By Isaac Aregbesola
Abuja, March 23, 2017 (NAN) The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Côte d’Ivoire-based Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice) have started training 300 farmers across Nigeria in paddy production technology to boost rice production in the country.
The National Communication Officer of FAO, Mr Emeka Anuforo in a statement in Abuja on Thursday said the beneficiaries of the programme included women and youths.
Paddy production technology focuses on modern rice production comprising raising healthy nursery seeds, timely transplanting of appropriate age of seed and maintenance of recommended plant population with standard geometry.
Anuforo quoted FAO’s Deputy Representative to Nigeria, Mr Nourou Macki, as saying that the exercise involved strengthening the capacities of community-based rice farmers and rice seed producers for production of quality rice seed of improved variety.
« Seed mixtures and lack of good quality rice seeds are common phenomena and major constraints to rice production in Nigeria.
« The quality of breeder seed is poor and the quantity available is inadequate to support foundation and certified seed production.
« FAO is therefore partnering with AfricaRice to train seed producers in rice seed and paddy production technology, produce and distribute training manuals on rice seed production technology, » Macki said.
According to him, the scheme also involves demonstration plots to showcase seed production technologies including land preparation.
Macki said that the training was being conducted under the Partnership for Sustainable Rice Systems Development in Sub-Saharan Africa agreement between FAO and AfricaRice.
»It will build national capacity, enhance sustainable development of the rice food chain among smallholder farmers and contribute to increase food security in the country.
»It will facilitate the emergence of efficient rice production systems for Nigeria supported through the promotion of adoption of best practices and up-scaling of proven and tested technologies.
»Six states of Ekiti, Edo, Anambra, Abia, Nassarawa and Jigawa have been selected for the project.
»Fifty participants will benefit from the training in each state, along with establishment of demonstration plots and backstopping mission, » he said.
Macki reiterated that the goal was to ensure that Nigeria attained self-sufficiency in rice production through access and availability of good quality seed of released rice varieties.
Speaking at one of the training sessions in Anambra, representative of Africa Rice, Oyetunji Olumoye, observed that many seed producers lack basic knowledge on production of quality rice seeds.
« Food insecurity is a big challenge in Nigeria. Seed mixtures and lack of good quality rice seeds is a common phenomenon and major constraint to rice production in Nigeria.
»Farmers do not have enough quantity of rice seed for production; the little they have contain impurities and mixtures, » he said.
The National Coordinator of the project, Andrew Ikhadeunu, also said that the overall objective of the training programme was to enhance farmers’ access to quality rice seed.
Ikhadeunu said it was also to make quality paddy available to millers and processors in the selected states.
He said the trainees would continue to be monitored throughout the period of planting to crop maturity. (NAN)