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Nigeria to partner China on rice production

by Business News Report

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Alhaji Bukar Tijani, said in Abuja, Nigeria that the ministry has begun negotiations with the Chinese Government to embark on hybrid rice seed production. The minister made the disclosure in his keynote address at the stakeholders’ workshop on state level implementation of Rice Value Chain Agenda for 2012.
The minister was represented by the Senior Technical Adviser to the Minister, Dr Martins Fragene. He said the hybrid rice seed was expected to be delivered to the field before the end of the present administration. The minister disclosed that the Federal Government had also empowered the Seed Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) with loans for the production of 15,000 metric tonnes of certified seeds for this year’s planting season.

He said that SEEDAN would provide up to 70,000 metric tonnes of the certified seeds required to cultivate more than 1.5 million hectares of land under the improved rice varieties production by 2014. More than 60 rice varieties have been officially released and are popular among farmers and processors in the country. Some of the varieties are FARO 44, 52,57,59,60 and 61.

Tijani also said that the Federal Government had imported 100 modern integrated mills from China and would soon distribute the mills to the 36 states of the federation. “The major complaint of urban dwellers who consume the bulk of improved rice against the locally produced rice was on the quality of the latter. “It smells, it has extraneous materials like stones. The Ministry has therefore indented 100 modern integrated mills from China.

“These mills will be distributed to all states of the federation with clusters of paddy producers around the mills to supply paddy of pure rice varieties, ” he stated. Meanwhile, Alhaji Abubakar Wodi, the President of the National Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (NRFAN), has faulted the e-wallet method of seed distribution to farmers. Wodi wondered why the e-wallet scheme was initiated instead of a hand-to-hand method of seed and fertiliser distribution to farmers. He expressed concern over the inefficient power supply to charge telephones and the inefficient service provision by the telecommunications sector, which he said, might serve as a major constraint to the success of the programme.
“We have a well organised and articulated structure that can reach everybody, why do you have to use the telephone?,” he asked. Wodi urged the Federal Government to involve farmers on the field in policy-making rather than civil servants for the success of agriculture development programmes. The workshop was organised to sensitise State Governments and farmers to be self-sufficient in rice production.

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