Why local wheat production is stunted
Despite Federal Government’s intervention in the wheat sub-sector, to reduce the country’s reliance on importation, it may take the country several years to bridge the huge demand gap.Currently, while the demand for wheat stands at six million metric tons yearly, the total local production is within the region of 10,000 metric tons, according to General Manager, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills, Alhaji Sani Umar.
The reality of heavy dependence on wheat importation means that attaining self-sufficiency largely remains a dream.Reports have it that local production has been neglected over the years, especially by government, in its array of intervention programmes.
In 2015, the Federal Government reportedly funded a technology through a research institute to develop two different wheat varieties, to increase yield and boost local production.But the research efforts that developed LACRI WHIT-5 and LACRI WHIT-6, has not increased the nation’s local production significantly. Not even the intervention such as Anchor Borrower Program of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is extended to wheat farmers.
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.
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 applauded 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.He lamented 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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