Transforming wheat production in Nigeria through PPP intervention
Wheat is one of the major staple foods in Nigeria, the country largely depends on import to meet local demand of the produce.
Nigeria’s annual wheat consumption is put just above 4.5 million metric tonnes in 2020, which accounts for about 16 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s consumption of 28.3 metric tonnes. Available records of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture show domestic annual wheat production is estimated at 480,000 metric tonnes in 2019, representing less than five per cent of the total wheat consumption in the country.
To address the wheat deficit, the Federal Government in partnership with the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN), initiated viable programmes including farmers support services to boost wheat cultivation in the country.
Crown Flour Mills is one of key members of FMAN and has made significant contribution towards promoting research and agricultural financing in the wheat subsector which resonates with the Olam groups’ business strategy of re-imagining global agriculture and food systems.
On one hand the millers are collaborating with the Lake Chad Research Institute to enhance studies on improving high quality seeds, while on the other the association has also introduced new variety seeds as well as trained farmers on new farming techniques.
In this respect, about 800 wheat growers were supported to cultivate the crop in Kano, Kebbi and Jigawa States.
Mr. Ashish Pande, Managing Director Crown Flour Mill, said as part of the miller’s association’s efforts, the company organised Wheat Farmers Workshop in November 2020 and the 2021 National Wheat Farmers Field Day at Jekarade plantation in Danbatta Local Government Area of Kano State.
Pande said the exercises were organised as part of comprehensive intervention to assist famers with modern farming techniques and access to inputs to enable them to improve their production output.
He said the farmers were provided with improved variety seeds, fertilisers, chemicals and 50 threshers under a soft loan scheme designed to enhance farmer access to inputs and extension services.
He explained that the benefitting farmers were from Kano, Kebbi and Jigawa States, adding that wheat farming service centres were designated in 15 LGAs in the participating states.
He further noted that 200 farmers were supported in Danbatta, Garun Malam, Bunkure, Kiru and Ajingi LGAs of Kano State.
According to him, the scope of the programme will be expanded to mobilise participation in collaboration with Oxfam, Babban Gona and agricultural research institutes in the country.
“Transforming wheat production in Nigeria requires a strong will, and sound data backed by clear roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders.”
“We look forward to partnering with organisations across the value chain to improve farmers’ yields through high quality seeds, expanded extension services and improved access to irrigation.
“We wish to get new technologies in Nigeria to further build on the wheat initiative,” he said.
In his remarks at the National Wheat Farmers Field Day which held on Monday February 15th, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Federal Government has trained over 30,000 workers to enhance extension services.
Nanono said the measure was part of policies and programmes initiated to transform agriculture and achieve food security in the country.
He said the programme aims to encourage production of wheat crops and processing to reduce importation of the produce in the country. He urged state governments to encourage development of small-scale wheat processing mills to enhance availability of the product.
Nanono advised research institutes to encourage use of drought resistant seeds to mitigate effects of climate change on wheat cultivation. The minister disclosed that the federal government had so far trained workers to enhance extension services and urged state governments to engage them to provide quality services to the farmers.
The Kano State Deputy Governor, Nasiru Gawuna, said the state government had concluded plans to establish additional water bodies and upgrade existing dams to encourage wheat cultivation and irrigation activities. While reiterating government’s commitment to support farmers, Gawuna urged them to utilise the inputs to improve their productivity.
Commenting on Research development, Dr Oluwashina Olabanjo, the Deputy Director, Lake Chad Research Institute, said the institute was conducting wheat paddy genetic improvement study in collaboration with FMAN.
Olabanjo said the institute will soon introduce 11 high yield variety seeds to the wheat farmers, while studies are ongoing to encourage rain fed wheat production in about 80,000 Hectares of land in Taraba, Plateau and Rivers States.
He noted that about 10 companies were producing improved seeds in the country, adding that the institution was working in collaboration with research institutions in Lebanon, Mexico and Morocco, to enhance supply of high-quality seeds.
In their separate testimonies, some of the benefitting farmers, Danladì Ibrahim and Rabiu Sale, said they recorded higher yields at harvest with support of the miller’s association initiatives and programmes.
Ibrahim said he cultivated one hectre of wheat plantation and got 15 bags of the produce as against five bags before the introduction of the support programme.
Sale said he learnt new skills under the programme which enabled him to record significant increase in yields per hectre.