Wheat farmers seek more support to boost production

Ene Okwanihe

Wheat farmers in Nigeria have called for a National Policy on rice and wheat to protect  farmers in the country and boost production.

The National Chairman of wheat farmers association of Nigeria and a member of the National task force on rice and wheat Mr. Salim Muhammad made the call in an interview with a team of agriculture Correspondents in Kano state North-West Nigeria.

He said the policy should encompass all the four aspects of production process which is production, processing, packaging and marketing adding that “all the relevant stakeholders have to be involved in the formulation and implementation of that Policy”.

The Chairman said with a policy in place subsequent governments coming into power in Nigeria will have no choice but to work to maintain and sustain rice and wheat production in the country.

“Without a policy supported by the government, I don’t think that if this present administration is able to sustain production, a subsequent government that is not interested may wave it aside and the production of wheat may be mere history in Nigeria but when we have a stated policy subsequent government will have no choice but to respect the policy and the production of wheat in the country will continue” he explained.

Concerning improved seed variety, Mr. Muhammad said the government needs to make improved variety of seeds available for research Institutes to multiply it for farmers.

“We have to the improved variety seeds and give it to the institute that have the mandate to multiply it for the farmers… give it to the lake Chad research institute to put it to trial and come up with the foundation seed because it is the foundation seeds that the seed companies take and make into certified seeds for the farmers to use” he added.

Mechanised Farming

Mr. Muhammad said the traditional method of Farming is still ongoing in the country as very few farmers have access to mechanized farming tools in the country.

He said wheat farmers need combined harvesters to make their jobs easier as some of the old methods being used by farmers is tedious and leads to wastage of farm produce.

He however commended the efforts of the Kano state government for procuring two combined harvesters for wheat farmers in the state but stated it is not enough as Kano state alone will need more than ten combined harvesters.

The chairman added that for Nigeria to maximize the full potentials of Agriculture there is need to migrate from subsistence farming to big time mechanized farming.

Meanwhile the Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (Kano state Chapter) Mr. Farouk Rabiu has decried the extortion of wheat farmers by the big Millers.

He said some State Governors in the North-West had an agreement with top milling companies to buy wheat from farmers at an amount that is not favourable without the consent of the farmers as the price they buy from the farmers run the farmers into losses.

Mr. Rabiu said Millers buy 100kg bag of wheat at 18,000 Naira which is not acceptable as the money used by farmers to cultivate and farm the product will not be recovered and this could lead to lose of interest in wheat farming.

He said wheat production may suffer a setback in Nigeria if the price at which the off-takers are buying right now is not reviewed.

He said there was a MoU that was signed last year between stakeholders deciding the price wheat should sell which was ok by the farmers but the MoU was for one year which has expired.

He added that the MoU motivated farmers to scale up wheat production which from 17,000 hectares 2016 to over 30,000 hectares in 2017.

He therefore called on the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to look into resolving the issue of prices between the off-takers and the farmers to ensure that Nigeria does not suffer a setback in wheat production as most farmers are feeling discouraged.