By James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has warned fake seed peddlers of consequences including jail terms as months of sustained flooding in parts of the country threatens national food security.
The use of sub-standard seedlings by farmers have been identified as one of the constraints to achieving improved harvests.
But, some farmers were also blamed for refusing to embrace good agricultural practices- rejecting approved and enhanced seedling which could boost farm produce.
However, following the floods, the minister further warned that the country faced a shortage of rice next year unless relevant measures were taken to replant after the flooding incident.
Speaking while inaugurating the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC)- Molecular Facility and the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmer’s field day, he noted that the flood which affected some major rice producing states such as Kebbi, Jigawa, Anambra and Kogi state could threaten rice production, causing a setback in the achievements recorded so far.
However, he said new varieties of rice were being produced at NASC which are flood tolerant.
The minister said: “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.”
He, advised farmers to use water that recede from the flood to replant rice to avoid shortage of the crop next year.
Ogbeh added: “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.