Experts develop hybrid seeds to boost maize, cowpeas production
• Embark on demonstration farms tour in Kaduna
Agricultural experts, under the umbrella of the ECOBasicSeed have developed new breed of maize and cowpeas seeds to boost productivity and food sufficiency in the country.
The feat, with the support of Professor Johnson Onyibe from the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAELS), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, in collaboration with out growers, according to them will increase the production of the produce across the country.
During a press conference and demonstration farm tour to unveil the invention, the experts said with the hybrid seeds, Nigeria would begin to lead Africa’s maize production.
The Managing Director of ECOBasicSeed Company Limited, Brighton Karume, said within the last 12 months of commencing operation, ECOBasicSeed in collaboration with the out growers, established 50 hectares of maize and cowpeas seed across Nigeria, as part of efforts to ensure food security, and also promote hybrid seeds production for farmers.
According to him, “A year ago, we debuted with the promise of bridging the wide gap between foundation and certified seed production in the country, as a way of giving our farmers the opportunity to maximise profit, and expand their production with the availability of quality and 100 per cent seed purity.
“With just six personnel and an office building, we have been able to transform into an exciting organisation working with out growers to cultivate over 50 hectarage of maize and cowpeas (beans) foundation seed across Nigeria. Other successes recorded within the company’s first year of existence, is establishment of 60 demo sites.
“Prolific germination of about 60 different demo sites across Kaduna, Niger and Kano states with about 10 different varieties of hybrid maize, including Sammaz 62, Sammaz 63 and Sammaz 68 of drought tolerant and high yield seeds.”
Karume said the ECOBasicSeed team believes that all their individual actions contribute to the bigger picture, “one team moving in the same direction, hence, the World Class Training is organised abroad for the team to provide added dimension to their awareness, skills and professionalism.
“Our business model is a B2B, thus our direct customers are registered seed companies in Nigeria. To date, seed companies have committed to work by placing foundation seed orders of various hybrids, including the new cowpeas seed on the market against next year.
“Although our operations are still far from our overall target, we are convinced that with sustained investment, Nigeria will be able to meet its annual maize deficit, which currently stands at eight million metric tonnes,” he explained
The managing director said ECOBasicSeed pledged to ensure provision of quality and genetic purity, as well as timely delivery, standard and professionalism with value addition at minimum cost.
He stressed, “It is important that farmers reduce their concentration on Open Pollinated Varieties (OPV) and embrace hybrid varieties, which yield better and has the capacity of leapfrogging Nigeria to the attainment of self-sufficiency in maize production.”
“In Africa today, Nigeria is not leading in maize production but grows the largest maize hectarage on the continent and this is hugely due to its inability to utilise the opportunities provided by the introduction of hybrid varieties, which enable the farmer to produce more from the same old piece of land.
“Technology now plays a very crucial role in agricultural productivity and hybrid technology brings about improved varieties, which is helping farmers in other countries in their quest for food and nutritional security, Nigeria cannot afford to miss out.”
Meanwhile, as part of the interaction, the experts led the journalists on a field visit to one of the demo sites along Kaduna-Zaria highway, where the Supply Chain and Production Manager, David Jethro, revealed that the maize grown has proven to be a success, with several farmers around the area, trooping in to admire the yields.
The farmer managing the plantation, Abdulrazak Rabiu, told the visiting team that the maize was planted at end of June this year,
“Since then, other farmers in the community have been coming to inquire about the variety planted because of the yield.
While addressing Journalists, Prof. Onyibe, who is also the Vice Chairman of ECOBasicSeed Company, urged the Federal Government to support the use of hybrid seeds in boosting agricultural productivity of farmers in the country.
He lamented the present level of food security in Nigeria, saying with the adaptation of the right technology in the sector, the nation would be heading for food sufficiency in the near future.