Nigeria will attain self-sufficiency in wheat production by 2021, the Executive Director, Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Dr. Oluwashina Olabanji has said.
Speaking at the 2016 annual in-house review meeting and the North-east Zonal Research Extension Farmer Input Linkage System (REFILS) workshop of the Institute in Maiduguri, Olabanji said going by the strong political will shown by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and improved seeds, the nation should no longer import wheat in five years’ time.
He said by next year, the nation should be able to produce 50 per cent of its wheat need.
The Lake Chad Research Institute has the national mandate for the genetic improvement of millet, wheat and barley as well as the improvement of the total farming systems of the North-east agro-ecological zone.
Olabanji said despite the paucity of fund and security challenges experienced in 2015, the institute was able to make appreciable progress in her research efforts with the release of two rain-fed wheat varieties.
He added that “the institute was also able to release five improved millet and six wheat varieties that have the potential yield of 3.5-4.0t/ha and 5.0-6.0t/ha respectively.”
He said effort was on to release two irrigated wheat varieties this year. He however lamented that the Institute had suffered a major setback in agriculture production due to security challenges that displaced many families from their communities to seek safety elsewhere.
He said: “Agriculture which has been the major source of livelihoods of the people has been abandoned for over five years now in the region. We must be self-sufficient in production in this country, we have total land area of 1.2 million hectares and with the proof of varieties wheat that Lake Chad Research Institute have developed, in the next five years with this political will of government.
“LCRI, we are very hopeful that 2016/17 farming season, we shall cultivate seeds above 60 hectares wheat and that will transform to 2 million metric tonnes, and our requirement as a nation is 4 million metric tonnes annually so if by 2017 we can produce 2 million metric tonnes which is 50 per cent so tell me in the year 2021 we shall be self-sufficient.”
The presenter of the keynote address at the workshop, Head of Department, Agric. Economics, University of Maiduguri, Dr. Salisu Mohammed urged the North-east governors to take necessary measures to repositioning agriculture with modern technology especially policies that could translate meaningful output growth.
In a goodwill message, the President of Farmers Village in Maiduguri, Mallam Allami Lawan appealed to LCRI to provides the farmers soft loans, tractors and seedlings as the raining season approaches.