The Presidential Taskforce on Rice and Wheat Production, has called on government at all levels and stakeholders to support smallholder farmers across the country to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production.
Gov. Abubakar Bagudu, Chairman of the taskforce and Governor of Kebbi State, told newsmen in Birnin-Kebbi on Sunday, that the country was currently importing about four million tonnes of wheat.
Bagudu, who noted that the country had the capacity to become self-sufficient in wheat production, said the support would boost production and encourage more farmers.
According to him, about 12 states in the country can comfortably produce wheat which grows in all the North Western states.
“As a nation, we have to be very clear what our objectives are.
“Do we want to be self-sufficient in wheat? If yes, how much wheat do we need to produce in order to be self-sufficient?
“When you determine that, then you will consider how much land you have to produce it.
“We are importing about 4 million tonnes of wheat annually and the people who import wheat from the U.S are buying largely auctioned wheat.
“For us to achieve that 4 million tonnes, we have to support our farmers just like other farmers in other countries are supported to achieve national self-sufficiency.
“National self-sufficiency does not just happen; it entails a concerted effort,” he said.
On the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between flour millers and wheat farmers in 2016, Bagudu said the state was not party to the agreement aimed buying wheat off Nigerian farmers after production.
The chairman said that the state viewed the agreement as a calculated attempt by the millers to deny the country of wheat seeds and other planting materials to make the programme to fail in order to continue their importation.
“Last year, a MoU was signed with flour millers to buy Nigerian wheat; but, in Kebbi, we were worried that it was a trick by the flour millers to deny us seeds so as to ensure collapse of the programme.
“So we did not participate in selling what we produced and that was what saved the nation.
“In October 2016, there was no wheat seed anywhere in the Nigerian market.
“It is only what we stored in Kebbi that was available in states like Jigawa and Sokoto so we have to be clear and clever.
“Nobody is going to allow us to be independent in anything if we are not determined ourselves.
“Wheat is something that we can do well in within a short period of time,” Bagudu said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that in June 2016, MoU was signed between Flour Millers Association of Nigeria and Wheat Farmers.
This was to allow the millers to buy all that farmers produce, hence, creating the much needed market for the farmers.
The farmers are now of the view that the cost of production of the wheat is higher than the N18,000 per 100kg bag of wheat initially agreed to.