The Kaduna State Government, along with some stakeholders in the agricultural subsector, on Thursday concluded a two-day on-the-spot assessment visits to some wheat farms in the state aimed at evaluating their yields.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that during the visits the team evaluated the level of yield of the ‘Norman Block’ wheat variety in selected farms at Galma, Alhaza and Magada villages in Zaria and Makarfi Local Government Areas.
Other farms visited were in Bizara, Gangara, Mashigin Kaya, Maraban Rido, Kangimi and Kaduna Garden.
The Kaduna State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hajiya Halima Lawal, said the visits were to evaluate the level of performance and yields of the wheat variety, following the application of modern and improved techniques.
She said the state would want to benefit from research findings in wheat farming and thereby increase the level of food security in Kaduna State.
Also speaking during the assessment exercise, Dr. Yahaya Aminu, the Kaduna State Project Coordinator of Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Projects (APPEALS) said the programme was to accelerate wheat production in the state.
“Our assessment has shown that the wheat farms are doing well, the farmers have also gotten the inputs they were promised.
“The Lake Chad Research Institute, which is also a partner, is lecturing them (farmers) on capacity building, granting them extension and advisory services on the wheat farming and so we really have a system that is working,’’ Aminu said.
He, however, said that more needed to be done by both the farmers and government as there were many other modern farming techniques the former needed to learn.
Also speaking, Usman Lawal, the Lake Chad Research Institute Coordinating Officer in Kaduna, said the institute was carrying out 27 different researches in the farms and had tested many varieties of wheat.
“This is a dry season wheat project, we did seed increase of about 12 varieties and we are also collaborating with the Kaduna State Government on a total of 250 hectares across the state.
“The projects are being carried out at about eight different locations and we are expecting about 4,500 bags of wheat at the end of the programme.
He noted that the institute’s major role was to monitor the programme and train the farmers and extension personnel so as make for continuity in wheat production.
Lawal said wheat was chosen for the project because of its minimal production cost and high consumption in the country.
“With all the support from international organisations and many other stakeholders, Nigeria is not meeting up to five per cent of her wheat demand.
“We need to put more effort into research, help the farmers and extension personnel to make sure we meet certain percentage of our demand for wheat, about 70 per cent of the food we consume are either directly or indirectly wheat,” Lawal said.
According to him, most of Nigeria’s flour milling industries have closed down due to the lack of wheat.
He lauded the government for its effort in improving agriculture, ensuring food security and its open governance policies that ensured farmers had access to inputs and improved practices.
The farmers expressed joy, pointing out that it was the kind of intervention and innovation they needed, as against stakeholders “who come, make noise without any aid or action’’.
They, however, lamented the lack of irrigation facilities, including water channels, to their various farms.
They said the lack of the facilities and funds posed serious challenges and excess hardship to them in their bid to nurture their wheat farms.
NAN reports that the exercise was supported by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).