President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to stop wheat importation into Nigeria, saying it costs the country about $2 billion annually.
Speaking at the launch of the first-ever rain fed commercial wheat cultivation in the Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, on Tuesday, Buhari said putting an end to wheat importation has become imperative, as the country is capable of solely meeting up with local demands while exporting to other countries.
According to him, the agricultural sector is one of the critical non-oil sectors, which has made significant contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, amounting up to 20% of the total GDP for the first and second quarters of 2021.
Represented by the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, he said, “It is important to stress that Nigeria currently spends over $2 billion on the importation of wheat annually, one of the key contributors to the Nation’s huge import bill.
“This is because millers have had to resort to importing wheat to meet the huge demand for wheat by-products. Wheat cultivation, similar to rice can thrive in Nigeria due to the tropical climatic conditions.
“Currently, wheat is cultivated in many northern states particularly in the dry season due to the high heat tolerance of the seed utilised by farmers.”
On his part, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele represented by Deputy Governor Edward Lamtek Adamu, said to upscale domestic production and meet up local demands, the Bank decided to add wheat to the list of focal commodities to be supported under the Bank’s agricultural intervention programmes.
He said improved high-yielding varieties of seeds from Mexico with a potential average yield of 5-7 metric tons per hectare have been acquired for distribution to farmers.
“The event heralds the commencement of the Brown Revolution Journey, which is the first major wet season wheat production in Nigeria with about 700 hectares put under cultivation in Kwall, Kassa, Jol, Kafi Abu, and Sop in Jos, Plateau State.
“While the short-term implication of this is the addition of about 2,000 metric tons of seeds to our national seed stock, the country can now potentially add 750,000 metric tons of wheat to the nation’s output annually through rain-fed wheat cultivation in Plateau, Mambila Plateau, and Obudu Plateau.
“The CBN will not rest on its oars as we continue to work with our partners, Lake Chad Research Institute(LCRI), to expand the frontiers of wheat production in Nigeria to areas like northern Oyo, Kogi, and Kwara states,” Emefiele said.
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