Lack of policy framework to mandate agricultural research institutes to ensure consistent supply of high yielding varieties of modified seeds to farmers has been identified as the major concern militating against massive production of wheat across the country.
The national president, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Salim Mohammed disclosed this in Kano at a stakeholders meeting organized by the Kano state chapter of Agro-Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project.
He said the country has enough land and human capital to cater for its wheat consumption need, but the policy direction towards the crop in terms of timely funding, marketing and provision of improved variety of seed has been very negligible compared to rice and other crops.
He said with 4.7 million metric tons as current demand for wheat in the country, only one institution is given mandate to produce seeds for teaming farmers which he blamed for the decline in annual yield.
He emphasised that the farmers are ever willing to produce wheat to meet the need of the country if only they can have access to high yielding seeds.
Mohammed also appealed to the federal government to lead an active role in up-taking the product so as to break the uptake monopoly by the flour millers which has over the years been exploitative to farmers.
According to him, “One of our challenges is as a result of getting seeds in every two years because wheat is an open pollinated crop the maximum you can do with a particular seed is four years so if the government can finance the research institutes to come up with new varieties of seeds in every two years that will sustain the production, keep the farmers in business and we will develop much wheat for the demand in the country.
“For this anchore borrower programme, if it can be access and processed within the timing calendar of wheat because wheat is a timely crop if you don’t prepare on good time you will not be able to get a good result so we are appealing when we send our list CBN will quickly look at the timing and release the money with cash backing for the programme to start on good time. ‘
“The third challenge which is the most important is the uptake of the wheat. After all the production you are supposed to be given appreciative price for the farmers to obtain good material at good time to make sure that all that was produced was purchased. In this vein we are appealing to the government to play a role in up-taking the wheat material, that is the excesses the flour millers cannot take” he added.
Daily Trust learnt that there are currently no fewer than 650,000 hectares of irrigable land for the production of wheat in the country, but not up to 85, 000 hectares are being put to productive use.
In their respective presentations, the key resource persons at the workshop, Professor Sani Miko and Dr Rukayya Aliyu both advised wheat farmers to change their attitudes towards farming so as to be able to succeed, urging them to consider farming as a business rather than a mere activity.