Osinbajo Inaugurates Presidential Committee on Rice, Wheat

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Flour millers, wheat farmers sign MoU, peg price of wheat at N140,000/tonne
Tobi Soniyi and James Emejo in Abuja
As part of efforts to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice and wheat, the federal government has established a National Rice and Wheat Task Force.

According to the  government, the committee will help in identifying all that the country needs in order to become self-sufficient in rice and wheat and step up current efforts to produce those commodities in Nigeria.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said the vice president inaugurated the task force yesterday at the State House.

Osinbajo said: “What we are trying to achieve is that agriculture is our main stay and we are trying to evolve a strategy for our economy, a strategy for employment and a strategy for feeding our people,”
He said the  need to feed the people was the focus of the Buhari administration.
“Rice and wheat are our main focus, and making sure that in one year we can show the world that we are serious,” he said.

Members of the committee include governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, his Kano counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje and Ebonyi, David Umahi.
Others include;The Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, the President of Wheat farmers association and President of the Rice farmers association .
Responding, the Chairman of the task force and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, thanked the vice president for the consideration and stated that the disconnect between farmers and millers needed to be addressed.

He added that the two bodies in the value chain needed to be mobilized for maximum results.
Other members of the task force include the Kano State Governor, Dr.Abdulahi Ganduje and David Umahi of Ebonyi State. Others are the Minister of State for Agriculture, Lokpobiri Heineken, the President of Rice Farmers Association, Mallam Aminu Goronyo  and the President Wheat Farmers Association Saliu Mohammed.

Meanwhile, flour millers under the aegis of the Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), formally committing to the off-take of locally produced wheat in the country.

The off-take signing agreement which was supervised by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, pegged a tonnage of wheat at N140,000 in the first year of the agreement.

An offtake agreement is an agreement between a producer of a resource and a buyer to purchase/sell portions of the producer’s future production and yesterday’s endorsement signified a major step towards the present administration’s drive to attain self-sufficiency in local wheat production.

Lokpobiri expressed satisfaction over the agreement, stating that wheat importation had drained billions of naira from the country with the attendant consequences on the economy.
Expressing hope that wheat importation would soon be a thing of the past in the country, he said: “Every tonne of wheat that is imported means creating jobs elsewhere.”

He said the ministry was particularly excited to witness the synergy between both parties, which are key players in the wheat value chain, given the dwindling fortunes from oil as well as the fact that there was no more foreign exchange available to such importations.
The minister said research had already shown that countries which invest in agriculture make more money and less inflation.

He said the MoU signing between the stakeholders would create huge impact on Nigerians as increased activities could boost foreign exchange for the country.
He, therefore, urged flour millers to invest significantly in research in order to maximise the potentials in the wheat production sector.

Speaking in Abuja at the formal signing of the MoU between FMAN and WFAN at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the minister said government would continually work with both FMAN and WFAN in making the industry more viable.

Nevertheless, Vice Chairman, FMAN, Mr. Lanre Jaiyeola said the association will abide by all agreements, adding that the country could achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production “if we all work together with sincerity of purpose.”

He said the essence of the MoU was to guide both players on set modalities for the offtake process stressing that though the initial agreement is currently for one year, FMAN remained committed to supporting the development of local wheat.
He said: “This collaboration shows how far we’ve come in our bid to encourage the local production of wheat in the country.”

On his part, Vice Chairman, Kano State Chapter of the Wheat Farmers Association of Nigeria (WFAN), Farouk Rabiu Mudi, expressed faith in the collaboration, stating that the country had the capacity to meet all the domestic demand for wheat.
Also, Executive Director, Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji, however, noted that though the country had the capacity to grow wheat substantially, issues of market and inputs remained key challenges.

He expressed delight that the issues of inputs were being adequately addressed by the ministry.
He said the quality of the local wheat had been independently tested and found to be of high quality which can compete with global varietties as well as meet exports standards.
He said the MoU, while ensuring that all the wheat produced by farmers are offtaken, it will also leave both parties satisfied.