Olam, other stakeholders harp on local wheat production
Stakeholders in the wheat value chain have harped on the need to deepen wheat farming and value chain development programmes in Nigeria through innovation, increased investments and collaborations.
In a webinar tagged ‘Olam Green Land Webinar,’ with emphasis on ‘Deepening the Wheat Farming Development Programme in Nigeria through innovation, increasing investments and collaborations,’ Filippo Bassi, Senior Durum Wheat Breeder, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, said Nigeria had great potential in wheat production and values.
He said: “My external advice, without knowing Nigeria sufficiently well, would be to start by “defining the ideal variety” with all stakeholders for each region: what maturity? What yield? Irrigated/rain-fed? What milling quality? Once that is done, it will be easier for the Lake Chad Richard Institute (LCRI) to deliver the “perfect” variety.
Stakeholders said the complexity of wheat food systems present opportunities that drive demand and supply, which normally determine the selling price and possible profit margins, and hence promote (or not) the uptake of farming practice.
Currently, about 5.67 million metric tonnes of wheat are milled in Nigeria yearly, whereas the current production of the grain is two tonnes per hectare while the cultivable area is approximately 2.8 million hectares — all area of rice.
The international price of bread wheat is price $280-300 per tonne while the national price $400-420 per tonne.
They also urged farmers and researchers to describe their varieties very well, sowing to harvest in fewer than 95 days, strive to maximize a yield above 3.5 tonnes per hectare to be rentable (temp >33° C), use max 280mm of irrigation water to respect the river ecosystem and meet the millers’ needs (protein, gluten, moisture, and colour).
Human capacity developments are as critical, either as virtual or physical, as wheat production is not just about planting and harvesting.
They said there are needs for training of the trainers, wheat research is all about; ‘heritability,’ which means maintaining successive generations of young, innovative and passionate farmers.
They urged researchers and grain breeders to recognise the “right” variety which could combine heat tolerance, yield, and earliness of maturation.
Representatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture also charged breeders and scientists to define objective and clear rules by establishing multiple test sites, having a release committee that includes millers and farmers, and by including on-farm validation and milling approval.