The Federal Government, through the Wheat Value Chain (WVC), is to increase national wheat production from the current 100,000 tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes by 2017.
This is contained in a statement issued by Mr Tony Ohaeri, the Director, Information and Protocol, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.
It said this was necessary as local consumption in the country had reached 4.0 million tonnes while production stood at 100,000 tonnes in 2012.
It said that Nigeria, over the years, witnessed some setbacks in local production of the commodity due to lack of planting materials.
The huge increase in the consumption of the produce, coupled with low productivity, resulted in importation, to fill the gap between demand and supply, the statement said.
It stated that it was in a bid to reverse the trend where more than N600 billion in foreign exchange was spent on wheat importation that the WVC of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) was put in place.
"The mandate of the WVC is to increase productivity of wheat from 2.0 tonnes per hectare in 2013 to 5.5 - 6.0 tonnes per hectare.
"And to the national production from the current 100,000 tonnes to 1.5m tonnes by 2017, thereby reducing wheat importation by about 50 per cent.
"This is expected to be achieved through fast and effective distribution of improved wheat varieties like Atila gan Atila, which has an average yield of 4.0 tonnes per hectare and the newly released varieties: Reyna 28 and Norma Boulaug with an average yield of 5.5 - 6.0 per hectare'', it stated.
It noted that Nigeria had enormous potential and opportunities for wheat production under irrigation in the Sudan/Sahelian ecological zone (12-14⁰) of the North East and North West states.
They include Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Plateau.
According to the statement, researches are ongoing to introduce varieties that can produce more under rain-fed conditions in the Nigerian highlands of Gembu, Jos and Obudu in Taraba, Plateau and Cross River states respectively.
It said that a total of 2,303 100kg bags of wheat seeds were distributed free to farmers in Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara, Borno, Sokoto, Gombe and Yobe states in 2014.
It also stated due to the government's efforts a total of 225, 000 tonnes of wheat was harvested across the producing states in 2014.
It said that farmers were given pre-season training on good agricultural practice across the wheat-producing states, to assist farmers to have optimum yield while employing best practices. (NAN)