By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA— THE Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, said, yesterday, that the Federal Government would not probe the Growth Enhancement Scheme, GES, under former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
Ogbe, who disclosed this during his maiden media briefing at the ministry’s conference, said government would not only continue with the scheme but also expand it for more efficiency and effectiveness.
He said: “We are not probing the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as some dailies reported, rather we are making verification of payment issues raised by agro-dealers who supplied agro-allied products under the scheme before paying them.
“We never said we want to probe him (Adesina) but verification will continue for payment issues. We are proud of his work and achievement in the sector, and we don’t intend to engage in policy somersault, and we support him at the African Development Bank.”
However, the minister presented a variety of wheat developed in the country by two leading research institutes, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, and Lake Chad Research Institute, LCRI.
He said: “The wheat variety was developed in partnership between the Lake Chad Research Institute and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA. Our wheat was not up to international standard and was not accepted by millers.
“Today, Nigerian wheat is acceptable to milers, and we are expecting 350,000 tonnes of wheat from this harvest season within four months of farming.
“We are proud of it, and soon Nigeria will become self-sufficient in wheat production and consumption. This is economic independence. The country used to spend $4 million on wheat importation and we cannot afford it again.
“We want to also declare that agriculture will no longer be a rainy season event because it will not be enough for our population as a country, which there are projections that Nigeria will become the third largest nation in the world by 2050.
“We need to grow more food and more work in irrigation, which the North-West is leading in this regard.
“We have to increase food production in 100 fold. We also have demand of food from Libya, Sudan, and other African countries and we cannot close our borders.”