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Wheat farmers speak on challenges of 2018, expectations of 2019

Wheat farmers said one of the major hurdles they experienced in 2018 was their inability to find a comfortable market for their product- a situation…

Wheat farmers said one of the major hurdles they experienced in 2018 was their inability to find a comfortable market for their product- a situation that has affected them drastically.

The situation in Sokoto shows that wheat farmers are lamenting over lack of market and patronage.

According to them, they lack large-scale buyers referred to as off-takers.

“Our major off-takers Flour Mills have abandoned us for local merchants even after an agreement we had with them during a national meeting held last year in Kebbi,” bemoaned Nasiru Muhammad Legal Adviser to the Sokoto chapter of Wheat Farmers Association which has over 4,000 members with major producing local government areas noted to include Wurno, Goronyo and Gwadabawa.

“After harvest, the Millers just went their way and bought from local merchants, which seriously affected us,” he added.

According to him, the off-takers who had agreed to buy the produce at the rate of N17,000 per 100 kg bag, went ahead to deal with local merchants who sold it to them at N12,000-N13,000  per bag.

The farmers recalled that last year‘s Anchor Borrower Programme also greatly affected them as they suffered heavy loss from poor variety seedling provided to them.

The seed only grew but never yielded anything and many wheat farmers are yet to recover from the hazard that came with it, Muhammad stated. The wheat farmers also lamented that unlike rice they are not getting enough from government intervention.

They explained that wheat farming commences early November of every year “We plant 1st November and by middle to the end of November, we commence harvest, and you can see, the dry season intervention is yet to commence, how can a wheat farmer wait for the intervention?,” the wheat farmer stated.

Muhammed who has been in wheat farming for over 10 years, said they are looking forward to the flour mills to honour their agreement of last year to buy from them so that the farmers can realize enough to do better this year.

He called for support to produce enough wheat in the state, “Government should invite off-takers to buy from us so that we continue making an impact like our counterparts because wheat farmer needs off-takers to grow, if you rely on small-scale buyers, you can’t even realise the money you invested it.”

A former chairman of the wheat farmer association, Alhaji  Marafa Mahe, who is Sarkin Kudu Taloka said he opted out of wheat farming this year for lack of off-takers.

In Kano, the national president Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) Alhaji Salim Muhammad said for several years wheat farmers in the country have been facing series of problems especially that of improved seeds, price and viable market for the grain.

The President revealed that wheat farmers are supposed to be provided with improved seeds every two years adding that, for years Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) that has the mandate on wheat hasn’t been providing the seeds to the farmers.

On the issue of marketing the grain and pricing of the already produced grain, the president stated that the federal government had left the wheat farmers and the wheat millers to drag on the pricing as contained in the MoU signed instead of imposing adherence on the part of the millers by the federal government.

He also stated that wheat farming has not been enjoying a lot of intervention from the federal government since the era of GES. He added that, in 2018 wheat planting season which usually begins in November through to December, the association had applied for the CBN anchor borrower and had already begun accessing the intervention.

“We have applied for the CBN anchor borrower under which about 25, 000 hectares are cultivated this year we succeed we will expand next season God willing,” said the President.

According to him, with favourable weather, wheat farmers are expected to harvest at least to harvest averagely 3tons per hectare this season.

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