KADUNA State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai yesterday said Nigeria spends $10million daily on wheat while 90 percent of wheat consumed in Nigeria is imported. El-Rufai stated this during the flag off of a 3-day workshop training for 6,000 youths on wheat production held in Kaduna with the aim of reversing the trend. Speaking during the training workshop organised by Lake Chad Research Institute in collaboration with Kaduna State government, El-Rufai said the training will on the other hand address youth unemployment in the state. El-Rufai, while calling on the youths to embrace agriculture said his administration will provide the trainees seedlings, pesticides, fertilizers and land, adding that the state has the capacity to excel in agriculture. The governor noted that Kaduna had engaged 25,000 unemployed on tree planting as well as thousands were also engaged in the state free feeding programme as one of the steps to reduce unemployment which he described as dehumanising. El-Rufai said, “We must go back to agriculture for us to feed ourselves and also feed the nation. Our youths must embrace agriculture. Any obstacles they will face we will remove it for you to achieve greatness in agriculture. We have the capacity to feed the nation. We have the land and capacity to excel in agriculture. We will provide you with land. We want more women into this agriculture training on wheat farming and production. If you excel others will join you. We asked for the Lake Chad Institute Executive’s commitment to enabling Kaduna State to get seeds for 50,000 hectres in 2017. “That is why we launched this programme to get our youths attracted to Agriculture. Our efforts are to ensure youth employment,” Gov. El-Rufai said. On his part, Executive Director Lake Chad Research Institute, Dr. Oluwasina Gbenga Olabanji, said the most critical challenge for Nigeria today is the encouragement of domestic production. Olabanji however advised that, everyone has to contribute in order to fast track the achievement of self-sufficiency through domestic production. Olabanji said: “It is known, wheat is a temperate crop but the fallacy which held that wheat cannot be farmed in Nigeria has been debunked. After thorough research, dry season experiments for wheat farming yielded 100% success rate while raining season experiment yielded only 25% success rate. Nigeria is the least African country in wheat sufficiency producing only 2.2% of national demand which stands at 4 million metric tonnes per annum. Nigeria spends about 4.7 billion USD annually importing, but the establishment of the wheat value chain by the ministry of Agriculture has reduced this by about 20-30%. Kaduna state should start small with only 5,000 hectres,” he said.
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