Nigeria eyes $2.86bn annual savings from ban on wheat importation

ABUJA – Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has said that N431 billion (about US$2.86 billion) will be saved annually when the ban on wheat import takes effect.

Adesina told the Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NAG) in Abuja on Monday that activities had been scaled up to boost production of wheat to meet the nation’s domestic requirements.

He said that the government was looking into the local production of wheat in the northern parts of the country and that the Lake Chad Research Institute of Nigeria has released new high yielding tropical and heat tolerant wheat varieties that can yield up to 6 tonnes per hectare.

Nigeria eyes $2.86bn annual savings from ban on wheat importationAccording to him, it is about four times the yield of temperate wheat varieties used during the effort to produce wheat in the 1980s.

He noted that with the tropical wheat varieties that are presently available in the country and at the high yields being obtained; it is profitable and economically-viable to produce wheat in the country.

The minister explained that 21,000 tonnes was harvested in 2012 from the new varieties, which according to him, would be used as seeds.

The target, according to him, is to plant 212,000 hectares of wheat by 2014, with expected production of over one million metric tonnes and a projection to expand the cultivated area to 215,000 hectares by 2015 with an anticipated production of 1.2 million tonnes.

“So, in two years, if we accelerate investment, we should be able to produce 2.2 million tonnes of wheat.

“This would meet 68 percent of our domestic wheat requirements and save Nigeria N431 billion in wheat imports annually,” he added.

He urged the group to seriously consider investing in commercial wheat production so as to take advantage of the new opportunities.

He noted that government’s efforts to encourage wheat substitution with high quality cassava flour are yielding positive results and that wheat imports to the country had declined from an all-time high of 4.051 million tonnes in 2010 to 3.7 tonnes last year.

“As we implement accelerated cassava flour production, with the installation of the industrial scale cassava flour plants, expand cassava production and deploy hundreds of compact modular milling systems, Nigeria’s dependency on imported wheat will decline even further,” he added.

 

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