Olam, experts chart the course for the growth of the local wheat value chain –

Olam, a leading agribusiness conglomerate and parent company of Crown Flour Mill Limited, has brought together local and international development actors in the wheat value chain with the aim of boosting higher wheat production in Nigeria.

The agri-food conglomerate has brought together industry experts for the second edition of its Olam Green Land webinar series.

The webinar was themed: “Rethinking Wheat Growing in Nigeria – Seeds I Research I Partnerships” and was held on Wednesday.

In her opening remarks, Ashish Pande, Managing Director of CFM, said: “Olam 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 value chain. local wheat.

“This adds to the work and training of small wheat farmers while committing the right financial resources to the value chain development program.

“Closing the huge wheat production gap in the country is a journey.

“This stakeholder engagement is a step in the right direction.

“The significant investment we are making in the development of seed varieties suitable for Nigerian topography and the use of a community seed business will manifest itself in the outright development of the wheat growing sector in the years to 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: “There is an economy of scale in dealing with farmer cooperatives instead of working with individual farmers, and stakeholders have a key role in ensuring the efficient process management 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, presented an account of the Senegalese wheat value chain.

Tidiane said that by adopting a peer-to-peer seed business 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 disseminate the impact of new high-yielding seed varieties.

Dr Filippo Bassi, Project Scientist / Senior Scientist, International Center for Agricultural Research in Arid Zones and key partner in the development of seed varieties suitable for the project, said Olam’s goal is to provide more 200,000 tonnes of wheat worth USD 70 million while hiring / training 50,000 farmers by 2030.

Dr Kachalla Kyari Mala, Project Principal Investigator / Principal Research Officer, Lake Chad Research Institute, also a key technical partner of the project, highlighted the low level of familiarity of farmers with best agronomic practices as one of the factors responsible for their low productivity.

Mala said, “Engaging 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. “

Alhaji Munir Babba Dan Agundi, Chairman, House Committee on Colleges and Agricultural Institutions, Nigeria House of Representatives; Alhaji Salim Saleh Muhammad, National President, Nigeria Wheat Producers Association; and Telta Naphtali, Head of National Wheat Value Chain Office, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, who participated in the webinar, stressed that operational synergy is crucial for achieving wheat production and self-sufficiency in Nigeria.

The webinar attracted participants from agriculture, agriculture, research communities and academia, among others.

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