The Federal Government said it had strengthened its fight towards sanitising the country’s agricultural seed sector by sanctioning about 103 seed merchants for various offences. Director General, National Agricultural Seeds Council, (NASC) Dr. Philip Ojo, told New Telegraph in Abuja that the action was part of measures to tackle food insecurity in Nigeria. Ojo stated that the first step towards agricultural productivity, which can ensure food security, was sanitising the seed sector.
While he further doused anxiety already created by food insecurity projections made by some analysts, he revealed that about 100,023.53 metric tonnes of certified seeds had been stored for the next farming season. He explained that the delisted seed entrepreneurs, whose licences were withdrawn, included those who failed license renewal requirements and others who got involved in some unwholesome activities. The NASC boss noted that there was no need to panic, as adequate measures had been taken to tackle challenges of food scarcity in the country.
He further disclosed that the certified seeds of rice, maize, sorghum, soyabean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato were already in the hands of approved seed companies that will distribute them to farmers across Nigeria. Oho explained: “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, soyabean, cowpea, millet, groundnut, wheat, sesame and potato.
“This 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 yield during this trying period.
“In the year 2020 following the recertification of companies accredited by us delisted and withdraw 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.”
Particularly, in many fora, there have been discussions on increased in adulterated seeds in circulation and this posed a threat to Nigeria’s gross domestic product development. Ideally, curbing fake seeds in circulation has been very challenging in all ramifications as statistics showed that over 70 per cent of people, who have no business with seeds jump into the business and selling junk to farmers without getting certified by the National Agricultural Seed Council. Consequently, this has resulted to the country’s farmers being at the receiving end of buying these fake seeds with harvesting at lull as the menace truncated efforts to actualisation of food sufficiency in the country.
With this menace in place, it is important that the only agency empowered by law to regulate the seed industry in Nigeria, NASC, has a role to play in dealing with the challenge As part of the strategies to combating fake seeds merchants and helping farmers to access quality seeds, the seed agency perfected arrangement to provide farmers with a call centre and a helpline.