Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed that the Federal Government was committed to safeguarding the livelihoods of farmers across the country.
Mr Ogbeh made this disclosure in his keynote address at the 2017 Farmers’ Field Day and Seed Fair organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in conjunction with SEEDAN and IITA.
The Minister said the event was aimed at enlightening farmers, students and other stakeholders on the benefits of using improved seeds as against the farmers “saved seeds” which is currently the prevalent practice in the rural farming communities.
According to him, “I understand that elite varieties from both the public and private sector are included in the entries being demonstrated. This is a good indication that the private sector has tapped into the favourable environment created by government in order to contribute its quota to increase agricultural productivity and food security.”
Mr Ogbeh further said, “This administration is committed to safeguarding the livelihoods of our farmers. As part of the measures taken to curb the menace of the unscrupulous seed merchants, I am delighted to note that the Seed Council, which has the statutory responsibility of enforcing the provisions of the seed law, has embarked on public enlightenment and sensitization programmes in collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
“Also seed law enforcement surveillance is mounted in all states of the federation, to ensure the availability of quality seeds to our farmers.
“These has led to confiscation of some poor quality seeds being sold in our markets and agro-shops which will be symbolically burnt today to send signals to the culprits that it is no longer business as usual.”
He described the Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day as unique, pointing out that it will enhance the production of maize, sorghum, soya beans, and other crops in this immediate environment of FCT and Nigeria at large.
The Minister charged participants to “take advantage of the lessons and benefits offered by this field day to adopt the use of improved quality seeds.”
Mr Ogbeh revealed that, “In the coming years, and budgets, we shall ensure that adequate provision is made for seed improvement for the benefit of our farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
“Undoubtedly, as aforesaid, agricultural production/productivity begins with quality seeds and seedlings.
“In the same vein, poor seeds lead to poor harvest and poor harvest accentuates poverty, human misery and the unattractiveness of agriculture to our teeming youth.
“On the flip side of the coin is that higher yields not only lead to higher incomes but also improved quality of life and greater well-being of the citizenry. With higher yields, farmers can easily pay back their loans thereby improving both the credit administration system and the resilience of the agricultural sector to internal and external shocks.”
The Minister, at the event, noted that government policies have led to bumper harvest this year.
“It is noteworthy that government is boosting our agricultural exports by putting in place measures to facilitate zero reject of our agricultural exports. These include on-going sensitization tours to sensitize producers and processors to enable our agro-exports meet the prescribed international standards.
“Government has also embarked on aggressive dissemination of proven Agricultural technologies and training of farmers through massive extension programmes, thus the Federal Department of Agricultural extension is been directed to collaborate with NASC on dissemination of seed related technologies.
“I am happy to share with you that all these efforts. They are yielding positive results as evident in anticipated bumper harvest in this year cropping season. The National Bureau of Statistics has also recently reported that our economy is witnessing positive growth and GDP, attributable mainly to increased Agricultural productivity and exports, as well as other impactful policies of Government.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, quality seed is paramount to enhancing agricultural productivity as it contributes more than 50% of increased crop productivity per unit area.
It is not only the cheapest input, but it is the critical input in enhancing the efficiency of other agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, agro chemicals, irrigation and capital,” he said.