Auyo (Jigawa), Nov. 26, 2023:The Federal Government on Saturday inaugurated the National Wheat Cultivation scheme in Auyo Local Government Area of Jigawa, targeting 1,250,000 tonnes of yields.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari at the inauguration of the 2023 dry season wheat development project under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme (NAGS-AP) in Auyo.
The scheme is designed to cultivate about 100,000 hectares during dry season of which Jigawa is supporting the project with 40,000 hectares.
The minister said that dry season farming had offered unique opportunity to harness the untapped potentials of land and diversify Nigeria’s food production capabilities.
“Indeed, its importance cannot be overstated, as it allows us to overcome seasonal limitations and meet the demands of our growing population while also bolstering our economy.
“The dry season farming is an integral part of the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and AgroPocket (NAGS-AP) Project, made possible by a US loan facility.
The facility is advanced to Nigeria by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and encapsulates this administration’s resolve to expand the capacity of farmers to engage in the cultivation of key staples like rice, maize, cassava and wheat across the country,” he said.
The minister said that the aim was to increase crop yield by at least 20 per cent, compared to the previous year.
“These high value staples will be joined by others like soybeans and sorghum in the wet season.
The minister said that in wheat alone they had targeted to support between 150,000 and 250,000 farmers with 50 per cent input subsidy.
He said that the farmers were expected to cultivate between 200,000 and 250,000 hectares with an expected yield of 1,250,000 tonnes.
“Other selected staples are earmarked for similar, varied support, all aimed at significantly reducing food inflation, as well as Nigeria’s dependence on foreign import, while increasing domestic consumption.
“Ultimately, this will promote agricultural self-sufficiency and stimulate economic growth,” Kyari said.
He said that the Federal Government was committed towards ensuring that the support got to the farmers, to achieve the desired goals.
“Accordingly, the programme will be Technology enabled, thus guaranteeing transparency and accountability in the provision of the subsidy and other support services like extension, insurance and additional finance.
“Equally, our farmers are guaranteed access to improved seeds – in this particular instance, I would like to point out that we are deploying heat tolerant wheat varieties like Borlaug 100, Attila and others.
“Furthermore, we will progressively invest in irrigation infrastructure projects to optimise water usage and mitigate the challenges posed by the dry season.
Undoubtedly, we do not expect a bed of roses and know that our path will be riddled with challenges. Indeed, there have been quite a few already. But we are poised to take them on.
“We have been innovative in utilising Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to target already proven irrigated farm clusters, deploy verified farmer data and map the farmers to agrodealer redemption centres.
“Thankfully, we have already gained grounds. Smart (e) extension, detailing innovative irrigation techniques, promoting water conservation and good agronomic practices (GAP) are also being mainstreamed.
We will invest more in farm infrastructure, all with a view to enabling our farmers to maximise their agricultural output and overcome the limitations imposed by the elements.
Earlier, Gov. Umar Namadi of Jigawa, said that the state was the heart of wheat production in Nigeria with potential to provide up to 200,000 hectares for wheat production.
“In particular, the rich expanse of Hadejia Valley is also well known for its rich alluvial sandy loam and clay soils susceptible to all season and all crops farming – particularly wheat and rice.
“It is not surprising therefore, when 40 per cent of the land to be put under cultivation in this year’s Federal Government supported pilot wheat development programme comes from Jigawa State – 40,000 out 100,000 hectares being targeted,” he said.
According to the governor, the full package comprises appropriate mix of fertilisers, in-organic liquid urea, organic fertilisers fortified with booster and growth enhancer, certified wheat seeds, and herbicides.
“It is expected that the capacity of over 42,000 smallholder farmers will be significantly expanded through their participation in the programme.
“Each of these would be provided with input subsidy support granted by the Federal Government equivalent to 50 per cent of the estimated cost of packaged input requirements amounting to about N361,000 per hectare.
“While each farmer is expected to pay only 12.5 per cent of the total cost of input package equivalent to about N42,125 per hectare at the point of input collection, the balance of N135,275 would be recovered after harvest.
“In order to provide comfort to the Federal Government and input suppliers, the Jigawa State Government has worked out an arrangement with Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to provide guarantee for the balance of 37.5 per cent of the cost of inputs supplied.
“The Jigawa State Government will provide free high-quality extension service to the wheat farmers for which arrangements have been concluded for the engagement and training of additional 1,440 extension agents to ensure full coverage.
“My plea in this regard is for farmers to seriously heed to the guidance to be provided by the extension agents.
“As we all know, wheat farming requires extreme diligence and strict observance of agronomic practices associated with its cultivation,” Namadi said.
The governor urged the Federal Government to accelerate the completion of the Hadejia Valley Irrigation Project with potential irrigable area of over 25,000 hectares.
The prayer is that the scheme will be a success story to logistical conclusion, unlike the Hadejia Valley Project, which was initiated by the Late President Shehu
Shagari’s administration in the early 1980s, and still less than 25 per cent was completed after almost four decades.
Following an inauguration of the project performed in 2018, it is noteworthy that earlier this year, former President Muhammad Buhari commissioned the successful completion of a segment of that project covering about 6,000 hectares.