• By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Nigeria Releases Two New Wheat Varieties; Intends to Cut Imports by Half

Nigerian farmers are increasing production of two new strains of wheat particularly suited to warmer climates as the country aims to boost output and cut imports by 50% by 2017, according to the country’s Lake Chad Research Institute.

In 2013/14, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 180 million people, imported 3.8 million tons of wheat, mostly from the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts an increase in demand in 2014/15.

While previous strains of wheat could produce a maximum four tons of wheat per hectare on irrigated land and 2.5 tons per hectare for rain-fed land, these two new varieties released to famers in 2014 can production up to 6.5 tons per hectare either with or without irrigation, according to Oluwasina Olabanji, director of the institute.

“I hope that by 2017, our production will hit 1.5 million metric tons and reduce importation by 50 percent,” said Olabanji. “This is our target and is achievable. Annual wheat production should grow at 20 percent from 2017.”

Begun in 1975, the institute, which works toward the genetic improvement of grains including wheat, barley and millet, plans to release two additional strains of wheat by 2017 that will provide even better potential yields of between seven and eight tons per hectare on irrigated land, and up to five to six tons per hectare on rain-fed land.

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