The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, has described as unacceptable, the US$2 billion annual wheat importation into Nigeria. Speaking at the National Root Crops Research Institute in Kuru near Jos, the Plateau State capital at the Lake Chad Research Institute 1st Rainfed Wheat National Farmers Field Day, the minister said coupled with the scarcity of wheat in the international market as a result of the Russian-Ukraine war, Nigeria has no other choice than to boost its wheat production.
The minister said the rainfed wheat production initiative is a welcome development as it will significantly reduce the cost of production of wheat, unlike when it was only planted in the dry season with an irrigation system. Kyari stressed that Nigeria has all it takes to be self-sufficient in wheat production, adding that, according to a 2020 Central Bank of Nigeria report, the country, Nigeria, has over one million hectares of land that can be used for seed production, as well as the wheat farmers that are ready to produce the grain. He said, if all hands were put on deck, the nation will achieve its dream of attaining self-sufficiency in wheat production in no distant time. Represented by the Desk Officer, Wheat Value Chain in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Nephtali Tella, the minister said the nation was committed to changing its wheat narrative, and that they had already paid a visit to Kano and Jigawa states, to inspect the certified wheat seeds with some seed companies while calling on all wheat stakeholders to support the government’s production drive, to make the country become sufficient in wheat production.
“As you all know, Nigeria expends US$2 billion on wheat importation annually and this is worrisome, unacceptable and non-sustainable. Coupled with the scarcity of wheat in the international market as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Nigeria has no other choice than to boost its wheat production. What we are seeing today in the field is verifiable evidence that wheat can be grown under rainfed conditions. Wheat in Nigeria used to be grown under the irrigated condition from time immemorial, but today, it can be grown under rain-fed condition. This is a beautiful development and a breakthrough, and it is equally great news to policy makers in Plateau, Cross River and Taraba states, where it is possible to grow wheat under the rain-fed condition”, the minister added.
On his part, the Director/Chief Executive Officer of Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Prof. Baba Kabir, stated that wheat is a strategic crop and constitutes a huge economic burden on Nigeria’s import and that, the high import bill of the commodity was due to extremely low domestic production and increasing consumption level. LCRI has the national mandate for the genetic improvement of Wheat, Millet, and Barley as well as the investigation of problems facing agricultural production in the North East Agro-ecological zone of the country. The institute is one of the agricultural research institutes under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. The institute was established by the Research Institute (Establishment Act) Order, 1975.