Olam, an agribusiness and food conglomerate, has taken a bold step to raise the level of agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
At the National Wheat Farmers Field Day held in Kano recently, the agribusiness conglomerate revealed that over 30,000 farmers have been trained and equipped through a joint effort of one of its strategic business units – Crown Flour Mill (CFM), Flour Miller’s Association of Nigeria (FMAN) and the Federal Government, in a bid to deepen the national agricultural extension scheme, especially in the wheat segment.
Managing Director, Crown Flour Mill Limited, Mr. Ashish Pande, shared that as a member of FMAN, Crown Flour Mill is committed to improving wheat production through adequate financing and research in the country.
He added that the agribusiness conglomerate’s wheat development effort has led to the execution of several well-coordinated capacity building initiatives which include bringing local wheat farmers up to speed with innovative wheat farming practices.
Pande explained: “We wish to get new technologies in Nigeria to further build on the wheat initiative. We look forward to partnering with organisations across the wheat value chain to improve farmers’ yields through high-quality seeds, expanded extension services and improved access to irrigation.”
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who also attended the event, explained that the Federal Government prioritises the agricultural extension programme considering its implication on national agricultural productivity and food security.
Nanono said the Federal Government is targeting 70,000 workers, adding that 30,000 of them had completed the training designed to expose them to modern farming techniques, fertiliser and chemical application.
According to him, the agricultural development effort would encourage the development of small-scale wheat processing mills to make wheat flour and other wheat products available in the market. He explained that encouraging wheat production and processing would go a long way to boosting food security and economic growth.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), Alhaji Salihu Muhammad, stated that the developmental drive of the association has introduced the durum wheat variety, one of the most cultivated varieties of the crop, and engaged the services of experienced seed scientists to accelerate wheat production in the country.
He further called for the inclusion of wheat farmers in the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrower Programme (APB) because the exclusion of their 200,000 registered members has negatively affected wheat production in the country.
In his remark, the Kano State Deputy Governor, Nasiru Gawuna, said the state government had concluded plans to establish additional water bodies and upgrade existing dams to encourage wheat cultivation and other irrigation activities. Gawuna said the government had embarked on the rehabilitation and desalting of Watari dam and upgrade of irrigation schemes in Bagwai LGA.
While reiterating the government’s commitment to supporting farmers, Gawuna urged the farmers to utilise the inputs distributed to them to improve their productivity.