Says farmers to access over 100mts of certified seeds staple crops
Expresses high hope over passage of Plant Variety Protection Bill
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The National Agricultural Seeds Council, NASC, Friday, disclosed that 103 seed companies had their operational licenses withdrawn and were delisted due to over activities contrary to quality and standard.
This was made known by the Director-General, NASC, Dr Philip Ojo, in an address at a media briefing held at NASC’s headquarters in Sheda, Kwali Area Council, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, on activities carried out by the Council in 2020 and proposed activities projected for 2021.
According to Ojo the delisted companies had issues of recertification and it is also to further strengthen the seed industry and ensure that only serious-minded entrepreneurs with genuine seed industry vision and farmers’ interest have the mandate of the council.
He stressed that all certified seeds packs in Nigeria must carry authentication tags with code affixed on them for farmers to send to a dedicated number to be able to verify instantly, the authenticity of seeds purchased by them and report any unscrupulous seed dealers in the National seed space to the NASC.
He further stated that NASC equally introduced the National Seed Tracker, NST, a Web application for enhanced operational efficiency of seed company registration and real-time tracking of quality assurance processes. The technology, firstly deployed by NASC in partnership with IITA in Nigeria has now been exported to other countries like Tanzania and Congo DR.
He also explained the essence of the briefing, which he said that 2020 as in retrospect and also unveiled NASC’s strategies that mitigated the impact of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, on activities of Nigeria’s seed industry.
He said: “The National Agricultural Seeds Council is doing all within reach to ensure that seed sector-related activities are sustained and promoted even in the midst of the pandemic for Nigeria to be able to have a continuous supply of adequate quantities of food for its population.
“Seed activities are essential activities which must be sustained since the quality seed is the best tool that we can deploy now to ensure massive productivity on our farmers’ field with the reduced attention our fields are receiving due to the measures put in place to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
“This was why in the year 2020, the NASC strategic approach was to deploy technology and step up surveillance and enforcement activities as entrenched in the NASC Act 21 of 2019 with a view to ensuring that only the best seeds are supplied to our very resilience farmers.
“In the year 2020 following the recertification of companies accredited by us delisted and withdraws the operational license of 103 seed entrepreneurs out of the 314 seed enterprises in Nigeria.
“This action was necessary to further strengthen the seed industry and ensure that only serious-minded entrepreneurs with genuine seed industry vision and farmers’ interest have the mandate of the NASC and therefore eligible to participate in seed related activities of government, projects, donors, aid-related programme.
“The NASC equally introduced the National Seed Tracker (NST) a Web application for enhanced operational efficiency of seed company registration and real-time tracking of our quality assurance processes. The technology, firstly deployed by NASC in partnership with IITA in Nigeria has now been exported to other countries like Tanzania and Congo DR.”
Meanwhile, the NASC boss also breaks cheering news to farmers across the council of accessing over 100, 000 seeds of staple crops including rice, maize, sorghum, soya bean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame, and potato for planting in the coming cropping season.
“I am happy to announce to you therefore that even with the pandemic in the year 2020, we were able to sustain the national productivity of seeds. The seeds companies under NASC Watch currently have in stock ready for planting in the coming cropping season, 100,023.53 metric tons of certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soya bean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame, and potato.
“These seeds will be available for farmers to buy and plant instead of their own low-quality seeds. Buying and planting these good seeds will ensure that farmers get better yields during this trying period.
“Our call to farmers is that only seeds affixed with the NASC SEEDCODEX Tags fall under this category and it should be what they should buy from the shelves of their seed suppliers.
“The SEEDCODEX tags as you are aware is the output of the NASC electronic seed verification and authentication system that enhances the efficiency of our seed certification and quality assurance scheme which we put in place to prevent seed adulteration by unscrupulous seed merchants”, he stated.
Speaking on the expected activities of the council and targets to be achieved, he (Ojo) said there is a high expectation for the passage of the Plant Variety Protection Bill before the National Assembly.
He further stated that there will never be a hiding corner for fake seed producers and sellers in 2021, and also with a new innovation to track adoption of varieties in the country coming soon as all activities will be digitized
He said: “High expectation for the passage of the Plant Variety Protection Bill currently before the National Assembly. This we are doing in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Assembly, and other relevant stakeholders.
“We will enhance our Seed Surveillance and compliance activities to ensure only improved certified seeds are sold to farmers. This we have already started as our team just this week returned from Osun state. Our message here to all fake seed operators is that we are just around the corner to stop their nefarious act.
“This year we are coming with a new innovation to track adoption of varieties in the country. With the support of BMGF we will join Ethiopia and Tanzania to make effort towards institutionalizing the monitoring of varietal adoption, turnover, and performance using genotyping (DNA Finger-Printing) to trace the effectiveness of varieties released and adopted by farmers.”
He added that Nigerians are to only patronize seeds from accredited sources and look out for the Seedcodex tag affixed on every seed tag, scratch to confirm the authenticity before they purchase seeds.