The Federal Government will henceforth arrest operators of companies which sale fake and sub-standard seeds to farmers, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says. The minister made the disclosure in an interview with  Newsmen in Abuja on Monday.

Ogbeh regretted that continuous use of poor and sub-standard seeds and poor agronomic practices were the reasons for poor yields experienced by farmers. He added that “seed companies must know that if they sell anything fake and the farmer plants it and we discover that it is not genuine, they can be arrested.”

He said government would establish extension offices and train 10 officers from each local government area across the country to teach farmers sound agronomy practices.

“We will have input suppliers or agro dealers in every local government council; we will advertise for private sector to come and open centres where farmers can get seeds, chemicals, fertilisers, tractors and other equipment.

“We are asking council areas to help us before we start building. Once that is done, every farmer will know where to buy seeds.

“These input dealers will link up with seed companies and research institutes, take seeds from them and sell to farmers.”

According to him, it is important for extension officers to show farmers how to plant seeds.

“There is also the need for them to educate farmers on the kind of fertiliser to apply, how to irrigate where irrigation is necessary and the kind of pest control chemicals to use.

“There is no reason why farmers should fail to have good harvest. “We just have to get away from hunger as quickly as possible; we have to move away from this anxiety about whether we can feed ourselves or not.”

Ogbeh said Federal Government would also engage the various seed research institutes and Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) to engage in large-scale production of improved seeds and training of seed breeders.

The minister, who announced that Federal Government would not adopt Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in its agriculture policies for now, noted that engaging in hybrid and improved seeds production was the only option.

He said “Nigerians are not yet comfortable with GMO seeds. We are using high breed seeds. There may be future for GMOs, but debates are still on.

“Europeans are not comfortable with that; Americans and Brazilians have no quarrels with that and they are doing very well. “And someday, maybe we will resolve it but Nigerians are extremely sensitive about GMOs, so I rather be on the side of Nigerians for now.

“ FG will not adopt GMOs in agriculture policies for now, but we are watching to see if we can one day take a position on whether we are going GMO or not.”