Okonkwo said this at the five-day training workshop on seed production for 10 graduates of Agriculture which started on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the participating graduates drawn from the South-East zone, are currently on their one year National Youth Service Corps scheme.
He explained that 15,000 tonnes of rice seeds were distributed across the country in 2012.
Okonkwo, who was represented by the Acting Director of Planning in the institute, Mr Adelugba Keinde, further noted that the seed industry had expanded over the last 30 years.
He said the situation underscored the need for manpower development, to cope with the current challenges in the industry and the expected increase in the production level.
Okonkwo explained that the Federal Government’s transformation agenda made the need for more seeds “critical”.
He noted that quality seed was the bedrock for high agricultural output as it constituted over 50 per cent of agricultural production.
“It is the foundation of agricultural production and if you get it wrong, you will miss every other thing in agricultural production,” he said.
Also speaking, the Regional Head, National Seeds Council, Umudike, Mr Ike Okalanwa, said that the workshop was designed to solve the manpower need in seed quality control and certification.
“The council wants to tap the knowledge and put it together to achieve our aim in quality control and seed certification.”
He charged certification officers across the country to redouble their efforts to cope with the challenges ahead.
According to him, Later, Okalanwa told NAN that the seed production chain starts from agricultural research institutes where breeder seeds are produced.
He explained said that the breeder seeds were later distributed to registered seed growers, who in turn produced the foundation seeds.
The foundation seeds, he said, were are later distributed to farmers across the country as high yielding variety after their certification by the institute. (NAN)
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