Africa Development Bank (AfDB) is making available $63 million to fund the Support for Agricultural Research and Development for Strategic Crops (SARD SC) programme, the Project Coordinator, Dr. Chris Akem, has said.
Akem said the fund which is a five-year action plan, is targeted to foster food and nutritional security, as well as fight poverty in 20 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.
He spoke at a training programme on IAR4D and Innovation Systems Approach for SARD-SC Wheat Value-Chain yesterday, in Abuja.
He said: “About $63 million has been approved for the SARD –SC project over a five-year period. They assured us that if the programme can be successful, they are ready to double agric research in Africa because they believe agric is the backbone of development,” assuring that the fund will be committed to research development on rice, wheat, cassava and maize.
Among other objectives, he said the programme is aimed at generating new technology for the four crops, distribute the technology, and build infrastructure as well as efficient management of the project, saying, about 20 per cent yield increase is targeted from the four crops within the four years time frame.
Akem urged stakeholders to deliberate effectively on how wheat production can be increased in the entire value chain to replace huge import of the commodity.
Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said the wheat value chain is expected to cover a minimum of 33,000ha in each of the wheat producing states.
Adesina, who was represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr. Akinbolawa Osho, said about 7,500 improved seeds, would be distributed to the farmers in the selected states, adding that the programme is aimed at reducing wheat importation by at least, 50 per cent.
He listed the selected states to include: Borno (Ngala and Kirnowa), Taraba (Gembu, Ngoroje), Adamawa (Dasin Hausa), Bauchi (Badel Jama’are, Misau), Jigawa (Hadejia, Chiyeko, Ringim), Plateau (Tahoss).
Others are Kano (Kadawa, Bunkure, Alkamawa and Bagwai), Kebbi (Kebbi), Sokoto (Sokoto), Zamfara (Talata Mafara), Yobe (Gashua), Gombe (Balanga & Dadinkowa).
The House of Representatives, is seeking implementation of the African Union Maputo Declaration, where 10 per cent of the country’s annual budget will be used to develop the agriculture sector.
The lawmakers said until strong partnership is established with the Federal Government, funding of agricultural projects, especially Research and Development will be ineffective.
The Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Mohammed Mungono and his Deputy, Alh. Munir Babba Dan, made the assertion at a training program on IAR4D and Innovation Systems Approach for SARD-SC Wheat Value-Chain, yesterday in Abuja.
Munguno who accused former military administrations for inefficiencies in the budget allocations observed that it was imperative for the federal government to also diversify the economy and support the sector.
“We want to increase national wheat production by 95 per cent, resulting in import reduction by 30 per cent through technology interventions across the value chain, with improved varieties, value addition, yield enhancing management practices directed at stimulating 30 per cent yield increase, 70 per cent income among 55,000 wheat Farmer household,” Adesina said.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Research Institute, Dr. O.G Olabanji, said the purpose of the training is to strengthen capacity of the stakeholders on the wheat value chain.
He said the country spends about N635 billion on wheat imports, while it is capable produce it, saying he is hopeful that the country will be self sufficient in wheat production by 2015.
Director General, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Dr. Mahmoud Solh, said the workshop was organized to support agriculture research for development and strategic crops funded by the AfDB.