“The most critical challenge for Nigeria today is the curtailment of food importation to conserve foreign exchange and wheat is a strategic crop owing to the huge economic value for the country”, President Muhammadu Buhari has stated.
He lamented that currently, the country spends about $4. 6 billion per annum in importation of food stuff, despite the country’s huge agricultural potential, leading to abysmally low production and increasing consumption.
Consequently, the President said his administration would pay serious attention to agriculture to ensure food security and nutritional safety for the country, whose population could reach 500 million people by 2050.
President Buhari, who made the assertion in a message to the National Wheat Farmers Field Day at Alkamawa, Bunkure local government area of Kano state, affirmed that Nigeria has capacity to attain resilient status in wheat production.
Represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, the President, therefore, assured that government will continue to strive for excellence in attaining the much desired self sufficiency in wheat production within the shortest possible time.
The government, he added, would carefully examine the hurdles to the implementation of the National Wheat policy and check activities of unscrupulous people who engage in scuttling wheat production across the country.
President Buhari assured of support to farmers through the provision of seeds and other farm inputs, to boost local production, urging them to double efforts so as to achieve the desired results.
While assuring the farmers that the administration would ensure the right price for wheat, he appealed to millers to uptake every grain produced.
He also restated determination to import grass seeds, until they can be produced by local research institutes, to develop fodder for cattle, so as avert recurrent farmers/herdsmen clashes and to stabilize the Fulani family, “because they do not have to live in the bush with their children not going to school”.
President Buhari applauded Kano state government for taking the lead in investing in wheat production and providing grazing reserves for herdsmen, urging other states to emulate the worthy example.
On his part, Kano state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje announced that his government recently purchased and distributed 5, 000 irrigation water pumps free to peasant farmers across the state as part of efforts to revitalize wheat and rice production.
The state government, he added, also drilled 1,000 tubewells across rice and wheat producing communities, under a programme tagged “Drive Away Dry Season”, adding that the state has high potentials for food sufficiency and export.
“The state’s agricultural policy provides necessary impetus aimed at facilitating increased agricultural output and employment generation to the teeming populace under the newly introduced concept of developing commercial agriculture”, Governor Ganduje maintained.
In his speech, the Executive Directors, Lake Chad Research Institute and Team Leader, Wheat Value Chin, Dr. Oluwasina G. Olabanji, said the institute would consolidate research on improved seeds to be provided to farmers to encourage them to participate fully in the production of rice and wheat.
Also speaking, the governor of Kebbi state, Sen. Abubakar A. Bagudu expressed appreciation to the Federal government for placing greater priority on agricultural development as an integral part of national security stressed the need for attention to be paid to the provision of quality seeds to farmers for the sake of agricultural growth.
The chairman Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, appealed to the Federal government to provide adequate incentives to wheat farmers, assuring that the Senate would not relent in putting in place enabling legislation that improve agriculture in the country.
Halilu Ibrahim Dantiye, mni, fnge
Director – General, Media and Communications,
To the Executive Governor, Kano state