakubu Sanda said the people of Plateau State welcome the initiative and will do their utmost to support it for the benefit of youth, women and men. men who need jobs and resources to meet daily needs. needs of life.
Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Dr Hosea Finangwai, Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Buba, Chairman of the Association of Wheat Producers, Salim Mohammed, and DG Lac Tchad Research Institute all welcomed the initiative of the federal government and declared that the population must take ownership of the process by ensuring that the intermediaries do not divert the initiative for profit, leaving them to wallow in poverty.