Nigeria To End Wheat Imports, Substitute Cassava

Nigeria To End Wheat Imports, Substitute Cassava

The Nigerian government hopes to end wheat imports, substitute locally grown cassava and grow its own tropical wheat varieties to benefit Nigerian farmers.

Nigerian farmers are being displaced by “needless” imports, says Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s minster of agriculture.

The Nigerian government has decided to end wheat imports in the hopes it will benefit local farmers, according to a report in Fresh Fruit Portal, a Santiago, Chile-based comunications organization representing the fresh fruit industry in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nigeria should be able to meet 68 percent of its wheat needs by 2015, Adesina said during the inaugural meeting of the Nigeria Agribusiness Group, according to a report in All Africa.

The government is looking into local production of tropical, heat tolerant wheat varieties that can yield up to six tons per hectare in Northern Nigeria.

Through cassava substitution, the minister says Nigeria would be able to cut its dependency on imported wheat, the report says.

“As we implement accelerated cassava flour production, with the installation of the industrial scale cassava flour plants, expand cassava production and deploy hundreds of compact modular milling systems, Nigeria’s dependency on imported wheat will decline even further,” he said in an interview in All Africa.

Adesina is concerned with Nigeria’s drop in rankings from being a top cotton, palm oil and cocoa producer to being a top importer, the report says.

“We used to be number one in cotton production in West Africa which employed many people in the north,” Adesina said in Fresh Fruit Portal. “We used to be number one in palm oil production but now we import from Malaysia and Indonesia.”

Nigeria once ranked second in the world for cocoa production but has lost that ranking to Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroon, he said. Indonesia is not far behind.

Adesina promoted Nigerian exports of citrus, pineapple, mangoes and tomatoes last week in meetings with Belgium and Ireland ambassadors, the report says.

With a marketing strategy, Adesina said Nigeria can see international success, much like other African nations have.

“Ethiopia entered the horticulture market as a late comer but got things right, so we have to be aggressive in brand marketing of produce coming out of Nigeria,” he said in All Africa.