President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that the Agricultural sector was one of the critical non-oil sectors which made significant contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Mr Buhari said this while declaring open the inauguration ceremony of the CBN’s Nigerian Brown Revolution in Kwall, Bassa Local Government of Area, Plateau.
The president was represented by Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau at the ceremony.
The intervention programme was aimed at enhancing food security, stability and boosting the wheat value chain under the Anchor Borrower Scheme.
“The Agricultural sector was one of the critical non-oil sectors which have made significant contributions to the GDP accounting for a 22.35 and 23.78 per cent.
“This is contribution to the overall GDP in the first and second quarters of 2021 respectively.
“It was also instrumental in supporting the emergence of our economy from the recession in the second half of 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ensuring food security means ensuring availability and access across all demographics in the country,” he said.
The president stressed that the inauguration was coming at a time the 2021/2022 dry season farming was commencing which he described as significant.
He said food security could not be attained if farmers were not encouraged and adequately equipped with access to the best inputs and opportunities to learn effective agronomic practices for improved yield.
He added that as a country, Nigeria had relied on the proceeds of oil exports for so long with the volatility of oil prices and its implications on foreign reserves.
“There was no other choice but to work towards the diversification of the Nigerian economy by investing in other productive sectors of the economy.”
Earlier the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, represented by his Deputy Governor and Head, Corporate Services, Mr Edward Adamu, noted that wheat was the third most widely consumed grain in Nigeria after maize and rice.
Mr Emefiele said it was estimated that the country only produced about one per cent (63,000 metric tons) of the 5-6 million metric tons of the commodity consumed annually in the country.
“Hence the enormous demand-supply gap is bridged with more than 2 billion dollars spent annually on wheat importation.
He added that the intervention was necessary as wheat was the second highest contributor to the country’s food import bill and given the high growth rate of the country’s population.
He pointed out that the demand for wheat was projected to continue to rise.
The CBN governor lamented that over the years, the availability of low-yielding seeds variety and poor agronomic practices had hampered successful cultivation of wheat in the country.
He added that this had led to low productivity and wheat production unappealing to farmers and the private sector.
He said that the strategy for the wheat value chain involved ensuring availability of high-yield seeds by financing seed multiplication and establishment of seed ripple centre.
Others,Emefiele said were expanding land under cultivation for wheat to a capacity that could meet total national demand.
He said the strategy sought to reduce wheat importation by 60 per cent in two years and ultimately eliminate wheat importation or reduce it to an insignificant contributor to the country’s total food import bill.
Chika Nnwaja, the Deputy Director, and Head, Anchor Borrowers Programme, said there were more than 500 farmers working on the wheat farm.
Mr Nnwaja said that the programme had added value to the local community, created job opportunities and reduced poverty in the local community we operate.