Boosting Wheat Production in West and Central Africa: Stakeholders Join Forces for Sustainable Food Security

Boosting Wheat Production in West and Central Africa: Stakeholders Join Forces for Sustainable Food Security.

Stakeholders in the wheat value chain in West and Central Africa have joined forces to upscale wheat production and productivity in the region.

The collaborative effort aimed to create job opportunities within the local wheat value chain and fortify food sovereignty across the sub-region.

Wheat remains one of the most important staple crops, providing food, feeds, and income for millions of people in the regions. However, wheat production in West and Central Africa (WCA) is very low, despite the growing demand for wheat products in the region even as stakeholders battle to combat the negative impact of climate change, population growth, urbanisation on African food and nutrition security.

To address the challenges, stakeholders have gathered at the West and Central Africa Wheat Summit 2023 in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday, to outline a number of measures to bolster domestic wheat production.

The summit with the theme, “Upscaling Investment in the Wheat Value Chain in West and Central Africa,” advocated for an inward-looking approach to sustainable wheat production given the “weaponisation potential of wheat” in international politics.

WECAWheat Regional Network Coordinator, Prof. Benjamin Ubi, disclosed that the summit will produce a comprehensive roadmap that will outline strategies for upscaling investments in the wheat value chain and promote sustainable wheat sector development in the region.

Ubi said, “Wheat cultivation holds immense potential in West and Central Africa, especially with favourable agro-ecologies supporting both irrigated and rainfed production.”

Drawing inspiration from Brazil’s success story in achieving wheat self-sufficiency, the Abuja Summit attended by stakeholders from both public and private sectors including the academia, aimed to leverage the growing political will in member-countries and the support of international partners for wheat sector transformation.

CEO of Afrobrains Cameroon, Dr. Tata Fon Emmanuel, while outlining post-harvest loss as a major challenge in African agriculture, called for reforms to overhaul the entire wheat value chain.

He emphasised the need for local technologies and competencies to address the issue.

“I’m actually bringing this clarion call to our farmers and to our government actors that we should be able to prevent wheat from joining the crew of accumulating post harvest loss by providing opportunities for young people, giving them the competencies or simply converting their competencies into solutions that can provide locally made technologies to solve these problems for farmers,” Emmanuel told LEADERSHIP on the sidelines of the event.

Director, Global Wheat Programme, International Maize, Wheat Empowerment Centre, Kevin Pixley, said that new varieties that can be more productive under higher temperatures and tolerate disease pressure as well mechanisation were needed to increase wheat productivity and sustainability to close the importation gap in WECA.

Pixley called for more profitable models and better access to improved seed through farmers community-based seed production schemes.

The former executive director, Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. I U. Abubakar, shared insights on wheat farming challenges in Nigeria and West Africa, citing environmental limitations as a major issue.

Prof Abubakar suggested that government policies should focus on enabling farmers to achieve high yields, rather than relying on subsidies to increase food production and address the food security crisis.

He also proposed an innovation platform to support farmers, millers, marketers, and transporters in the value chain.



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