Wheat Farming in Nigeria

Nutrition Security: Buhari, CBN charge farmers to embrace wheat production

*President Muhammadu Buhari says a key focus of the current administration has been the deployment of mechanisms to ensure agriculture thrives to significantly grow the economy, achieve maximum welfare for the citizenry, and ensure food and energy security

*We have decided to add wheat to the list of focal commodities to be supported under the Bank’s agricultural intervention programmes in the country, says Central Bank of Nigeria

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In order to stop the wholesale importation of wheat, scale up production, and enhance nutritional benefits in consumers, President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked Nigerian farmers to embrace wheat farming.

ConsumerConnect learnt President Buhari gave this advice at the flag-off of the 2021/2022 dry season wheat farming Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at Kwall in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.

Wheat importation into the West African country reportedly gulps over US$2 billion annually.

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

Buhari noted that the agriculture sector is one of the critical non-oil sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The sector, he stated, has made significant contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounting for a 22.35 and 23.78 percent contribution to the overall GDP in the first and second quarters of 2021 respectively, agency report said.

Represented by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on the occasion, Buhari said Nigeria is on the path to actualising sustainability in the production of rice, maize, cassava, soybean, groundnut, oil palm, cocoa.

He stated very soon, the breakthrough in wheat cultivation in Nigeria would be accomplished.

According to the President, a key focus of his administration has been the deployment of mechanisms to ensure that agriculture thrives in Nigeria to significantly grow the economy and achieve maximum welfare for the citizens by ensuring food and energy security.

However, Buhari lamented Nigeria still spends humongous amounts of money on wheat import, which he noted is unacceptable because the country has the capacity to meet domestic consumption demands and also export.

“It is important to stress that Nigeria currently spends over $2 billion on the importation of wheat annually, one of the key contributors to the nation’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.

“Wheat cultivation, similar to rice has the capacity to thrive in Nigeria due to the tropical climatic conditions.

“Currently, wheat is cultivated in many Northern states particularly in the dry season due to the high heat tolerance of the seed utilised by farmers,” said he.

He further said that wheat can be grown in the wet season in Plateau State as research has shown that it can be cultivated in other plateaus in the country, namely, Gembu Plateau,

Buhari used the occasion to commend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for using the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), not just in the agric value chain, but in almost all sectors of the economy as shown in the recent launch of some transformative initiatives like the 100 for 100 Policy for Production and Productivity.

Wheat import a major factor in Forex rate crises ─CBN

In a related development, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN, in his address at the commencement of the 2021/2022 dry season wheat farming in Jos, Plateau State, Tuesday, said in order to change the situation and leverage domestic production to bridge the demand-supply gap in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria decided to add wheat to the list of focal commodities to be supported under the Bank’s agricultural intervention programmes.

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of CBN

Represented by Edward Lamtek Adamu, Deputy Governor, Corporate Services at CBN, Mr. Emefiele stated the country has acquired for distribution to farmers, improved seeds varieties of high-yielding varieties from Mexico.

According to him, the varieties have a potential average yield per hectare of 5-7 metric tons as against a range of 0.8-1.8 metric tonnes yield per hectare of those varieties previously cultivated have been acquired for distribution to farmers.

The Bankers’ Bank as well noted that this issue would be addressed through the wheat value chain intervention programme captured under the Nigerian Brown Revolution, which is an offshoot of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

Through the Nigerian Brown Revolution, he observed, the apex bank seeks to save $2 billion spent on importing five million metric tonnes of wheat annually.

Emefiele said: “Wheat is the third most widely consumed grain in Nigeria after maize and rice.

“It is estimated that the country only produces about one per cent (63,000 metric tonnes) of the 5-6 million metric tonnes of the commodity consumed annually in Nigeria.

“This enormous demand-supply gap is bridged with over $2billion spent annually on wheat importation.”

The CBN Governor further explained: “This has made wheat the second highest contributor to the country’s food import bill.

“Given the high growth rate of the country’s population and the demographic structure, the demand for wheat is projected to continue to rise.

“This can only intensify pressure on the country’s reserves unless we take a decisive step to grow wheat locally.”

The Bank also said thus far, the ABP has had success in assisting Smallholder Farmers (SHFs) in expanding their crop production across the 36 states of the Federation, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Through the programme, N788.035 billion has been disbursed to about four million farmers through 23 Participating Financial Institutions (PFI).

“So far, 4.796 million hectares of farmlands have been cultivated under the programme covering 21 commodities,” Emefiele stated.

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