By Adelola Amihere
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said that Nigeria may suffer shortage of rice following the recent floods in some parts of the country.
According to him, appropriate measures like replanting again after the floods could mitigate the effect next year.
The Minister who disclosed this in Abuja yesterday at the commissioning of National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), Molecular Facility and the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmer’s field day, explained that the flood had affected some major rice producing states like Kebbi, Jigawa, Anambra and Kogi States which portends risk of scarcity of rice in the country.
He noted that new varieties of rice are been produced at NASC which are flood tolerant.
“We hope to get the varieties which include the Faro 66 and 67, into the field in large quantity for farmers to plant in the near future.”
The Minister, however, advised farmers to use water that recede from the flood to replant rice to avoid shortage of the crop next year.
“We are also hoping that as soon as the rain recede we encourage farmers again to replant so that the residual moisture in the soil plus irrigation can give up another crop maybe by the end of December or early January otherwise we may be in serious trouble for millet, rice, maize and sorghum.
He commended NASC for its commitment to building a market-driven seed industry responsible for the production, distribution and marketing of adequate quantities of quality seeds.
“NASC in its regulating activities has put in place a Molecular Laboratory for diagnosis of prevalent diseases limiting crop yields, especially those that are not visible to the naked eye. We as a government is thanking the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for sponsoring this laudable project through its BASIC programme on the development of the cassava seed system. I am assuring the public that this facility will be put into judicious use,” he said.
Earlier, the Director General, NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, noted that the commissioning will address myriad of low quality seeds in the country.
He also urged Seed companies to join in creating awareness among farmers in their various locations of operation to demonstrate the potentials of improved seeds. Adding that it will significantly assist farmers to know the varieties that best suited their ecology.
“Nigeria is now a member of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) and we have made tremendous progress with the issue of becoming a member of the International Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV).