By Doris Esa
Abuja, Aug. 30, 2022 The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, says the Federal Government is working to ensure Nigeria becomes the largest producer of wheat in Africa.
Abubakar gave the assurance at the Stakeholders Validation Workshop of the National Wheat Strategy Document for Self- Sufficiency on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that the wheat industry has been a serious concern to the government of Nigeria as the national requirement of wheat is 5.7 million metric tonnes annually.
The minister said that the multiplier effect of COVID-19 pandemic and the current Russian-Ukraine War had drastically affected the supply of wheat in the international market.
“The wheat industry has been a serious concern to the government of this country because our national requirement of wheat is 5.7 million metric tonnes annually while our production is only 420,000 metric tonnes as against the 71,000 metric tonnes.
” According to the Central Bank of Nigeria statistical report of 2020, Nigeria imported over $6 billion worth of wheat from 2016 to 2020.
” This is quite worrisome and unsustainable for a crop that could be produced locally to meet our national demand and beyond,” he said.
He said that due to growing population of the country, consumption rate for wheat and wheat products, Nigeria has no option than to boost its own productivity and production to meet national demand.
Abubakar said that the success story of Rice revolution through the National Rice Strategy Document had transformed the Rice industry in Nigeria.
He said that replication in the Wheat industry would change the narrative of the Wheat Value Chain.
” If countries like Sudan and Ethiopia can do it why can’t Nigeria? We are bigger, more populous, more resources of all kinds, all kinds of climate, geological and ecological.
” In fact, I am thinking 10 years is even too long for us to achieve sufficiency. We can do it. All we have to do is to push the buttons and we will get there.
” I can assure you, I will leave no stone unturned. I will go from here to the moon while I am still a Minister of Agric to see that we achieve these goals of making sure that we produce wheat just as in rice, we are number one in Africa today.
“I see no reason why we cannot be number one in wheat in Africa, and then go beyond,” he said.
In a goodwill message, the Director-General of Nigeria Country Department of the African Development Bank, Mr Lamin Barrow, said the high expectation of the AfDB is that Nigeria would become self – sufficient in wheat production in the near future.
” The expectation of the AfDB is that Nigeria would not only become self sufficient in wheat production in the near future.
” Nigeria will become a key exporter of the commodity in the sub-region taking advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” he said.
Barrow was represented by Mr Tabi Karikari, Chief Agro-Industry Officer, AfDB.
Speaking, the President, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), Salim Muhammad, expressed happiness that wheat farmers, will have a standard national policy which they have been agitating for over the years.
In a goodwill message, Rep. Munri Dan- Agundi, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions said that wheat is a very important and popular commodity.
He said the aspiration of every Government was to produce enough wheat for its citizens, adding that the target is for Nigeria to have self – sufficiency in wheat production in 2023.
Dan- Agundi, said a task force should be set up for the implementation of the National Wheat Strategy Document.
In a paper presentation, Dr Oluwasina Olabanji, a consultant and team leader, National Wheat Strategy Document, said the importance of wheat to Nigeria and African continent could not be overemphasised.
The paper is titled ” Overview of National Strategy for Wheat Self- sufficiency in Nigeria”
Olabanji said the strategy aimed to sustainably increase productivity and competitiveness of local production by developing proven climate resilient wheat technologies.
” The strategy will act as the anchor document to guide activities within the wheat sub-sector for the next 10 years (2022 to 2032).
He said the strategy also aimed at developing a robust value chain for enhanced food and nutrition security as well as achieving wheat self sufficiency.