Research institutes discover new seed varieties to plug N525bn gap


September 13, 2017 | 12:55 am
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As scarcity of quality seeds continue to endanger Nigeria’s food security, research institutes are discovering new varieties that can improve yield and plug the yawning gap in the seed industry estimated at N525.04 billion.

“So far this year, we have released Kauz and Paftor, which are  two varieties of irrigated wheat seeds that have the potential of 5 to 6 tons per hectare to farmers,” Gbenga Olabanji, executive director, Lake Chad Research Institute, told BusinessDay in a telephone interview.

Africa’s biggest economy is hard hit by scarcity of quality seeds, which force farmers to buy cheap and adulterated varieties that produce low crop yields, say experts.

Nigeria has research institutes which are vested with the mandate of improving agric productivity through new discoveries. They include Lake Chad Research Institute, Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Cocoa Research Institute, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography And Marine Research, and Forestry Research Institute, among others, which are underfunded.

Research institutions in the agriculture ministry in Nigeria got an average of N28 billion ($77.7 million) yearly in the last four years, compared with India’s $2 billion, Brazil’s $1 billion and China’s $700million, BusinessDay findings show.

Nigeria seed industry potential stands at N777.38 billion, while what is locally available is estimated at N252.35 billion, leaving a gap of N525.04 billion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture data.

The total national seed requirements for eight major crops, including maize and rice, in Africa’s most populous country stood at 388,690.64 metric tons (MT) in 2015, while the quantity available was 126,173 MT, leaving a yawning gap of 262,518 MT.

The Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, last week distributed over one metric tonne of new maize variety to farmers in some in Oyo State.

The new maize variety called ART98SWY1 was distributed to farmers in Atiba and Oyo East Local Government areas and those at the IAR&T adopted village, Oniyo Eleruwa village in Orire Local Government.

“The name of this variety is ART/98/SW1-Y. It means that it is a yellow material and the maturity period is 75 days, which is 2 and half months. It contains protein which we need for proper functioning of nerve and general metabolism and it is very good for lactating mothers, children and even for the aged ones,” said Olugbenga Egbetokun, leader of the IAR&T maize distribution team.

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Kano recently released two new nutritionally high sorghum varieties(12KNICSV-188, Improved Deko), one with three times higher iron content.

Both are drought resistant with average yields of 2.4-2.8tonnes per hectare, compared with the less than 1tonne per hectare from the local varieties, according to Ignatius Angarawai, scientist at Sorghum Breeding at ICRISAT Kano.

Victor Chikaleke, principal research, National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, told BusinessDay that the institute has developed two varieties of okro and Amarantha to improve yield per hectare and boost income for farmers.

In 2015, research institutes in Nigeria released 15 new varieties of crops, including two elite upland rice variety (Faro 64 and Faro 65), three tomato hybrids (KILELE, CHIBLI and TYLKA) and five maize hybrids varieties (SAMMAZ 43, SAMMAZ 44, SC651, and two Ife maize hybrids).

Nigeria has the highest agricultural research system in Africa in terms of number of researchers, with over 80 government and high education institutes and over 2,000 researchers engaged in research.

“Without adequate research funding, government’s talk about boosting revenue through the agriculture sector will only be a mirage,” said Rotimi Fashola, senior partner, OIT Fash Consult.

“Most of the institutes are shadows of themselves today,” Fashola added.

Experts want farmers to take advantage of these crop varieties to increase yield and income. However, some analysts say some of the researches done by Nigerian institutions are out of sync with reality.

“The research institutes are doing some good job but most of these researches are too abstract in nature. This is why there is a big gap between the industry and the research output,” Muda Yusuf, director general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) told BusinessDay in a telephone interview.




September 13, 2017 | 12:55 am
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