Wheat Development Programme Yield Underscores Role of Research and Trials
Nigeria’s aspiration for wheat production self-sufficiency is being pursued on diverse fronts by stakeholders in the value chain including government, policymakers, farmers, researchers, scientists, institutions, millers, etc. under different aegis and initiatives.
For the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN), that initiative would be its Wheat Development Programme (WDP). Under the auspices of the FMAN WDP, millers have continued to invest over N500 million annually to support local smallholder wheat farmers amongst other activities aimed at boosting local wheat production in Nigeria.
This intervention included a scaled out-grower programme that provided the high-yielding seed for smallholder wheat farmers in the wheat-producing belts of Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and Zamfara States. It also included a sustained working relationship with the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), funding of the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) located in Maiduguri and the expansion of the seed varietal testing and multiplication sites in Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, and Jigawa States.
The outcome of all of these efforts underscores the efficacy of research and trials, which today is glaring for all to see. According to the latest wheat harvest yield data released for the 2021 harvest season, the average wheat harvest yield across the Wheat Farmer Service Centres established under the WDP in Jigawa, Kebbi and Kano rose from 1 ton to an average of 4 ton per hectare.
Going by the harvest yield data, the aggregate total yield derived from the 15 wheat collection centres located in the wheat farming belts of Northern Nigeria stood at over 800 tons. The leap in wheat yield per hectare in the current harvest season is expected to rise even more to a remarkable aggregate sum when the harvest season rounds off this June 2021.
The current improved harvest yield is in stark contrast to the previous experience recorded in the wheat production value chain in previous years. This is hugely because the tendency of achieving wheat sufficiency in Nigeria has been marred by disinterest and apathy by stakeholders in the agro value chain in the past 3 decades.
Although the country recorded some feat in its wheat development drive between 1987 and 1991, the departure from the programme in the subsequent years wiped off most of the gains derived from the previous development efforts.
However, the pivot to wheat derivative food consumption by Nigeria’s teeming population since 2016, and the oil shock of the same year stimulated renewed interest in developing the wheat production value chain to tap the export potential of the crop and meet the demand for quality, nutritious and affordable foods by the masses.
From inception, there are quite a number of hurdles to sale to be able to raise the local wheat production levels. The hurdles include a traumatizing security issue across the wheat-producing belts, the low access to high-yielding wheat seeds and critical farming inputs, and the dearth of mechanized and modernized farming practices along the wheat farming segment. These hurdles impact the quality, quantity and price of the little wheat produce delivered locally. They have also led to sub-par performance on regional wheat production levels.
The landscape is gradually shifting though. This is because the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and FMAN rose to the challenge to push the country forward in its goal of achieving wheat production self-sufficiency.
Through the quality partnership with various wheat development experts such as the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Tractor on the Go and the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) amongst others, priority was given to deepening agronomic practices in the wheat production segment.
Smallholder wheat farmers were supplied with quality input to enhance their harvest yields, the level of research was scaled to ensure high-yielding seeds were experimented with and released at improved frequency. Relevant modern infrastructural facilities were also made available on the farmlands. An out-grower scheme was introduced to extend timely loan resources to the wheat smallholders.
The intervention data has been outstanding. In the 2020 and 2021 wheat cultivation and harvesting seasons alone, over 800 wheat farmers benefited from the FMAN’s out-grower scheme. Mechanized harvesting and threshing support were extended to 493 farmers. Wheat seed production has been significantly raised to 80 tons. The scaled seed tonnage would adequately cover 800 hectares when the next cultivation season begins.
Although the financial cost of these huge intervention efforts may be massive, the result is turning out to be impressive, encouraging and makes it worthwhile. The notable outcome and growth in the wheat harvest yield was announced and applauded during an event organized by FMAN to celebrate the smallholder wheat farmers who put in so much effort to deliver the bountiful wheat yield.
Tagged the Wheat Farmers Yield Championship, the event was held in Jigawa State on Wednesday, May 2021. While giving the welcome address at the event, Sarah Huber, the Head of FMAN, said, “Our wheat development efforts at FMAN are beginning to yield remarkable results. A larger percentage of the wheat farmers that participated in our 2020/ 2021 Out-grower programme has been able to increase their wheat yield from 1 ton to 4 ton per hectare”.
She added, “The improved wheat harvest yields can be attributed to the sheer level of hard work put in by wheat farmers and we are proud of their commitment to the goals of achieving local wheat production sufficiency in Nigeria. This new achievement foreshadows what we will be able to achieve together in the next 4 years, considering our scaled level of investment into research, distribution of high yielding seeds, provision of crucial farming inputs and training for the farmers”.
She thanked the farmers for their contributions to the success of the FMAN’s Wheat Development Programme. As part of the wheat post-harvest event, FMAN awarded branded products, fertilizer and lots more to the three best performing farmers from 3 states in the wheat farming belts. Hassan Usaini, a wheat farmer from Jigawa state, was announced as the best wheat farmer for the 2021 harvest season. Nalami Abdulmuminu, a wheat farmer from Kano came second. He was followed by Samaila Hassan, also from Kano.
For his outstanding wheat harvest yield, Hassan Usaini was given an excellence award. A female farmer was also awarded for being the only woman that participated in the 2021 wheat harvest season.
While receiving his award, Hassan Usaini extended gratitude to FMAN for the investment efforts put into ensuring that farmers improve in farming practices and can access high-yielding seeds and quality inputs when due. He remarked that he had acquired enough agronomic training and advice that he would build upon to raise his wheat harvest yields to a better level in subsequent years.
Meanwhile, Ashish Pande, Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill Limited, a subsidiary of Olam, which is a major contributor and key member of FMAN, also spoke about the impressive wheat harvest yield.
He said, “The outstanding 2020/ 2021 wheat harvest yield has further deepened our local wheat sufficiency drive and reinforced our support for a research-based development approach in order to raise the level of local wheat production and achieve the local wheat production sufficiency goal of the government. CFM is committed to scaling the wheat harvest yield results in the coming years and will be unfolding other development initiatives to drive local production levels higher as part of efforts to ensure that Nigerian households continue to have access to more nutritious and affordable wheat derivative food brands such as our Mama Gold semolina brand and the non-sticky Crown Premium Pasta to nourish their families.”
Among the dignitaries that attended the FMAN Wheat Harvest Yield event were Alhaji Rabiu Ali Taura, District Head of Taura in Kano state, Alhaji Abbas Yau, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture in Jigawa state and Alhaji Rabiu Gwarzo, Vice Chairman of Northern Nigeria Flour Mills Plc.
Given the improved 2021 wheat harvest yield, it can be said that Nigeria is on track to attaining its wheat self-sufficiency target. When fully attained, the coveted non-dependence on imported wheat will significantly reduce the nation’s trade deficit and ensure Nigerians continue to access the highly nutritious semolina, pasta, noodles and pastries products at their preferred prices.
The WDP is a research-based development approach to help raise the level of local wheat production and ultimately achieve the local wheat production sufficiency goal of the government.
NLC, TUC Suspend Wednesday’s Nationwide Strike
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The planned nationwide strike action earlier fixed for Wednesday, June 7, 2023, by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has been suspended by the unions.
The labour unions suspended the industrial action on Monday night after a meeting with the federal government at the Presidential Villa.
Nigerian workers had planned to stay away from work to protest the announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu during his inaugural speech last Monday.
Recall that earlier yesterday, the central government obtained an interim order from the National Industrial Court to stop the industrial action by the labour organisations on the argument that the strike could paralyse the country.
Justice O.Y. Anuwe restrained the NLC and the TUC from the action pending the determination of the motion of notice, which was fixed for a hearing on June 19, 2023.
Later in the day, the labour unions and the federal government held a meeting, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been appointed as the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, informed newsmen last night that a committee would be set up to discuss ways to resolve the issues amicably.
“The federal government, the TUC and the NLC would review World Bank Financed Cash transfer scheme and propose the inclusion of low-income earners in the programme.
“The federal government, the TUC and the NLC to revive the CNG conversion programme earlier agreed with Labour centres in 2021 and work out detailed implementation and timing.
“The labour centres and the federal government to review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector and propose solutions for implementation.
“The labour centres and the federal government to review and establish the framework for completion of the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries.
“The federal government to provide a framework for maintaining roads and expanding rail networks across the country.
“The joint committee will assess all other demands submitted by the TUC to the federal government,” a communique issued at the end of the meeting said.
Business Post reports that after the NLC and the TUC agreed to “suspend the notice of strike forthwith to enable further consultations,” they fixed June 19 to reconvene a meeting with the government “to agree on an implementation framework.”
Subsidy Removal: Court Stops Proposed Nationwide Strike by NLC, TUC
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The proposed nationwide strike to kick against the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government may suffer a setback as the National Industrial Court (NIC) has restrained the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from going on with the action.
In a ruling on an interim order sought by the federal government on Monday in Abuja, Justice O. Y. Anuwe ordered the unions to stop the strike pending the determination of a suit filed by the government.
The judge directed the government to serve the NLC and the TUC the interim order and the substantive suit marked NICN/ABJ/158/2023, fixing June 19, 2023, for hearing of the matter.
“The defendants/respondents are hereby restrained from embarking on the planned Industrial Action/or strike of any nature, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice dated 5th June 2023.
“It is ordered that the defendant/ respondents be immediately served with the originating processes in this suit, the motion on notice, and the order of this court hereby made.
“The motion on notice is hereby fixed for hearing on 19th June 2023. Hearing notices to that effect shall be served on the defendants/respondents along with the other processes,” Justice Anuwe ruled.
Business Post reports that the Federal Ministry of Justice filed an ex-parte motion to stop the planned industrial action by the labour unions, arguing that the strike was capable of disrupting economic activities, the health sector and the educational sector.
Momentum Gathers for Second Adire Lagos Experience
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Stakeholders in the Nigerian textile industry are getting prepared for the second Adire Lagos Experience organised by Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
Momentum is gathering for this event slated for June 9 to 11, 2023, because the first edition, held at the ultra-modern Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC) complex in Victoria Island, was the talk of the town.
Participants used the occasion to network and get the latest designs in the local adire fabric.
Ecobank has assured that this year’s programme would be bigger as those expected are top government officials from Lagos, Ogun and other neighbouring states, the CEO of Adire Oodua Textile Hub and wife of Ooni of Ife, Mrs Ronke Ogunwusi; the CEO of Dye Lab, Ms Joke Ladoja; the Creative Director, Afume Global Concepts, Mrs Funmi Sosanya; and the CEO, Aga Culture & Upbeat, Moyo Ogunseinde, among others.
The event is being partnered with the National Union Textile Garment Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (Adire Sector) and will involve the exhibition of new designs of the fabric.
The Head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, said the exhibition is part of the bank’s contribution to boosting the nation’s tourism, culture and creative industry using Adire as a key driver, adding that, high profile exhibitors, vendors, dignitaries from different parts of the world have indicated interest to be part of the event.
“The bank was encouraged by the success of the maiden edition last year. It is in line with our brand promise as a Pan-African Institution to promote culture and boost tourism on the continent.
“We expect topflight exhibitors, expatriates, influencers, dignitaries from all walks of life and members of the public at the three days event,” she said.
Mrs Demola-Adeniyi stated that the event would feature a series of masterclasses and exhibitions, as well as networking opportunities with entrepreneurs, shoppers and everyone interested in the making or trading of Adire, adding that the bank has provided a cosy ambience with utmost serenity to make participants feel comfortable and safe.
She added that, “Participation is free, and you are welcome to invite family and friends to come over to witness the beautiful event.
“This exhibition also presents an opportunity not only to sell and buy products but to experience the luxuriance in our culture.
“In addition to the wonderful display of Adire clothing and products, there will be masterclasses on Adire production, picture-perfect moments, and music to vibe.”
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