The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has expressed fear over a likelihood of rice shortage across the country next year, which may lead to a hike in the price of the staple food product.
Ogbeh said about 14 states are currently being affected with heavy flood, warning that there may be scarcity of rice in 2019 if adequate measures were not taken to replant in some major rice-producing states with severe cases of flood.
Ogbeh made this known while speaking at the inauguration of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) Molecular Facility and the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day in Abuja on Thursday.
“We have to find out a way to assist farmers, who were affected by the flood; places like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra and Kogi were majorly affected. Farmers lost everything they planted.
“There are different varieties of rice that are being produced at NASC like faro 66 and 67 which are flood tolerant. We hope to get them into the field in large quantity for farmers to plant in the near future.
“We are also hoping that as soon as the rain seized, we are encouraging farmers to replant so that the residual moisture on the soil plus irrigation can give us another crop by the end of December or early January. Otherwise, we will be in serious trouble for rice, millet, sorghum and maize next year,” the minister said.
Also speaking, NASC Director-General, Philip Ojo, said the event was to create awareness about improved seeds to farmers, adding that the agency has achieved some successes in the Nigerian Seed Industry.
“NASC collaborations with other stakeholders have started yielded positive results such as the NASC Molecular Facility that will soon be inaugurated.
“The facility which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under the BASICS Programme will help in the development of the Cassava Seed System in the country and enhance productivity,” Ojo said.