By Mohammed Kandi
In a bid to boost the country’s capacity in wheat production, the Federal Government is planning to increase national wheat production from the current 100, 000 tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes by 2017.
In a recent statement by Tony Ohaeri, the Director of Information and Protocol in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development informed that the effort would be carried out through the Wheat Value Chain (WVC).
The statement admitted that the country’s local production had suffered huge setback in the past in due to lack of planting materials.
It however disclosed that the effort was necessary as local consumption of wheat in the country had reached 4.0 million tonnes while production stood at 100, 000 tonnes in 2012.
“The huge increase in the consumption of the produce, coupled with low productivity, resulted in importation, to fill the gap between demand and supply,” the statement said.
It stated that it was in a bid to reverse the trend where more than N600 billion in foreign exchange was spent on wheat importation that the WVC of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) was put in place.
It noted that Nigeria had enormous potential and opportunities for wheat production under irrigation in the Sudan/Sahelian ecological zone (12-14) of the North East and North West states.
They include Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Plateau.
“The mandate of the WVC is to increase productivity of wheat from 2.0 tonnes per hectare in 2013 to 5.5 – 6.0 tonnes per hectare,” the statement said, adding, “And to the national production from the current 100,000 tonnes to 1.5m tonnes by 2017, thereby reducing wheat importation by about 50 per cent.”
According to the statement, “This is expected to be achieved through fast and effective distribution of improved wheat varieties like Atila gan Atila, which has an average yield of 4.0 tonnes per hectare and the newly released varieties: Reyna 28 and Norma Boulaug with an average yield of 5.5 – 6.0 per hectare.”
It added that, researches are ongoing to introduce varieties that can produce more under rain-fed conditions in the Nigerian highlands of Gembu, Jos and Obudu in Taraba, Plateau and Cross River states.
“A total of 2, 303 100kg bags of wheat seeds were distributed free to farmers in Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno, Sokoto, Gombe and Yobe states in 2014.”
It also stated due to the government’s efforts a total of 225, 000 tonnes of wheat was harvested across the producing states in 2014.