Engages female farmers to lead community-based seed enterprises
Olam, the global food and agri-business company with strong presence in Nigeria, in conjunction with its subsidiary, Crown Flour Mill Limited, is to establish a N300 million 10-year project on community seed enterprises that will engage female farmers associations to support Nigerian farmers in boosting wheat production, especially in the wheat farming belt of the northern region.
The firm, which made the disclosure in a statement made available to Business A.M., emphasised that the project underpins the company’s commitment to supporting the nation’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
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The project will test new heat-tolerant varieties of wheat and improve agronomic practices using a participatory approach that directly engages farmers, and also lead community-based seed enterprises that will produce and make available high-value seeds to farmers in their local communities, Olam said.
According to the statement, the project will also engage at least 10 female farmers’ associations to become true drivers of change for their communities by training women to lead community-based seed enterprises.
“These enterprises will produce and make available high-value seeds to farmers in their local communities. The female farmers’ associations will be trained on the most advanced agronomic practices for wheat cultivation so they can provide valuable advice to local growers,” the statement read.
Olam further noted that periodic feedback sessions will be scheduled between the women farmers, the research organisations and the value chain stakeholders on the status of cultivation to identify areas for change and innovation.
The firm explained that this simple concept of “seeds and thoughts” is aimed at facilitating the adoption of new technologies and increasing economic opportunities for rural women.
Commenting on the project launch, Ashish Pande, managing director of Crown Flour Mill, stressed the importance of identifying and supporting the development of high-yielding local wheat varieties to ensure the long-term viability of the wheat sector in Nigeria.
Pande added that the project will further stimulate the federal government’s drive towards the attainment of economic growth, the country’s agricultural research capabilities, employment generation, community development and the economic empowerment of women in Nigeria
Also speaking, Kachalla Kyari Mala, principal research officer of the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), expressed the institute’s delight and readiness to partake in the intervention, noting that it represents a laudable private-sector financial support and contribution to all the work done and other ongoing research endeavours by the LCRI in the area of wheat development.
In his remarks, Filippo Bassi, senior scientist, Durum Wheat Breeder of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), said the selection of female farmer associations as community enterprises is premised on the fact that investing in rural women has proven to yield nearly double the development outcomes than previously done so.
The 2017 recipient of the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security, described African women as the true glue that keeps the community together, pointing out that African women farmers are conscientious with their use of income, deploying it wisely, re-investing it in innovations and seeking the betterment of the whole community.
The wheat value-chain project is the outcome of extensive high-level consultations with key stakeholders, following the successful inaugural Olam Green Land Webinar Series held in March 2021.