Prof. Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar, the Director, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, on Thursday said Nigeria’s wheat import bill stood at $6 billion annually.
Umar-Abubakar said this when he received members of Correspondents’ Forum of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zaria Chapter, who paid a courtesy call on him in Zaria, Kaduna State.
He said that Nigeria produced only three per cent of wheat it consumed, while the remaining 97 per cent was being imported.
Umar-Abubakar said the country had the capacity to produce enough quantity of wheat needed for local processing and consumption.
“We have the capacity to produce enough wheat not only for our consumption, but also for export.
“Remember, we eat many products made from wheat every day.
“You can imagine what will happen if Nigerian farmers today decided to go on strike, can the oil money buy all the food we need in this country?
“Agriculture contributes 24 per cent of GDP, while oil contributes only seven per cent,” he said.
Umar-Abubakar said that there was no formidable policy to accelerate agricultural development in the country and pleaded with government to stop paying lip service to it.
He called for collaboration with members of the press to publicise activities of the institute, especially research findings not only for the benefit of farmers, but the nation at large.
Earlier, the Chairman of the chapel, Malam Mohammed Bello-Habib of Blueprint Newspapers, said the essence of the visit was to build long lasting relationship with the institute.
Bello-Habib appealed to the institute to organise training workshops for journalists to acquaint them with basic knowledge in agriculture to sharpen their skills in reporting the sector.
The chairman pledged to extend maximum support and cooperation to the institute to enable it record maximum success.
Aside wheat, Nigeria spends a lot of money on food importation and is taking steps to reduce imports in order to reduce press on scarce foreign exchange.
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