Crown Flour Mill Limited, a subsidiary of Olam Nigeria, has re-echoed its promise to continue to collaborate with other stakeholders within the local wheat value chain in sustaining the socio-economic value proposition of the sector.
Mr. Ashish Pande, Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill, represented by Ms. Damilola Adeniyi, Corporate Affairs Manager, Olam Nigeria, explained that the rising consumption of wheat derivative foods in the country has stimulated further job opportunities at the production, processing, distribution, warehousing and retailing levels of the wheat value chain. Adeniyi led a delegation that included Alhaji Moshood Quadri, Head, Human Resources, Datti Danjuma, General Manager, Human Resources, Ms. Rauda Musa Umar, Wheat Development Programme Officer, all of Crown Flour Mill.
According to Pande: “Presently, the wheat value chain accounts for over 10.5 million jobs generated annually in Nigeria. This of course has placed the wheat value chain at the centre of the various economic development agenda of the federal government of Nigeria.”
He explained that the flour millers continue to take bold developmental steps through scaled investments in critical areas including seed trial and research, training of smallholder wheat farmers and funding of the various farming research institutes in the country to ensure that the current local production level of the wheat crop improves significantly.
“While these efforts have ensured that we keep providing affordable and quality food for the growing Nigerian population, they have also helped to increase the number of jobs being created for the active segment of the population. Overall, the investment efforts, which extend to capacity building initiatives for bakers, are beginning to yield positive results.”
Stressing further on the importance of the local wheat value chain, Mr. Pande said that while prices of other major national staple foods such as rice, garri, yam and beans have risen sharply by 3.2%, 6%, 5.3%, and 13.4%, respectively, in the past months, the prices of wheat derivative foods have been largely cushioned from the inflationary trend by local millers and bakers who continuously absorb the extra cost of production to keep feeding the population.
The CFM boss solicited the backing of the Minister of Labour and Employment to ensure that millers continue to deliver on their employment generating potential. “If the current wheat value chain developmental drive is sustained, it would help secure the jobs of many Nigerians while ensuring that more homes continue to gain access to affordable quality wheat derivative foods such as semolina, bread, noodles and pasta.”
In response, the minister lauded CFM and the other millers for their economic development drives. He said, “The Ministry of Labour and Employment is committed to supporting efforts that are geared towards providing good jobs for Nigerians and ultimately growing the economy.” No doubt the minister expressed his delight over the extensive investments that the Olam group has made and continues to make in Food & Agricultural value chain stating that “The level of investment presently being channeled into developing the value chain is of paramount importance to help reduce the level of unemployment and underemployment in the economy.”
According to Ngige, “Sustaining and scaling the current level of developmental projects in the value chain is key to keeping Nigerians gainfully employed and well-nourished. At the Ministry of Labour and Employment, we will continue to support your drive as a critical partner in achieving national economic prosperity through expanded local production that can deliver more employment opportunities for the teeming Nigerian population.”
Recent government data revealed that in the fourth quarter of 2020, 33.3% of the Nigerian labour force was unemployed. While the various COVID-19 curtailment policies have been relaxed to some extent, various socioeconomic disruptions continue to pile pressure on businesses and jobs. Hence, it is estimated that the current unemployment figure in the country is expected to increase even further in 2021 and 2022. All jobs being generated in the country in the current economic crunch and particularly along the wheat value chain are critical to positively impacting livelihoods, feeding the nation, and stimulating economic growth.