Dr Paul Ilona, Country Manager, Harvestplus ( an international agricultural organisation) has called on farmers to ensure planting of quality cassava, maize and other seeds to obtain maximum yield. Ilona made the call on Monday at the 2019 Oyo State Seed Fair, organised by Harvestplus and the Oyo State Agricultural Development Programme (OYSADEP) in Ibadan.
He said that so long as farmers planted poor quality seeds, the country would not achieve effective diversification of the economy through agriculture. He noted that diversification of the economy was necessary for growth.
“To be great in farming, there are basic things farmers must do, the issue of planting improved seeds is so important because it will improve the country’s agricultural sector and project Nigeria as a great nation, by extension. “Harvestplus partners have over 3,000 varieties of cassava, thousands of maize seeds; farmers are free to visit us, as they will surely have access to quality seeds to plant. “Our cassava varieties can get you three tonnes to 70 tons for harvesting, before you apply fertilizer, pesticides, endeavor to plant quality seeds; if your seeds are not quality ones, efforts to control weeds may be in vain,” he said. He said that the seed fair was to serve as a platform to bridge demand and supply gaps of seed by ensuring that farmers would have access to quality seeds at affordable prices at the onset of planting season, as well as ensure that seed producers would have access to markets. The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said at the event that the Federal Government was committed to tackling food insecurity through agricultural development programmes. Ogbeh, represented by the South-West Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Ogunwale Adeleye, noted that quality seeds had positive impacts in agricultural production. He urged farmers to prioritise Harvestplus, its partners and other reputable seed companies to obtain quality seeds and increase production. Also, Dr Hemant Nitturkar, the Project Director of Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava (BASIC), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, said that Nigeria would need to improve its cassava production. Nitturkar advised young entrepreneurs to engage in multiplication and distribution of quality seeds to farmers through reliable sources to provide them with improved seeds. Also, the OYSADEP Programme Manager, Mrs Fadekemi Akande, said that good agronomic practices were major pre-requisite for obtaining maximum yield during harvest. She urged farmers to make good use of the opportunity provided by the programme to better their lots and improve production. Earlier, the Zonal Director of National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), Prof. James Adeosun, said that the company worked tirelessly to ensure that the seeds were not adulterated. “If we get it right with the seeds, we will surely get everything in agriculture right, this programme will surely transform agriculture in the South-West and the country at large,” he said. The Chief Executive Kfficer of the Senator Adeyemo Women Empowerment Cooperative, Ibadan, Mrs Bola Adeyemo who resigned from the banking industry to embrace agriculture, said that through vitamin A varieties, she became self-employed and an employer of labour. Adeyemo urged farmers to embrace vitamin A varieties to make more profit. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Agricultural Seed Council and some other agricultural organisations and seed companies in Nigeria were represented at the fair. The highlights were vitamin A varieties exhibition, sales of quality seeds and agri-inputs, demonstration of use of agricultural equipment, networking, and consultations, among others. (NAN)