From Mustapha Adamu, Kano
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has said that Nigeria has spent about $6 billion on importation of wheat from 2016 to June 2020.
Mr Nanono disclosed this while delivering keynote address at the wheat stakeholders workshop on Friday in Kano.
According to him, statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had revealed that wheat import bill from 2016 to June 2020 is about $6 billion which is unsustainable.
He explained that national production of wheat stood at 420,000 metric tons while the national consumption was 5.26 million metric tons, giving a deficit of about 4.5 million tons.
The minister said that to bridge the enormous gap, there was need for massive investment into the wheat value chain which wl be backed by the right policies to protect the sector.
Represented by Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Hajiya Karima Babangida, Nanono said that the bill was unsustainable.
“The huge bill is unsustainable and nderscores the need to develop the value chain in order to reduce its importation, enhance food security, create jobs, reduce poverty and conserve scarce foreign exchange.
“Ministry through the Wheat Value Chain has put in place various measures to increase wheat production and productivity as well as reduce the import bill, these include making available various classes of seeds to wheat farmers,” he explained.
Nanono who described the theme of the workshop as apt” Transforming Wheat Production in Nigeria through Increasing Synergies and Adopting New Technologies” urged the participants to come up with how the country c meet her wheat demand.
He said the objective of the workshop was to review the current status of the subsector, identify the challenges and opportunities, profer solutions to these challenges, as well as chart a roadmap for its development.
The minister commended President Muhammadu Buhari for making agriculture the centre of its economic diversification agenda.
Nanono also commended CBN, Flour Milling Association of Nigeria(FMAN) and Transformation for Africa Agricultural Technologies (TAAT) for transforming Nigeria`s wheat sector and boosting local production.
Earlier, the Deputy Governor of Kano state, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, commended the Federal Government for giving priority to agriculture.
Gawuna, who is also the commissioner for agriculture said that the state restated the state governments commitment in transforming agric sector.
He charged the participants to come up with a robust method of boosting food production in the country.
Also, the president of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Salim Ahmad, urged the Federal government to give priority attention to Wheat like it d to rice.
He also appealed to the government to fund research institutes in the country to enable them provide high yielding seeds to the farmers.