Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has decried the huge sum of money spent on food importation into the country, and expressed the readiness of the federal government to reduce the trend, particularly through increased wheat production.
Ogbeh, who stated this during the flag-off of the 2015 dry season wheat and rice production in Kura, Kano State, disclosed that the N1.3 trillion is being expended annually on the importation of assorted food commodities into the country.
He therefore noted that improved dry season farming in the North, would not only help in boosting food production, but increase youth employment and reduce poverty among the populace.
The minister told farmers at the event that, for health and safety reasons, jute bags would soon replace polythene bags for grain storage as the former is safer.
He promised that the universities of agriculture in Nigeria “will be re-oriented to do what they are set up by law to do”.
In his remarks, the state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, promised to help the farmers improve productivity and objected to the idea of continuing to use agriculture to manage poverty.
“In Kano State, agriculture is now to be treated as a business,” he said, adding that his administration was trying to “transform agriculture into viable economic activities.”
The governor added, “We urgently need an approach to improve agricultural production, with sound agricultural policies to back it up”.
According to him, the state’s wheat farming programme has registered 18,200 farmers as part of the priority attention from his government.
A member of the House of Representatives, Manir Baba Danguldi, lamented the N365 billion annually spent on wheat importation, and assured that the National Assembly will not allow that continue.
Executive Director of Lake Chad Research Institute, LCRI, Dr. Gbenga Olabanji having the national mandate for genetic development of wheat, noted that Nigeria has the potential for wheat production and is able to produce wheat yielding 8 tons per hectare.
Olabanji disclosed that Nigeria has 600,000 hectares of land that is good for wheat production.
“The production capacity has increased from one to two tons per hectare to five to six tons per hectare through improved varieties. There is market for wheat in Nigeria now”, he added.
He said the reduction of wheat importation by 50 per cent is possible by 2017, and therefore appealed to other wheat-producing states to urgently flag off their own dry season programmes.
A chieftain of wheat farmers’ association in the state, Abubakar Saleh Mohammed observed that “wheat farming has started seeing transformation, bringing policy makers, financial institutions, researchers, millers, farmers and other stakeholders together”.
“The introduction of Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA value chain has increased wheat production. Now, wheat is produced in 10 states”, Mohammed said.

READ ALSO  Housing: A veritable catalyst for production, devt – Buhari