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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Democracy of the stomach, right of every Nigerian – Adesina

… Commends local wheat production
The Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has declared that democracy of the stomach is the right of every Nigerian, just as he reassured on how important the leadership of President Gooodluck Ebele Jonathan holds agriculture, reports NaijaAgroNet exclusively.

Addressing participants at the 2014 Wheat Farmers Field Day at Kadawa in Kano State recently, Adesina asserted “Thank you for calling me the farmers' minister, but I work for the Farmers' President. Democracy of the stomach is a right of every Nigerian.

NaijaAgroNet also gathered that the minister appreciated what he called the invaluable contributions of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in the promotion of improved wheat technologies in Nigeria, and for organizing this wheat field day. 

“Your tenacity in continuing to do excellent work, to help our farmers, in the face of security challenges. Nigeria will succeed, against all odds,” he said.

As said by him, the occasion is a revival of hope for Nigeria to produce its own wheat and free itself from decades of dependence on imported wheat.

“I am delighted that the African Development Bank has funded the production of wheat across African countries. Africa must produce its own wheat and the funding by ADB is therefore strategic,” he said.

Adesina recalled that in 1987, the government of Nigeria banned the importation of wheat and implemented an Accelerated Wheat Production Programme aimed at stimulating local production of wheat in Nigeria.

He sees the ban on wheat importation as a bold move, which has provided local farmers the opportunity to mobilized so as to produce wheat and were provided necessary inputs at subsidized rates, and equipment to boost wheat production.  

"The production of wheat expanded from 50,000MT in 1987 to 600,000MT by 1990,” he said. 

The minister emphasised that farmers had proven they could produce wheat, if well supported, adding that several challenges scuttled the burst of energy to produce wheat locally, especially with the introduction of varieties of very low yields, as average yield was less than one ton per hectare.

“But more importantly, the programme failed because of the reluctance of wheat millers in the country to patronize wheat produced locally in the country. With the lifting of the ban in 1990, the programme abruptly ended, and wheat production spiraled downwards to 70,000MT by 1991.

“Today, Nigeria’s wheat import is about 4 million MT per annum and estimated to grow at an alarming rate of 5 per cent per annum,” he lamented.

Adesina further stated that at this rate, the country would be importing 10 million MT of wheat per annum by 2030, and spending US$15 billion annually on wheat imports alone, hence wheat farmers in the country deserved commendation.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Pix: Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (right), tasting bread made from 100 per cent Nigerian wheat variety at Kadawa, Kano State, recently. With him are Minister of State for Agriculture, Mrs. Asmau Asabe Ahmed and House Chairman on Agriculture, Mohammed Tahir Monguno.

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