Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has inaugurated the maiden rice seed multiplication farm, a brainchild of the Enugu State Graduate Farmers (ESGF) group.
Ugwuanyi during the event said that the presence of a rice seed multiplication farm to serve thousands of rice farmers in the state was overdue.
The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Matthew Idu, described the ESGF seed company as a certified firm.
He said that with the presence of the company, “there will be no need to ask companies outside to send rice seedlings to the state.”
He appealed to rice farmers in the state to always plant with improved seedlings for better yield.
Ugwuanyi said that his administration’s intervention in rice value chain had led to the production of rice in commercial quantity in the state.
Mr Kingsley Ukpe, a Seed Certification Officer, National Agricultural Seeds Council said that the success of every farmer depended on the quality of seeds used in their farms.
Ukpe said that the surest way to achieve food security was to increase yield per unit area.
“The best way to achieve this is when all our farmers have access to quality seeds that are produced in our state at an affordable price.
“However, if the genetic purity of our parent materials is not preserved in the nearest future, most of the materials/varieties we loved, may go extinct.
“Therefore, the genetic purity of all varieties must be maintained and this can only be possible if the process and phases of certification are fully observed by all parties involved in the production of seeds.
“In line with the Seed Act of 1972 as amended in June 2019, all fake seed dealers are liable to be sentenced to prison for five years with an option of bail in the sum of N5 million or both,” Ukpe said.
Earlier, the Leader of ESGF, Mr Patrick Mbah said the group was made up of selected graduates from the 17 local government areas of the state.
Mbah said the state government under former governor, Mr Sullivan Chime had in 2010 trained members of the group in all agricultural value chain.
“The major objective was for us to drive commercial agriculture in the state and provide agricultural extension services.
“Although the good plans of the then administration did not materialise due to circumstances beyond its control, we did not relent in our goal of promoting agriculture in the state.
“I am happy that today, we are actualising that tall order,” he said.
Mbah said that the challenges faced by farmers in sourcing for improved seedlings made them to venture into the business.
He said that they had secured 250 hectares of land and bought over eight tonnes of Foundation Seed Breeder from Ebonyi for rice seed production.
“Besides the seed production, we have over 500 hectares of paddy rice farm and three functional rice mills,” he said.
The leader of the group said they started the process by pooling together their personal savings to ensure full-time sustainable agribusiness.
Mbah said that the group needed an economic stimulus package and palliatives in order to thrive.
“We request the state government to support us materially and also patronise us by buying up our certified seeds to supply to farmers in the state,” Mbah said.