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How Nigerian govt distributed rice seeds to companies in 2020

Nigeria officially banned the importation of rice two years ago, to improve the local production of rice.

As Nigeria plans to increase the production of rice, 20 seed companies benefited from rice seed distribution by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural (FMARD) across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory in 2020.

This was disclosed in a document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.

Nigeria officially banned the importation of rice two years ago, to improve the local production of rice.

In 2017, the production of rice paddy rose to about seven million metric tons (mmt) under the Buhari administration, which seems to be the highest since 1999.

In August 2019, the Nigerian government closed its land borders, three months after signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).

The agreement was to curb the influx of smuggled goods from neighbouring countries such as Benin, Niger and Cameroon, and as well boost local food production.

This distribution of seeds is coming under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Agricultural Transformation Policy of 2016- 2020.

The distribution is part of the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), which was launched in 2016 but expired in December 2020.

The policy was to consolidate on the already established Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), policy.

 The new policy was geared towards the provision of a conducive legislative and agricultural framework, macro policies, security-enhancing physical infrastructure and institutional mechanisms.

This was to enhance access to essential inputs, finances, information on innovation, agricultural services and markets.

The policy was to address eight key areas: access to land, soil fertility, access to information and knowledge, access to inputs, production management, storage, processing and marketing and trade.

The 20 companies

The document said 1.4 tonnes were distributed to the companies. This means each company got 700 kg each; 14 bags of 50 kg each.

According to the document, 13 of the seed companies are located in the North West, six in the North Central, one in the South East and one in the North East.

Among the 13 companies in the North West, four companies are in Kaduna State, five of them are in Kano, one each in Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, and Kebbi.

In the North Central, two seed companies are in Plateau, one each in FCT, Nasarawa and Niger.

However, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) was listed as the only cooperative to be part of the sharing.

When PREMIUM TIMES reached out to some of the companies they confirmed receiving seeds from the FMARD.

The President of Value Seed Ltd (Kaduna), George Zangi, told this newspaper he got 700 kg worth of breeder seeds. That is, 50kg bags in 14 places.

Also, the acting managing director Maslaha seeds Nigeria (Zamfara) said the company got 700 kg each of faro 66 and faro 67.

Just like others, the chief executive officers of Jammy Nagari seeds (Kastina) Umaru Yusuf and Richard of Olafare of Romaret venture Nigeria said they were among the companies that received seeds from the government.

The document said the seeds were sourced from the National Cereals Research Institute of Nigeria, Niger.

The rice seeds distributed were breeder seeds, foundation seeds and certified seeds of Faro 66 and 67.

Basically, there are five different categories of seeds: Nucleus Seeds, Breeder’s Seeds, Foundation Seeds, Registered Seeds and finally certified seeds.

A breeder’s seed is obtained from nucleus seed, while the breeder births the foundation seeds and the foundation seeds produce certified seeds.

The seeds which seeds companies sell to farmers “certified seeds”.

The certified seeds which are grown under tight production requirements usually have improved traits such as resistance to pests and tolerance to herbicide and drought.