The Edo State Government, Prime Agro Seeds, and a Netherlands-based agro firm, Profyta, have unveiled hybrid tomatoes and pepper seedlings, developed and bred in Edo State on the back of reforms by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led state government to boost agricultural production and tackle food insecurity.
The vegetable seedlings were showcased at the Wells-Hosa Greenhouse Farms with a total of 28 varieties of hybrid tomatoes and pepper seedlings, showing their adaptability to the Nigerian weather, disease resistance, and yield among other qualities.
Addressing journalists after the demonstration, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Stephen Idehenre noted that the demonstration is a testament of investors’ trust in the Obaseki-led administration, reassuring that the government will continue to provide the right environment for businesses to thrive.
He said, "We are here to see what Prime Agro Seeds has done with the in-country production of vegetable seeds here in Edo and they are doing very well.
“This is the first state in Nigeria where this experimentation for seed multiplication is happening and it's something that will help to save our foreign exchange greatly.
“First, we are trying to see how we can bring down the price of our vegetable seeds and this action is one long way of doing it. Bringing in a certain kilogram of vegetable seeds from outside the country costs so much but with this development, the cost of seed purchase will drop by at least 70 percent and I'm very sure of that.
”Idehenre further noted, "Ours, as a state, is to create the enabling environment for investors to come in, and seeing what is going on here will attract other investors. The environment is trouble-free and investment-friendly which will guarantee returns on investment.
“It's been two years since they have been on this research programme here. The partners from Europe came here for this because they know we can be trusted. They know they will not sell their proprietary rights nor compromise on their research work, else they would have given up.
”On his part, the Managing Director, Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi, noted that the government’s vision with tomato and pepper production, apart from satisfying local consumption, is to make Edo State and Nigeria become better competitors in the global market.
”Also, the Director of Prime Agro Seeds, Meka Nwabuko, said, “The crop doing well in a controlled environment doesn’t mean it will not do well in an uncontrolled environment because what we are also trailing here are disease tolerance and disease resistance; we do want to test them in an uncontrolled environment. So, we are setting up a new site which is going to be a mix between a controlled environment and an open field. We are also going to be trying and demonstrating a wide variety of each crop with at least eight varieties of tomatoes
“We are establishing this to serve the majority of the farmers which are mostly in a non-controlled environment with high-quality hybrid vegetable seeds in Nigeria developed from beginning to the end here, which is a first of its kind in the country.”
“By producing them locally, the seeds will become more affordable and available and also become better tuned and conditioned for the climate in Nigeria,” he added.
The owner of Profyta, Netherlands, Ewout Schurink added that "Our dream is to breed seeds specified for Nigeria taking into cognizance the heat in Nigeria and other conditions like disease resistance. This is the first state and country in Africa that we are cooperating with in this way.”