Heritage Bank, CBN to increase wheat production by 750,000MT
To meet growing demand amid poor production capacity of wheat, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Heritage Bank Plc have adopted a novel approach to boost local production and reduce dependence on importation.
The partnership is to consummate the Wheat Seed Multiplication Project in Jos, as part of the CBN’s Brown Revolution Initiative, in the value chain, thus increasing domestic production.
The initiative that promises to boost wheat production is being processed via rain-fed cultivation. The approach is the first-ever wheat programme that would be planted in the wet season, a statement by Heritage Bank said.
As part of the pilot phase of the initiative, Heritage Bank has financed the first large-scale rain-fed wheat production in Nigeria.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony for the Brown Revolution Initiative, Deputy Governor, CBN, Edward Adamu, stated that the short-term benefit was the addition of about 2,000 MT of high yield seed variety to the national wheat seed stock, which is 20, 000MT currently.
According to him, this effort has the potential to add about 750, 000MT of wheat annually through rain-fed cultivation.
The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank; Ifie Sekibo, who frowned at the country’s increasing wheat importation bills, affirmed that the strategic partnership would help to reverse the trends and upscale domestic production and close the wide supply gap.
Sekibo, who was represented by the Head, agribusiness and export, Ugonwa Ikegwuonu, explained that the bank set out to cultivate 1,000 hectares of farmland at the end of the year with at least producing about five tonnes of wheat seeds per hectare in terms of yield.
“We set out to cultivate a total of 1,000 hectares of farmland but at the end of the day because of time constraints and other challenges, we have been able to cultivate 357 hectares. The crops according to the project manager are doing very well and in a few weeks they will be ripe for harvest, in fact, part of the farm is already ripe for harvest. So, we set out with this partnership with two anchors which we call service providers,” he explained.
The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, affirmed that Nigeria was on the path of Agricultural food sufficiency with the ‘Brown Revolution’ the rain-fed wheat would help curtail the $2billion spent on the importation of wheat.
He further noted that the target of his administration was to attain zero importation of wheat, attain wheat sufficiency in the economy and commence exportation to raise foreign reserves.
President of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Salim Muhammad, stated that they have a good understanding of Heritage Bank for its proactive approach to the objective of the rain-fed wheat production in agriculture value chain.
“I assure you that at the end of this programme, by next season, it will be a different scenario/story because we are now doing a very small scale but I’m sure by next season, the real revolution will start and it will be seen all over Nigeria. Currently, we are producing wheat in 16 wheat-producing states.
By the coming of this wheat dry season, seeds available and practicable; we are going to expand our scope to cover other areas that can produce wheat during the dry season. I’m not saying that we are going to cover the whole 36 states of the country, but I assure you, by next season we will be thinking of about 20 to 27 states that we have,” he said.