By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Frenchman Valley Coop (FVC) in Imperial played host to an eight-member Nigerian trade team Tuesday morning as the first of several stops in Nebraska.
The trade team wants to learn about production prospects for wheat, both hard red and hard white varieties.
During their stop in Imperial, they toured the grain handling facilities of FVC.
They traveled to Elsie where they toured the Brent Robinson farm to see his wheat production and equipment used in his operation.
Robertson serves as the District 7 representative on the Nebraska Wheat Board.
The trade group concluded their visit in Perkins County with a lunch in Grant with the board members of FVC.
From there, they were headed to the Chappell area to visit V&F Farms to see Larry Flohr’s certified wheat seed production. Flohr is the District 3 representative on the Nebraska Wheat Board. In addition, they visited FVC’s shuttle train facility in Chappell. The Chappell site accounts for about 20 percent of the wheat FVC receives each year.
During their tour in Imperial, Imran-Ur-Rashid, plant manager of a flour mill in Lagos, Nigeria, expressed particular interest in FVC’s ability to deliver specified levels of protein in a wheat shipment.
Grain Manager Ryan Schultz explained FVC has the bin space to separate the wheat by levels of protein.
He explained that when a specified level of protein is requested, they blend wheat with specific protein levels to get to the desired level.
The plant manager said they want shipments that are consistent throughout the load. Schultz said their blending capabilities enable them to do that.
Rashid added they are particularly interested in purchasing more white wheat. FVC Board member Rick Taylor of Enders said all of his wheat acres are planted to hard white wheat this year and expects that trend to grow.
He said varieties are continuing to improve and have been bred to be less susceptible to sprout damage.
Gerald Theus, a regional director for U.S. Wheat Associates in Cape Town, South Africa, said the U.S. is losing market share in Nigeria.
U.S. Wheat introduced white wheat to Nigeria, he said, and the millers liked the qualities of white wheat.
However, when white wheat suffered sprout damage and production dropped in the U.S., Theus said Nigeria turned to Australia for white wheat.
Nigeria has increased its demand for Australian white wheat from 12 million bushels to 24 million bushels. By 2017, he estimates the country will consume 38 million bushels of white wheat.
Theus said the U.S. is losing out by not boosting white wheat production. The U.S. used to supply 85 percent of Nigeria’s wheat. That’s now dropped to 70 percent.
For seven of the last eight years, Nigeria was the largest importer of wheat in the world.
Trade team in U.S. for a week
The Nigerian trade team arrived in Denver, Colo., on Sunday. They spent Monday with wheat growers and representatives in northeast Colorado.
Other stops planned in Nebraska include the High Plains Ag Lab in Sidney, the Haythorn Ranch in Arthur and Chief Industries in Kearney.
From there, they will visit with Kansas wheat growers and representatives. They will depart for Nigeria from Kansas City Saturday.