Dangote Flour Mills and other flour millers on Tuesday donated 50 units of multi-crop thresher machine worth N70 million to wheat farmers to boost Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in wheat production.
Mr John Coumantaros, the Chairman, Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN), made the disclosure at the presentation of the equipment in Lagos.
Coumantaros, represented by Mr Paul Gbededo, Group Managing Director, Flour Mills Nigeria Ltd., 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.
Coumantaros said that the association 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.
“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 varieties with good yield,” he said.
Coumantaros said that the association would continue to invest effort and resources on initiatives that would improve local supply chain.
He said that it would also ensure access to quality wheat at decent price and ensure that bakers and confectioners were not burdened.
Also, Mr Thabo Mabe, the Group Managing Director, Dangote Flour Mills, said that the equipment would deepen mechanised farming in wheat production, increase volume of wheat produced and reduce cost of wheat in the market.
Mabe decried that 70 per cent of wheat used by flour millers was imported in spite of the country’s wheat sector.
He said 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, Mr Rotimi Fadipe, a representative of Honeywell Flour Mills, said that the local production of wheat had increased to about one million metric tons.
Fadipe said the association expected 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.
He said that the remaining two units would be kept at the national office of the wheat farmers association for intervention purposes.
In his remarks, Alhaji Salim Mohammed, the National President, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, commended the flour millers for their gesture toward boosting wheat production.
Mohammed said that the equipment would be judiciously utilised to boost wheat production and reduce cost of wheat in the market.