Nigeria is blessed with a lot of arable and fertile land for agriculture but most of this remains unharnessed, unutilized or underutilized. Agriculture was Nigerian’s main source of revenue till the oil boom; a situation which resulted in a decline in the amount of agricultural produce in the country. In the last decade though, the government began to make efforts (see here) to revitalize interest in agriculture the agricultural sector.
In Nigeria, the demand for wheat based foods has progressed at an upward rate in relation to local wheat production which has failed to meet with necessary demands leading one to come to a conclusion that the enormous potential inherent in wheat production is yet to be tapped.
Only about 10 percent of land appropriate for wheat production is currently being utilized as Nigeria is blessed with potential areas for rain-fed wheat production in the highlands of Mambilla Plateau, in Jos and Obudu Cross River State (see here).
Nigeria is one of the greatest importers of US wheat and the market continues to grow in an unprecedented rate. In 2013 the local supply of wheat fell by 20 percent as a result of unfavorable local climatic conditions necessitating farming with expensive irrigation. Again, the threats of insurgency in the north where wheat are mostly grown also contributed to the decline in production. The domestic supply of close substitutes is insufficient to compensate this reduction in wheat production. The market gap is therefore saturated with importation of wheat into the country. Furthermore, wheat milling capacity operation is as well underutilized at just roughly 50%
The Federal Government Agriculture Transformation Agenda to appreciably boost production of wheat in the country and reduce import among other things led to the introduction of a 15% levy on imported wheat grains. To make up for this cut-down the government proposed addition of cassava flour into wheat flour and offered incentives like duty-free import of related equipment and machinery, to boost local production and processing. The restriction on wheat importation has lead to soaring cost of wheat flour and other wheat related foods.
Thus, any local farm that engages in wheat production and processing is bound to thrive. It will also provide employment for teeming Nigerian unemployed youth. Rather than importing at an exorbitant rate which is eventually transferred to swarming Nigerians, the solution is to get encourage interested farmers who wish to delve or are currently involved in wheat production.
Components of wheat production value chain include: Wheat crop farming, wheat processing plants and manufacturing companies producing products like wheat grit, wheat bran and wheat germ in animal and human wheat-related feeds. The results of a research from the Lake Chad Research institute (LCRI) indicates that with improved breeds already developed, large scale wheat production in Nigeria is a viable venture. Hopefully this would be an area that would attract a lot more attention in the near future.
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