Wheat is both cash and food crops as it can be prepared and consumed as food at home. It can also be processed and turned into different consumable products by manufacturing industries. Wheat is usually grounded into flour which is then used to make a wide range of foods including bread, biscuits, cakes, meat pipes, fish pies, doughnuts, noodles and other snack foods. In some societies, it is grounded, cooked and eaten with palatable soups.
In addition to being a major source of starch, wheat provides substantial amount of protein and vitamin in the body. Thus, demand for wheat is high in Nigeria because of its nutritional benefits.
It is also observed that Nigeria spends over 2 billion dollars annually on the importation of wheat into the county. Against this background, the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari expressed commitment to boosting wheat production in the nation so that the money being expended in importing the commodity will remain in Nigeria.
Recall that the Buhari administration has as one of its cardinal blueprints, boosting agriculture to ensure food sufficiency and self-reliance through peasant and commercial farming.
In fact, the president has said that zero importation of wheat into the country will be one of his legacies when he leaves office in 2023.
Among the states selected for lunching of the wheat production in Nigeria is Gombe where the federal government through the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) provided the farming inputs to the farmers.
However, the government of Gombe state has provided 200 hectares of land for the wheat production and also engaged 400 youths to participate in the scheme.
Last Monday, the state Governor Inuwa Yahaya lunched the 2021 dry season wheat production in the state at Dogon Ruwa village of Kaltungo local government, one of the areas endowed with fertile land and designated for wheat production. The other local government where the state government allocated land for wheat production is Nafada and the 400 youths are to be deployed to the two areas to grow the wheat thereby providing job to them and source of livelihood.
Speaking at the ceremony, the governor explained that the programme was a partnership between the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) and the state government.
He said wheat production is part of the commitments of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the state government towards boosting the agricultural sector and ensuring food security in the country.
“On this, NALDA is following President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate to make agriculture attractive to youths in the country and encourage them to see agriculture as a way of life and means of livelihood so as to attain economic prosperity.
“The dry season wheat production is in line with the ongoing efforts to bridge the national deficit in wheat production in the country and reduce importation”. He said.
Yahaya claimed that Gombe state government is the only state in the federation that ensured bush clearing, land preparation and wash boreholes for the farmers as a means of subsidy to the loans by NALDA.
He said his administration would continue to work with the federal government and relevant bodies to boost food production and create job opportunities.
“My administration will continue to partner with the federal government in its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) geared towards facilitating the development of various value chains in order to ensure food security and job creation among the teeming populace in the state.
“The development of these value chains in rice, sorghum and tomatoes among others will help provide employment opportunities to many people who will serve as service providers, manufacturers, financiers, producers and transporters”. He pointed out.
The governor emphasized that his administration was ready to render all the needed assistance NALDA would need to execute the present and future projects in Gombe state.
He observed that the ground breaking ceremony of the wheat production forms part of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and that of Gombe state government to attract youths and encourage them to see agriculture as a way of life and means of livelihood in order to attain economic prosperity.
Governor Yahaya said the dry season wheat production is in line with the ongoing efforts to bridge the national deficit in wheat production and reduce importation maintaining that the project which targets nine states with a land size of about 2, 500 hectares is expected to yield about 10, 000 metric tons of wheat.
The governor revealed that the state governments are to provide the lands while inputs such as seeds, pumping machines, generators, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are to be delivered to the selected farmers by NALDA.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya appreciated the laudable projects executed by NALDA in Gombe state which include support for the dry season cultivation of wheat on 200 hectares for the 400 farmers at Fafa in Nafada and Dogon Ruwa in Kaltungo local governments, Perishable Vegetables Market at Kwadon in Yamaltu/Deba local government, support for 250 pepper farmers across the state, support for fishermen at Dadinkowa Dam and support of 50 farmers at Kumo/Akko local government area.
“All these are testimonies in fulfilling our campaign promises to the people of Gombe state and the federation at large by the APC led administration. You are aware that agriculture is the mainstay of our economy which provides food and employment to over 75 per cent of the populace. Government will not relent in the efforts to provide the necessary assistance and supports needed by this group to meet up with their requirements”. He stated.
He added that Gombe state government would continue with the implementation of various agricultural programmes which are aimed at assisting farmers with inputs such as fertilizers, water pumps, seeds, agro-chemicals and other irrigation equipment which is in line with the state’s 10-year development plan.
“Government will continue to provide the enabling environment for our youths to be engaged in agriculture. We will ensure the take-up of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Training Centre at Garin Tafida, Yamaltu Deba local government.
“Equally, the farm estate institute of NALDA will take-up at the same centre. Government will commence the training of youths in poultry and livestock production to boost the economic base of the state and empower them economically”. He pledged.
Also speaking, the executive secretary of NALDA Paul Ikonne explained that his parastatal was established with the mandate of enhancing agro business innovations to improve the livelihood of farmers in the nation.
According to him, the parastatal would engage more youths among farmers if more land is provided.
Ikonne explained that youths are paramount in the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of employment and engaging them in lucrative ventures such as wheat production following the dire need of the commodity in Nigeria as there is inadequate production of the commodity compared to its demand.
He further stated that the groundbreaking ceremony was done in Gombe because the environment is naturally good for cultivation of the crop including processing and packaging.
He maintained that the prevailing scenario presents a lucrative opportunity for farmers in Gombe state to explore and make a fortune.
“But today we are to do groundbreaking ceremony of wheat production here in Gombe state. Nigeria as country is in dire need of wheat production. Our import value is more than what we produce and we are consuming more than what we produce in terms of wheat so that makes wheat production very lucrative and very attractive”. He said.
Some of the beneficiaries of the scheme commended Governor Inuwa Yahaya for his positive disposition towards the development of agriculture in the state, saying the 100 hectares of land provided by the governor at Dogon ruwa and another 100 in Nafada local government would enable them grow more wheat in this dry season.
Earlier in his address, the state commissioner of agriculture and animal husbandry, Muhammad Magaji Gettado said the disposition of Governor Inuwa towards the development of agriculture in the state has earned Gombe so many national and international interventions, one of which is the one coming through NALDA which seeks to boost wheat production in the state.