The Federal Government Thursday, assured farmers of distributing flood-resistant rice variety soon in order to mitigate crop losses to ravaging flood.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, announced this in a keynote address at the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day organised by National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), in Sheda, Abuja.
Ogbeh also said that the Federal Government has been concerned about farmers challenges, especially during flooding that destroyed farms across the country.
He specifically mentioned Cosmos Maduka, owner of Coscharis Motors, whose rice farm was destroyed by flood and promised to personally visit Maduka and other farmers affected by farmers affected
“The farmer here with no seeds is not in business. We celebrate this day and consider it important.
“Agriculture is strategic and it has been what helped us out of recession and it what will help Nigeria stabilize.
“We have to eat well and eat cheaply and the farmers have to get richer. The floods have been terrible.
“I am going to meet one of the biggest rice farmers in the country whose farm was totally destroyed.
“I am talking of Cosmos Maduka, the owner of Coscharis, he is a big-time farmer.
“He cultivated, 8 000 football field of rice all ruined by the floods.
“I need to console him, and as the SEEDAN chairman said, we have to find a way to reach out to the farmers who have lost their crops, because in places like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra, and Kogi where many farmers lost everything they planted.
“New varieties of rice are being produced here in NASC. The Farrow 66 and 67, which are flood tolerant and we hope to get them to the farms in large quantities to plant in the near future.
“We are also hoping that as soon as the rain recedes we encourage farmers to replant so that the residual moisture in the soil plus irrigation can give us another crop maybe by the end of December or early January otherwise we may be in serious trouble for millet, rice maize and sorghum,” the minister said.
He also appealed to farmers to go for good seeds, and how to get was to “Only buy seeds from agents under the programme we will launch soon call Agriculture Input Mechanisation Scheme (AIMS), to avoid buying fake seeds”.
In his earlier remarks, the Director-General of the NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, said that the council has been engaging and receiving more support of states to step up regulatory activities with the enhancement of public enlightenment and sensitisation programmes in seed market in major cities across the country.
According to him, the council has collaborated with states like “Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi to rid the market of fake and adulterated seeds.
“We are stepping up our method of certification with the near completion of our Third Party Certification system which will be piloted soon.
“Under this system, private certification agents will be trained and licensed to carry out paid certification duties under the strict supervision of the NASC. Once the amended act is assent to we will commence the pilot of this system.
“Another new development is the Cassava Seed Tracker application developed by our friend Dr Lava Kumar of IITA which is designed to transform our analogue certification system to a digital system.
“This app has all our current process digitalized and makes real-time reporting of cassava seed field certification possible.
“It also serves as a platform for stakeholder interaction and enhances the accessibility of cassava stem cuttings and tubers. We are already working on scaling up this system and will soon introduce a National Seed Tracker for all crops,” Ojo said.
From our correspondent in Abuja