The Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN) has disclosed that it has provided support to 150,000 farmers to accelerate wheat cultivation across 15 states in the country.

Dr Aliyu Samaila, FMAN’s National Programme Manager, Wheat Development Project, stated this during the Green Wheat Farmer Field Cay at Zindi plantation in Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

Samaila said the FMAN wheat programme is being implemented through the Anchor Borrower Programme (APB) initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He listed the states to include Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa, Katsina, Gombe, Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara, Niger and Yobe.

The Programme Manager said the programme adopted proactive farmer support services to sustainably encourage wheat production and yields per hectre, to enable it compete with rice and other dry season crops in the  2021-22 dry season activities

Samaila said the programme had encouraged cultivation of 500 demonstration farms across the 15 states to provide training on Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) to the farmers.

The programme, he said, plans to expand the scope of its direct outgrower through provision of input loans to 2,000 wheat growers in Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Bauchi and Gombe States.

He said the programme would also expand seed production in collaboration with certified seed companies to produce 5,000 outgrower for dry and wet season seed production.

According to him, the programme is cultivating a 10-hectare research farm in Jigawa for testing new seed varieties and improved agronomic practices.

He added that the project was in collaboration with Lake Chad Research Institute, International Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (ICARDA).

He said that FMAN equally provided grant funding to the National Agricultural Seeds Council to expand their capabilities to test seed quality, certify seed production and train farmers to differentiate high-quality seed from others in the market.

“Our number one role is to provide a market for wheat farmers in Nigeria: we are expanding our procurement as an industry across the wheat producing states through additional aggregation staff and warehouse capacity.

“Specifically, we are establishing procurement centers across 15 northern states to offtake all wheat grain from 150,000 farmers under the ABP.

“Transforming wheat production in Nigeria requires a strong vision backed by clear roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders.

“To this end, we will be organising state-wide Farmer Field Days in all our major areas of operations to bring together key stakeholders to address realtime challenges and learn from each other, as well as a Wheat Farmerx Yield Championship at the end of the season to recognise the highest performing farmer,” he said.

Samaila reiterated commitment to partner with organisations across the value chain to improve farmer yields through high quality seeds, expanded extension services, and improved access to irrigation.

In his remarks, Gov. Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, lauded the initiative, saying it would encourage productivity towards achievinh self sufficiency in wheat cultivation.

Mohammed, represented by Mr Jidauna Tula, Commissioner for Agriculture, said the state government had introduced viable programmes to reinvigorate agriculture and enhance farmer support services.

While assuring government support to the programme, Mohammed urged the farmers to use what they would learn during the farm demonstration exercise to improve their productivity.

Also speaking, Salim Salim, National President, Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria, commended FMAN and CBN for the wheat farmer support programme.

Salim, represented by Sale Adamu, North East Zonal Coordinator of the association, tasked farmers to avail themselves the opportunity to boost their productions and ensure sustainability of the programme.

Some of the beneficiaries, Salisu Hussani and Balarabe Chari said they received fertilisers, seeds and chemicals under the programme to cultivate their farmlands.

They also commended the FMAN and CBN for the introduction of improved variety seeds and new farming techniques to enable them increase their yields.