The Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMA&RD) says that the government is aiming to increase paddy rice production to about 13.27 million tons by 2018 under the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) initiative. An improved Rice seed sector is important to meet the goal.
The CARD initiative was established in 2008 with the aim of doubling Rice production in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2018.
CARD is the collaboration among the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Growing Africa’s Agriculture (AGRA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
The pilot phase of the CARD initiative involves identification of strategies to improve Rice seed supply. The Technical Coordinator of the CARD Secretariat says that a stable and timely supply of quality seeds is important for increasing rice production and productivity. Most of the CARD members consider seed sector as one of the priorities to be tackled, he adds.
Nigeria is soon expected to pass the National Agricultural Seed Law (NASL), which will include points such as upgradation of available seed testing laboratories to international standards, consistency in agricultural policies, increase in the annual budget of seeds, and timely release of budgetary provisions.
Nigeria is aiming at self-sufficiency in Rice production by 2015. However, this could be a challenge for a country that imports almost 3 million tons of rice per year.
According to the USDA, Nigeria’s milled Rice production is estimated at 2.8 million tons (about 4.4 million tons of paddy) as at May 2013-14, less than half of an estimated domestic consumption of around 6 million tons.