YISA PARTNERS WITH LAKE CHAD RESEARCH INSTITUTE (LCRI) ON YOUTH EMPOWERMENT THROUGH LOCAL PRODUCTION OF WHEAT
Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) Nigeria has expanded its operations to cover additional Six Northern States of Nigeria with a focus on empowering Youths through Local Production of Wheat.
In a Statement by the Founder and National Coordinator of the Organization, Comrade Ogirinye Innocent, He explained that, Nigeria as a country is too rich and blessed with favourable climate for production of most food items, and YISA has yet identify another gap in the north that can be used to empower unemployed Nigeria Youths through Production of Nigerian wheat.
Nigeria as a country spends a whooping some of N635 Billion Naira annually importing wheat into the Country, mean while Nigeria has over 600,000 Hectares of land that can support local wheat production in 13 States but is presently using less than 10% of the available land to produce less than 300,000MT of wheat compare to the National demand put at over 3.5Million Metric Tons and on the other hand, over 40Million Nigeria Youths including graduates of Agriculture are unemployed.
Comrade Innocent Further explained " I find it irreconcilable that a Blessed Country like Nigeria with over 600,000 hectares of land that can be used to grow Freshly Nigerian Wheat is abandoned for N365 Billion Naira spent annually in importation of 3.4Million MT Tons of very old Wheat grain stored in some countries and about to be burnt. They are exporting the job meant for the youths.
We are not unware of the challenges that has bedevilled the wheat sector, but we are appealing to the Wheat Millers and all associated interest to please look at the plight of unemployed youths in Nigeria and use their businesses to create jobs for us by patronizing locally grown wheat too. Our concern is not what there are importing but we are focused on taking advantage of whatever production gap as Youths to encourage our youths to take up Agriculture as a Business and those products must bought for it to remain business for the youths.
YISA through this partnership with Lake Chad Research Institute(LCRI) and the River Basin Development Authorities has engaged 120 Graduates of Agriculture on a pilot scheme in Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara in the production of Foundation seed for the Research Institute. Though we encountered some difficulties last year but there lessons for greater success this year. LCRI has equally trained the youth beneficiary on sustainable production of Wheat. The Training was held in Kano, December last Year.
YISA Target is to:
- Cultivate and 13,000ha wheat in 13 states by 2017
- Produce 65,000Mt of wheat in per annum
- Create 30,000 jobs for the unemployed youths and women by 2017
- Qualify 200 Wheat Extension Service providers to render services to 32,000 Wheat farmers by 2017 in 13 states who will produce additional 160,000Mt.
- Ensure at least 50% annual growth between 2015 - 2017 to produce 732,000Mt
YISA is not doing this in isolation but in tandem with the targets of the Federal Government plans to reduce the importation of wheat by 50% in 2017.
The immediate past Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (OON) made assertion on the 12th March 2014, while launching two new high-yield,early maturing, heat-tolerant and drought-resistant wheat varieties developed by the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), in conjunction with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with assistance from the Federal Government and grant from the African Development Bank (ADB) “In 1987, the Government banned the importation of wheat and implemented an Accelerated Wheat Production Programme aimed at stimulating local production of wheat in Nigeria… Farmers were mobilized to produce wheat and were provided necessary inputs at subsidized rates, and equipment to boost wheat production. The production of wheat expanded from 50,000MT in 1987 to 600,000MT by 1990.
Our farmers had proven that they can produce wheat, if well supported. However, several challenges scuttled the burst of energy to produce wheat locally. The introduced varieties had very low yields, as average yield was less than one ton per hectare. But more importantly, the programme failed because of the reluctance of wheat millers in the country to patronize wheat produced locally in the country. With the lifting of the ban in 1990, the programme abruptly ended, and wheat production spiralled downwards to 70,000MT by 1991.
“Today, Nigeria’s wheat import is about 4 million MT per annum and estimated to grow at an alarming rate of 5% per annum. At this rate, the country will be importing 10 million MT of wheatannually by 2030, spending US$15 billion on wheat imports alone.Such over-dependence on imported wheat will pose significant risks to Nigeria's future growth. Nigeria must grow a lot more of its own wheat and reduce the national, economic and political risks from depending on other nations for our food supply. Today, we are reviving hope for Nigeria to produce its own wheat and free itself from decades of dependence on imported wheat.
“A silent revolution is [now] happening on wheat farms all across Northern Nigeria. The target of the wheat transformation is to increase national production from 300,000 metric tons to about 1.5 million metric tons per annum by 2017. The wheat transformation agenda will generate one million jobs in the rural areas of Nigeria over the next four years of the program and generate over N42 Billion in incomes annually for farmers and millers. YISA Appreciates the Lake Chad Research Institute, the Wheat Value Chain of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the River Basin Development Authorities (Hadejia Jammare and Sokoto Rima River Basins) of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources so far for the support given to the organization.
The particular support of the Executive Director of LCRI, Dr. Olabanji O.G is highly appreciated by the Organization and its teeming youths members.