President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, said that Nigeria will soon end the importation of wheat which he said gulps 2 billion dollars annually.
Buhari stated this on Tuesday while launching the first ever rainfed commercial wheat cultivation which took place in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
President Buhari who was represented by Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong at the launch noted that the Agricultural sector is one of the critical non-oil sectors which has made significant contributions to the Gross Domestic Product accounting for a 22.35 and 23.78 per cent contribution to the overall GDP in the first and second quarters of 2021 respectively.
He said a key focus of his administration has been the deployment of mechanisms to ensure that agriculture thrives in Nigeria to significantly grow the economy and achieve maximum welfare for the citizens by ensuring food and energy security.
According to him, Nigeria is on the path to actualising sustainability in the production of rice, maize, cassava, soybean, groundnut, oil palm, cocoa and very soon the breakthrough in wheat cultivation in Nigeria will be accomplished.
He, however, lamented that Nigeria still spends humongous amounts of money on wheat import which is not acceptable because the country has the capacity to meet domestic consumption demands and also export.
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 foreign 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 has the capacity to 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.”
The President expressed excitement for the flag-off of the 2021/2022 dry season wheat farming, noting that wheat can also be grown in the wet season in Plateau State as research also shows that it can be cultivated in other Plateaus in the country, namely, Gembu Plateau, Taraba State and Obudu Plateau, Cross River State. He urged these states to take advantage of this opportunity and key into the initiative.
The President commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for using the Anchor Borrowers Programme not just in the Agric value chain, but in almost all sectors of the economy as shown in the recent launch of some transformative initiatives like the 100 for 100 policy for production and productivity.