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Twenty-five seed companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) to produce certified rice seeds for farmers in Nigeria.

The MoU was signed under the recently-launched ECOWAS Rice Seed Up-scaling Project aimed at boosting local production of paddy.

It is being implemented by SEEDAN in collaboration with the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) and other regional partners.

The project is targeting the production of 60,000 tonnes of paddy by December 2017 using 1,200 tonnes of certified seeds to be produced by the companies.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding the project with 800,000 dollars (N226 million), 30 per cent of which is set aside as grant to the seed companies.

The MoU signing also entailed the distribution of breeder and foundation seeds to the companies by SEEDAN.

Speaking at the event, the President of SEEDAN, Mr Richard Olafare, urged the companies to justify the confidence reposed in them by ensuring strict compliance with the terms of the contract.

Olafare said that Nigeria could not afford to disappoint USAID and other development partners, hence the need for the seed farmers to produce and deliver on schedule.

He said the project was strictly a private sector affair, designed to help seed companies from over-reliance on government for survival.

He said: “over the years, our major market has been government, which has not been sustainable.

“But what we are trying to do with this project is to look at a more sustainable way to be in business, by creating the market by ourselves.

“This involves coordinating the farmers at one end of production and linking them to the off-takers or rice millers who have agreed to buy off whatever they produce under this project.

“We feel in this manner there is a better sustainable way of doing our business, because it is now strictly business.

“We are linking ourselves with farmers who actually want to regard farming as business.

“So, with this arrangement, if we can get support for our farmers through the commercial banks or Bank of Agriculture, then we are in business.’’

Author: Cerebral Lemon