THE Federal Government, indicated interest on flood resistant seeds from the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in order to reduce farmers’ losses during flooding and other climatic disasters.
This was made known by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, during a courtesy visit by the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Nigeria, Mr Shameem Ahsan, to his office in Abuja. Lokpobiri who was surprised at the rate of Bangladesh’s investment on food security and making that country self-sufficient in food within a short space after independence said Nigeria will like to get the same seeds that are flood resistant in order to boost food security and mitigate farmers’ losses in the sector. He also described the achievement of Bangladesh in food production and security as “silent revolution in agriculture”, and noted the massive investments the country has made in boosting its research and technology base to feed its population.
He said: “Biggest mistake in our economy was the neglect of agriculture. Bangladesh is younger than Nigeria because of dedicated investment in research and technology you are already self-sufficient in food production. “Food security is indeed the real security of any country. When there is hunger here is bound to be all sorts of social problems. “Nigeria is happy about this proposed partnership because of our common historic antecedents.
Most of the problems in Nigeria did not just start today. “It is as a result of several years of neglect in investing on food security. Past governments did not invest in research, technology. “We will glad to strengthen our ties, we will partner with you to see how we can get improved seeds, especially on seeds that are flood resistant, which currently farmers are grappling with flood in most parts of the country.”
The Minister decried the long neglect of agriculture, which successive administrations went on to focus on oil and gas after discovery of it in commercial quantity in the 1950s. He said despite the Nigeria’s about 30 research institutes and Colleges of Agriculture, food security has remained a challenge, and said that, “ It is this government that has started showing interest and turning the sector around and positioning it as mainstay of the economy from oil and gas, which now has made tremendous impact. The objective of government now is to achieve rice self-sufficiency in 2019.”
Earlier in his remarks the Bangladesh envoy, Ahsan said his country has been faced with climate change challenges, therefore making it vulnerable as some other countries in the world, but were not deterred but delved into agric technology and research to surmount some of those challenges, which now they are self-sufficiency in food production. “These seed varieties can withstand water logging and produce well. Nigeria plays a leadership role in Africa, we need closer cooperation with both countries so we can benefit mutually”, he stated.