By Naomi Uzor
In a bid to boost the country’s self-sufficiency in wheat production, Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN), made up of Dangote Flour Mills, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Honeywell Flour, Dufil, and Life Flour have donated 50 units of multi-crop thresher machine worth N70 million to Wheat Farmers in the country.
Speaking at the presentation of the machines in Lagos, the Group Managing Director of Dangote Flour Mills, Mr. Thabo Mabe, said that the equipment would deepen mechanised farming in wheat production, increase volume of wheat produced and reduce cost of wheat in the market.
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 an 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 Research 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 varities with good yield,” he said.
Gbededo said that the association would continue to invest effort and resources on initiatives that would improve local supply chain, ensure access to quality wheat at decent price and ensure that bakers and confectioners were not burdened.
A representative of Honeywell Flour Mills, Mr Rotimi Fadipe, said that the local production of wheat has increased to about one million metric tons.
He noted that the association expects double yields with the equipment presented to the farmers, adding that the initiative would be sustained.
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.
In his remark, National President, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Salim Mohammed commended the flour millers for their gesture toward assisting to boost wheat production.
He said that the equipment would be judiciously utilised to boost wheat production and reduce cost of wheat in the market.