Nigeria will see a 42 percent rise in wheat production between July 2023 and 2024 owing to a competitive guaranteed price agreed between farmers and millers, a recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grain report said.
The report stated that the Flour Millers Association of Nigeria (FMAN) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN) to purchase wheat at a competitive price.
This is one of other reasons why Nigeria’s wheat production is expected to rise from 110,000 metric tons (MT) in 2022-2023 to 156,000MT in the 2023-24 market year, according to the USDA.
“FMAN and WFAN will arrive at the determining price, by an agreed markup plus the cost of production,” the report said. “The MOU assures a ready market for wheat,” it added.
In addition, FMAN aims to engage six certified seed companies to produce sufficient improved wheat seeds to plant 10,000 hectares (ha) in both the dry and wet seasons in 2023/24.
The project will also provide input loans to cover 4,300 farmers in seven wheat-producing states: Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Bauchi, and Kaduna.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture considers intercropping an effective system for increasing wheat production. As a result, farmers are increasingly adopting the rice-wheat intercrop system in northern Nigeria as traditional dry-season rice farmers switch to cultivating wheat and rice on the same plot of land.
“With financial support and outreach opportunities, the federal government envisions the intercropping system will increase wheat production in the short term.”
Also, the government aims to cultivate 250,000 ha of wheat during the 2023/24 cropping season, as part of its wheat self-sufficiency drive.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture distributed 280 MT of a high-yielding wheat seed variety, agrochemicals, and farm equipment to 5600 wheat farmers in December 2022.
Similarly, the African Development Bank (AfDB) supports the Nigerian government’s efforts in producing locally improved wheat seeds.
In 2022, the AfDB approved a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis. In a statement, the bank said the $1.5 billion strategy will lead to the production of 11 million tons of wheat; 18 million tons of maize; 6 million tons of rice; and 2.5 million tons of soybeans.
These inputs, including better seeds, will increase acreage and yield. Yield per hectare in 2023/24 is forecast at 1.2 MT/ha, increasing 9 percent from the previous year.
The report also forecasts the area harvested for wheat to increase by 30 percent to 130,000 ha in 2023/24 from 100,000 ha in 2022/23.
On the other hand, security challenges across the wheat-producing region will continue to restrict farmers’ access to fields. In addition, high production costs, stem borer infestation, and a weak financial support system will adversely affect wheat production in 2023/24, the report has said.
“In addition to the high inflation and supply chain disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, wheat millers across Nigeria are operating below capacity because of deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, high cost of production and distribution, and reduced sales caused by eroding consumer purchasing power.
“Nigerian consumers are price sensitive and are shifting slightly from wheat-based products (e.g., bread) to more affordable alternatives – particularly starchy food like yam, cassava, plantain, and beans.”
Also, the rising global wheat prices will cause a reduction in wheat imports and slightly larger domestic production. Official records showed a drastic reduction in durum wheat imports from Russia (one of the country’s primary sources of cheap wheat) in 2022.