Last week, stakeholders in the agricultural sector staged a walk in the Federal Capital Territory, to create awareness on the essence of quality seeds to sustainable food production. CALEB ONWE reports.
The sensitisation walk was for a distance of about two kilometres. It was organised by the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) and led by its Director General, Dr Philip Ojo. The participants, who had gathered for the walk, were further motivated when they sighted the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Muhammad Abubakar, alighting from his official vehicle to join in the exercise. It started at the Federal Secretariat, with people adorned in branded T-shirts and caps, carrying placards that have several messages on the need to support production and sales of quality seeds in the country.
The procession terminated at the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture in Area 11, Garki, Abuja. The walk was accompanied with music played from loud speakers, just as participants distributed leaflets and flyers.
One message that was very distinct, was that farmers who desire bumper harvest must always go for seeds that have SeedCodex seal, as that is the only mark and guarantee for a genuine seed.
In 2020, the Seeds Council, in partnership with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, introduced the NASC SeedCodex, said to be an electronic seed authentication tag that provides farmers with quality assurance through tracking and tracing of the seeds.
Another message that resonated at the even, was that Nigeria’s efforts towards achieving food security can be jeopardised by sales and planting of fake and adulterated seeds. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Muhammad Abubakar, said he had to join in the march to demonstrate government’s commitment towards sanitising the seeds sector.
Abubakar said the present administration has a covenant with Nigerians, to make and implement policies that ensure successful diversification of the economy to agriculture.
According to him, the country was also committed towards achieving food and nutritional security and would not allow anything come in between the agenda. The minister, who was elated to have participated in the march, also noted that the country needs to sanitise the seed industry and maintain the standards.
He disclosed that Nigeria has remained the major supplier of about 50 percent of quality seeds used across West Africa.
He equally appealed to farmers to stop buying unapproved seeds, if they desire to achieve improved yields for their crops. “We must adopt improved quality seeds. Planting quality seeds that have been approved by the seed council will lead to bumper harvest, which will make the country food secure.
“Planting of adulterated seeds will lead to low yield, which is not good for the country. Agriculture is the engine room of any economy. If you look around the world, you will find out that self-sufficient countries are the best countries.
“Let’s help the ministry police those who are trying to sell bad seeds. If you see someone selling bad seeds, it is your responsibility to alert the authorities. Don’t buy any seed that is not approved by the seeds council,” he said.
Director-General, National Agricultural Seeds Council, Philip Ojo, said the current minister had done what his predecessors never did, by joining the sensitization walk.
Ojo, who disclosed that the Seed march has become one of the most important annual events of the council, also disclosed that Nigeria has remained a big name in terms of seeds export to other parts of Africa.
Ojo also used the occasion to announce the 2021 Seed-Connect Africa Conference and Exhibition, organised by the council in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
He said: “Nigeria supplies more than 50 per cent of quality seeds that are being used in West Africa. Other countries in West Africa are coming to learn what makes us big in seed production.
“We have got invitations from Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. Ghana will be coming with its delegation to come and study what we are doing here.”
Inside Abuja learnt that the Seed- Connect Africa Conference and Exhibition, is a Pan- African event, where various stakeholders in the seed industry will converge to share ideas and challenges, aimed at further development of the industry.