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By Adedapo Adesanya

Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited, the wheat milling subsidiary of Olam Agri, has unveiled an impressive report from the first year of its Seeds for the future program, stating that it has produced 10 kg of pre-propagation wheat seed varieties adapted to the unique local topography and climate.

The report was unveiled during the third edition of the agribusiness stakeholder advisory forum, the Olam Agri Greenland webinar series.

The development and cultivation of wheat seed varieties suited to Nigeria’s unique topographical and climatic conditions, in addition to wider engagement of smallholder farmers and adoption of modern agronomic practices, have been the bane of the self-sufficiency of wheat production in Nigeria.

CFM has sought to address these challenges through the Seeds for the future initiative, its flagship N300 million wheat value chain development project which was launched in 2021.

Speaking on the project report, Mr. Ashish Pande, the Country Manager of Olam Agri Nigeria said, “We have made quite an impressive step on the Seeds for the future program based on the first year report. It’s a journey. We will continue to inject human, financial and technical resources into the program to ensure that we achieve our goals and achieve the best results in the years to come.

According to Mr. Pande, “Currently there are challenges in the global food value chain. This means that we must look inwards to ensure a constant supply of food to feed our people by channeling investment into agriculture. At CFM and Olam Agri, we are committed to investing at the production level of the wheat value chain, in line with the Federal Government’s Food Security and Agricultural Development Program.

Unveiling the report of the project, Mr. Filippo Bassi, Professional Seed Breeder of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Arid Areas (ICARDA) and consultant on the project, revealed, “Pre-propagation wheat seed varieties of 10 kg produced so far will be planted next season in 1,000 m2 plots at the Azumbu Agricultural Research Station in Jigawa. However, to ensure larger quantities of seed in reserve, a subset will also be planted during the rainy season in August.

For his part, Dr. Kachalla Kyari Mala, senior research fellow at the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), who is the principal investigator of the project, said his team conducted a detailed survey of the agronomic practices of local smallholder farmers at the start of the project to understand the realities of the wheat value chain.

He said the approach of combining data from multiple stations in the West Africa region helped the team identify and resolve bottlenecks in the value chain.

“The result of the first year of seed variety trials and testing provides some assurance that Olam Agri’s investment will accelerate seed production while pre-commercialization will lead to real productivity improvement in the belt. of wheat cultivation in the country,” said Dr Mala.

Discussing the factors needed to improve self-sufficiency in local wheat production, Dr. Zakari Turaki, Director of Agricultural Research at LCRI, speaking at the forum, mentioned strong partnerships and collaborative efforts between institutions. public and private companies as being essential to increase the current level of production. level of the local wheat harvest.

Dolores W. Simon