Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, has disclosed that Nigeria spent about $6 billion on importation of wheat from 2016 to June 2020. Nanono disclosed this at the weekend in Kano during a wheat stakeholders’ workshop, with the theme, “Transforming Wheat Production in Nigeria through Increasing Synergies and Adopting New Technologies.”
The minister said the wheat import bill, gleaned from statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was unsustainable. He explained that national production of wheat stood at 420,000 metric tons annually, while national consumption was 5.26 million metric tons, leaving a deficit of about 4.5 million tons.
Nanono said, to bridge the gap, there was need for massive investment in the wheat value chain, backed by the right policies to protect the sector.
The minster, who was represented by Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Hajiya Karima Babangida, stated, “The huge bill is unsustainable and underscores 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.
“The 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.”
Nanono urged participants at the workshop to come up with strategies for meeting the country’s wheat demand. He said the objective of the workshop was to review the current status of the subsector, identify the challenges and opportunities, proffer solutions to these challenges, as well as chart a roadmap for the sector’s development.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for making agriculture the centre of his administration’s 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.
Speaking earlier, Deputy Governor of Kano State, Mr Nasiru Gawuna, commended the federal government for prioritising agriculture. Gawuna, who is also the Commissioner for Agriculture, restated the state government’s commitment to agricultural transformation. He charged the participants to discover a robust method for boosting food production in the country.
The president of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Salim Ahmad, urged the federal government to give priority attention to wheat, like it did to rice. Ahmad appealed to the government to fund research institutes in the country to enable them provide high yielding seeds for the farmers.