Wheat farmers under the aegis of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), have called for the inclusion of wheat farmers in the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrower Programme (APB), adding that the exclusion of the 200,000 registered members has negatively affected wheat production in the country.
Alhaji Salihu Muhammad, Chairman, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) made the called at the National Wheat Farmers Field Day held in Kano.
He said that the developmental drive of the association has introduced the Durum wheat variety, one of the most cultivated varieties of the crop and engaged the services of experienced seed scientists to accelerate wheat production in the country.
Ashish Pande, Managing Director, Crown Flour Mill Limited, stated that as a member of Flour Miller’s Association of Nigeria (FMAN), Crown Flour Mill is committed to improving wheat production, through adequate financing and research in the country.
He added that the agribusiness conglomerate’s wheat development effort has led to the execution of several well-coordinated capacity building initiatives which include bringing local wheat farmers up to speed with innovative wheat farming practices.
“We wish to get new technologies in Nigeria to further build on the wheat initiative. We look forward to partnering with organisations across the wheat value chain to improve farmers’ yields through high-quality seeds, expanded extension services and improved access to irrigation,” he said.
He noted that the present coordinated actions and growing achievements of CFM and other millers within FMAN, the Federal Government, and the state governments are steps in the right direction.
“The increasing population growth and urbanisation of Nigeria demand an aggressive wheat value chain extension programme.
“The wheat value chain must be expanded to cater to this growing population since wheat-based foods have become a convenient recourse for most households.
He said that the efforts of all stakeholders including CFM, the miller’s association, the WFAN, and the state and Federal Government are all taking proactive action towards boosting national food security.
Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained that the Federal Government prioritises the agricultural extension programme considering its implication on national agricultural productivity and food security.
He said the Federal Government is targeting 70,000 workers, adding that 30,000 of them had completed the training that is designed to expose them to modern farming techniques, fertilizer and chemical application.
According to him, the agricultural development effort would encourage the development of small-scale wheat processing mills to make wheat flour and other wheat products available in the market.
He explained that encouraging wheat production and processing would go a long way to boosting food security and economic growth.
Nasiru Gawuna, Kano State Deputy Governor, said the state government had concluded plans to establish additional water bodies and upgrade existing dams to encourage wheat cultivation and other irrigation activities.
Gawuna said the government had embarked on the rehabilitation and desalting of Watari dam and upgrade of irrigation schemes in Bagwai LGA.
While reiterating the government’s commitment to supporting farmers, Gawuna urged the farmers to utilize the inputs distributed to them to improve their productivity.
According to him, the agricultural extension programmes are transforming the national agriculture landscape and driving national food security.
He said the coordinated measures taken by Crown Flour Mill, FMAN, WFAN, the Federal Government and Kano State Government are equipping farmers with modern farming techniques, crop processing and entrepreneurial skills, and would add value to agricultural produce.
However, apart from contributing immensely to training the 30,000 farmers, CFM and other members of FMAN have provided support to 800 farmers in Kano, Kebbi and Jigawa States.
The farmers were provided with improved seeds variety, fertilizers, chemicals and 50 threshers under a soft loan scheme designed to enhance farmer access to inputs and extension services.
It would be recalled that the miller’s association also recently collaborated with Oxfam and the Agricultural Research Institutes to establish wheat farming service centers in 15 LGAs in the Northern wheat-growing states.
Nigeria is in dire need of aggressive national action at this present time to ensure her growing population is well nourished as the world food system continues to contract due to the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Agnes Kalibata, the special envoy to the UN secretary-general put the global food crisis in sharp perspective at the food systems summit 2021 when she said: “Food systems have contracted, because of Covid-19. Food has become more expensive and, in some places, out of reach for people. Food is looking more challenging this year than last year.”
Wheat is a popular ingredient in Nigerian households, and it is critical to feeding the over 200 million strong national population.
Wheat is milled into flour which is then used to make staple foods such as Semolina, noodles, bread and biscuits. These staple foods are eaten by a larger portion of the population.
However, with 420,000 tonnes of wheat produced in Nigeria in 2020, according to data by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country is still far from reducing the huge gap between its wheat production and national consumption demand levels of about 5 million metric tons annually.
Therefore, the present coordinated actions and growing achievements of CFM and other millers within FMAN, the Federal Government, and the state governments are steps in the right direction.
The increasing population growth and urbanization of Nigeria demand an aggressive wheat value chain extension programme.
The wheat value chain must be expanded to cater to this growing population since wheat-based foods have become a convenient recourse for most households