How Nigerians Neglect Local Wheat Production

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How Nigerians Neglect Local Wheat Production: Although, the Federal Government of Nigeria on several occasions made efforts towards enhancing productivity in the wheat industry of the agricultural sector by subsidising the country’s excessive dependence on importation, it has been projected to take a number of years to achieve an encouraging reduction in the gigantic demand of wheat produce in the country.

According to General Manager, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills, Alhaji Sani Umar, the demand for wheat in the country presently stands at a staggering six million metric tons annually , while the total local production is within the region of 10,000 metric tons.

Thus, the heavy reliance on wheat importation means that the Nigerian dream of self-sufficiency largely remains an absolute mirage. This can be reflected as some sources revealed through recent reports about the manner in which the government has been relatively neglecting local production, despite its series of intervention programmes over the years.

It is worthy of note that roughly three years ago, the Federal Government was reportedly responsible for sponsoring a technology initiated by a research institute who carried out experiments that resulted to the development of two different wheat varieties, to increase yield and boost local production. However, the research efforts that birthed LACRI WHIT-5 and LACRI WHIT-6, has so far not yielded expected results in improving the nation’s local production significantly.

Surprisingly, required financial assistance/grants channeled to upscale production activities of diverse sectors have persistently turned deaf ears to the yearnings individuals and firms involved in wheat produce, not even the Anchor Borrower Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which has helped establish many involved in the cultivation of other agricultural produces, but is yet to be extended to wheat farmers till date.

Umar, while presenting 50 threshers to wheat farmers in seven Northern states-Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kebbi and Yobe, during an event held in Kano explained that even if the country attains self-sufficiency, wheat importation could be difficult to resist in near future, especially if the right quality is not cultivated, which might be caused by lack of equipment and expertise required.

Umar, who could not hide the huge financial burden of importing wheat and other related raw materials, explained that the intervention was targeted at gradual reduction on over-dependence on foreign product.

He said besides the distribution of threshers, the association has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wheat Farmers Association to off-take all season harvest, down to the last grains at optimised market price.

How Nigerians Neglect Local Wheat Production
How Nigerians Neglect Local Wheat Production

According to him, the association is collaborating with Lake Chad Research Institute, to develop new varieties to increase farmers’ yields. “We are looking forward to a time when importation will be cut down significantly, when our local production will increase and we are self-sufficient. That will also reduce cost of production and huge cost of importing wheat. And one of the ways to buy into this is to invest in local production.

“Two years ago, we supported the farmers with pumping machines and provided seedlings to boost their production so that we can have bumper harvest. We also provide manpower capacity to enable them optimise the utility of the equipment.”

President of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Salim Saleh Mohammad who appreciated the company for the gesture, reassured of farmers commitment to re-double their efforts to increase local production.

Saleh was optimistic that the intervention will drastically reduce losses incurred on yearly basis, especially during production and post-harvest processes. He said the threshers would assist farmers to optimise quality and quantity of production.

On the other hand, he also lamented about the critical challenges bedeviling farmers, which includes- zero intervention from Federal Government and unstable market price. The threshers, with market cost of N270m have the capacity to process five tons of wheat, which is an equivalent of 50 bags per day.

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He was further open to reveal that the association has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wheat Farmers Association to off-take all season harvest, down to the last grains at optimised market price.

Saleh also spoke in optimism about the ongoing development of the association, confirming their collaboration with Lake Chad Research Institute towards the development of new varieties to increase farmers’ yields.

“We are looking forward to a time when importation will be cut down significantly, when our local production will increase and we are self-sufficient. That will also reduce cost of production and huge cost of importing wheat. And one of the ways to buy into this is to invest in local production.

“Two years ago, we supported the farmers with pumping machines and provided seedlings to boost their production so that we can have bumper harvest. We also provide manpower capacity to enable them optimise the utility of the equipment.”President of Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Salim Saleh Mohammad who applauded the company for the gesture, reassured of farmers commitment to re-double their efforts to increase local production.