Home Agriculture ECOWAS programme targets 60,000 MT of rice paddy in 2017, says official

ECOWAS programme targets 60,000 MT of rice paddy in 2017, says official

by Business News Report

Coordinator of ECOWAS-initiated Rice Seed Up Scaling Programme Mr Sunday Okelola, says farmers in seven Nigerian states will be assisted to produce 60,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice between 2016 and 2017. Okelola stated this in Abuja on Wednesday. “The project is in support of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Rice Offensive Initiative that was inaugurated in 2014. The main objective is to scale up the use of improved rice seeds. Rice has been observed to be very important for food security sustainability in the sub-region vis-a-vis increasing the farmers’ income, creating wealth and making life better for the farming populace. So, we want to see how to improve on the livelihood of people. One way to do it is by promoting rice production, and you cannot promote production without quality seeds.

“So, this project is looking at utilising 1,200 metric tonnes of seeds to produce about 60,000 metric tonnes of paddy within the two years. We have split this into what we can do in 2016 and what we will do in 2017.’’ Okelola said that the two-year programme would be implemented in Kano, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Ekiti and Ebonyi states between March 2016 and December 2017.

He said the programme was being spearheaded by the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) in collaboration with the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD).

“For 2016, we are looking at producing about 48,000 tonnes of paddy and the balance of 12,000 will be produced in 2017. We have also looked at where we can produce these seeds? So, we have selected some states like Kano, Niger, Benue, Ekiti and Ebonyi where
rice is being grown, we are putting into mind the geopolitical differentiation in Nigeria, and of course trying to capture the whole country.’’ Okelola identified other participants in the programme as the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), seed companies, rice millers and financial institutions like the Bank of Agriculture.

According to him, the project also covers seed planning, connecting and building the capacity of actors as well as facilitating access to equipment and proper storage.

“We have brought in millers including Labana, Miva, Lagos Rice, and Onyx. We have gotten their assurance that if this is produced they will be willing to buy. It goes beyond that because you cannot produce when the capacity is not there. We are also building the capacity of about 120 persons cutting across the various sectors of the rice value chain.

“We are equally going to promote demonstration because we know that some varieties have been developed over time that is not in the hands of the farmers. Another thing is that we noticed our seed companies don’t have outlets. So, this project will support the establishment of 10 sales outlets cutting across our production hub.’’

According to him, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide 800,000 dollars in funding through the West African Seed Programme of WECARD.

Also speaking, Mr Olusegun Ojo, the Director General of NASC, said that the role of the council in the project was to ensure that the participating seed companies played by the rules. “The council, which has the responsibility of coordinating and regulating the seed industry in Nigeria, is a key player in the project implementation. Our role is to certify the seeds to be issued by the participating companies and also to ensure that they comply with the provisions of the Seed Act.’’ He warned the companies against sharp practices, saying that any one of them found wanting would be sanctioned according to the law.


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