Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Flood threatens rice production, agric minister warns

The federal government has warned that the country is likely to experience shortage in rice production, owing to the flash flood currently being recorded in parts of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development cautioned that if adequate measures were not taken to replant the rice millet, maize and sorghum affected by severe flood in 14 states, Nigeria might experience shortage of the staple and other grains by 2019.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated this at the inauguration of the National Agricultural Seed Council Molecular Facility and the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day in Abuja.

He said the flood affected some major rice-producing states, including Kebbi, Jigawa, Anambra and Kogi, stressing that this might be risky in terms of rice availability in the country if not addressed.

“We have to find a way to reach out to farmers who have lost their crops, because in places like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra and Kogi, many farmers lost everything they planted.

“New varieties of rice are being produced at the National Agricultural Seed Council, the Faro 66 and 67, which are flood-tolerant; we hope to get them into the field in large quantities for farmers to plant in the near future.

“We are also hoping that as soon as the rain recedes, we encourage farmers 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.”

On the laboratory, Ogbeh stated that the NASC, in its regulatory activities, had put in place the facility for diagnosis of prevalent diseases limiting crop yields, especially those that were not visible to the naked eye.

The Director General, NASC, Phillip Olusegun, said the agency’s collaboration with stakeholders yielded the molecular facility.

He stated that the laboratory was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the Basics Programme on the Development of the Cassava Seed System.



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