The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said 75,000 hectares would be cultivated with wheat in the next farming season under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA).
Speaking during the 2014 Wheat Farmers’ Field Day in Kadawa, Kano state, Adesina said this move became imperative to reduce the “huge’’ amount of foreign exchange expended on wheat importation.
He said Nigeria spends N635 billion on wheat importation annually, a situation he described as unacceptable since the country has all it takes to be self-sufficient in wheat production.
“Nigeria currently imports 3.5 million tonnes of wheat at N635 billion. This is totally not acceptable. The way to stop this is through transforming rural economies by transforming agriculture.
“If you must build a nation, you must start with agriculture,” the minister said.
In his speech, Gov. Rabi’u Kwankwaso of Kano state noted that ATA was transforming the nation’s economy.
Kwankwaso, who was represented by, the Permanent Secretary, Kano State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, said that the ongoing agricultural transformation programme was impacting positively on employment generation.
He said there were also positive effects of the programme in the areas of foreign exchange earnings, food security and poverty reduction.
Kwankwaso commended the collaboration among agriculture institutions in the country, saying the development was capable of driving the sector to the Promised Land.
The governor said the state had developed a programme known as Kano Commercial Crop Development Initiative (KCCDI), aimed at promoting commercial crops’ development and processing them across the state.
In his remarks, the Executive Director, Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Dr. Olusina Olabanji, said the institute had developed a variety of wheat which could produce up to six tonnes per hectare.
Olabanji said the improved wheat seed, when released in December 2014, would reduce wheat importation by 50 percent.
The executive director said the Nigerian wheat flour was comparable to the imported one, if not superior, adding that the institute needed partners to commercialise the product.
The LCRI official expressed the institute’s happiness with the inclusion of wheat and millet under the ATA mandate crops, saying the country had 650,000 hectares of land suitable for wheat production.