The Federal Government has disclosed that it is expecting no less than 25,000 metric tonnes of wheat from war-torn Ukraine.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar made the disclosure on Wednesday, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Beyond the wheat import, Nigeria is also expecting from Russia, an unspecified quantity of potassium, which is a by-product for production of fertilisers.
While the wheat from Ukraine is currently sea-borne, talks between Russia and the Nigerian government on the importation of potassium are still ongoing, the minister revealed while briefing State House correspondents.
According to Abubakar, the ship carrying the wheat is expected to berth in Port Harcourt from where it would be distributed across Nigeria and to neighbouring African countries. He explained that Nigeria may become the hub for accessing exported wheat from Ukraine because of the strained relationship between the country and Russia.
Asked why Nigeria is patronising the two warring countries, Mohammad maintained that Nigeria has a neutral policy and therefore can do business with any country it deems necessary.
Abubakar further revealed that FEC deliberated on a memo on National Revised Seed Policy, a move aimed at boosting agricultural productivity in the country.
According to him, there are plans to inject Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seeds into the national food chain to produce enough food to meet the teeming population growth.
“The Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development presented a memo today on our revised 2022 National Agricultural Seed Policy.
“Before now, we have been operating on the 2010 policy, which was revised in 2015. We just also revised that again to 2022,” he announced.
Justifying the revision, Abubakar said: “For seeds, what you plant is what you reap. With the current continuous development in technology, seeds are always being upgraded, standardised with several vitamins. There’s also the issue of genetically modified organisms or seeds, if you will. So, this revision seeks to conform with global best practice in yield.
“Our farmers must have access to best quality seeds that have been fortified, seeds that can produce the yield that will be worth their while, seeds that can produce again [and] produce that can compete in the world market. This is the basis for this particular policy.”
The implementing agency is the National Agricultural Seed Council of Nigeria, he confirmed.
“The same agency works with the department within the Ministry [and] also works with other agencies and MDAs that are also involved in some ways with agriculture [as well as] civil society organisations and international agencies,” he said.
The minister added: “Nigeria, every year, holds a summit that we call Seed Connect. This is an international summit that discusses and focuses on developments in seeds from around the globe.”