The Governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi, on Thursday, revealed plans to produce two million tonnes of wheat for export and agricultural self-sufficiency through the National Wheat Development Programme and the state’s wheat programme.
He asserted that Nigeria possessed the capacity to export wheat under the initiative which was aimed at attaining self-reliance.
Namadi, who disclosed this to journalists after closed-door talks with President Bola Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, said the President endorsed the state’s initiative and guaranteed the Federal Government’s backing to enable the forecasts to materialise.
The FG initiated the dry season programme in Jigawa State in November 2023 to support wheat cultivation nationwide. Jigawa state would house 40,000 of the 100,000 hectares allocated for the programme.
Namadi said President Tinubu assured him of his readiness to provide his government with every assistance it needs to accomplish its objectives.
“(He said that) we should tell him what we require and he is prepared to assist us,” Namadi explained.
When asked about Jigawa State’s contributions to the national wheat production, he responded, “We are number one in wheat in Nigeria. We have already made a difference because we are number one. Then today, like I told you, out of 100,000 hectares for Nigeria, Jigawa State alone is given 40,000 hectares and that shows that we are making a difference.”
Regarding the possibility of Nigeria achieving wheat self-sufficiency, he responded, “Certainly, we will,” and added “In Jigawa State, we have a FADAMA land of over 400,000 hectares. So, that is only FADAMA land that we can cultivate both in rainy and dry season.”
Namadi said his administration was exploring rice exportation alongside other cash crops, wheat being one of those.
“We are going to export wheat over time…We’re doing the first one and then after this one, we’re going for rice. And the next one, we’re going to wheat.
“That’s how the cycle will continue to go. Definitely, we’re going to have food sufficiency and we’ll definitely have surplus to export,” he remarked.
The governor said his administration was targeting wheat harvests of four tonnes per hectare annually.
He said, “The matter at hand pertains to our current practices. At a minimum, we anticipate harvesting four tonnes per hectare. We have reached 40,000 hectares at a rate of four tonnes per hectare.
“Therefore, at the very least, we have assisted the farmers by providing essential services and support for land clearance, particularly harrowing; this has enabled them to cultivate an even greater area.”
He added that individual farmers, who previously cultivated one hectare, were prepared to expand to several hectares due to the assistance they receive from both Federal and State Governments.
“Multiply that by 40,000 hectares; the official one hectare that we are currently cultivating is expanded by approximately 10,000 hectares.
“We are achieving a minimum of four tonnes per hectare, with some individuals even managing to achieve six tonnes per hectare.
“However, we are only taking the bare minimum, so I am confident that the future is extremely promising,” said Namadi.
The FG said its wheat programme would support approximately 250,000 wheat farmers, providing a 50 per cent input subsidy to cultivate around 250,000 hectares.
Meanwhile, the Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bago, said the state was ready to match the national target to cultivate 500,000 hectares of arable lands for food security.
Niger is Nigeria’s largest state in land mass, stretching over 76,000 Km2. According to reports, much of its arable, ungoverned spaces, have become breeding grounds for terrorist activities in recent years.
But Bago, who is only seven months in office, told State House correspondents that “a lot is being done” to ensure the security of farmers as they cultivate their lands, saying, “They are already back to the farms.”
“In Mr President’s New Year’s speech, you will have heard the emphasis on agriculture and the 500,000 hectares the government plans to farm in 2024.
“Niger State has provided itself as a pilot state for that project. We are also ambitious to match the federal government 500 for 500.”
Source: The Punch