By Gilbert Ekugbe & Chidubem Azubuike
“The current unsustainable ways of threshing is the reason why majority of the wheat in the country is imported. We are trying to drive Nigeria to self-sustainability since we have huge arable land that can be used for the benefit of the country. We are now mechanising the way we are threshing wheat. Our poor men and women do this manually but this equipment will mechanise, reduce cost and improve yield. Once the yields are up, cost comes down and then the consumer is happy and prices will be sustained.”
These were the words of Thabo Mabe, the Group Managing Director, Dangote Flour Mill Plc, during the presentation of 50 multi-crop threshers to the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria,by Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN) made up of Dangote Flour Mills, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Honeywell Flour, Dufil, and Life Flour.
He lamented that 70 per cent of wheat used by flour millers are imported despite huge potentials in the country’s wheat sector, adding that the multi-crop threshers would enhance yield, empower more farmers and save foreign exchange.
“The important thing on our engagement is to try to assist Nigeria to start developing wheat farming in large quantity and to ensure sustainability in terms of wheat farming,” he said.
Also, the Chairman, Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN), Mr. John Coumantaros, who was represented by Group Managing Director, Flour Mills Nigeria Plc, Mr. Paul Gbededo said that the presentation was a demonstration of the association’s commitment to continuously support wheat farmers and Federal Government’s agriculture promotion agenda.
“There is no gainsaying that self-sufficiency in the production of wheat in Nigeria will have an unprecedented impact on the Nigerian economy through attainment of food security, poverty reduction and of course save much needed foreign exchange,” he said.
He said FMAN signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria in 2016 to purchase all available wheat grain produced by farmers in line with agreed quality parameters and prevailing market prices.
“In 2017, FMAN fulfilled its promise by purchasing over 2,400 metric tons of wheat valued at N469 million and in 2018, even before the start of harvest, we have purchased over 1600 metric tons of wheat valued at N237 million.
“FMAN established a N20 million Researches and Development Grant to the Lake Chad Research Institute to conduct research into enhanced wheat farming technology and modern agronomy practices aimed at improving wheat varieties with good yield,” he said.
A representative of Honeywell Flour Mills, Mr.RotimiFadipe, said that the local production of wheat has increased to about one million metric tons.
According to him, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi and Katsina States will each receive eight units of the multi-crop threshers while Sokoto, Bauchi, Kaduna, and Zamfara States will receive four units each, saying that the remaining two units would be kept at the national office of the Wheat Farmers Association for intervention purposes.