ABUJA – An agricultural economist, Dr Baba Bashir, said on Thursday that Nigerian wheat could compete favourably in the international market with any other found in any part of the world.
Bashir, who is the Programme Leader, Agricultural Economics and Extension, Lake Chad Research Institute, in Maiduguri, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He further said that many states of the federation had the capacity to grow wheat covering 1.8 million hectares.
“We have over 1.8 million hectares potential wheat production area in Nigeria. The baseline surveys we carried out showed that our farmers are really responsive.
“What they lack is bulk market – meaning maybe a linkage to industries; the millers are actually importing rather than taking in-house and the import bill runs into billions.
“Import of N2 billion daily, just wheat; if that one day import could be diverted inwards for farmers to actually boost their production, definitely in time, we will begin to export wheat; that means we are going to add to our foreign income.
“But the problem is market; if the government can come in and organise the farmers, and make them to amass their products in one location for industries to pick up, then with time the industries can buy directly from the farmers; that will go a long way in boosting production.“
The agric economist, therefore, urged wheat farmers in the country to take wheat production as a business venture to improve their source of income and make profit.
“The government’s target now is to let the farmers know that agriculture is all about business; it’s not just for subsistence – to produce and eat whatever you produce.
“Wheat is an international political crop; the wheat we have here is better than the one that is being imported.
“If you go to Dawanau Market, that’s the regional market in Kano, you will realise that the prices differ; the quality, the colour, everything is quite different from the imported ones.
“FIIRO- the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, in Lagos took our own varieties and the imported ones for analysis and said our own is better.“
NAN reports that agricultural statistics have shown that so far, Nigeria is only two per cent self-sufficient in wheat production, importing most of the 3.7 million tons of wheat consumed annually.
The Agricultural Transformation Agenda has made it necessary for the government to take advantage of the Wheat Value Chain approach, which seeks to boost production, improve processing, storage, and generate market for wheat in the near future.
Target states for growing rain-fed wheat are Taraba (Mambilla Plateau), Cross River (Obudu) and Plateau (Jos).
The target states for irrigated wheat production are Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Borno, Zamfara, Kebbi, Plateau, Sokoto, Gombe, Yobe, Adamawa and Katsina. (NAN)