Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Thursday disclosed that an estimated annual seed demand in Nigeria for 2016 is about 350,000 metric tonnes (MT) for rice, maize and sorghum with an approximate seed industry value of N112 billion ($564 million).
This is a quantum leap from the 122,000 MT valued at N43 Billion ($216 Million) in 2015, which suggests a supply-demand gap of about 231,000 MT valued at N81 billion ($409 Million).
The minister, while speaking at workshop to develop an action plan on seeds, organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC), observed that the 231, 000 MT gap is filled through massive use of low quality seeds, such as farmers saved seed and supplies from unverified seed merchants.
This, according to the minister, must be curtailed, so as to achieve self sufficiency in food production.
“We must reverse this unhealthy situation in order to increase the productivity and competitiveness of Nigerian agriculture, generate more income for farmers through bumper yields and block the huge loss of funds within the system. Given the agro-ecological suitability for these major crops and availability of adaptable cultivars, resources and manpower, a seed industry revitalization can be achieved with proper planning and coordination of the deployment of adapted varieties with yield potential of over 4.0 t/ha compared to the average 2.0 t/ha currently deployed on farmers’ fields,” he said.
Ogbeh who observed that Nigerian farmers record relatively low yield, compared to farmers in other countries, charged stakeholders in the industry research and development.
“let me reiterate loudly my concern on the low yields of varieties in Nigeria compared to what obtains in other countries for which I challenge the Research, especially not only to brace up and do more; not only to improve and develop better varieties, but also to partner strongly with stakeholders to ensure that these varieties get to the hands of farmers.”
He noted that commercial users of farm produce requires high quality yield.
“From the industry and commercial users’ end (Millers, Processors, and Breweries etc.) the demand for high quality products that can only be produced using seeds of specific quality is on the increase. Since demand for this type of high quality end product is growing faster, the pull for use of quality seeds is equally increasing. Supporting the growth of the Nigerian seed industry to produce high quality seeds, which in turn will lead to the production of quality grains that meet industry needs, is of integral importance for food security, job creation and prosperity of the economy. The production of these quality products will help reduce importation and the demand for huge foreign exchange required for food importation, as companies will source their needed quality grains from the local market.”
Earlier, the Director General of NASC, Dr. Philip Ojo, stated that the workshop was meant to ensure production of high quality seeds for farmers.