From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has called for development of flood resistant and better seeds to prevent food shortage next year.
He said this becomes important due to the recent flood adding that the country may be in serious trouble with rice production.
The Minister disclosed this at the inauguration of National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) Molecular Facility and the 2018 seed fair and Farmer’s field day held Thursday in Abuja.
The seed fair was themed, “Enhancing Improved Seed Adoption towards achieving Food Security and Wealth Creation.”
According to Ogbeh, flood had affected some major rice producing states, adding that the country might experience scarcity of rice, if not addressed.
His words: “We have to find out a way to assist farmers, who were affected by the flood; places like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra and Kogi states were majorly affected. Farmers lost everything they planted.
“There are different varieties of rice that are being produced at NASC like faro 66 and 67 which are flood tolerant.
“We hope to get them into the field in large quantity for farmers to plant soon.
“We are also hoping that as soon as the rain seized, we are encouraging farmers to replant so that the residual moisture on the soil plus irrigation can give us another crop by the end of December or early January.
“Otherwise, we will be in serious trouble for rice, millet, sorghum and maize next year.”
The Minister expressed his pleasure and honour to be given the opportunity to chair this year’s Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day and inaugurate the NASC Molecular Laboratory.
“It is quite heartwarming to note that NASC has over the years kept faith in its drive to ensure the availability of quality seeds to farmers.
“Also, this event is being used as a platform for creating awareness among our great farmers and the farming communities to showcase the different improved crop varieties that can enhance the productivity and increase national food security.
In his remarks, Dr Philip Ojo, the Director-General, NASC, said that the 2018 event was opened with a Road Walk from the Federal Secretariat to the Minister of Agriculture.
“This was followed by a Symposium. All the events were geared towards creating improved seeds awareness among our great farmers and the farming communities, especially in the Federal Capital Territory.
“I wish to state categorically that improved seed use is the most cost-effective means of enhancing agricultural productivity.
“It is important to inform you all that between the 2017 and 2018, a lot of successes have been achieved in the Nigerian Seed industry.
“NASC collaborations with other stakeholders have started yielded positive results such as the NASC Molecular Facility that will soon be inaugurated.
“The facility which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the BASICS Programme will help in the development of the Cassava Seed System in the country and enhance productivity,” he said.
The director-general appealed for more support from the state governors in order to step up the agency’s regulatory activities to rid the market of fake and adulterated seeds.