The University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, (UNAAB), through its Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research (IFSERAR), is on the verge of making history, as the National Variety Release Committee (NVRC), the National Centre for Genetics Resources and Biotechnology (NAGRAB) and other relevant bodies would soon approve the release of IFSERAR’s researched Ofada varieties to the market, come December.
Speaking after their fact-finding Field Visit to UNAAB’s Rice collaborators and experimentation sites, the representatives of NAGRAB, NVRC, National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi and the National Rice Mills Centre (NRMC) Ibadan, commended IFSERAR for a job well done, stating the possibility of Ofada being released as varieties before the end of the year.
According to the Assistant Director, Research and Development (NAGRAB) and Assistant Registrar, National Variety Release Committee (NVRC), Dr. Sunday Oladele, “With what I’ve seen here today, it is obvious that Ofada varieties should be released at the next Committee Meeting”.
“As a matter of fact, I am challenged by what IFSERAR-UNAAB has done. I got wind of this research work six months ago. But surprisingly they’ve been able to go through all the conditions for varieties release and I am sure if they are not 100 per cent ready, they are 90 per cent to release the varieties”, he added.
Dr. Oladele, however, cautioned that “the only challenge for IFSERAR-UNAAB is the packaging of the presentation of the report. If that is done perfectly, there is likelihood that the varieties won’t be rejected’’.
Corroborating him, the Senior Agricultural Superintendent, NCRI, Badeggi,
Mr. Bayo Momoh, said, “IFSERAR has done us proud and I am very happy. By the grace of God, with what this UNAAB Institute has done, Ofada will be released as varieties by the Committee that is saddled with the mandate”.
Speaking in the same vein, the National Coordinator, National Rice Mills Centre, Ibadan, Mrs. Comfort Adedoyin Awe, stated, “I am really happy with the samples IFSERAR gave us. They are almost getting there.
Reacting to the development, a renowned Rice Farmer, Pa Bode Adenekan, who for long had been waiting for Ofada to be released as varieties, could not hide his joy, describing the development as his ‘special birthday gift’.
His words, “What is about to happen to Ofada rice as demonstrated here today is a gift for my birthday that will come up on the 23rd of this month (August). We have been looking forward to a day like this, when Ofada will be released as varieties. We had tried and tried but failed.
If this seed is released during my life time, it will be the best thing that happened to me as a rice farmer, with special interest in Ofada’’, he added.
Pa Adenekan who is the Chairman of Ogun State Rice Farmers Association, with a sprawling 14 hectares of Ofada Rice plantation, stressed. “We have been planting Ofada Rice since the World War II, but the erroneous impression handed down to us by our foreign brothers was that Ofada was not a seed, so you can’t plant it. They used to call it planting material. We are happy that IFSERAR is about to correct that wrong impression”.
Also commenting, the Baale of Moloko-Asipa and the Baale-General of Igbore Land, Chief Nureni Nosiru Adesina, expressed joy that UNAAB’s intervention in “Ofada rice happened during his tenure.
Baring his mind, the representative of the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development, Professor Segun Lagoke, who led UNAAB team on the field visit, expressed satisfaction at what he saw on ground, adding that the University was about to make history.
According to him, “UNAAB has always demonstrated unique development. Ordinarily, many research institutes in this country will be thinking of concentrating efforts on conventional rice species like Nerica, ITT and the likes, but for UNAAB to go into ecological and socio-economic base variety, an indigenous one, makes this effort unique”.
“In UNAAB we don’t reject good things, we believe in modifying them and adapting them to boost performance and enhance production. We are going to do everything possible to have the varieties released to the world. UNAAB is on the verge of making history, the history of making positive impact on the nation’s food security”, he added.
Earlier on, the team had visited lowland Rice locations on UNAAB Campus, Ofada Rice Farmers’ Fields at Onipepeiye and Moloko-Ashipa Villages.
Explaining the whole essence of the Field Visit, the University Rice Mill Breeder, Professor Francis Abayomi Sowemimo, stated that “this visit is for us to showcase what we have done in the past few years as regards being able to release varieties, so we have taken specially, our indigenous Ofada rice, to promote as varieties we want to release after we have purified them. We are promoting three varieties that have done well. We are showcasing our lowland on the campus and now we have come to the upland. At the upland, we are looking at the possibility of using it as a point of contact to so many farmers because we are operating in eight mandate states”.
He continues, “In Ogun State, we have farmers that we are working on. In each of the remaining seven States we have two locations that we are working on. We have distributed all the packages to them. One is RG 311, we have RW 111 and we have WR 211”.
Speaking further, Professor Sowemimo said, “We have been here at Moloko-Asipa Village for three or four reasons. One, we want to see the large scale farming of Ofada rice, two, we are using it as our screening site and three as a breeding site, where we can pick materials than can conform to all the genetic make-ups that we want to use to advance the release of our varieties”.
Explaining the rationale behind the visit, the Director, IFSERAR, Prof. Segun Osinowo said “the visit is aimed at conveying the major stakeholders to project research sites as a prerequisite to Ofada rice variety release, scheduled to take place in December 2011”.