Wheat

Crusoe Osagie

Stakeholders in the wheat value chain and wheat farmers have agreed on a minimum price favourable to farmers and the millers in the country.

Both parties met recently in Abuja to discuss and agree on the price the farmers would get for their wheat as the harvesting of 2015/2016 wheat season comes to a close.

At the meeting, convened by the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), on the instruction of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, a minimum price favourable to the farmers and millers was considered.

Although the millers seemed to have yielded ground and expressed readiness to pay the minimum suggested by the farmers’ representatives, they nonetheless asked the farmers ‘ representatives to consider lowering the price a little lower to allow the millers reduce their losses. At the meeting, after a fairly long debate among key value chain leaders, the discussants realised the need to act fast and fix a price for this season’s wheat.

According to a statement issued to THISDAY, Nigerian wheat will soon begin to be milled in the country, saying that before that happens, there is a need for the millers and the farmers to agree on pricing.

The report added that the millers have argued that they presently import wheat at nearly half the price the farmers are asking for, while the farmers made a point about their cost of production and the fact that some farmers are under temptation to sell of their wheat harvests in the open market where it presently commands a higher price.

The risk, however, was that the market price would drop significantly when harvested wheat floods the market.

The Executive Director of LCRI, Dr. Gbenga Olabanji, urged both parties to avoid discouraging farmers from future wheat production through a present low value offer, pointing out that for the first time, the stakeholders discussed on how to bulk wheat for ease of transportation by off-takers (millers), while it was also recognised that farmers needed to be sensitised on why they needed to sell to bulk buyers (millers).

While it was gathered that some middle men buyers were offering unrealistically high price to some farmers so as to mop up what has been harvested, the farmers were advised to guard against falling into a trap with such deals that might not be sustainable. It was argued that Nigerian wheat competes favourably with foreign wheat in terms of nutritional values

The meeting, which ended with the producers and the millers still discussing, was regarded as a good platform for boosting Nigerian wheat. Other details emanating from the meeting addressed financing, how to produce seeds and make them available to the farmers ahead of next planting season and extension services to help farmers produce and obtain greater yields.