The Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) in Ibadan, Oyo State, has recommended crop breeding, agronomic management and conditioning of storage facilities as essential for increased seed longevity for maize, kenaf and grain legumes.
Executive Director of IAR&T, Prof. Veronica Obatolu, said in Ibadan on Monday, July 13, 2020 that it was in this wise that the institute had prioritised research into these storage systems to enhance food security.
Obatolu, a professor of food nutrition, said that in achieving food security, seeds were the most important living inputs in crop production.
She added that yields from crops would be pivoted on the quality of seeds planted.
She said that the cost of producing quality seeds for farmers to plant yearly would be higher than what it would cost to store the same quantity of seeds under suitable conditions for future use.
According to Obatolu, good storage also ensures the purity of seeds than the frequent production in the field.
“Hence, a lot of work in the institute is being channelled into improving the storability of seeds.
“The main benefit of our research on improved shelf life of crops to farmers is improved income and livelihood; this is because the farmers have access to adequate and quality seeds to plant at the right time.
“Planting high quality seeds results in good crop establishment, vigorous plants and ultimately higher yield at harvest.
“Another important benefit of improved seeds to farmers is the high value of produce and products derived from the use of high quality seeds, the products command higher prices,” the IAR&T Executive Director said.
According to her, availability of quality and nutritious food to the populace at affordable prices contributes largely to food security and assurance of peace in a nation.
She added that the institute’s effort at ensuring adequate seed supply in the system was directly contributing to the nation’s food security programme.
“Most especially, the provision of additional technical support to farmers in terms of preservation of renewable resources through seeds and value addition has grossly improved their livelihood.
“The institute has made a giant stride in research breakthroughs.
“Many of our technologies in terms of value addition to food products, food preservation, low cost agronomic practices, and improvement of varieties and seed availability have been adopted by farmers all over the nation.
“Many of our products such as drinks made from soybean, plant-based cookies and snacks as well as plant-protein-based-food items are already in the markets,” she said.
Obatolu also said that the most important way farmers could improve their yields per hectare is by planting improved varieties and adopt the use of quality seeds.
She advised farmers to also follow the recommended guidelines for production of each crop, saying that timeliness and appropriateness of operations and inputs are important for farmers to achieve high yields.
“Crop production is weather responsive; so time of planting, time of application as well as correctness in application of input must be respected by farmers.
“All other cultural practices such as plant population density, crop protection against weeds, pests, diseases and other natural enemies, timely harvesting and proper techniques of post-harvest handling must be done at the right time and appropriately,” she said.
By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko