Kano, Feb. 6, 2024: The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) on Monday said African countries spend about $20 billion annually on importation of wheat into the continent.
The Head, TAAT Clearinghouse, Dr Solomon Gizaw, disclosed this during a Train-the-Trainer workshop organised on wheat seed production in Nigeria in Kano.
Gizaw said African countries were paying the supreme price for Ukraine-Russia crisis which had caused disruption of supply and high cost of wheat in the continent.
He said Nigeria had 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 Africans were the major importers of wheat across the continent.
“This means that as a continent, we don’t have food security as our food security is in the hands of the others.
“Africa around this time annually spends nearly $20 billion to import wheat from other part of the world.
“They import fertiliser and wheat from Ukraine and Russia and as a result the war between the duos has disrupted the supply of wheat and fertiliser,’’ he said.
Gizaw said that this has resulted to increase in wheat prices and supply in African countries.
“This proses a lot of challenges to provide food because of the high prices of fertiliser. Africa is hard-hit as a result of these two countries’ war.
“We in Africa have the technology, land, water and the people. If we bring together and work together, Nigeria can feed itself and the rest of African countries.
“The mechanism we put in place is a flagship programme with the African Development Bank.
“In Africa today, we have several high yielding wheat varieties that are giving high yield of six to seven tones per hectare,” he said.
Gizaw said that today in Nigeria, the wheat production was not exceeding two to three tons 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.
”If we continue with this, in the next three, four or five years, Nigeria can completely reverse wheat importation which is now about 95 per cent,” he said.
Gizaw said Nigeria could be self sufficient if the process continues, adding that the forecast in the potentials of Nigeria shows Nigeria can produce, feed itself and the rest of Africa.
Earlier, TAAT Programme Coordinator, Dr Chrys Akem, lamented the backwardness of Nigeria in effort toward wheat production revolution in the country.
He said three countries; namely Ethiopia, Sudan and Nigeria, had set out for sufficiency in wheat production, but Nigeria instead of progressing 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 am surprised to hear that we are less than 100,000 hectares. But what bothers me is last year when we had a meeting and set a target of 250 and we had less than 100,000 hectares.
”It is something to 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 others.
“The training is to remind us that we have what all that it takes to get the revolution in wheat production Nigeria,” he said.