By Jimoh Babatunde
Dr Filippo Bassi, the International Center for the Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, ICARDA’s award-winning senior scientist, has urged Nigeria to determine the best wheat seed variety for every region in the country.
Speaking at the Olam Green Land’s webinar, titled “Deepening the wheat farming development programme in Nigeria through innovation, increasing investments, and collaborations,” Bassi said the country also need to put into consideration factors like seed maturity, yield, irrigation, and milling quality level for an optimum wheat supply nationally.
Dr Filippo Bassi, who is also the durum wheat breeding program leader in Morocco-based ICARDA, said “Once that is done, it will be easier to work with the various partners to deliver the ‘perfect’ variety.”
While calling on farmers to always apply the right techniques while cultivating wheat, he said wheat does not need too much water to grow, unlike rice which requires a lot of water.
He said there is a need to develop Human capacities as wheat cultivation is “not just about planting and harvesting; there is a need to train the trainers as wheat research is all about “heritability.”
Bassi added that there is modern equipment that can aid the smooth cultivation of wheat which is very high in protein and microelements.
“Wheat is more than a grain, it replaces the fallow season, reduces soil erosion, produces straw as feed for the animals and creates jobs and income in rural areas.”
Also speaking during the webinar, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, revealed that the government is willing to support stakeholders to boost local wheat production.
Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who was represented by his Technical Adviser on Knowledge Management & Communications, Richard-Mark Mbaram, noted that the Federal Government is poised to reduce the importation of wheat products into the country, hence the need to stakeholders in the wheat value chain.
He stated that the Federal Government would explore the area of research and mechanisation, stating that at the end of it all, major stakeholders in the Nigerian wheat value chain such as Olam Nigeria would be exporting wheat products to the rest of the world.
Speaking on the rationale for the webinar, Mr Ashish Pande, the Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill, a subsidiary of Olam Nigeria, said it is part of the company’s contribution to supporting ongoing efforts by the government and industry stakeholders in achieving Nigeria’s aspiration of self-sufficiency in wheat production and the overarching objective of food security.
According to Pande, the webinar will be a platform for engagement and exchange of ideas among stakeholders across the agriculture value chain. “The webinar series is our latest intervention programme to support Nigeria’s agro and food sufficiency drive.
He stated further: “Our sole objective of inaugurating the Olam Webinar Series is to facilitate conversations that will help all critical stakeholders galvanize for action by creating an ecosystem for partnerships and collaborations that will foster positive change.”