By Ahmed Rahma
Members of the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) have called on the federal government to include them in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Chairman of the group, Mr Salihu Muhammad, while speaking at the National Wheat Farmers Field Day held recently in Kano, lamented that the exclusion of the 200,000 registered members of WFAN has negatively affected wheat production in the country.
He revealed 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.
According to him, over 30,000 farmers have been trained and equipped through a joint effort of one of Olam’s agribusiness and food conglomerate strategic business units, Crown Flour Mill (CFM), as well as Flour Miller’s Association of Nigeria (FMAN) and the federal government; in a bid to deepen the national agricultural extension scheme, especially in the wheat segment.
Commenting on how this has supported growth in the agricultural sector, the Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill Limited, Mr Ashish Pande, stated that as a member of FMAN, Crown Flour Mill was 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.
Mr Pande explained, “We wish to get new technologies in Nigeria to further build on the wheat initiative. We look forward to partnering with organizations across the wheat value chain to improve farmers’ yields through high-quality seeds, expanded extension services and improved access to irrigation.”
Also present, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Sabo Nanono, explained that the federal government prioritises the agricultural extension programme considering its implication on national agricultural productivity ad food security.
Mr Nanono 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.
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 tons 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.