The Governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi, unveiled plans on Thursday to cultivate enough wheat to yield a record 2 million tonnes annually. This massive wheat initiative aims to make Nigeria self-sufficient in wheat production while also enabling eventual wheat exports.
Namadi asserts Nigeria has the potential to transform into a wheat-exporting nation through the strategic expansion of domestic farming capabilities.
He shared these ambitious wheat production goals after closed-door talks with President Bola Tinubu in Abuja. Tinubu fully endorses Jigawa’s plan and has pledged federal support and resources to facilitate the state realising its wheat targets.
In November 2022, the federal government launched a 100,000-hectare dry-season wheat farming scheme to enhance Nigeria’s wheat output. Jigawa leads this national initiative, with 40,000 hectares dedicated to wheat within the state.
Tinubu promised Namadi to make every federal assistance at his disposal available to help Jigawa deliver on its wheat agenda. “Tell me what you need, and I will make sure you get it,” Tinubu stated, according to Namadi.
When asked about Jigawa’s present role in Nigeria’s total wheat production, Namadi responded definitively, “We are the number one wheat-producing state in the country. We have already demonstrated our capabilities by holding the top position. Additionally, out of the 100,000 hectares allocated for the federal wheat programme, Jigawa alone has been entrusted with cultivating 40,000 hectares. This further proves our leading contributions.”
Regarding Nigeria attaining the elusive goal of self-sufficiency in wheat, Namadi emphatically stated, “Certainly we will get there.” He highlighted that Jigawa possesses over 400,000 hectares of highly fertile Fadama lands, ideal for delivering multiple crop cycles annually through irrigation.
Beyond wheat, Namadi shared that Jigawa is actively developing its rice exports and other cash crops via this rotational cultivation model. “We will export significant wheat in due time. We are starting with rice first, then rotating to wheat and repeating this cycle. This will lead to national food security and agricultural trade surpluses,” he explained.
The governor set a target of 4 tonnes of wheat harvest per hectare in Jigawa. At 40,000 hectares, averaging 4 tonnes per hectare, Jigawa could produce 160,000 tonnes annually, he calculated. When factoring in additional wheat farming by individual farmers, Jigawa’s total output could readily surpass 200,000 tonnes per year.
Previously, smallholder farmers only managed around one hectare due to financial and resource limitations. But expanded government assistance programmes now empower these farmers to scale up to cultivating 10 or more hectares.
Namadi remains confident Jigawa will continue outpacing its wheat production goals, targeting 4 tonnes per hectare as the new baseline. “Some progressive individuals already produce 6 tonnes per hectare. But we are conservatively sticking to 4 tonnes as the benchmark for now,” he stated.
The federal wheat initiative provides 50% input subsidies to assist 250,000 Nigerian wheat farmers in reaching 250,000 hectares under production.
Meanwhile, the governor of Niger State, Mohammed Bago, shared plans to match the federal government’s target to cultivate 500,000 acres nationally to enhance Nigeria’s food security. Niger is Nigeria’s largest state geographically, but it has grappled with terrorists limiting agriculture.
However, Bago stated that substantial security improvements have enabled displaced farmers to return to work on their lands. “Farmers are already back on their farms in Niger,” he said.
Bago continued, “In President Tinubu’s New Year address, you heard him stress the urgency of agriculture and the 500,000-hectare cultivation goal for 2024. Niger State has stepped up as a lead pilot for this critical project. We are wholly committed to matching the federal government’s 500,000-hectare target.”