NIGERIA – Nigeria has announced plans to embark on a strategic initiative aimed at attaining self-reliance in wheat, through the National Wheat Development Programme and the Jigawa state’s wheat programme.

The ambitious plan was unveiled by Umar Namadi, the Governor of Jigawa State after closed-door talks with President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.

Namadi asserted that Nigeria has the potential to transform into a wheat-exporting nation through the strategic expansion of domestic farming capabilities.

He revealed that his state wants to set the ball rolling by cultivating enough wheat to yield a record 2 million tonnes annually.

He revealed that Tinubu fully endorses Jigawa’s plan and has pledged federal support and resources to facilitate the state realising its wheat targets.

The federal government is already committed to wheat farming having launched a 100,000-hectare dry-season wheat farming scheme in 2021. About 40,000 hectares of this project are located in the Jigawa State.

 Namadi briefed the President on the progress made as far as the wheat project is concerned.

In his address after the meeting, the Governor highlighted that Jigawa possesses over 400,000 hectares of highly fertile Fadama lands, ideal for delivering multiple crop cycles annually through irrigation.

Beyond wheat, Namadi shared that Jigawa is actively developing its rice exports and other cash crops via a rotational cultivation model.

 “We are starting with rice first, then rotating to wheat and repeating this cycle. This will lead to national food security and agricultural trade surpluses,” he explained.

Nigeria, with a population of about 217 million people, has the largest consumer goods market in Africa.

Despite its substantial arable land area, the country is one of the largest importers of wheat in Africa

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the country spends billions of dollars each year on imports to meet the growing demand, which was expected to reach 6.06 million tons in the 2022-23 season.

However, in the recent forecast, the FAS projected a production of 156,000 tonnes of wheat for 2023-24, up 42% from 2022-23, from a harvested area of 130,000 hectares, an increase of 30%.

The forecast follows that the government of Nigeria has collaborated with relevant stakeholders in both the private and public sectors to increase local production as well as boost the country’s wheat value chain.

As part of its wheat self-sufficiency drive, the government aims to cultivate 250,000 hectares of wheat during the 2023-24 cropping season.

The federal wheat initiative provides 50% input subsidies to assist 250,000 Nigerian wheat farmers in reaching 250,000 hectares under production.

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