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GES: FG reiterates plans to continue quality seed subsidy

THE federal government has reiterates that it would continue to subsidy quality seeds for farmers as part of efforts to encourage food sufficiency.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, gave the assurance at the 2016 Seed fair exhibition organised by the National Agricultural Seed Council in Abuja.

Lokpobiri said despite refusal  by the state government to pay their own part of the subsidy, the current administration has taken it upon itself to support farmers with seed subsidies between 70 per cent to 90 per cent leaving the farmers with only 10% to pay.

According to him “I can assure you that farmers are already getting some seeds for the wet season, we have the money already to redeem, but part of the problems we have was that in 2014, 2015, the then government did not pay them but we are making steps to pay them because we know that some borrowed money from banks to do the business and government is continue.”

He further assured assured that the government is ready to pay the outstanding money of agro-dealers since the reconciliation process has been completed.

“We have been waiting for the reconciliation of the outstanding liability to the Agro-dealers completed, but I have just being told that it has been submitted yesterday, we already have an approval in principle by the commander –in-chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, that once the reconciliation is done, we should source for the money and pay off this debt that we inherited from the previous government. So I want to assure you that we will soon settle those debt,” he said.

Commending the organiser of the fair, the Minister of state for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heinekin Lokporibir, said the objective of the current administration is to attain food sufficiency in the next few years.

“And for us to achieve that, we must get the right quality of seeds, we must get the right varieties of seed. The different between our level of production per hectares and the level of production per hectare in some other countries  is because of the quality of seeds. Some countries produce as much as 20 metric tons per hectares but until recently per hectare of rice in Nigeria was less than three metric tons but because of the job that NASC is doing  in collaboration with Seeden and other stakeholders, the story has started changing. I am proud to say that today because of the quality of seeds some farmers have started getting as much as ten metric tons per hectares.

“It is when we get the right quality of seed that we will be able to produce the quantity that is needed not only to feed ourselves but also to feed the whole of West Africa and export to other parts of the world.

“The federal government is strengthening NASC and investing more in all our research institutes so that we will be able to develop and sustain the highest level of seeds needed for the Nigeria market. And the only way we can sustain this, is to strengthen, invest more and provide all that NASC will need to be able to do their jobs, regulate the seeds industry and guarantee the sustenance of the improved quality seeds to be able to get the level of production we need to feed ourselves.

“And because of what the Seed Council is doing, the level of fake seeds have drastically reduced and we will do more to strengthen them so they can go to all parts of Nigeria wher seed is being sol, so that no low quality seeds is available in our market.

“It is embarrassing if any bad seed is sold to anybody outside Nigeria because selling to Nigerians is bad enough, not to talk of selling to farmers outside the country. We will do all humanly possible to strengthen the collaboration they’ve always had with the ministry, we will try to sustain the partnership.

“We have been waiting for the reconciliation of the outstanding liability to the Agro-dealers completed, but I have just being told that it has been submitted yesterday, we already have an approval in principle by the commander –in-chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, that once the reconciliation is done, we should source for the money and pay off this debt that we inherited from the previous government.

“We know the challenges you are facing and I can assure you that in no distant time, you are going to be paid all your outstanding liabilities.

“Our quest to attain self sufficiency in food can never be successful without strong partnership between the ministry and Seeden, because agriculture is now seen as a business and must be done in collaboration with the private sector, we will come up with best policies in collaboration with them so that we can upscale.

“I know that the deficient of seed needed for the Nigeria market can not be realised without collaboration with the private sector like Seeden. The future of this country is in agriculture. We must be able to produce the food we will eat in this country.

“Government cannot produce seed and sell to farmers, what government need to do is to see  how it can continue to subsidies the cost of seed and other farm inputs”.

In his address, the director general, NASC, Dr. Phillip Olusegun Ojo, said the effort of the council at reducing fake seed in the nation’s market is gradually yielding fruits as the nation now have less fake seed than it used to.

“I want to use this opportunity to let you know that we are making efforts to take seed certification to another level of e-certification. This is a novel concept in which seed companies can submit their seed growers’ fields and seed certification reports online. In addition, the seed fields can be viewed by the management and administrators anywhere in the world, this will further enhance the integrity of the seeds produced and packaged by the seed companies,” he said

SEEDAN President, Richard Olafare, speaking during the fair, said: “It is apparent that Nigeria has successfully built adequate seed industry capacity that is required to transform agriculture, what is however what is most needed is a sustainable Public Private Partnership, PPP, between the government and private sector to sustain and improve on the momentum.”