The Director-General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Mr Olusegun Ojo, said the launching of 800,000 US dollar Rice Seed Up-Scaling Project would boost local production of rice in the country.
Performing the launching in Abuja on Thursday, Mr Ojo said the effort was also a boost to guarantee food security in the country.
The rice seed up-scaling project is an initiative of the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) and the Africa Seed Trade Association (AFSTA).
The project is done in collaboration with the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN).
‘’It is aimed at utilising 1,200 metric tonnes of quality rice seeds for the production of 60,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice in the country between 2016 and 2017”, Ojo said.
‘’About 20,000 farmers are expected to gain access to quality seeds under the project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with 800,000 dollars.
According to Ojo, the project is a big boost to the Federal Government’s efforts at ensuring that the country attained self-sufficiency in rice production.
He said that the role of NASC in the project was to ensure that the seeds provided by participating seed companies meet the required standards.
The director-general expressed the commitment of the council to the success of the project, adding that the council would continue to partner with SEEDAN and other stakeholders.
The event was also used as a platform by stakeholders in the rice sub-sector to plan towards a successful implementation of the project.
The lead consultant, Mr Sunday Okelola, said that the project would be implemented in seven target states: Kano, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Ekiti and Ebonyi.
Okelola identified seed planning, connecting and strengthening as the capacity of actors across the rice seed value chain, among others as the key areas of the project.
“We have split the 60,000 metric tonnes production target into what we can do in 2016 and 2017.
“For 2016, we are looking at producing about 48,000 of paddy and the balance of 12,000 metric tonnes will be produced in 2017.
“We have selected some private rice millers to ensure that they buy off whatever the farmers will produce under the project and they have assured us in this regard,” he said.
The occasion attracted stakeholders such as rice farmers and millers, representatives of seed companies, financial institutions, among others.
The event saw the inauguration of a steering committee comprising of stakeholders to guide the implementation of the project.