Nigeria may experience shortage of rice in 2019 – Minister

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, says that if appropriate measures are not taken after the recent floods, the country could face serious problems with rice cultivation.

Mr. Ogbe spoke about this in Abuja on Thursday at the opening of the Molecular Fund of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmer Field Day.

He said the flood affected some large rice-producing countries, adding that the country could be deficient in rice if not addressed.

“We have to find a way to help farmers affected by the flood; places like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra and Kogi were heavily affected. Farmers lost everything they planted.

“There are different varieties of rice that are produced on NASC, for example, in the spotlight 66 and 67, which are resistant to flooding.

“We hope to get them in the field in large quantities so that farmers can plant in the near future.

“We also hope that as soon as the rain comes, we encourage farmers to replant, so that the residual moisture in the soil plus irrigation gives us another crop by the end of December or early January.

“Otherwise, we will have serious problems with rice, millet, sorghum and corn next year,” he said.

The minister expressed his pleasure and honor to be able to chair this year’s seed fair and farmers ’field day and open the NASC molecular laboratory.

“It is very touching to note that NASC for many years believed in the desire to provide quality seeds for farmers.

“In addition, this event is being used as a platform to raise awareness of our great farmers and farming communities to demonstrate various improved crop varieties that can increase productivity and increase national food security.

In addition, Philippe Ojo, CEO of NASC, said the 2018 event was opened with Road Walk from the Federal Secretariat to the Minister of Agriculture.

“This was followed by a symposium. All events were aimed at creating improved seed awareness among our great farmers and farming communities, especially in the federal metropolitan area.

“I want to state categorically that improving seed use is the most cost-effective means of increasing agricultural productivity.

“It is important to inform you all that between 2017 and 2018 there was a lot of success in the Nigerian seed industry.

“NASC's cooperation with other stakeholders has brought positive results, such as the NASC Molecular Foundation, which will soon be open.

“The facility, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the BASICS program, will help develop the Cassava seed system in the country and increase productivity,” he said.

The CEO sought additional support from state governors to step up the regulatory agency to rid the market of fake and tampered seeds.

Annual event: “Improving the improvement of seed adoption in order to achieve food security and wealth creation” as the theme for 2018.

The fake seeds confiscated by the council were burned by the minister during the event.

(NAN)

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