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By Modupe Gbadeyanka
More than 200,000 tonnes of wheat worth $ 70 million would be delivered by 2030 by Olam, a leading agribusiness conglomerate and parent company of Crown Flour Mill Limited (CFM).
This would be achieved by engaging / training around 50,000 farmers, revealed Dr Filippo Bassi, project scientist / principal investigator at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Arid Zones (ICARDA).
Olam explained that he is pursuing this goal with the aim of stimulating higher wheat production in Nigeria.
âOlam encourages innovation on a larger scale. We are focused on creating new and innovative pathways that tick all the boxes in terms of providing suitable seed varieties, developing refined management processes and implementing trendy agronomic practices in the local value chain. wheat.
âThis is in addition to working with and training small wheat farmers while allocating adequate financial resources to the value chain development program,â said Crown Flour Mills Managing Director Mr. Ashish Pande, during the second Olam Green Land webinar series.
During the event, which took place on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, and which had the theme Rethinking wheat cultivation in Nigeria: seeds, research, partnershipsMr. Pande said that âClosing the huge wheat production gap in the country is a journey.
âThis stakeholder engagement is a step in the right direction. The significant investment we are making in developing seed varieties suitable for Nigerian topography and using a community seed business will be manifested in the outright development of the wheat growing sector in the years to come. to come.
CFM chief executive said that Olam’s bold investment of 300 million naira in seed research and the introduction of a new community-based seed enterprise that uses the capacities of smallholder farming cooperatives have a strong impact. involvement in the livelihoods of farming communities and the Federal Government’s agenda in terms of job creation, achieving self-sufficiency in food production and food security within a few decades.
Tiberio Chiari, durum wheat expert and former head of Italian cooperation in Ethiopia, who was the keynote speaker of the webinar, highlighted the benefit of working with smallholder cooperatives in the development of the wheat value chain.
Citing Ethiopia as a case study, Chiari said: âThere is an economy of scale in dealing with farmer cooperatives instead of working with individual farmers, and stakeholders have a key role to play in ensure efficient management of the process for optimal impact. “
He said that quality control, appropriate seed varieties, good management processes, high engagement of small farmers, rigorous grain consolidation facilities, availability of investment funds, integrity, among others, are the main drivers of success when moving to a community-based seed enterprise methodology.
Dr Sall Amadou Tidiane, Principal Investigator at the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA), presented an account of the Senegalese wheat value chain. He said that by adopting a peer-to-peer seed enterprise methodology, the country has gone from zero wheat production in 2017 to 2,000 successful farmers growing wheat in 2021.
He revealed that using the great capacities of local small-scale women farmers would help spread the impact of new high-yielding seed varieties.
Dr Kachalla Kyari Mala, Project Principal Investigator / Principal Research Officer, Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), also a key technical partner of the project, highlighted the low level of familiarity of farmers with best agronomic practices such as one of the factors responsible for their low productivity.
He said: âEngaging farmers from the design stages of a major seed development methodology through to harvest stages will help them become familiar with best management and agronomic practices. “