The Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, WFAN is advocating for massive cut down on the importation of wheat into the country in order to generate employment, guarantee food security and conserve the nation’s foreign exchange.
The National President of WFAN Salim Muhammad stated this at a one day Agro-communication strategy sensitization workshop organized by the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project, APPEALS, Kano state Coordination Office.
He said Nigeria spends over 4.2 billion dollars annually on importation of wheat annually to meet its local demand of over 4.7 million metric tons, yet the country is abound with both human and material resources to meet the demand and equally export.
“The same energy spent in encouraging the production of Rice should also be extended to wheat production. Local demand of Wheat in Nigeria is well over 4.7 million metric tons while production is below 5 percent of local demand within the country. This is a great challenge that the FG must tackle,”
“The over 4.2 billion dollars that we are spending, to import wheat, half of it can be used to grow the wheat and even extend it to other countries through exportation,” he stressed
According to him, there is international politicization of wheat farming that is stifling the growth of the commodity in Nigeria as they promoting dumping as such there is the urgent need to address the issue.
“Americans are the largest producers of wheat in the world, most of the milling factories in Nigeria have been purchased by the Americans but they encourage the growing of wheat in their own country and then import them to Nigeria, thereby giving a large chunk of the employment to their people, deplete our foreign reserves at the detriment of the Nigeria people.”
“They hardly accept that the quality of our own wheat from our farm is good enough for processing.”
So in my own perspective they are dumping on us and not allowing us to grow, while we have the potentiality to grow the commodity in this country. We have large land of over 650 thousand hectors to grow wheat with available human resources,” Muhammad added.
He therefore stressed the need to develop a road map from field experts to overcome the challenges rather than those sitting in the comfort of their offices designing and implementing programmes for wheat farming, adding that the association is set to meet the local demand if massively supported by the Federal Government.
He further stated that apart from Kano and Kebbi states, the association does not receive support from any other state in the federation which is not encouraging.
“We are planning this year to engage into 100 thousand hectors of wheat farming We are demanding for increase in the number of beneficiaries of the CBN anchor programme because last year we were able to secure funding for only 9,000 farmers.”
“With our experience from the last season we want to increase wheat production and cut down wheat importation, provide food security for the country by producing for local needs,” the WFAN President stated.
He enumerated other challenges of the Wheat farmers to include: not getting improved variety every 2 years, because the maximum that a seed can be used is only 4 years.
“So if the government can finance research institutes to produce good variety every 2 years, which will sustain and keep the farmers in the business.”
“A good financing calendar for the farming season which is done once in a year will also reduce our challenges.”
“The Uptakers, that is the flour millers should give appreciable price to the farmers, purchase the produce in good time and make sure that all that is produced is purchased, otherwise the Federal government should develop an alternative programme of buying the excesses too,” he explained.
Muhammad agreed that for the wheat revolution in Nigeria to succeed there is the need for extensive collaboration between the media and the operators to enhance agro-communication.
Dr. Rukayya Aliyu of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano while delivering her paper said providing adequate communication strategy to farmers through the media is a catalyst for promoting production, processing and marketing of wheat.
“With effective media strategy of informing farmers both from the rural and urban centers on modern skills of using seedlings and fertilizer as well as modalities of accessing funds from financial institutions and international donor agencies, wheat value chain and marketing process would be highly achieved,” she explained.
Country director of SASAKAWA Global 2000 in his presentation on tolls for enhancing demands said focus of communication content in agro-communication should be on producer and consumer demand rather than generalizing everybody.
The Coordinator of APPEALS Project Kano, Hassan Ibrahim said the workshop was designed to enhance information dissemination to farmers aimed at improving value addition to wheat.
The workshop was attended by media personnel, Farmers Association, development partners and other stakeholders.