Nigeria to improve wheat production with locally modified seeds

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Nigeria, Africa’s largest buyer of wheat, is partnering with food company Olam International Ltd. to develop seed varieties of the grain that are suitable for its climate, which will boost local output and cut dependence on imports.

Olam unit Crown Flour Mill Ltd., has produced so-called nucleus seeds suitable for the West African nation’s topography and climate, Ashish Pande, the country head for Olam Agri Nigeria, said at a virtual media briefing on Friday.

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Africa’s most populous country placed restrictions on wheat imports before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted supply. But it harvested less than one percent of the 4.7 million tons of the grain it consumed in 2021, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The surge in the price of the cereal crop helped fuel the inflation rate for food, which rose to 22 percent in July from a year earlier.

Domestic wheat production has been hampered by lack of appropriate seed varieties that can be grown in local whether conditions, high fertilizer costs and the lack of irrigation facilities.

The new seeds “gives some assurance that the investment of Olam will accelerate production in Nigeria across the wheat-farming belt,” Kachalla Mala, the principal research officer at Lake Chad Research Institute, said at the briefing.

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