Cost of wheat in Nigeria highest in the world
Admin l Friday, September 9, 2022
LAGOS, Nigeria – Four major factors, lack of financial backing from the Federal Government for farmers, late maturing variety, irrigation problem, and use of chemicals(use of wheat-specific fertilisers and herbicides) where today highlighted by experts as major challenges inhibiting effective wheat farming in Nigeria.
The experts, Country Head, Olam, Mr. Ashish Pande, Dr. Kachalla K. Mala of the Lake Chad Research Institute and Dr. Fillipo Bassi.
Kachalla is an expert in genetics and crop breeding, while Dr. Fillipo Bassi, is a Senior Scientist Leading ICARDA Durum Wheat Breading Programme.
Fillipo Bassi also works in Ethiopia, India, Senegal, Mauritania, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, and several other countries, to improve local scientists’ capacity to innovate on wheat production.
They spoke at the Olam Green Land Webinar, Facilitating Conversation, Season 3, Seed for the future: First Year Report, facilitated by Olam Agri and ICARDA.
Dr. Kachalla who spoke extensively on the subject said that those challenges were elicited from farmers after a survey stressing that farmers are reluctant to switch from rice production to wheat because rice production is more profitable.
According to him, the other factor has to do with late maturing variety which he said has been resolved with early yielding seeds, which are planted in November and harvested by March in a period of four months.
He also highlighted the issue of finance as a major factor, adding that as soon the rice is harvested, they have to sell the rice to be able to get funds to prepare for the next planting season and in the process leaving them with no funds to start cultivating wheat immediately before they come back and sell harvested rice.
Dr. Kachalla said this problem can be addressed if government makes funds available for them by way of credit facilities to be able to cultivate wheat immediately after rice harvest.
He also alluded to the problem of irrigation, to enable farmers cultivate wheat after the raining season and routine availability of water for irrigated cites.
The other challenge he and other experts spoke about has to do with application of chemicals in wheat farming, chemicals such as fertilizers and herbicides. He believes that wheat-specific chemicals should be encouraged for higher yields instead of blanket application of chemicals used in rice farming for wheat.
He said the Lake Chad Research Institute is engaging agronomists for better herbicides and fertilizers in addition to importation for better wheat yields.
Dr. Kachalla noted that insecurity in Borno made it impossible for the institute to access well developed irrigation cites in Borno and contemplated Kano at a stage but could not access irrigation sites in Kano since they started late hence they moved to Kadija in Jigawa, where the Wheat faming project is ongoing.
In his submission, Dr. Fillipo Bassi noted that the team did the survey to be able to get useful feedback from the farmers to assist wheat production in the country.
He said that the problem of late maturing wheat has been solved with introduction of fast yielding seeds, which he said has been sent to Lake Chad Institute for breeding. He said the fast-yielding variety is being developed and would be made available to farmers in the village to encourage wheat production in Nigeria.
He explained that the cost of wheat in Nigeria is far higher that the already high cost of wheat in the international market.
He believes that things could be better if there is government subsidy to ease production of wheat and transportation through trains and truck from the villages to where they will be needed.
Earlier, Country Head, Olam, Mr. Ashish Pande reported that the first year of the project in Nigeria with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria and ICARDA has been good.
He explained that economic support from government is needed at this stage for wheat production to blossom in the country.
He said the team has been able to test about 23 new lines and came out with three (3) best yields, with early maturity and that the team was able to achieve good milestone in the first year and that what is left is adoption of the early maturing yields for wheat production in Nigeria.