Niger: As a show of commitment to wheat farming in Niger and in recognition of the work of the AfDB funded SARD-SC wheat project of ICARDA, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock for Niger Hon. Albade Abouba and his deputy Hon. Mohamed Boucha attended the opening and the closing of the 2015-2016 East and West Africa Annual Review and Planning Meeting that was held in Niger in August 2016. Speaking at the opening of the event, the country’s deputy Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Hon. Mohamed Boucha confirmed that the goals and objectives of SARD-SC project of increasing wheat production to meet the growing local demand, providing income and better nutrition, are in tandem with the National Strategy for Food Security and Rural Development for Niger as well as the new ambitious government initiative named 3N ‘Nigerien Nourish Nigerien.’ The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Hon. Albade Abouba on his part said that his government will provide fertilizer and solar water pumps to support wheat farmers in the north, the Agadaz region that borders the Sahara Desert, where cost of diesel and water pumps has increased wheat production costs. Confirming that wheat is a strategic food security crop for Niger, the Minister expressed his support to research and extension in the wheat growing areas of the North (Agadez region) and South (Konni and Tillabery). He also said his government will purchase all wheat from the Konni region for the country's food aid package.
The Minister presented an award to ICARDA for its support to wheat production in the country. The Wheat Commodity Specialist and Coordinator Dr. Solomon Assefa received the award on behalf of ICARDA. The Minister was accompanied by the Deputy Minister for Interior Hon. Alfari Saley, a member of parliament Hon. Rabi Souleymane and Dr. Aboubakar Ichaou D.G for INRAN. INRAN is the local implementing partner for SARD-SC Wheat project in Niger. During this forum that was attended by top government officials and research and extension scientists from seven African countries, the project reviewed its achievements and key results from different countries. This included research trials conducted during the year, registration and release of varieties, quality assessment of wheat, seed multiplication efforts, scaling up and promotion of proven wheat technologies across the IP sites, farmer field days, results from socio economic impacts and gender surveys and a study on the cost of production and gross margin of wheat compared to tomato, rice and onions in Nigeria. An important side attraction was the awarding of two best wheat producers in Niger, Mr. Ousmane Amadou and Adamou Abdou in recognition for their great field management. Dr. Solomon Assefa shared plans for the upcoming Technology for African Agricultural Transformation, TAAT which is part of the AfDB Feed Africa vision 2025. The new TAAT project commences in 2017 and targets 20 countries. The project aims to scale up proven wheat technologies and innovations, gender transformation for realizing a transformative impact on food production, market access, and increased income and greater value from wheat.