Nigeria could achieve about 60 percent reduction in wheat importation by 2050 if it takes seriously the availability of seedlings for farmers, Oluwasina Olabanji, the executive director, Lake Chad Research Institute, has said.
The team leader, Wheat Value Change in Nigeria said robust accessibility to seedlings was generally pivotal to encourage increased output in crop production.
Olabanji who spoke during the inspection of wheat seed production farms in Ringim and Hadejia local government areas of Jigawa said the current shortfall in wheat production was based on a dearth of seedlings.
Nigeria, according to experts, has the potential for higher wheat cultivation since it can be grown under irrigated and rain fed conditions. Irrigated wheat is grown in the northern parts of the country, including Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto, where the night temperatures range between 15-20 degrees Celsius. Rain-fed wheat on the other hand grows in highland areas of Taraba, Jos in Plateau and Cross River states.
Millers’ preference for importation is spurred by cheaper prices per bag compared with locally grown types, according to data.
Citing the initiative of Flour Mills support for improved and high yielding wheat seed production in Jigawa and Kano states, he said the firm has supported farmers with seed and fertilizer to cultivate a total of 45 hectares inclusive of 30 in Kano and 15 in Jigawa.
“Seed is very critical in crop production and in the value change, our major challenge is the seed, we don’t have adequate seed in this country, not only for wheat, even for most crops. But the Flour Mills of Nigeria has in no small measure helped us to bridge the gap in our seed production. Here in Jigawa, they empowered three farmers to cultivate 15 hectares of wheat seed, likewise in Kano, about 30 hectares have been put into wheat seed production with the support of the company,” he said.
He noted that the firm would further encourage the farmers trained in community-based production by patronizing their harvest.