From THERESA EGBA, Abuja
Despite having the potentials to produce wheat for local consumption and export, Nigeria spends about N635 billion annually on wheat importation.
This was disclosed in Abuja at a workshop on “Wheat Value Chain” by the Chairman of House Committee on Agriculture, Mohammed Monguno.
Monguno stated that if the nation’s wheat potential was unlocked, Nigerians would create food for themselves and save the nation the billions of naira spent annually importing the product.
According to him, there was need to diversify the Nigerian economy from being a mono-product one that depends on oil as a source of revenue to agriculture and other sectors, stressing that oil was a westing asset, which would dry up one day.
“This is why we need to diversify our economy to make it agriculture-production based as source of income so that it will continue to grow and also provide employment for the teeming unemployed youths,” he said.
In his address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, represented by Akinbolowa Osho, stated that wheat was the most extensively grown food grain crop in the world which enjoys a wider popularity in comparison to other cereals due to its high nutritive value, stressing that the wheat growing belt in Nigeria was divergent and highly variable in climate and soil types.
These conditions make irrigated wheat cultivation to be prone to high temperatures either at seedling, flowering or grain filling stages and the rainfed wheat is susceptible to fungal diseases, wheat growers and, therefore, needs genotypes with dependable and consistent yields across the diverse growing environments with high yields potential.
According to him, this is to increase national wheat production by 95 per cent resulting in import reduction by 30 per cent through technology interventions across the value chain with improved varieties, value addition, yield enhancing management practices directed at stimulating 30 per cent yield increase, 70 per cent income among 55,000 wheat farming households by adoption of Norman Borlaug, Atila-Gan-Atila and Reyna 28 varieties in the broad project intervention area.