By: ABDULLAHI JALALUDDEEN
Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation, TAAT, on Monday said the african countries spend $20 billion annually on importation of wheat and that which made it the worst hit with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
The Head, TAAT Clearinghouse, Dr. Solomon Gizaw disclosed this during a Train the Trainers, ToT workshop it organized on Wheat seed production in Nigeria.
Dr. Gizaw said the african countries were paying the supreme price for Ukraine- Russia crisis which has caused disruption of supply and high cost of wheat in the region.
He said, Nigeria has all it takes to produce, feed itself and the rest of African countries.
“The fight between Russia and Ukraine impacted the whole of Africa. You can imagine, two countries fighting elsewhere in Europe but the fight has caused a lot of supply disruption because we African are the major importer of wheat across the continent. Which means we don’t have food security as our food security is in the hands of the others.
“Africa around this time annually spend nearly $20 billion to import wheat from other part of the world. They import fertilizer and wheat from Ukraine and Russia and as a result the war between the duo has disrupted the supply of wheat and also fertilizer. This resulted in the African countries wheat prices and supply. It has a lot problems and challenges to provide food, bread for the poor and other food because of high price of fertilizer. Africa is hard-hit as a result of these two countries war.
“We in Africa, we have the technology, land, water and the people. If we bring together and work together, Nigeria can feed itself and rest of Africa countries.
“The mechanism we put in place is a flagship program with the African Development Bank. And in Africa today, we have several high yielding wheat varieties that are giving high yield of 6 to 7 tonnes per hectares. But today in nigeria, the wheat production is not exceeding 2 to 3 per hectare. You can imagine. With one farmland, we can increase the productivity by two to three folds. So the African Development Bank is working with the Nigerian government to expand wheat. And the government has committed to take this varieties.
“And if you produce the right quantity of seeds in Nigeria next year, all Nigerian wheat farmers can grow wheat and if you continue with this, in the next three, four or five years nigeria can completely reverse wheat importation which is now about 95 per cent. It can be reversed and Nigeria can be self sufficient. And our forecast in the potentials of Nigeria shows Nigeria can produce, feed itself and the rest of Africa,” Dr. Gizaw said.
Earlier, TAAT programme coordinator, Dr. Chrys Akem lamented over the backwardness of Nigeria in an effort towards wheat production revolution in the country.
He said, three countries namely; Ethiopia, Sudan and Nigeria set out for sufficiency in wheat production but Nigeria instead of progressing it is retrogressing.
“We started a programme 10 years ago called Support Agricultural Research for Development of Stability Crop in Africa, and wheat was one of the crops. And there were the three countries, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan that were ready for the revolution. If you go back now and look at wheat programme in Ethiopia have gone ahead, they are self sufficient and started exporting. Look at the wheat programme in Sudan, they were half way to self sufficiency until some internal disruptions occured. But look at the wheat production in Nigeria, we started with 50,000 hectares, by the tail end of the programme we recorded 150,000 hectares. I’m surprised to hear that we are less than 100,000 hectares. But what bothers me is last year where had a meeting and set a target of 250 but we are now less than 100,000 hectares. It something to be worry about. That doesn’t look like a revolution.
“The same varieties Sudan and Ethiopia took and ran the same programme is available in Nigeria. We have the varieties, water among other.
“The training is to remind us that we have what all that it takes to get the revolution in wheat production Nigeria,” Dr. Akem said.