MINISTER of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has predicted that Nigerian farmers may need about N112 billion to produce over 350,000 metric tons of seeds for three major grain crops, including rice, sorghum and maize in 2016.
The Minister who stated this at a workshop organised by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) in Abuja, pointed out the need for production of quality seeds.
According to him, Nigeria also needs to develop a rapid action plan for quality seeds production, adding that it has became necessary for the Nigeria to develop a clear strategy to ensure easier availability and accessibility to high quality seeds by the farmers.
He added: “the 2015 annual seeds production was about 122, 000 Mt valued at N43 billion. This, effectively translates into a supply-demand gap of about 231, 000 Mt valued at N81 billion. Presently, the gap is filled through massive use of low quality seeds, such as farmers saved seed and supplies from unscrupulous seed merchants. In this regard, Nigeria needs a seed industry revolution.
“It is worth noting that the estimated annual seed demand in Nigeria for 2016 is about 350, 000 Mt for rice, maize and sorghum with an approximate seed industry value of N112 billion,” he added. He noted: “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.”
Meanwhile, the NASC Director General, Dr. Philip Ojo, said the council was expected to produce conducive environment for the production of good and quality seeds.
He hinted that the conference was organised to address challenges in the seed industry and called for a rapid action plan on seed production and efficient distribution.